Saturday, December 09, 2006

Markku Soikkeli Wins Portti Award

Markku SoikkeliM.G. Soikkeli has won the Portti short story competition. This is the third win for Markku. The results were announced in Tampere on Thursday; this was the 21st time the competition was held.

The second place was a tie between an old hand Harri Erkki and a new name Vesa-Pekka Herva. Third place was also a tie (and shouldn’t it really be fourth since two persons came second) between Petri Laine and J.K. Miettinen.

Anne has a report with some pictures.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

True Fantasy?

The 2007 Eurovision Song Contest theme is apparently True Fantasy. “Light vs. darkness, northern fells vs. islands in the south, our strong bond to nature vs. fast technological development, taciturnity against inner strength and creative madness” are among the ideas explored.

No, I don’t expect “true fantasy” from the event. But wouldn’t it be nice to actually have fantasy authors and illustrators design the thing, addressing the themes mentioned above…

Monday, November 27, 2006

Åcon Venue Announced

Front view of the Hotel Adlon

Now doesn’t that look nice? That’s Hotel Adlon, where Åcon will be held. Åcon will be a hotel con, which means everything is located very conveniently under the same roof. Detailed accommodation info is now available on the convention site. You know you want to attend so go there right now and join us…

Friday, November 24, 2006

Christmas Party Time

Christmas is coming, and so is the opportunity to celebrate the season with friends in fandom. Several societies have announced their annual Christmas parties already.

The first one is TSFS, whose party will be held tomorrow (November 25) at 6 o’clock at the TYY sauna (Rehtorinpellonkatu 4 A). There’ll be festivities, snacks, the “famous” ruffle and a sauna. This year’s theme is James Bond (quite a timing—Casino Royale opens here tonight). Quite how they plan to fit together a Bond-style casino atmosphere with gambling and martinis, a party for the whole family with children running around, Christmas stuff, and going to the sauna, I’m not sure, but I hope it works out.

Spektre will celebrate together with TYR on Friday December 1 at club Domus, starting at six. They have selected surrealism and dreams as the theme for the year. Surrealistic clothing is optional. There will be games, cookie eating contest, reading of dreams, and a present exchange—bring a small gift with you. It’s a potluck, so attendees should take something to eat with them. More info available from Maria Manki.

The Jyväskylä sf society 42 will have a Christmas party on December 16. No further information yet.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Kari Nenonen Has Died

Kari Nenonen, author of several sf and horror books, translator, and an Olde Cavalier, passed away yesterday in Helsinki. He wasn’t very active in fandom in his last years, and I didn’t really know him personally, but it’s always sad when a member of fandom departs this life.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Pasi Jääskeläinen Speaks

Pasi (Ilmari) Jääskeläinen was interviewed by Nadja Nowak at YLE (Radio 1) today about his new novel, Lumikko ja yhdeksän muuta. A re-run will be on YLE1 on Sunday at 8:50, but you can also go and listen to the recording on the YLE site (mp3 link).

Thursday, November 02, 2006

All Quiet on the Mafia Front

An unusually quiet mafia tonight, only six people present. Maybe it was the lousy weather (we’ve finally got the first snow of the year here in Turku, yay!) or the fact that many thought they’d meet each other anyway at Halloween parties on the weekend; who knows.

Didn’t stop the rest of us from having good and surprisingly sfnal conversation anyway. Somehow I don’t seem to be able to recall much of it afterwards (no, beer doesn’t have everything to do with that, thankyouverymuch), but there were books… and movies… and conventions… and, for some strange reason, a lot of talk about James Bond. (Which, by the way, is the theme of the Turku Christmas party on Saturday the 25th.)

The mafia zine was very short this time, due to the fact that I had too much stuff to write about (yes, there is a certain logic buried under that sentence). Main topic was a commentary on the “realist fantasy” literary manifesto of late in the Finnish fandom circles. Maybe I’ll write something about that here also (later).

