Sunday, October 31, 2004

Back to Reality

…or Snorfcon, Day Three.
Day One Day Two

The first Snorfcon is over. We shared views, got new ideas and had many interesting conversations. Although there clearly are big differences between the way of thinking in fandoms in different Nordic countries, I definitely think there is much more that the active fans have in common that what sets them apart. And I’m pretty sure that this meeting will result in increased cooperation—or at least communication—within the Nordic fandom. How, where, and when exactly, remains to be seen.

Dinner on Friday Night.

All things are possible when you put a dozen fan actives in a room for a couple of days and close the door. Including making not only one, but three credible (sounding) bids for a make-believe convention in just two hour’s time and presenting them to the other participants.

The bid for the Nordicon in Oslo even had a presentation, including pictures of the con site. Most impressive.

Another thing that especially impressed me was The “Snorf” dot One, a fanzine Knud Larn produced some time between Saturday and Sunday—I still can’t figure out how that is possible—and distributed on Sunday morning.

As I had expected, the most important and memorable thing about Snorfcon was all the people I got to meet. I mean, I’d met most of these people before, but not really talked to that many of them. At least, nowhere nere as much as after spending a weekend with them talking about things we all know and love. And by listening to fans from other countries, I gained more insight about the Finnish fandom and what makes it tick. Perhaps more on that some day.

There were a lot of things that did not get discussed, and everyone agreed that the first Snorfcon shouldn’t also be the last. But for now, many thanks to the organizers who made this happen. And a very special thank you to Olav, our gracious host for the weekend.

Others: Johan Anglemark has a report on his blog about this Snorfcon (in Swedish).

A Glorious Day of Smoffing

…or Snorfcon, Day Two.

Blessed technology! The ATM’s (well, some of them) work with international credit cards, and hand you these cute little paper thingies that you can then give to the locals in exchange for food and drinks. They are rather handy, actually. I vaguely remember there used to be something like this when I was younger…

The day was a lot of fun. The discussion was lively and flowed seamlessly from one subject to another. Ideas were tossed around and people were really interested in not only how others do things but how to do more things together. Some ruminations about a Nordic sf convention were also whispered.

After dinner (at an Italian restaurant this time), this evening didn’t go on quite as long as yesterday (which is probably a very good thing, considering that we still have one day to go). And of course, this is the unique “sleep an extra hour for free” night, which helps a little. Happy Halloween!

Next: Back to Reality
Previous: Day One

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Oh Show Me the Way to the Next Whisky Bar

...or Snorfcon, Day One.

Things started out quite nicely. There was no official program today, but we all met (except Johan °, who was missing) and after waiting (for him) for a while, went to the restaurant we were supposed to eat, anyway – only to find him there, drinking beer and waiting for us.

We had dinner at a really nice Persian restaurant. The only (little) complaint I have is that I ordered the spicy cource, and it wasn’t. But otherwise it was really tasty and reasonably priced. Yum.

The evening continued at a local pub, and afterwards – after the Norwegians, and a bit later, the Swedes, had dropped out of the game, in an Irish pub (which had the music selection of anything but. I’ve never really liked Duran Duran, but Wild Boys played at full volume with the full bar dancing is quite uplifting). After which (at around 3 a.m. local time) it was time to retire for the day. Photos to follow, maybe, if I find a place with a Wi-Fi connection.

Things I’ve learned about Denmark so far:
  • “en øl til” gets you a long way
  • this stupid backwater country doesn’t accept credit cards in pubs and many shops — be sure to carry enough cash or have generous local friends

Next: A Glorious Day of Smoffing

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Goin’ Snorfin’

Snorfcon is this weekend. I’m really looking forward to this “No books—No movies—No GoHs—Only smofs” event. There will be twenty-ish members from the Nordic countries (sadly, only two from Finland), and the program looks like a lot of fun: “Fanacs anonymous”, “dark, quiet and smoke-filled backrooms”, “to pay or not to pay” (I guess it is obvious where the Finns stand on this when looking at the attendance), “If I ran the zoo-con” etc.

