This year’s top 3 was:
- Oliverin kirja, by Anne Leinonen (2 000 €)
- Luottokoira vain sinun rakkaudellesi, by M.G. Soikkeli (700 €)
- (tie) Musta tähti, by Tuomas Saloranta (300 €)
Pedot liikkuvat pimeässä, by Marika Riikonen (300 €)
[…] I shamelessly handwave or bluff a lot of things that aren’t mathematics or physics (and a lot of things that are). TQT is often described as hard SF, but I’m not really trying to write hard SF in the vein of Egan or Benford: I don’t work out the equations as I go. For me, the more important consequence of having a scientific background is a degree of speculative rigour: trying hard to work out the consequences of the assumptions one begins with.
The Turku pub meeting for November is this Thursday. We’re back in Teerenpeli for the winter.
The pub meeting starts at six; the reading group gathers at that time to discuss this year’s Atorox-winning short story Nahat by Anne Leinonen. If you want to participate but don’t have last year’s issue 3 of Portti handy, you can get the story from me, courtesy of Anne.
The Arts Council of Finland has awarded their annual grants for artists, and there are familiar names among the writers given grants this year. So congratulations to Sari Peltoniemi (5 year grant), Jukka Laajarinne (3 yr), Johanna Sinisalo (3 yr), Marko Hautala (1 yr), Tiina Raevaara (1 yr), Anu Holopainen (½ yr), and Miina Supinen (½ yr) for the grants! (Plus, of course any others I might have missed.)
The members of the Paperiarkki writers forum have published an anthology called Suolaa hiuksissa (”Salt in the Hair”). The anthology has a collecting theme of a tsunami that hits the Canary Islands. The anthology is edited by Venla Lintunen and Saara Kuha, and includes such writers as Jussi Katajala, Anne Leinonen, Tarja Sipiläinen, and more. The anthology can be downloaded as a pdf at Paperiarkki.
Just got back from this year’s Roadside Picnic & accompanying Smof Brunch in Tampere. The idea was that on Saturday, there was the actual picnic, which is the annual relaxacon of the Finnish fandom, and on Sunday, some of the people continued with an informal meeting.
The picnic was fun as ever, although it had to be cut a bit short this year due to an unexpected concert that took over the Viikinsaari island. But that only meant that the barbecuing + regular programming (basically just a couple of filks, really) was done a bit more hastily than usual and that we moved on to a restaurant to carry on a bit earlier.
The terrace of the restaurant Tillikka was a bit damp but otherwise fine, and the food they served good as always (no beets for beer exchange this year, though). As some people thought it got a bit chilly outside, the gang migrated to Amarillo for more beers (and food) and conversation, which all continued well into the wee hours. With drinks called (among others) Endless Summer or Kinky Queen, and an authentic Birthday Monolith, how can you but have a fun evening!
Sunday morning started in a leisurely manner with breakfast at Café Siilinkari (highly recommended—an inexpensive breakfast buffet, delicious pastries, an they even sell a good decaf cappucino, yay!) which stretched into a brunch and then an afternoon of conversation. Lots of topics got covered, and progress was made on quite a few fronts. These kinds of events are something I value highly—you can get a lot done when people from many associations and events committees sit together. A wealth of information shared and good ideas planned further together. In my opinion, it is essential for fandom to have these info sharing and brainstorming meetings a couple of times a year (in addition to conventions, e-mail lists and discussion forums, of course).
Things discussed and planned included:
These are all pretty much in the planning stage, but you will definitely be hearing more about these projects in the near future.
The SF Signal’s Mind Meld series’ latest question is, Who are your favorite international sf/f authors. Among those who’ve answered with tips about good sf outside the usual anglo circles is our own Jukka Halme. Who, naturally, gets to mention a few Finnish authors (among many others).
The Atorox Award for best Finnish sf short story published last year was announced at Finncon last weekend. The winner, for the third time, was Anne Leinonen for her short story Nahat (“Skins”), published in the Portti magazine.
This was a great year for Anne: she also took the second prize with Sanojen mahti (“The might of words”). The top three was:
In addition to Anne taking the top places, the Portti magazine ruled supreme this year. Four of the top-5 stories were published by Portti.
Congratulations, Anne and all the other top-placing candidates!
The Atorox Award is voted by members of the Finnish fandom from a longlist of stories selected by a pre-selection jury. The award is given by the Turku Science Fiction Society.