Necrocomicon is in two days.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

VanderMeer on Findom

SF Site has just published a column by Jeff VanderMeer, on which he discusses (among other things) his visit to Finland as Guest of Honor at Finncon 2006. As everyone who met him there already knows, he liked the quite a bit, and on the column he says more nice things, like this:
I was impressed with how knowledgeable Finnish fantasy fans were and how seriously they took books and the authors they enjoyed. I have rarely if ever been confronted by readers who knew so much about what they loved.
Along with the column there are also three interviews conducted in Finland. So, go read Jeff’s words and listen to Jukka Halme, Toni Jerrman and Niko Aula (of Loki books) talk about sf.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Comics in Turku on Saturday

Necrocomicon is an event for everybody who’s interested in comics. Organized by the Turku comics club (“resurrected like a zombie, just for Halloween”), it promises to tackle all kinds of comics with an underground bent. You can meet comics artists, buy small press comics & zines, follow the programming, participate in comics-themed quizzes, etc.

The event is held at S-Osis (Rehtorinpellonkatu 6) and the doors open at 10 (in the morning, that is, if you can believe any comics artists are up by then). The comics-themed evening party starts at 8 at the same location; there’s a cover charge of 2 euros for those coming in after that. There will be live music, performed by Veltto Virtanen, Verde, Freakenstein, and Jumalan ruoska.

Update: If you want to get a head start, there will be pre-con-festivities on Friday night at the Cosmic Comic Café. (The comics club has an extra meeting at the same place on Thursday also, but the readers of this blog will be at the sf mafia at Bremer then—right?)

Turku Pub Meeting on Thursday

Welcome once again to Bar Bremer on Thursday at 6. Agenda is as usual: an open pub meeting for everyone interested in science fiction and fantasy to meet others interested in similar things and discuss everything (yes, even sf) over a few beers.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Science Fiction Sunday

The Helsinki Book Fair starts today. On Sunday, the Helsinki sf societies arrange the traditional “Sf Sunday” programming at the Fair center (Katri Vala auditorium).

The speakers are:
  • 14:00 Leena Krohn talks about what you need fantasy for
  • 14:40 Steve Aylett (interviewed by Iida Simes)
  • 15:00 New weird, surrealism, magic realism; a panel discussion on current fantasy trends (Jan Hlinovsky, Hannu Blommila, Jukka Halme, Elli Leppä, Juha-Pekka Koskinen)
  • 15:40 the “Kuvastaja” award for best Finnish fantasy book of the year
  • 15:50 Pasi Jääskeläinen (interviewed by Kanerva Eskola)
  • 16:10 Anu Holopainen (interviewed by Aleksi Kuutio)
  • 16:30 J. Pekka Mäkelä (interviewed by Toni Jerrman)
  • 16:50 Vesa Sisättö talks about Finnish science fiction and fantasy literature
  • 17:20 How to get published; a panel discussion (Jukka Halme, Anne Leinonen, Tuomas Sorjamaa, Kimmo Lehtonen)
The doors are open on Sunday from 10 to 18. Day ticket is 12 €.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

More Notes from Friday

The program book of the con is nice. And the excellent bar spent a lot of the evening playing Iron Maiden. The spirit of fandom was released during the opening ceremonies. After a recount there are fifteen Finns here.

Friday, October 13, 2006

At Swecon

Arrived in Sweden very early in the morning.Shopped at Comics Heaven and Sf Bokhandeln, and ate a very nice pub lunch.

Imagicon is well organized for a Swedish convention. Everything was in place, program items start on time, and there even are a con newsletter and helpful signs outside pointing the way to the con site.

GoH sightings. Joe Haldeman stopped being conforming after he realized people weren't going to throw hand grenades at him for being different any more. Geoff Ryman wanted to talk about sex because he thought it would be more interesting than talking about writing.

The current panelists are talking very quietly, so I'm sitting in the back, blogging instead.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Off to Swecon

That’s it for this week—at least when work is concerned. I—along with quite a few others—am off to Swecon. The ferry leaves tonight.

The last couple of years, the Swecon delegation from Finland has been pretty much Ben, Jukka & me (Ben and Jukka were there before that, too). We’ve had fun—and also told others here so. Maybe partly because of that, and no doubt because the Swedes came to Finncon in force this year and had a visible Swecon presence, there are now thirteen Finns going to Imagicon. That’s right, count them, thirteen! That’s quite a leap from three. The Nordic fandom is coming together, and I’m very excited about that.

