Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Seminar in Turku with Sterling, Torssonen, etc.

Aboagora is an annual seminar in Turku, organized during the Turku Music Festival, with aim of promoting dialogue between arts, humanities, and sciences. The event consists of public keynote lectures and dialogues, smaller roundtable workshops as well as artistic programmes.

This year’s keynote speakers include Bruce Sterling, who needs no introduction, and among the participants is also eg. Samuli Torssonen, the man behind Star Wreck, and the Iron Sky special effects. Topics include such things as The Disappearing Human-Machine Divide, Robot Desires, and Internet communities.

There's still time to sign up for this year's event (held in August), registration is open until the end of the month. Attendance is 45 € which includes participation in all public lectures and panel discussions, plus lunch & coffee on three days.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Towel Day

Saturday is International Towel Day, and you can celebrate it in sfnal company at least in Helsinki and Turku.

In Turku, your destination for Towel Day is Cosmic Comic Cafe where there will be theme-appropriate program from 6 PM onwards. At 6, there will be a "One Man Rush Hour", and starting at 9, you will be exposed to the worst poetry in the universe. At midnight those whose intestines haven't strangled them yet can participate in the creepiest laughter in the galaxy competition. For survivors, music until the prophet Zarquon (or the closing time) arrives.

In Helsinki, you can participate in the traditional Dirk Gently's Holistic Picnic which starts at the railway station (under the departing local trains sign) at 2 PM. Bring money, the Helsinki timetable, salted peanuts and a towel. The target of the picnic will be decided by flipism. More info: 050 534 7747/Vesa Sisättö.

I haven't heard of Towel Day–specific events in Tampere (please let me know if there are any!) but as a consolation sfnal activity on Saturday you can visit Suomalainen Kirjakauppa at 2 PM to hear Saara Henriksson talk about the ecological sf anthology Huomenna tuulet voimistuvat.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Computer Throwing Thursday

This Thursday, FUI will organise their traditional computer throwing picnic. If you’re interested in participating, head to the Nummi school around 6.

Tähtivaeltaja Award 2013

The Tähtivaeltaja Award, given by the Helsinki Science Fiction Society for the best science fiction book published in Finnish in 2012, was announced yesterday. The winner is Kiduttajan Varjo (The Shadow of the Torturer) by Gene Wolfe, published by Gummerus and translated by Johanna Vainikainen-Uusitalo.

The jury praises both the clarity of vision and the literary quality of the book; the far future world encompasses deep philosophical thinking, allegorical storytelling, and visions with great sense of wonder. The whole is original and extremely imaginative. The translation is excellent, and with all the neologisms invented for it manages to support the richness of the original.

The jury consisted of critic Hannu Blommila, editor Toni Jerrman, critic Elli Leppänen, and critic Antti Oikarinen.

The shortlist for the award was:

  • Pintakuvio (Surface Detail) by Iain M. Banks
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • Teemestarin kirja by Emmi Itäranta
  • Muistoissa sininen Maa (Blue Remembered Earth) by Alastair Reynolds
  • Kiduttajan varjo (The Shadow of the Torturer) by Gene Wolfe