The Teos publishing house announced the winners of their novel-length fantasy and science fiction literary contest at Finncon. Over 350 manuscripts took part in the competition.
The jury selected as the winner a manuscript called Veden muisti (“Memory of Water”) written by Emmi Itäranta. The winner received a cash prize of 5 000 € plus a publishing contract from Teos—the novel will be published next year.
Veden muisti tells a story about choices and responsibility in an original totalitarian future society. “The winning manuscript is, in terms of language as well as the vision of the future it constructs, a polished and impressive work. Like all good science fiction, this piece is in dialogue with our current reality: it makes visible a world which we may already be unwittingly heading towards,” the chair of the jury, Johanna Sinisalo, comments.
Of the other manuscripts submitted to the contest, Sudenveri (“Wolfblood”) by Jenny Kangasvuo received an honorary mention. Sudenveri is a surprising and moving tale about a werewolf community. “The manuscript awarded with an honorary mention unravels and reconstructs the well-known myth thoroughly and skillfully. The writer, who knows her subject extremely well, approaches it with attention to detail and expertise. She uses her material to build a realistic and arresting world, which is at the same time deeply Finnish,” Sinisalo says.
The jury of the competition comprised, in addition to Sinisalo, publisher Silja Hiidenheimo, editors Maarit Halmesarka and Jussi Tiihonen, and author Mikko Rimminen.
The Tähtivaeltaja magazine announced the winner of their short story competition at Finncon. The theme of the competition this year was “generation ship”. There were 49 stories sent for the competition. The winner received a cash prize of 400 €.
The top three of the competition is:
The competition was organized by the Helsinki Science Fiction Society and the Tähtivaeltaja magazine. The jury consisted of Tähtivaeltaja editor Toni Jerrman, editor Jukka Halme, and author Tiina Raevaara, with researcher Irma Hirsjärvi and author Anne Leinonen in the pre-selection jury.
The Tähtifantasia Award for best fantasy book translated into Finnish and published last year was announced at Finncon 2011. The award goes to a short story collection Viimeinen toivomus (“Last Wish”, book 1 of The Witcher) by Andrzej Sapkowski, published by WSOY and translated by Tapani Kärkkäinen.
The jury commended the book as an unique and riveting read that skillfully utilizes the East-European folklore. The book tackles the themes of heroism and duty without going for the easy solutions. The book demonstrates how fantasy transcends the cultural borders and speaks about what it is to be human. The author servers the reader a collection of intelligent, imaginative drama infused with humor.
The Tähtifantasia Award is given by the Helsinki Science Fiction Society, this was the fifth time for the award. The jury comprised critic Jukka Halme, critic Aleksi Kuutio, author and editor Anne Leinonen, and the Risingshadow forum representative Osmo Määttä.
Ajan polut (”Paths of Time”) was the first alternative history story competition held in Finland. It was organized by the Finnish Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association and the Science Fiction Culture Cabinet at the University of Turku.
There were 86 short stories in the competition, from established writers as well as new names. The texts varied from the beginning of Finland’s written history to very close to the present day. World War II and the Finnish Civil War were the most popular time periods.
The competition was very tight, with the judges ultimately unable to choose a clear winner. Therefore, three stories were declared tied winners, and also the second place was a tie between two stories:
The winners received a cash prize of 200 € each, and 100 € for the second place. The top stories will be published in an anthology. The jury comprised sf critic Pasi Karppanen, author Juha-Pekka Koskinen, and researcher Mari K. Niemi, with a pre-selection jury of Pasi Karppanen, student of history Virpi Luoma, and student of political history Juho Oksanen.
Several awards were given at Finncon in Turku last weekend. The Nova competition is a short story competition for beginners (no publications of their own yet). The competition was organized for the 12th time this year.
This year’s Nova top 3 is:
The winner gets a prize sum of 200 €; everyone in the top 10 receives a cash prize (ranging from 200 € to 40 €). The winning short story will be published in Spin.
81 writers participated in the competition with 108 short stories. The jury consisted of Marianna Leikomaa, Natalia Kisnanen, Heikki Nevala, and Saara Henriksson, with Kirsi Saaros, Henna Sinisalo, and Natalia Kisnanen acting as a pre-selection jury.
Yesterday I wrote about some tips for eating. Today I thought I’d continue with some other assorted tips about visiting Turku.