See you in Stockholm!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thursday Things

  • zombie lemons are scary to some
  • Åcon will be great and have many participants; we will probably have to fend off all the people wanting to join at the door; this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t join up right now, though
  • people have strange experiences with the customs office, having tried to bring things like lightsabers or indian chief head gear into the country
  • it can pay to pose as a royalty when traveling abroad (even a Finnish royalty)
  • understanding the thing about the 30 euro bills can be difficult
Yes, today’s mafia was one of those evenings. In addition to the topics above, I present you some speculative fiction from our guest book; that is, titles for the Risto Isomäki bestseller book from alternate realities:
  • Sarasvatin miekka (the jolly sword and sorcery romp)
  • Sarasvatin keikka (the noir crime story in the style of Donald Westlake)
  • Sarasvati breikkaa (the music industry–themed YA novel)
  • Sarasvatilla leikkaa (the detective story)
  • Sarasvati meikkaa (the chic lit book)
  • Sairas vaatii Kreikkaan (the gripping drama)
  • Sarasvuo feikkaa (the cynical analysis of trendy business world)
There were many more, but my fingers are tired, so I’ll spare you. Good night.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Tomorrow Is First Thursday

First Thursday of the month tomorrow, which of course means it’s time for another pub meeting!

So come to Bar Bremer at six to swap stories about the loot from the Book Fair, inquire about Åcon, ask about going to Swecon, or just talk about whatever else comes to mind!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Åcon in May 2007

Åcon will be held from Thursday, May 17 to Sunday, May 20, 2007 in Mariehamn, Åland. It will be a convention very different from a Finncon; a smallish (the target size is 100 members) convention, with a membership fee, and focus more on the fannish community and less on the general public.

Hal DuncanÅcon’s guest of honor will be Hal Duncan, a British author whose debut novel Vellum has gotten quite a bit of attention in the sf circles. His second novel (and the other half of “The Book of All Hours”), Ink, will be published in February. Mr. Duncan should prove a very interesting guest to meet, I think.

The membership fee of Åcon is 20 €. All paid members can join the con info and debate e-mail list (if they want) and participate in planning the convention, so it pays to pay up early (more details on how to do this to be announced quite soon, hopefully). The con web site will also be up soon.

The Åcon committee is Eemeli Aro (chair), Jukka Halme, Ben Roimola and myself.

Update 2006-10-05: Added link to the con web site.

Friday, September 29, 2006

42 Moves

The web site of the Jyväskylä science fiction society 42 (organizer of Finncon 2007, by the way) has graduated from the university hosting to its own domain,

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Authors and Vampires: the Turku Book Fair

The Turku Book Fair will be arranged for the 14th time this weekend, from Friday September 29 to Sunday October 1. The has a stand, “Science fiction ja fantasia Suomessa,” at the Book Fair (booth A83), so if you happen to be at the Fair, come say hello and listen to contemporary Finnish authors talk about their books!

The speaker schedule at the sf booth is:

  • 14:00 Sari Peltoniemi
  • 15:00 Anne Leinonen
  • 11:00 Anne Leinonen
  • 11:30 Anu Holopainen
  • 13:00 J. Pekka Mäkelä
There will also be a vampire symposium at the Fair on Sunday, organized by TSFS and STk. The symposium will be at meeting room 3 from 14:00 to 16:00. The topics will be:
  • A vampire with feelings (Outi Hakola)
  • The vampire: the lovely Anti-Christ (Markku Soikkeli)
  • Vampires and sexuality (Tanja Sihvonen)
  • The borrowed qualities of vampires in RPGs (J. Tuomas Harviainen)
At the same time with the Book Fair, there will be the Antiquarian Literature Fair, the Science Fair, and the Food Fair (the ticket to all these events costs 14 €).

Update: A few of us will be gathering at the Brewery Restaurant Koulu on Saturday evening at 7 for dinner and drinks. If you’d like to join us, contact me (phone 040 861 9326).

Tamfan on Saturday

Ben and Irma holding a poster of Finncon 2006The Tamfan 2006 fantasy convention will be held this Saturday (September 30) in Tampere. This year’s theme is fandom, and the guests of honor are distinguished members Irma Hirsjärvi and Ben Roimola.

The con site is the student house of the Tampere university (Kauppakatu 10), and the doors open at 16:30.

