Some pictures I took at Eurocon last weekend:
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Finncon fever might be in the rise. The Finnish party at Eurocon got very positive feedback and I think many more international fen are now aware of Finncon than before. According to one Eurocon report the best thing at the con was the Finncon 2009 ad that said George R.R. Martin is one of the Guests of Honor. We might have a reason to expect many more international fen at the 2009 con than usual. (And I’m hoping Finncon 2008 will see a surge of international members as well.)
Sunday, September 23, 2007
One item was perfect for the last day of the con, though: Cheryl Morgan held an sf quiz with questions ranging from very easy to if-you-know-this-one-you-seriously-need-to-get-a-life hard. There were three contestants, Georges Bormand form France, Klaus Æ. Mogensen from Denmark, and Jukka “Yokohama” Halme from Finland. Jukka pretty much ruled for the whole competition (and wrapped at least a couple of young Dutch fen around his amazing brain) with his knowledge and mastering of trivia.
The program in whole was a bit of a mixed bag. Many complemented the excellent science programming, and a large portion of the program items (most of them in fact) were in English. There were several “introductory” items of the genre, writing, reviewing, and so on. On the other hand there were very few literary discussions or topics that did more than scratch the surface. And it didn’t help that the program book didn’t list the participants of most items.
The turnout at the con was better than I expected (if not quite as good as the organizers had hoped for)—there were more than 700 members at the convention, and according to the first estimates today if might have been closer to 800. There were many international members from all over Europe, and at a con this size it was very easy to meet and spend time with them. This is what I think made the convention for most of us.
The arrangements suffered from quite a few rookie mistakes—for example the information chain wasn’t working very well, coordinating the gophers and showing them the ropes was lacking, especially at the beginning, and many things just weren’t there or being thought of in time. But everybody worked really hard and all problems got solved. All in all things run reasonably smoothly. Wilf James, who acted as Gopher Mum, told me he was especially impressed by Pasi “super gopher” Välkkynen who was always where he was needed and took initiative to make things run well.
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That’s is for this time—we’ve arrived in Finland and it’s time to head home. A big hand for the organizers; we had a great time! See you at a con somewhere!
Next: some photos
The masquerade was ok, but nothing to write home about. And then there were the Eurocon awards, plus a bunch of others. The problem with these award ceremonies is that there are way too many categories of awards nobody really cares about given to people most haven’t heard of. This means the ceremony itself should be made much more entertaining to generate interest. Also I think the whole awards would benefit from a complete rethinking. Take, for example, the “best author” category: what’s the point of having a dozen nominees for the award from different European countries—published only in their own language, so that it’s impossible for the voters to read any of their works? The result now is that most end up voting for their neighbors and buddies whose names they might at least recognize. Ben and I cornered Mr. “Five Cheeks Bally,” current chairman of ESFS, with our thoughts, and he agreed everything may not be running as well as it should, but I’m not sure he really got it how broken the system looks from a relative outsider’s (I’ve taken part in some of the ESFS proceedings in 2003, 2005, and now this year) standpoint.
There was a band playing this evening: Press Play on Tape. They specialize on music from and inspired by computer and video games. The Russians also informed that they were throwing a vodka party this evening. Naturally we went there. They had quite a selection of vodkas plus some light snacks, and soon the room was filled with people chatting away cheerfully, as roomfuls of people who have just sampled quite a selection of vodkas tend to do. A good party!
The party was still going strong when we (the remaining Finns + Tommy, an honorary Finn now) wandered back to our hotel. The Finnish room party is still on, but I think I’ve had enough for a day. Good night!
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Right now the Russians are presenting their Eurocon that will be held next year in Moscow (or, to be more accurate, at a holiday resort some 20 km from it). The Czech “Pilsnercon” next August also sounds intriguing. (They have beer baths! I don’t know if I should be fascinated about the idea or appalled by the waste of beer, but it just might beat the chocolate massage from Åcon…)
I’ve actually managed to see a couple of program items today (although the air at least in the main program hall is pretty bad and makes me want to make a dash to get some fresh air after ten minutes). I was positively surprised by Anne McCaffrey who, it turns out, is an engaging speaker and teller of stories. Zoran Živković has a lot of interesting things to say and wise thoughts to share (note to future Finnish convention organizers).
The dealers room here is quite good for a convention this size, and it is filled with books. There are selections of the GoHs’ books available for sale at the con, which is good. I haven’t had time to check out the media program or all of the other stuff yet, but maybe there’ll be time for that too later.
Next: Saturday, part two
I spent most of the day at the registration desk—got stuck there due to the lack of volunteers that managed to show up, but on the other hand met a lot of people there.
The Finnish this-is-not-a-bid-party seems to have been a success—at least all the feedback I heard was positive. Headed back to the hotel, and to a fun room party. But time to get some sleep now, I think. Wish us look for tomorrow when the ESFS business meeting votes on if the 2009 Eurocon will be held in Finland or in Italy.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
The second Usva International, a special issue of the Usva zine, is out. It showcases contemporary Finnish fantastic fiction in English. The 2007 issue contains short stories by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen, Juha-Pekka Koskinen, Anne Leinonen (the Atorox award–winning story The Otherling), Tiina Raevaara, Petri Salin, and M.G. Soikkeli. In addition the issue contains an excerpt of J. Pekka Mäkelä’s new novel Nedut.
The zine is a free PDF download, so go check it out!
Monday, September 17, 2007
Note to Swedish fen: you have an official agent for Finncon 2008. Contact Michael Pargman if you have any questions about the upcoming Finncon.
Finncon 2009 in Helsinki is living up to their promise of being the biggest Finncon yet. They’ve announced their Guests of Honor will be George R.R. Martin and Alastair Reynolds. Both are already known in Finland and have fans here which should bring in some extra folk (what’s a couple of thousands more at a Finncon).
In the meantime, don’t forget next year’s Finncon in Tampere either.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Andy Sawyer, course director of the science fiction studies MA program at the University of Liverpool and reviews editor of Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction, is speaking at the University of Jyväskylä this Thursday as part of the “Cult and Identity: Conference on the study of cults and audiences” event. His subject is “The Enchanted Duplicator and Other Fables: British Science Fiction Fandom in the 1950s”. Among other programming at the event is also a presentation by Irma Hirsjärvi on sex and gender in sf literature. Don’t miss this if you just have a chance to be there!
Monday, September 03, 2007
The shortlist for the Tähtivaeltaja Award has been announced . This year no less than four of the five nominees are Finnish — this is a fir...
The Helsinki Science Fiction Society has announced the winner of this year’s Tähtivaeltaja Award : the best science fiction book published i...
Turku Science Fiction Society has announced the nominees for the 2010 Atorox award for best Finnish sf short story published last year. The...
Cristian Tamas interviews Johanna Sinisalo for the Europa SF portal. (photo by Katja Lösönen)