The center of Turku is relatively small, and you can walk to just about everywhere. Walking from the center of the town to the con site takes about 20 minutes (the distance is 1,6 km). If you don’t want to walk, or are planning to take trips within the city but outside the immediate center, I’d recommend getting a Tourist Card. You load the number of days you want on it at purchase time (it can’t be reloaded later), and it allows you to ride the buses as much as you like during that time. For example, a 4-day card costs 13,60 € (single fare is 2,50 so it saves you money even if you take just two trips a day). You can buy the card at the local traffic service office (Aurakatu 5), or at the department stores Wiklund or Stockmann, all of which are right at the center of the city (Wiklund is across the street from the Hamburger Börs hotel). Lines 50–54, 4, 28, and 280 (and probably some others as well) all take you from the market square to the convention venue (get off at the University stop, 115 / Yliopisto).
The odds are your hotel is going to have free wi-fi. The convention also has wi-fi passes available at the info desk. There are some cafés and restaurants that have wi-fi, but if you are at the city center and need to do some work, check your e-mail, etc., I recommend visiting the Turku Main Library. They have computers for people to use, and you can also use their wi-fi with your own computer (ask at the info desk for a temporary user account). There are plenty of desks for working, and chairs and sofas for reading and relaxing. The library has an extensive collection of newspapers from around the world, and they also have a very nice café that servers refreshments, pastries, and also pasta and salad lunches.
Especially if you are coming from abroad, the following tidbits might be useful:
The ATMs are marked with orange signs that say OTTO.
”Apteekki” means pharmacy. I hope you have no need for these, but if you do, there are several around the market place.
If you need to exchange currency, there is a Forex exchange bureau at Eerikinkatu 13. (Opening hours are limited on Saturday, and the place is closed on Sundays.)
Some things you can do in Turku (besides attending the convention of course).
The market square is the center of the city. It is the center for local buses, and it also has a food market on weekdays and Saturdays (morning to early afternoon). If you want to taste fresh Finnish produce or berries, this is where you can get them. It is the season for peas and strawberries, and the blueberry season is also just starting. And by the way, the ice cream stands on the market square (the white-and-blue ones marked with a penguin logo) have both tar ice cream and liquorice ice cream in their selection nowadays. If you’re interested in Finnish delicacies, that is.
There are several museums near the city center. Depending on your interests, I’d recommend the Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova museum which combines a historical setting of the unique ruins of a medieval town quarter and a museum of contemporary art, or the Luostarinmäki Handicrafts Museum, an outdoor museum of historical Turku from early 19th century (one of the rare places saved from the great fire of 1827). Not too far away is also the Logomo cultural center which hosts several exhibitions (for example, the Tom of Finland exhibition, ”Alice in Wonderland”—an exhibition of contemporary photography, and an exhibition about the science and history of fire.
If you want to go sightseeing, I recommend taking a cruise on the river Aura. Guided tours are available in Finnish, Swedish, and English. For longer trips, there are also steamboat cruises to the city of Naantali or lunch cruises in the Turku Archipelago.
During the weekend, there is an antiquarian book event called Booktori on the Puutori market place. There’s lots of book and collecting–related programming, and of course old books for sale. Most of these will be in Finnish though, but if you love old books no matter the language, this might be worth a visit.
Or, you could have a sauna. As part of the Cultural capital program, four art saunas have been built around Turku. These include a transparent ”Solaris” sauna and ”Sauna Obscura” where you can bathe inside a camera.
If you have a family (with young kids) with you, there are a couple of places I recommend visiting.
If your kids like the Moomings, the Moomin World in Naantali is the place to go. There are recreations of many of the places in the Moomin books, and the kids can meet the Moomins. The place also has restaurants and a swimming beach, so it’s definitely a whole day trip.
In the city center, there’s an Adventure Park in the Kupittaa Park which has lots of things to do for kids, such as climbing, playing in the wading pool, workshops, theater shows, a bouncy castle, etc.
Finncon is almost upon us, and since many of you will be visiting Turku, I thought I’d share a couple of tips of places to eat, drink, and be merry during the weekend. This is not a comprehensive guide, but just some suggestions for places I think might be worth visiting.
Most of the places mentioned are either in the city center, or close to the convention site. I’ve created a Google map where you can see the convention site and some other places of interest, plus the places mentioned in this article at <is.gd/fc11tku>.
Baan Thai (Kauppiaskatu 15). If you find yourself wanting Thai food, this place is generally considered the best in Turku.