(Unfortunately, the organizers scheduled the convention against another event, the Turku Book Fair.)

Friday, September 08, 2006


Yesterday’s pub meeting was full of smoffing. There was a lot of talk about what to do with local sf activities and the local sf club zine. Too bad there weren’t too many persons from the club itself to take part in the discussion. (Have to try and remember some of the more feasible ideas and write them down for later use.)

Finncon was remembered fondly (some memories published in the mafia fanzine too). Ideas for the Turku book fair were thrown in the air; some will probably come to fruition. Talk about Swecon (a couple of potential members) and Åcon (some new members for that too). Some wild ideas for future mafia events as well—we’ll see if anything comes out of that.

All in all a bit different evening, but a succesful one, I’d say.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pub Meeting on Thursday

First Thursday of the month once again, and time to meet other Turku fen at the monthly pub meeting. Bar Bremer at six, as usual.

There will be fanzines: Turu Mafia Zine has some Finncon memoirs, and if you missed my one shot “FCZ” at Finncon and would like to have it, here’s your chance for that too.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Finncon GoH Filks

The lyrics to the filks that were sung at the Finncon evening party are now available on the net. The filks, written for the guests of honor, are: Bye bye to the body and mind (for Justina Robson), Festival of Freshwater Squid (for Jeff VanderMeer, there’s also a Finnish translation), Gubben Rickard (for Rickard Berghorn), and Sarasvatin hiekkaa (for Risto Isomäki).

Monday, August 28, 2006

Finncon Videos from VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer has posted a couple of videos taken at the Finncon Saturday party on YouTube: the Ambergris filk performed by the Filk Freaks, and snippets from the mad scientist laughter competition.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Fandom Awards

The Atorox awardThere were many awards given out during Finncon. I’ve already blogged about the Atorox award (won by Jenny Kangasvuo), as well as the Tähtivaeltaja award that went to Risto Isomäki. Other awards at the con were:

  • the Kosmoskynä award was given to Liisa Rantalaiho; this life achievement award is given by the Finnish Science Fiction Writers Association in recognition of advancing Finnish science fiction literature.
  • first price in the Nova short story competition went to Mari Saario for her story Keveät (“The Light Ones”). Timo Saarto was second, and Tiina Raevaara came third.
  • Mari Saario also took the first prize in the Hekuma contest for writing erotic stories with a short story called Sateenkaari 2256 (“Rainbow 2256”). In this competition, M.G. Soikkeli was in the second place, and the third prize went to Jenny Kangasvuo, who also won the Atorox. It seems it’s not lonely at the top after all, but there is room for at least two.
  • The Espoo science fiction society ESC announced an award for “the Espoo sf act of the year,” which was given to Vesa Sisättö
  • The Jet-Ace Logan Appreciation Society named the plot in the King Kong comic book, issues 7 and 8, as the most ridiculous way to conquer the Earth (which includes giant sea creatures and mechanical animals). Also, the most stupefying way to save the Earth was in the Fifth Element, where Bruce Willis activates Milla Jovovitch by kissing her

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Finncon: Saturday Evening

The official Finncon party took place at the restaurant Kaisaniemi which was very nostalgic for me, because the first Finncon I attended had its party there too, in 1989. This time was definitely an improvement—no live band to begin with. The food was pretty good, and the place not too crowded. If it hadn’t been unpleasantly hot inside, it would have made an excellent venue for the party.

Vesa Sisättö, on the right, wrestling the award away from the rest of ESC

There was some programming, but not too much to get in the way. A couple of awards were given by The Espoo science fiction society ESC (the award is the big black gorilla, in the picture above second from the right) and the Jet Ace Logan Appreciation Society (shown below).

The Jet-Ace Logan Appreciation Society standing tall on the stage

A couple of performances followed. Anne Leinonen and Katja Salminen read sample entries from the Hekuma erotic writing contest. There were a couple of small gems in the selection.

Anne Leinonen and Katja Salminen standing on stage reading

The Filk Freaks from Tampere had prepared customized filks for the guests of honor. Especially the first one about Ambergris and the Festival had the audience in stitches.

The Filk Freaks singing in front of the stage

Eemeli Aro, a relatively recent but admirably energetic addition to the Finnish fandom, performed a mad, but funny “documentary” about science fiction fans.

