Sad news from Juhani Hinkkanen: Leena Peltonen, one of Finnish fandom’s most prominent members since pretty much the beginning, died on July 5 in Tampere after a long illness. Leena was there during the early days of the Turku Science Fiction Society, the Tampere Science Fiction Society & its zine Portti, and Aikakone which she edited for a decade. Beside her knowledge and passion about science fiction and fantasy, she was also known for her culinary skills as well as translating, among others, such sf notables as Roger Zelazny, Robert E. Howard, Peter S. Beagle, M. John Harrison, and Colin Greenland into Finnish.
I can’t say I was ever very close with Leena (even before the falling out she had with some parts of fandom, me included, in the early 90s), but she definitely had an impact on my coming to contact with fandom. The first time I remember hearing about other people who were into science fiction was sometime in the late 1980s reading issues of Aikakone in the local library, and a couple of articles on Aikakone also lead to finding out about the world of comics outside what was available in the local general store. Just today, I was cleaning up some of my papers and came across what probably was my first “official” contact with fandom: a response letter about a short story I’d submitted to Aikakone in the late 80s. The story was far from publishable, but Leena’s comments were sharp, insightful and encouraging. That the story never got finished had to do with other things completely—a better critique a fledgling writer couldn’t have hoped for. A big personality is gone and will be missed.
Update: there will be a memorial event at Finncon on Saturday (6 PM to 8 PM, Lyhty at the university campus), and a memorial book will be at the info in the main building for the duration of the convention.