Thursday, July 12, 2007

Atorox Thoughts

The Atorox award for the best Finnish sf short story of 2006 will be given at Finncon on Saturday. The award is decided by the Finnish fandom (it’s “our Hugo”), and this year there were a couple of changes in the process (for the better). First, artificial limitations on how many voters a sf society can have no more exist (this change is more psychological than real, as individuals were able to vote separately also before, but I think it’s easier to participate as a member of an “official association jury” than a single individual). This is clearly a good thing and revitalizes the award, which I think shows in new groups having the largest jurys: Risingshadow 13 voters, Deathwriters 7, and Spektre also 7. It will be interesting to see if this has an effect on what kinds of stories will be succesful—especially when this year some of the older societies (HSFS, HySFK, and the Tolkien society, I’m looking at you) didn’t manage to send in a single vote between them. Shame on you!

Another new thing this year is the completely revamped vote counting system. Instead of giving points to stories, the voters just rank the best of them in order (using single transferable vote, pretty much as in the Hugo voting). I’m sure this is a good thing because it both simplifies the voting process and makes it pretty hard for an individual voter to game the system. Explaining to the audience how the results were calculated might be a lot more complicated than before, but on the other hand I’m pretty sure that only a very small minority will care about the technical details anyway.

One last thing: my Atorox predictions this year. Or guesses, more like it, because I’m usually pretty lousy in these things. But anyway, here goes: based on my general feeling about the stories, both how “Atorox-winner-y” they feel to me, and the comments I’ve heard from a few other people, I’m picking three stories I think will be in the top five.

The first story is Fyto ja Ygg by Carita Forsgren. A bit unusual view on the “aliens conquer the Earth” theme, and might appeal to people who like the more traditional sf. Another pick is Toisinkainen by Anne Leinonen. Also science fiction, aliens, and other planets. A solidly written story, even if it didn’t appeal to me personally at all. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see this as number one. My third pick is my absolute favorite this year, Elegia nuorelle hirvelle by Hannu Rajaniemi. A splendid mix of post-singularity feel and traditional Finnish elements, this story would make an excellent representative of Finnish sf also abroad. I fear this is a bit too far-out for many readers, and therefore won’t win (even though it deserves to), but I’m hoping that enough voters see its greatness to at least make top five. Well, we’ll see the day after tomorrow.

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