Eemeli presenting specimens of a science fiction fan

A great idea (that I hope we won’t see at every con from now on) was the “mad scientist laugh contest”. I think “hysterical” describes the event very well, and some of these mad scientist–wannabes were downright scary!

Kummisetä laughing madly

People ate, drank and were merry, for they knew that tomorrow they would still have another day of Finncon left. It’s a good thing it was a very short distance from the restaurant to our hotel…

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Finncon: Saturday

Saturday was just packed. I went to the con site before the doors were opened to help set up the fandom table, and the site was already hot. This didn’t bode well.

People setting up the table for the Helsinki societies

The opening ceremonies. The usual stuff. Organizers talking, usually introducing the guests and thanking a lot of people. Wishing everybody a good convention, if they’re feeling especially generous. They had all that, with the Finncon head honcho Jukka Halme and the Animecon representative Kyuu Eturautti doing the talking. In addition, there were some very funny translations appearing on the screen behind them.

Jukkahoo behind the podium, Kyuu Eturautti standing beside it; funny translations on the screen in the back Finncon Guests standing and waving to the audience
…and yes, the guests got introduced to the audience.

The two panels I had agreed to do were back-to-back right after the ceremonies. First, we talked about fanzines with Anne Leinonen moderating and Pasi Karppanen and Ben Roimola also participating. I thought we did pretty well, and got some discussion going (Ben of course was an easy target with stupid ideas like there being too many fanzines already). I produced and gave out a fanzine called FCZ, made specially for the occasion, that had some background on fanzines, short articles on zine writing by Anne and Jukka Laajarinne, plus a brief look at Finnish fanzines and an even more brief mention of a couple of foreign zines.

Audience sitting at the foreign cons panel

The other panel was about foreign cons, how they differ from Finnish ones, and why everyone should go to them, with Cheryl Morgan (moderating), Johan Anglemark and Fionna O’Sullivan. That went quite ok also, I thought, even if most of the panel was Cheryl talking about her extensive knowledge about different conventions around the world (which I think was the best way to do the item anyway). In the end, I’m still not sure we really got anybody interested in going to a con abroad. Unfortunately.

Johan and Nea sitting at the bar with beersAfter the panels, I felt for a break, so I headed to the bar, and sat there for a while with Harri (another fan from Turku), talking with many people from several countries. A few beers were just the thing before getting on with the convention. The hallways were much too crowded, so the order of the day was either watching the program items or sitting in the bar (not that I’m complaining about that—not much, anyway).

Jeff VanderMeer reading amidst the rubble from the destruction auction

While GoH Jeff VanderMeer was reading there was also in another room what I was told was easily one of the best panels of the day, Kulttuurit kohtaavat (“The clash of cultures”). But VanderMeer reading excerpts of his texts and answering questions from the audience was extremely entertaining, so I don’t regret going to see that instead.

By the way, there was also an auction with a twist held earlier in the same room: you could bid either to own the item, or to have it destroyed. You can see some of the results on the floor all around Jeff…

Ahrvid Engholm Hannu Rajaniemi & Cheryl Morgan J. Pekka Mäkelä

I don’t think I’ve been to this many program items at a Finncon in years. But there just were so many promising-sounding items, with interesting people on them. One such panel was “Is Ansible More Than Just an Anagram for Lesbian?” It was supposed to be about the best science fiction concepts and ideas, and trying to imagine more of them for the future. Unfortunately, it didn’t exactly stay on topic, but concentrated on science fiction inventions slowly becoming reality instead. Not a bad discussion on that, though. Hannu Rajaniemi got more than his share of questions, being the resident scientist of the panel.

After a quick revisit at the bar (I don’t think I missed anything really important this time, and had a great conversation with Jeff VanderMeer and his wife Ann there, which beat any official programming they had available) there was one of those items I’d especially waited for: the “SF/F Deadly Sins” panel with GoHs Justina Robson and Jeff VanderMeer, plus Cheryl Morgan and Stepan Chapman.

Justina Robson, Jeff VanderMeer, Cheryl Morgan and Stepan Chapman sitting on a panel

The panel didn’t disappoint, it was lively and all participants witty and funny. No grand truths were revealed, but the panelists themselves said they’d decided to play if for laughs, and they got them. On several occasions.