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Åcon 6, Day 2

Friday began with two options for an Åland excursion: there was the traditional chocolate tasting, ie. a visit to sample Mercedes’s pralines, or a real treat for hard core book lovers: a visit in a private bookstore by a local collector Gunnar Johansson. According to reports, both trips went very well. The chocolates were tasty as always (and, as usual, our group pretty much bought the store empty), and the book pilgrims seemed to be rather impressed with the dedication to books that was evident in the place. Of course, you could also skip the excursions and go for a visit in Mariehamn instead, which some people did (and found all kinds of interesting stuff—apparently, there’s a Nordic comics exhibition in Mariehamn this month, for example), and for those who opted to stay at the convention, there was a discussion and recommendations about Hugo-nominated stories. (I opted to go for a run along the beautiful Mariehamn shore. Nice scenery, but also lots of hills and plenty of stairs along the route I took, so I was rather knackered even after a relatively short run.) The first panel I saw was the Classic Cons discussion, where the panelists talked about the different conventions there are around the world (well, Europe and USA) and why you should visit them. Worldcon is of course the biggest one, but there are also many general conventions for sf, as well as some specialist conventions that have a narrower focus (Readercon, Wiscon, Smofcon, etc.). Among other topics, there was some discussion about Europe’s convention situation. Many people especially in west Europe consider the British Eastercon to be the main European convention of the year, instead of Eurocon. A big part of this is that Eurocons have varied hugely in content and quality, but that may be changing a bit now that the ESFS has a new board that may want to help develop and promote future Eurocons. Tricia Sullivan’s Guest of Honor Interview was very interesting. She talked about her personal history, growing up in the US and moving to Britain; her works, habits as a writer etc. The AV panel gave plenty of tips of tv series to watch. Most of them I knew, but a couple were new—I’m not sure if I was really enticed to actually watch the series, but the presentation gave a good idea of what I am (or am not) missing. I still say they were very wrong about a few series, but that sparked some lively conversation later in the evening. During the dinner break, we found a lovely little place, Pilsnermackan, that specialises in local foods. The lamb burger was absolutely delicious, and all the other dishes (and desserts) were liked by our dinner party as well. The “I should really love this, but…!” panel didn’t in my opinion really work as a panel—the panelists just didn’t have enough common topics that a discussion would have taken off. But there were also many examples from the audience of things most people like but the person in question doesn’t, and the program item became a discussion with everyone involved. Jukkahoo’s “Never Mind the Buzzaldrins” quiz is always entertaining. There was a new section this year which was fun but seemed to take the thing more towards an actual quiz. I think this is the first time ever that the winning team won on the basis of actually knowing more correct answers (which still wasn’t that many, despite some hilarious cryptic hints given by Jukka). Friday’s last item was the Book of the Night roundtable discussion. This year’s book, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, was a very good one at inspiring discussion. It’s a beautiful, haunting, heartbreaking book and I warmly recommend it to everyone. Thanks for making me read this! After the official program ended, people hanged out in the bar and the hotel lobby, and migrated to the room parties after the bar closed. The Helsinki Worldcon bid was visibly present and I think managed to lure more people to give them money to support (or oppose) the bid. This time there were two parties going on at the same time which turned out to be nice: there was more room for everyone to hang around, have conversations, and be able to actually breathe some air occasionally. There was beer, wine, some highly suspiciously perfume-looking pink liquid, excellent whisky, cake (no lie!) and cookies, etc. And of course lots of fun people, as always in Åcon.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Åcon 6, Day 1

First day of Åcon went pretty much as expected (that is, it was great as usual). Morning started at too early o’clock at the ferry (actually, quite a few people had started already yesterday with Åbocon in Turku). Joe’s Place didn’t open early enough, so the traditional Ölcon took place at the piano bar. Not as nice a place, but they served beverages, so good enough.

Hotel Adlon is… well, hotel Adlon. We felt right at home. The program for today was actually very good. The first panel, a discussion about body and mind, was very interesting. I don’t remember if we’ve had a serious discussion to start the convention before, but it worked well. Then there was a trivia quiz with chocolate rewards. That was entertaining, and of course you can’t go wrong with chocolate.

The rest of the evening was reserved for either socialising with other members or watching the mad Australian tv series Danger 5 (which is still ongoing in the program room). The Señor Humidor’s Amazingly Sciencefictional Cigar Club gathered at the terrace. Nice Åland weather, beer, and good cigars in good company. An excellent way to spend an evening.

I won’t go into detail about the evening’s discussions. What happens in Åcon stays in Åcon (unless somebody posts about it on Facebook, of course). Although I’m sure everybody within a mile of the hotel now knows about Hiltunen’s enthusiastic admiration of the male body, but enough said about that…

Tomorrow starts with excursions, two of them: a chocolate tasting (once again, but well worth repeating) or a trip to a book collector’s private bookstore. Something for enthusiasts, definitely. Then, more good program items and hanging out with fellow Åconites.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Cosmonaut in Helsinki May 15

From Timo Vuorensola:

Premiere screening of The Cosmonaut + DJ Taphead. A science fiction themed evening celebrating the release of a modern indie scifi film The Cosmonaut, which tells a story of a cosmonaut who returns back to Earth after a successful mission, only to find out he’s the only living being on the planet.

This is the only possibility to see the film on big screen in Finland, so don’t miss this opportunity.

The evening will be topped with spaced out vibes provided by magnificent DJ Taphead.

Free entry

The event takes place in Kino Adams in Helsinki on May 15, starting at 7 PM. If you’re nearby, head over there!

More info on Facebook (FB account required).

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Sinisalo Visits Minnesota

Author Johanna Sinisalo is currently visiting the Gustavus Adoplhus College in Minnesota, as this year’s Out of Scandinavia Artist in Residence. Her week includes visiting classes and engaging with students and faculty. She will present a free public lecture titled “Finding Fresh PerspectivesThe Breakthrough of Non-realistic Genres in Finnish Contemporary Fiction” tomorrow (May 8). So if you happen to be nearby, go visit!

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...