Blanko (Aurakatu 1). Italian–Asian fusion kitchen. Good food, menu more interesting than in many restaurants. On Sundays, a popular brunch is served from noon to 5 PM. Voted as best restaurant 2011 in Turku by the City magazine.
Cantina Azteca Mexican Bar & Grill (Eerikinkatu 8). Excellent Mexican food.
China Thai (Kauppiaskatu 1 A). I haven’t visited this relatively new Chinese & Japanese restaurant myself, but have heard good things about it (especially that it is less “fast food style” than most of the Chinese restaurants in Turku).
Dennis (Linnankatu 17). The oldest pizzeria in Turku still has excellent pizzas and pastas. Get the garlic bread as an appetizer if you go here (but it’s probably best to share it with a friend unless you are really hungry).
Harald (Aurakatu 3) may be familiar if you’ve visited Turku, Tampere, or Jyväskylä before. It is a Viking-themed restaurant (which is not as kitchy as it sounds) that has a very nice decor. The food, while not authentic viking food, is pretty nice, and a bonus is that they use lots of traditional Finnish ingredients such as root vegetables and berries. To go with your food I’d recommend their honey beer.
Kuningas Kebab (Itäinen pitkäkatu 90). The oldest and, in my opinion, the best kebab restaurant in Turku (if not the cheapest—a kebab here costs almost twice what you pay in the run-of-the-mill kebab/pizzeria, but is definitely worth it). If you want spicy, the ”superhot” sauce is your friend, but for others the place is famous for their garlic dressing. Also serves burgers.
Pinella (Vanha Suurtori 2) is a mix of old and new: the oldest part of the restaurant dates back to mid-19th century but the whole place was recently renovated and reopened after a few year’s break. I’ve only eaten lunch at the new Pinella, but it was excellent. The location between the old marketplace and the river Aura, across the street from the Turku Cathedral is beautiful. Pinella also has a couple of terraces, plus a champagne and coctail bar.
Pippurimylly (Stålarminkatu 2). A traditional Finnish family restaurant, founded in 1974 (and still looks pretty much the same, so if you want to see what Finnish restaurants used to look like a couple of decades ago, this is the place). Serves some of the best steaks in town.
Shamrock Café (Eerikinkatu 10) is not an Irish pub/cafe, despite the name, but a restaurant and bar that is part of the big chain restaurant block near the market place. It has very tasty burgers and pizzas.
If you want scenery, there are some nice restaurants by the river, many with riverside terraces. The menu varies from just a salad or a pasta to pizzas and some very fine dining (If you’re in for the latter, Mami or Rocca, side by side at the beginning of Linnankatu are probably what you should look into. Both have lovely terraces for eating outside if the weather permits).
Lunch: Many restaurants serve inexpensive lunch dishes on weekdays (usually from 11 to 2 or 3 PM). The regular price for lunch varies from seven to nine euros. A couple of places near the convention venue are: Kiinanmuuri (Vähä-Hämeenkatu 1—huge portions of basic but ok Chinese food—especially a takeway lunch serves 2 to 3 persons easily), Resepti (Kiinamyllynkatu 5—a bakery café that also has tasty salads and very nice home cooking–style lunch dishes), and Delhi Darbar, mentioned above.
Arnolds (Eerikinkatu 15 and Aurakatu 8). If you want to eat something small, Arnolds has very tasty bagels and smoothies. Also, delicious donuts and good, inexpensive coffee.
Café Art (Läntinen rantakatu 5) is probably my favorite coffee shop in Turku. They have absolutely delicious pastries, and the coffee is lovingly prepared by award-winning baristas. Has a nice riverside terrace. Definitely woth a visit.
Café Brahe (Aurakatu 10 and Yliopistonkatu 27). Coffee, huge cinnamon rolls, yummy pastries, and also baguettes, ciabattas, soups and salads if you’re feeling a bit hungry. Also a good selection of different kinds of mineral water, fruit juice and smoothies if you’re not big on coffee. Big terraces (in Yliopistonkatu, and inside the Hansa mall) good for people-watching while you have your cup of coffee.
Fontana Café (Aurakatu 1). A very nice café with a selection of goodies from their own bakery. Serves also lunch on weekdays, and a brunch on Sundays.
Nuvole Gelateria (Eerikinkatu 13). If you want ice cream, this is the place. Absolutely delicious Italian ice cream, enjoyed while sitting in comfy armchairs. What more could you want?