Kummisetä talking to Mike Pohjola on stageAfter seeing so many panels, I started noticing some program-fatigue. Or maybe it was just that the next item I peeked at, “the master class with the late celebrities,” just wasn’t very funny. Mike Pohjola doing his Jay Leno/Cryptkeeper bit on the stage was ok, but I left after a little while listening to him talking to Kummisetä (funny as he usually may be) “channeling Tolkien”. If doing a talk show is difficult, doing a mock–talk show that actually is funny is probably much harder, and this one just didn’t work very well, I’m afraid.

There were program items still going on, but the day had been hot and humid (especially so inside the Paasitorni building), so it was time to skip the rest of them and head back to the hotel for a shower before the evening party. Of the items I missed, I heard some very good things about the Slash/Fanfic panel, moderated by Emma London. Might have been worth watching, even though I have very little interest in fanfic, and even less for slash fanfic. More on the evening later.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Pasi Jääskeläinen Interviewed on Risingshadow

The Risingshadow forum has an interview with Pasi Jääskeläinen about his new novel Lumikko ja yhdeksän muuta. Pasi also talks about his writing in general, his thoughts on genres, and such. Interesting stuff—although if you’ve been reading his blog, you’ve seen most of it there already.

(A note to the Risingshadow folks: when you put up good articles like this, please mention the writer!)

Johanna Sinisalo Scripts Iron Sky

Iron Sky LogoThe makers of Star Wreck announced on Sunday that their next project, Iron Sky, will be scripted by none other than Johanna Sinisalo. According to sources there’s something to do with space battles. And unexpected findings in space…

This is suddenly sounding a lot better than a Star Trek parody full of engineering student humor.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Atorox 2006 Results

The awardJenny Kangasvuo took home a double victory in this year’s Atorox awards. Her short story Kaikessa lihassa on tahto (“All Flesh Has a Will”) was voted the best Finnish short story published last year, and Aalto nahan alla (“A wave under the skin”) took the second place. The 24th Atorox awards were given out on Sunday at Finncon 2006 in Helsinki.

Jenny Kangasvuo with her award

These are the top ten short stories from last year, voted by the Finnish fandom:
  1. Jenny Kangasvuo: Kaikessa lihassa on tahto (Portti 2/05)
  2. Jenny Kangasvuo: Aalto nahan alla (Portti 4/05)
  3. Tero Niemi & Anne Salminen: Eräitä kevätpäiviä, eli Taivaallisen laatikon tapaus (Usva 2/05)
  4. Hannu Rajaniemi: Isännän ääni (Usva 3/05)
  5. Johanna Sinisalo: Grande Randonnée (Kädettömät kuninkaat ja muita häiritseviä tarinoita)
  6. Anne Leinonen: Mestariseppä (Portti 1/05)
  7. Natalia Laurila: Meren valtiatar (Portti 1/05)
  8. Boris Hurtta: Tuulinen syksy (Portti 1/05)
  9. Petri Salin: Talviyön uni (Finnzine 2/05)
  10. Boris Hurtta: Jäätalvi (Usva 1/05)
As you can see, Portti still dominated the list with five stories (including the top two), but Usva is a strong contender with three. It will be interesting to see what the score between the very traditional Portti and much more experimental Usva will be in the near future, and if anybody else will have much say in the contest.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Tähtivaeltaja Award to Risto Isomäki

It was announced yesterday that the Tähtivaeltaja award for the best science fiction book published in Finnish in 2005 went to Risto Isomäki for his Finlandia-nominated novel Sarasvatin hiekkaa.

The novel is an ecological thriller that serves as a warning of what could happen if the current trends aren’t reversed.

The award was decided by a jury that included Jukka Halme, Toni Jerrman, Anne Leinonen and Vesa Sisättö.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Fandom Friday

In today’s program was Fandom Friday, a guided Helsinki walking tour for the fen.

Waiting in the hotel lobby for the tour to start

We had some surprise guests for the first part of the tour: the honored guests VanderMeers and Robson joined us for the walk to Paasitorni and a tour of the con site.

The group standing in the Kaisaniemi park
First stop: the Kaisaniemi park.

Sari and the group walking through the park
Sari leading the group to the restaurant Kaisaniemi.

