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.

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