(By the way, after all these years it still sucks not being able to buy duty-free while flying abroad. I’m old-fashioned that way. Oh well, all part of being one merry union. At least I don’t have to exchange currency thanks to the euro. Oh wait… dammit Danes, get with the program!)

Monday, October 25, 2004

Political Animal Farm

No, I’m not going to start running political commentaries here. But I thought I’d note that there were a few (at least a little) sfnal candidates on this year’s municipal elections (held yesterday). Not everyone I’d hoped to see get elected did, though. But in the new Turku city council there is Ville Niinistö, who has occasionally been seen hanging around the fandom circles (and sometimes, the other way around). And in the neighboring town of Piikkiö, former TSFS activist and amateur writer Mari Saario got into the council.

Bubbling under in the ”almost-made-the-cut” crowd in Turku was Jaana Gustafsson, who years ago was the chairman of TSFS, and in Helsinki, Leena Krohn, author of several quite sfnal books (correction: same name, different person).

Interestingly, all of the above represent the Finnish Green League. Is the future really this green? Or maybe just the future of political science fiction in Finland.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Herding Sheep

New management for the Turku Science Fiction Society was selected in the society's meeting today. Also the plan of action and budget for next year were presented. Next year will be a kind of a leap year (there won't be a Finncon, nor Fantasiapidot, and not many local fen seem to be that interested in the worldcon either), but there are a few local events planned for 2005, and they include some brand new ideas, which is very nice. For a few years now, it has seemed to me that the local sf activities have stagnated to mostly sitsis and other parties with always the same people, same location, same music etcetera. So I'm very glad to see things evolving once again.

Maybe this has something to do with new people at the helm. Maarit Lamminen was selected as the chair (although she's handled the task since last Spring, after Shimo Suntila, chairman and editor for many years, resigned his post). A good choice, since I think Maarit has already stepped up and proved herself up to the task. Also the society's fanzine Spin will get a new editor next year. Johanna Ahonen was today officially announced as the new editor. Will look forward to the new Spin on things also.

Once again, not many people showed up for the meeting. Often, I've wondered if it is at all possible to get members of our different societies to be more active and take part in things, or at least to show up and speak their mind about who should run the society and how it should be run. Or if we should even try, for that matter. Maybe we should just be content that we can do what we like, without other people butting in with their opinions. But I'm afraid that will eventually lead to the societies withering and dying for lack of new blood. Even though some new people were chosen for the board last year and again this year, they had all either been on the board previously, or were already active in some other local society. So no really new faces, I'm afraid. But maybe the new leadership will succeed in promoting the sf activities and perhaps inspiring new people to come abroad. And so, here's the brave new TSFS inner circle:

The new board poses at the sf society's clubhouse.
From the left: Janna Jokela, Maarit Lamminen, Kirsi Saaros, Leila Paananen, Katja Rosvall, Johanna Ahonen and Tomi Junnila. Missing from the picture are Tytti Korhonen and Elina Keskitalo.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Lahti Gets Plundered. Again.

The Lahti fandom has moved to Turku (a while ago, actually). Or a significant portion, anyway. Including Pasi Karppanen, who is the current editor of STk's fanzine Kosmoskynä, and who had a significant role in rebirthing the Lahti fandom a couple of years ago after the previous generation had moved to Helsinki way back when. Visited Suvi [Allén, an active member of TSFS] and Pasi's housewarming party today. Nice folks, lots of stuff in the apartment...

Friday, October 08, 2004

Another Fun Evening

Yesterday saw the second gathering of the brave new Turku mafia. There was quite a nice turnout (11 persons) and a couple of new faces, which is always a delight. (Hi to Matti, Katja and Aatu!)

Topics discussed included (but were not limited to) the educational aspects of tentacles, whether making a good PKD movie necessitates throwing away the good PKD book, Ford Prefect's freckles and the current status of the Lahti fandom. Greetings were sent to Helsinki (which had a concomitant mafia evening). A couple of fanzines were browsed (most interest generated Emerald City which had in the latest issue an article about the Finnish sf fandom).

The next gathering will be on November 4th. Be there!