The tour group walking towards the entrance to Paasitorni
—It’s only a model.
—Shh! Besides, it can’t be, because we went inside.

Almost empty tables in the lobby
The place was still relatively quiet.

There was a special treat for the tour: we got to go up to the tower, and enjoy the view of Helsinki from there.
Standing at the top of the tower A view from the tower Taking pictures of Helsinki from the tower Helsinki
And it was pretty.

Looking at the world peace statue, Sari explaining
Sari Polvinen, our tour guide, kept us amused with historical facts and anecdotes about Helsinki.

Military Parade marching by
Just a little parade we arranged in honor of our friends from abroad.

An armored vehicle driving by
Finncon takes its security seriously, make no mistake!

Helsinki Cathederal, with lots of people standing on the stairs
The Helsinki Cathedral.

Coming in through the wall of the fortress
We took the ferry to Suomenlinna island, where we had a short tour of the former fortress, and then had lunch at the brewery restaurant there.

A group photo of the participants, standing in front of some old guns
Some participants had dropped off along the way, but most made it to Suomenlinna and back to the mainland again—even after some very curious loitering (which to the untrained eye might well have looked like a mad dash to make it to an earlier boat).

We took another route back to the city center, and ended the tour there. People went on their separate ways to bookshopping, to the hotel, or just wondering around on their own. Olav, Anders and I decided to have a beer on a nearby outside pub.

Really big thanks to the local guides Sari and Otto who made the tour a success with their knowledge and personal anecdotes! I had fun and hope to do a tour like this in another place at some future con too!

Finncon: Thursday

The trip to Finncon started on Thursday around noon when Pasi and I took off from Turku towards Helsinki, car full of stuff to bring to the con. There were banners for STk, buttons for Tutka (and STk as well), loads of fanzines, and of course our own stuff as well.

After a couple of hours, we arrived at Paasitorni, unloaded the boxes, picked up Jukkahoo and headed towards the Otaniemi sauna by the sea where the guests of honor would be arriving later in the afternoon (we’d promised to help Jukka with the arrangements). Once we got there, I took to warming up the sauna; gophers brought refreshments and other necessities, and Jukka continued what I understood he’d pretty much been doing for the past few days: talking on his phone, making sure everything was progressing smoothly.

Stepan and Kia Chapman, guests of the con, were the first to arrive. After a while, Eemeli brought in the guests of honor, Jeff VanderMeer with his wife Ann, Justina Robson and Rickard Berghorn. A moment later, Ipa arrived with another foreign guest, Cheryl Morgan.

Jukka giving the goodie bag to Jeff VanderMeer Jukka giving the goodie bag to Justina Robson
Jeff VanderMeer and Justina Robson receiving their “goodie bags”.

Justina Robon, Jeff VanderMeer and Stepan Chapman checking out the contents of their goodie bags People standing around in the sauna lounge
Hanging around, waiting for the sauna to get warm.

What would a sauna be without the ritual of barbequing sausages?

Sausages on a brick barbeque Jukka’ sausage shining in a beam of light
Behold the sacred sausage!

Stepan chapman eating his sausage Rickard Berghorn, Otto Mäkelä, Jukka Halme and Jeff VanderMeer tasting the sausages
Mmm… yummy!

Justina Robson, Kia Chapman, Maija, Ann VanderMeer, and Cheryl Morgan relaxing after the sauna

After everyone had had their chance to relax in a hot, steamy room, the guests took off to dinner. We quickly tidied the place up and headed for St Urho’s Pub where the Helsinki fandom biweekly pub meeting was just beginning.

It was pretty hot, crowded and noisy in the pub—unless you asked the locals who said it was unusually quiet (at least earlier in the evening), but I think everyone got a seat, at least for a while. People from other cities and some from Sweden started arriving, and the guests joined the crowd after their dinner.

People sitting at tables at St Urho’s Pub People sitting at tables at St Urho’s Pub
People at St Urho’s Pub.

I left relatively early, because I was staying with friends, and didn’t want to arrive too late at my hosts’ place (where we stayed up ridiculously late, talking this and that, and drinking some very fine 18-year-old islay malt, but that’s another story), but from what I gathered everyone had a very good time at Urkki.

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...