The Finnish fandom gathered at the fourth Tähtivaeltaja Day minicon yesterday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Tähtivaeltaja, and it was a lot of fun!
For a small and rather informal happening, the program was pretty well thought out. There were a few panel discussions about current sf in literature, tv, and movies, a GoH speech and of course talk about the birthday hero, the Tähtivaeltaja zine.
The Tähtivaeltaja award was given to Stepan Chapman’s novel The Troika. The following discussion about this unique book was quite interesting. Who knows, if I were to re-read the novel after listening to them talking about it, I might this time actually understand some of it.
The Guest of Honor was interviewed by Pekka Manninen. I meant to listen to the conversation at the bar, but the PA technology didn’t quite come through. From what I gathered, the discussion about his works went along nicely and everyone was enjoying it—not the least the guest himself.
A couple of discussions handled the state of sf today, both in Finland, and in general. An interesting topic, but not an easy one, because it’s obviously been discussed before, and there’s only so much you can say in your allotted hour, so it’s extremely difficult to get to any new, profound truths. But I still think it’s important to keep having the discussion and try to look at things from a new perspective every now and then. The same goes for the tv and movie discussions—although it might be a good idea when you’re having a panel about current tv series to get together a bunch of panelists that have actually all watched the same series. Nobody seemed to like Doctor Who, by the way—all spoiled by the American standards of tv, I say.
The “definitive Tähtivaeltaja discussion” made—if it wasn’t already clear to everyone—evident how huge the impact of Tähtivaeltaja has been on fandom here. Several prominent fen confessed that they might never have come into fandom, or be what they are today, without Toni and Tähtivaeltaja. The punk attitude, the fearless exploration of new and different subcultures, old boozing reports, and the versatility of content were all subjects of discussion. The images projected in the background tended to concentrate on “the two main reasons for reading Tähtivaeltaja in the first place” and the shocking imagery used by the zine during the years, bringing a nice contrast to the discussion that got quite serious at times. I felt that the actual sf content and its quality in Tähtivaeltaja was neglected a bit, but on the other hand those should be obvious to anybody who opens the zine itself.
As the evening progressed, the programming got a more humorous streak. The “around the world” quiz had questions such as, “The second winner of the Tähtivaeltaja award was Joanna Russ’s The Female Man. How many pages did I read before giving up?” The “sell a book” contest is already a tradition at these events, and the winner was once again Ilja Rautsi, with his personal (to say the least) style of reading an excerpt of a book backwards.
The whole day had a very warm and friendly feel to it, and moving around in the bar and the lobby to meet people was very easy. I met many old and not-so-old friends—talked a lot with Miska, Sari and Kenneth, for example. And had a good conversation with J. Pekka and Jukka (one of my oldest friends in fandom, whom I hadn’t seen in ages due to his staying abroad for the last couple of years) about serious and not-so-serious aspects of writing, blogging, etc. And talked to some comics fans from Turku (who I never seem to get to meet except in Helsinki)—extra thanks to Petteri for the ride to Helsinki, by the way! Gave out a few copies of my fanzine. Exchanged too few words with a lot of other friends. And didn’t even say hi to everyone I had planned to.
I declare this Tähtivaeltaja day a success, again. If you didn’t go, you should have, and you’re poorer for missing it! Rock on!
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