The closest place to the convention site is the pub Proffan kellari (Rehtorinpellonkatu 6), just across the street. It’s a nice neighborhood pub that is used to serving the students and staff of the university. They were kind enough to come back earlier from their summer vacation to open the place just for Finncon, so it is advisable to reward them by visiting them during the convention. Open from noon to 6 PM, Friday to Sunday on Finncon weekend.
The Old Bank (Aurakatu 3) is one of the better (and more expensive) pubs for beer aficionados in Turku. They have around 150 different beers in their selection, some of which are exclusive in Finland, so if you want to sample many different kinds of beer, this is your spot. The Thursday evening pre-Finncon gathering will be here.
The Brewery Restaurant Koulu (Eerikinkatu 18) has a room booked for the convention for most of Friday, and the Friday evening party is also there. As the name suggests, they have their own beers (the wheat beer is especially recommended, if they happen not to be out, which they sadly often are) and ciders. You can also eat here (there is the restaurant side plus a separate pub menu). The place has the biggest outside terrace in Turku (where you can also play pétanque or Mölkky, and, if you’re traveling with children, it’s the only one that also has a playground for kids).
Teerenpeli (Eerikinkatu 8) is another brewery pub. It’s where the Turku pub meetings are held. The place is a chain pub (the brewery is in Lahti), so it’s not local. It has lots of small tables that accommodate groups of different sizes. And if you feel adventurous, their selection also includes their own whisky.
Cosmic Comic Café (Kauppiaskatu 4) is a curiosity among pubs: it has a large selection of comic books you can read while having a coffee or a beer. They also feature exhibitions by Finnish comics artists. The place has rather a good selection of bottled beers, and also (going by what I’m told) a very good selection of ciders for all you suspicious non-beer-drinking types. The prices are probably the consumer-friendliest of this lot of pubs.
The 2011 Tähtivaeltaja Award for best science fiction book published in Finnish last year went to Maarit Verronen for her novel Kirkkaan selkeää (“Bright Clear”), published by Tammi.
The jury commended the novel’s unique voice and the alarming dystopic vision of how the world will be if the well-being of nature and other humans continues to be ignored. The novel was described as an important literary commentary of current society’s more worrying aspects and a thematically solid whole.
The Tähtivaeltaja Award is given to a book either originally published in Finnish or translated to Finnish. This is only the
second third time a Finnish book has been awarded in its 26-year history. The award is given by the Helsinki Science Fiction Society; the jury consisted of critic Hannu Blommila, editor Toni Jerrman, critic Elli Leppä, and journalist Vesa Sisättö.
Finncon 2011 has announced their program schedule. (The link points to the English-language page which is still lacking translations, but those will hopefully be updated soon.)
The program maps have the English program items marked in them, but here’s a list of Finncon & Animecon’s English-language items for easier reference. (Copied from the handy list Jukkahoo posted on Facebook. Thanks, Jukka!)
The Turku mafia (pub meetings) has migrated to Pinella (park side) for the summer. Welcome all tomorrow to meet others over drinks and sfnal discussions starting at 6.
The reading circle discusses Hugo nominated short stories at six thirty. There will also be a new issue of the Turu Mafia Zine tomorrow (somewhat later than usual—I’m out of town for the day and will arrive probably some time after eight with the zines).
I just got information from this year’s Finncon that
some of the hotel quotas will be released at the end of the month. Some rooms will be available until the date announced earlier (June 14), but if you want to make sure you get the room you want, you should book now. More info on the convention web site. Update: the convention staff confirmed that all the rooms will be available until the announced cutoff date after all—their earlier info was premature.
Note: the reservation codes don’t work for Internet booking (at least for every hotel)—you need to e-mail or call the hotel to get a room for the (very good) Finncon rate. Update: The reservations made with the convention code can be cancelled without penalty up to the previous day before the check-in date.
There will also be floor accommodation offered by the convention if you want a very inexpensive place to sleep. The accommodation is at a couple of schools very close to the convention sites (about half a kilometer away); the price is 5 euros/night. There are showers and microwaves at the accommodation, but bring your own sleeping bag and other stuff you need—only floor space is offered at the place. To sign up, fill the form and pay to the Finncon bank account in advance. The floor accommodation will be open on Friday and Saturday nights, from 6 PM to 10 AM next morning.
