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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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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.
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