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Book Fair

The Turku Book Fair was held this weekend. The fair is an annual event aimed at the public. That is, it isn't just for publishers shopping for things to buy and agents and authors trying to sell themselves to the publishers. Of course, there is that too, but mainly it is an event for the book lovers to meet their favorite authors, see what's new in the market and shop at the second hand bookstores that come from all around Finland to take part in the fair.
A general view of the Book Fair
This year the fair seemed to draw a little smaller crowd than previous years. Or it might just be that most visitors just went to the main hall where the bookstores and publishers were – it was quite crowded in there. In the halls where they had the concomitant science fair and the second hand bookstores, you could actually walk around and browse the items on sale without having to push and shove to get at the tables. Which was nice.
Science Fiction and Fantasy in Finland booth
The local science fiction society had put up a booth, which I think this year was a bit on the anemic side, but managed to draw in people nevertheless – althought most of them seemed only interested in the buttons that were sold there. There were also some sf books for sale (both from publishers and from individual collections) and a small photo exhibition of Fantasiapidot (a pseudo-medieval feast that was held in July).
The Finnish Fantasy Panel
There were a couple of items of sf programming this year. One was a discussion about the state of current Finnish fantasy literature. I was unable to listen to it (just popped in for a quick photo). Unfortunately, as it seemed rather interesting.
Alastair Reynolds
This year, we also had a guest author, Alastair Reynolds, whose second book, Kuilukaupunki (Chasm City) was just published in Finnish. Like was kind enough to bring Mr. Reynolds to visit the book fair to talk a bit about his book and meet the local people.
The Space Opera Panel
There was also a panel discussion about modern space opera. Among others, topics covered included everyone's favorite space operas, different definitions of the term (modern or otherwise) and several theories about why the Earth always seems to be blown up or otherwise dealt away with in space operas.

After hours
Inka, Kanerva and Paavo in the pub Old Bank
The evening was continued in a local pub. It was nice to see a few persons outside Turku attend also. (Kanerva from Jyväskylä (center) with her friend Inka (left) and Paavo from Oulu portrayed here.)
Jouni and J-P listening to Alastair Reynolds in Old Bank
Alastair Reynolds also popped in to meet local fen. He's an extremely nice fellow, and a very interesting person to have a chat with. Even though he had had a very long day (several, in fact), he seemed genuinely happy to see local sf people and have a couple of beers with them. If you ever have an opportunity to meet Mr. Reynolds, I warmly suggest you seize it. You won't regret it.
Tuukka, Johanna, Suvi and Maarit in Old Bank
Local fandom.
More people sitting at the pub

* * *

Nothing much happened on Sunday. Spent a couple of hours at the sf booth, mainly talking to people. Went around the fair a couple of times managing not to buy almost anything. With a couple of exceptions worth mentioning. Finally got Valtaistuinpeli (A Game of Thrones) by George R.R. Martin. It's published in Finnish by Kirjava, a small press founded by Satu and Jan Hlinovsky. It's their first book (of many, I hope). I've been meaning to buy it for some time now, but until now never got around to it. Satu and Jan are very nice people, and I'm happy to support them. And since the book is very well spoken of by many, I'm actually anticipating getting to read it, too. I'd very much like to like a fantasy book, but unfortunately it doesn't happen very often. Maybe this is the occasion.

Another purchase that I can't wait to get my eyes on was Nimbus ja tähdet, a story collection by Tero Niemi and Anne Salminen. It's the first book by writers who won the Atorox prize last year and came in second this year (these two short stories are included in the collection along with several others), so I have quite high hopes for this one. The book is published by Atena, and is also a first for them in the field of science fiction. Go buy it so hopefully it is not the last. A big minus for Atena for not bringing the authors to the book fair ("They're coming to Helsinki..." – you'd think that being from Jyväskylä would help the publisher to be a little less Helsinki-centered), but kudos for them for publishing the book in the first place.

All in all, a fun event once again. If you missed it, you can try the one in Helsinki at the end of the month.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Finlandia Award Nominees 2018

The Finlandia Award nominees for this year have been announced, and there are a couple of familiar sfnal names in the mix. Magdalena Hai’s K...