The finalists for the first Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Awards have been announced. There are two categories, long form and short form. In the short form category, three out of the four finalists are by Finns: Wagtail, by Marketta Niemelä, translated by Liisa Rantalaiho (Usva International 2010); Elegy for a Young Elk by Hannu Rajaniemi, translated by Hannu Rajaniemi (Subterranean Online); and Bear’s Bride by Johanna Sinisalo, translated by Liisa Rantalaiho (The Beastly Bride: Tales of the Animal People). Big congratulations to all the nominees!
Catherynne M. Valente is an American writer, critic and editor. She has written several novels as well as short stories and poetry, and has won, among others, the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Rhysling Award, the Mythopoeic Award, and the Andre Norton Award for her work. Her novel Palimpsest was a Hugo and Locus Award nominee and won the Lambda Literary Award in 2010. Her latest book, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, debuted at number 8 on the New York Times Bestseller List. Her critical work has appeared in the International Journal of the Humanities as well as in the essay anthology Chicks Dig Time Lords. Since last year, she is also the fiction and poetry editor of Apex Magazine.
The latest issue of Tähtivaeltaja (1/2011) has a Finnish translation of the short story A Buyer’s Guide to Maps of Antarctica
Åcon 5 will take place in Mariehamn on May 17–20, 2012. (Still a year to go, alas!)
The second part of the article about Finnish sf is up on the Amazon book blog, courtesy of Jeff. Mentions of many Finnish authors, and quotes from several members of the Finnish fandom. It’s a good read, go take a look!
If you’ve been thinking about going to Eurocon, now is the time to arrange your trip! The convention will be held in Stockholm, June 17–19, and it looks like it’s going to be one of the biggest Swedish conventions ever, with members from over 20 countries.The convention membership fee is 40 € until the end of April, so go over to their site and join up! (If you will be under 26 when the convention starts, you get a free membership; you just need to fill the membership form and you’re all set.)
There will be a group trip from Finland with programming: Båtcon, from Helsinki to Stockholm on Thursday evening and back on the Sunday evening ferry. Båtcon membership 116 € includes the trips, the Båtcon program on Thursday, dinner on Thursday, plus a 20 € coupon for the trip back. And of course the wonderfully sfnal company on the trip! Båtcon signup deadline is Monday, April 25.
There will be over 20 Finns going to the convention, so you don’t need to worry about having to go alone. So come along!
More information about going to the convention from Finland, Båtcon, where to stay, etc. can be found at <euroconiin.wordpress.com>.
The Vandercon tour culminated in the Tähtivaeltaja Day minicon, held in Helsinki this Saturday. Twelwe hours of fantastical programming, starting with more serious panel discussions on new sf trends, translating sf, etc. and gradually gearing towards the more silly side of underwater nazi zombies, quiz shows, and comics karaoke.
The GoH of Vandercon, and Tähtivaeltaja Day, were of course Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. Happily discussing books, authors, writing, weird, the weird, odd (or was it the odd?), squid, mushrooms, bears, and other weird tales, Ann and Jeff had spent the week touring Finland, but were still lovely as always.
Before Ann & Jeff’s cryo couch interview, Jukka and Juha interrupted the program for a quick announcement.
Jeff had been taunted for the whole week about having to give a repeat performance of his interpretative dance. You can see from his expression he was expecting the worst.
However, Juha started talking about the hockey team in their home town of Tallahassee. And not the one they had heard about before…
The Weird fiction today panel
After navigating the maze of twisting passages to find the basement of the basement, the Domus Academica was a pretty good place for a minicon such as this. The program room was just large enough, there was enough room to hang out and talk with friends, and the bar prices were extremely wallet friendly.
The program items that I managed to catch were very good. The “sell a book” contest was once again extremely entertaining; poor Jeff had to read aloud an excerpt of a book… in Finnish. He did very well, considering. The quiz show was pretty unusual this time: you got points for correct answers, and the team with the most points actually won the game. Jeff got shanghaied into once again practicing his Finnish. In the tight match between Finland proper and the rest of Finland, the team comprising Shimo and me was victorious. And there were actual prices too. Yay us!
After a great day catching up with friends, discussing much science fiction, fandom, and plenty of other things, smoking a couple of doutniks in good company, and general merriment, it was time to say teary-eyed goodbyes, send the guests home, and go catch some sleep. A big hand to the organizers of the day—the con was a success and I had a blast! And once again huge thanks also to Ann and Jeff, tirelessly traveling to educate and entertain. You guys are the best!
A week ago, the amazing Vandercon landed in Finland. Ann and Jeff VanderMeer visited us for a tour of lectures, workshops, and fan meetings.
On the way from Helsinki to Turku we stopped at the Fiskars Village for a quick tour of the place, a cup of coffee with Kenneth, an eclectic book shop, and some gourmet chocolate. Plus a very weird (and a bit scary) cryogenic toilet…
Sunday was a rest day in the middle of all the traveling, so there wasn’t any official programming then. After arriving in Turku we had lunch, visited a museum, and had a quiet evening with a couple of friends. The plan was for the travelers to get a decent night’s sleep before spending the whole week hopping from city to city.
On Monday, before the programming started, there was time for some local activities, including a quick visit to a gym with Jeff, and visiting the Logomo exhibition center, where the guests were subjected, among other things, to the fire exhibition.
The first official programming item was a kaffeeklatch-style meet & greet at CaféArt, an excellent art café in the center of the town. A dozen local sf people were present, among them the renowned sf, horror and pulp author Boris Hurtta. The guests were interesting (as always), and the conversation flowed very easily between them and the locals. The cakes and coffee were extremely tasty.
The main event was a talk / multimedia show / interview, organized together with the International Institute of Popular Culture of the University of Turku. Ann and Jeff discussed their projects, and showed a lot of interesting material (many of their works are very visual, for example the Steampunk Bible, The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, and of course the Weird Tales magazine, so this kind of a presentation was very well suited for the occasion), followed by an interview and a Q&A session.
At dinner, at the viking restaurant Harald. Plenty of food, all of it good. The honey beer wasn’t bad either.
The evening continued at Cosmic Comic Café with beers and lots of itneresting and fun discussion.
On Tuesday, it was time to say goodbye (for a while), as Ann and Jeff contined their tour to Jyväskylä.
Kati Kovács’s work is close to the ideal Numminen held in his youth: strange and surprising. The improvised-looking style is also charming enough to be a winner.The award sum is 5 000 €. The Comics Finlandia award is given by the Tampere Kuplii ry. and Luova Tampere.
Heikki Paakkanen, in his book Amerikka, creates intriguing contrasts on the United States and uses cliches to his, and the reader’s, advantage. The art is as fine as always in Paakkanen’s works, and personal enough to stand above the masses.
Ann and Jeff VanderMeer are visiting Finland on their European tour. They will be in Turku on April 11, with a kaffeeklatsch, a public presentation at the university, and later a meeting at a pub for some beers and chatting.
From Turku, the tour continues to Jyväskylä and Tampere on Tuesday the 12th and Wednesday the 13th, respectively, with programming in Kirjailijatalo and Metso, plus pub meetings later in the evening. On Thursday, there will be a public lecture at the University of Helsinki, plus the Helsinki pub meeting afterwards.
On Friday, Ann and Jeff are the GoHs of ESCON 2011, a minicon in Espoo with the emphasis this year on writing sf (see link for details of the program).
The main event is the Tähtivaeltaja Day minicon in Helsinki on Saturday, where Ann & Jeff will also be starring as GoHs. These minicons are always a hoot, and having such great GoHs will definitely not hurt either.
Go check out the links for the Vandercon, coming soon to a city near you, and participate! And then head to Helsinki for the next weekend for Tähtivaeltaja Day! You won’t regret it!
Finncon 2011 has announced their hotel deals (only in Finnish, at least at the moment).
All the hotels (except for Caribia, which is the closest to the convention) are located in or very near the center of Turku, about a 20 minutes’ walk (or under a 10 minutes' bus ride) from the university campus area where the convention is held. The official con hotel (where the GoHs will be staying, unless I’m mistaken) is the Hamburger Börs, smack down in the city center (Note: see Mirka’s comment below—the official con hotel is still being negotiated).
Update: The reservation code for at least the Hamburger Börs (possibly for others as well) doesn’t work for internet reservations—to book with the special Finncon price, send the hotel e-mail or call them.
The special Finncon prices are valid until June 14 (or until the room quota runs out). All prices include breakfast. Most Hamburger Börs and all City Börs, Seurahuone, Marina, and Plaza rooms have free wi-fi. Caribia rooms have free broadband (wi-fi not specified).
If you’re looking for something more special, there are a couple of other options I can recommend. (Free wi-fi included in the room price with all of these as well.)
Turku is full of events this summer, so it is probably a good idea to reserve your rooms soon!
The Ministry of Education has once again announced the cultural grants for magazines for “having a discussion in society about culture, science, arts, or religion”.
At the mafia pub meeting this month, we agreed on starting a reading circle where those who want to participate can read an sf story and then discuss it at the next meeting. This might not go on every time, but at least occasionally.
The first story to read is Ted Chiang’s Nebula-nominated The Lifecycle of Software Objects. The text is available online, so everyone can read it before April’s meeting. Come join the discussion!
On Saturday, many of the Finnish fandom’s active members gathered in the Tampere winter swimmers’ sauna cabin for the annual smoffing meeting. This year there were more people than I remember there ever being (someone said they counted 70 participants), and it showed a bit; the building was bursting at the seams.
Before the traditional general co-operation meeting, there was the annual meeting of the Finncon association. It was business as usual—closing of the previous year, looking at the plans for the current year. A new board for the association was elected. Karo Leikomaa continues as chair, and Harri Kiiskinen and Pasi Vihinen continue as members of the board. New members this year are Ari Seppi from Tampere and Saija Aro from Espoo (but also representing Jyväskylä).
The co-operation meeting went smoothly, thanks to Jukkahoo who chaired the meeting very efficiently. This year most of the societies present had also done as was asked, and prepared their presentations beforehand, so there was much less going back-and-forth, remembering activities bit by bit, than in the previous few years. This is a practice I hope will continue in the following years. I would like to see the meeting be a bit more efficient still: in my opinion it’s not necessary to go over all the standard stuff that continues from year to year: publishing a club zine, having regular pub meetings, etc. These things could be collected in a info letter, for example, and use the meeting time for discussing things that aren’t exactly the same each year (such as bigger events, and also changes to the usual routines of course).
The usual activities took place after the meeting: sauna + swimming in the lake (quite a few braved the icy lake, despite the freezing weather), filking, raffle, announcing the NoFF delegate (Susanna Leppälahti from Turku will be attending a convention somewhere in the Nordic countries this year), the NoFF auction (which, if I remember correctly, took in about 400 €; a great result), informal meetings, and of course eating and drinking with friends from all over Finland. We also saw a sneak preview of material from the long awaited Iron Sky movie. And had a meeting of the Señor Humidor’s Wondrously Scientifictional Cigar Society. Nice cigars in good company—who cares if it was cold enough to freeze the beer I was drinking while smoking the cigar.
This year the meeting time was longer than before, and I thought it worked very well. The Finncon association meeting was held before the regular meeting (which is excellent, because it takes a while and not everybody needs or wants to be present for it), and also the evening ran longer because the place for reserved for the whole evening. This made for a much more relaxed evening—there are so many activities that the evening has felt very rushed. What I’d like to see in the future would be making the evening less strictly programmed. For example, I would reserve the sauna for a longer period, not just a couple of hours. I’m sure there are people, for example, who aren’t that interested in the hour-long raffle, or the filking session, but would like to relax in the sauna instead. I see no need to try to put all the activities back-to-back, thinking everyone will want to participate in every one of those.
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On Sunday, a few of us met for the now quasi-traditional brunch. As always, this was more of a nice and relaxed meeting of friends, taking a couple of hours before heading home. Something said during the brunch caught my attention, and we discussed the idea further with Harri on the way back. Jukka suggested that the co-operation meeting could officially be a two-day event, and I think this would be an excellent idea. It would allow for more time to have smaller meetings (such as a board meeting for the Finncon association) without having to try to cram it all in one evening—and naturally also leave more room for socializing on Saturday. Not everyone who attends the general meeting on Saturday would want (or need) to attend the Sunday part, so a much smaller venue would do.
Sunday’s schedule could be something like:
My idea of the ideal Smof Sunday would be a very relaxed, loosely programmed day. There could, and should, be some scheduled meetings (the aforementioned Finncon association board meeting would be a good candidate, and perhaps for example a FSFWA meeting as well), but there should also be plenty of time for informal smoffing. This would be a great opportunity for discussing the upcoming events in more detail (Finncon planning), bouncing ideas off other “smofs”, and just socializing. Does this sound like something people would like to try? I’d be game for trying this on for size next year. How about you?
My thanks for the organizers! Next year the meeting will be held on Saturday, February 25. See you in Tampere!
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