Thursday, June 01, 2017

Tähtivaeltaja Award to Lauren Beukes

The Helsinki Science Fiction Society has announced the winner of this year’s Tähtivaeltaja Award: the best science fiction book published in Finnish in 2016 is Zoo City – Eläinten valtakunta by Lauren Beukes. The novel is translated by Tytti Vitikainen and published by Aula & Co.

The award jury says Zoo City is a strong and unique science fiction novel, a detective story in an imaginative setting, with a story about xenophobia and commercialization. The polarized society is skilfully constructed and seamlessly joins together reality and fiction. The characters are varied, have many aspects and flaws to their personalities, and have their own motivations. There are no absolutely good or bad characters, only people trying to survive in their own ways.

The intriguing idea of animal familiars combines different mythologies, binds the book together, and brings forth themes of redemption, regret, and adaptation. The book also handles serious topics such as problems and conflicts in society. Beukes tells the story in her own, strong voice, with language that reels you in and keeps you turning the pages. Zoo City offers a refreshing alternative to the Anglo American culture that is prevalent in science fiction.

The award jury consisted of critic Hannu Blommila, editor-in-chief Toni Jerrman, critic Elli Leppä, and critic Antti Oikarinen.

Swecon 2017

This weekend it was once again time for Swecon, Sweden‘s national science fiction convention. The convention was called Kontur and held at the Clarion Hotel Gillet in Uppsala—a very nice venue for a convention of 200–300 members (which category I estimate this one falls in), and a lovely city to visit.

Swecon was a three-day convention as usual, but since Thursday was a holiday (and it’s a Tradition to go to Åland on Ascension Day for an sf con), a bunch of us Finns started the journey already Thursday morning and went to Mariehamn for smÅcon 81/2, organized by Hanna Hakkarainen, and spent a one-night minicon there eating, drinking, playing games, and having Very Serious Panel Discussions. There were even a couple of members who came just for smÅcon and then returned to Finland.

Fun and Games at smÅcon: drinks & Cards Against Humanity

Even after a couple of days, I’m still way too tired to write a comprehensive con report, so you’ll have to be content with a bunch of comments and photos I tweeted from the con. I do want to mention that the convention was very well run. The venue worked quite well (ok, the bar could have been a little less expensive and closed later, but being a hotel bar you have to accept that you can’t have everything), the program ran in time, there was a very nice souvenir book in addition to the program book (Finnish conventions take note: it is possible to have separate souvenir book and pocket program, and do it well!), the Guests of Honor were outstanding (seriously, if you have a chance of seeing Kameron Hurley, Ann Leckie, or Siri Pettersen at a convention, make sure you take it!) and complemented each other wonderfully.

The convention gave off a vibe of caring about its members and wanting to create a friendly and inclusive atmosphere. Huge thanks to the organizing committee, led by Nahal Ghanbari and Anna Bark Persson, for a job well done!

May 26 17:51
Survived #smÅcon, arrived at Uppsala. #swecon2017 registration done. Next, I think I’ll take a leaf out of @zenaldehyde’s book & take a nap.

May 26 17:54
The Swedes got so close to getting the air conditioning branding for #swecon2017 right…

May 26 20:10
It’s nice to write. Except the writing part.
— Siri Pettersen at #swecon2017

May 26 20:49
All the books
All the books… #swecon2017

May 26 21:05
Lord of the Rings
If you are in need of a copy of The Lord of the Rings, #swecon2017 is the place to be.

May 26 21:27
Seconded! #swecon2017

A. Sellin intervjuar hedersg. den norska författaren Siri Pettersen. Har du möjlighet att höra henne i en programpunkt gör det! #swecon2017

May 26 22:10
How to Write Male Characters
How to write about men – Ann Leckie & Kameron Hurley killing it at #swecon2017

May 27 01:50
Late night chatting #swecon2017

May 27 13:56
Kameron Hurley Interview
Kameron Hurley interview at #swecon2017. If you want to read sf that mixes genres and plays with tropes you should definitely read her

May 27 13:59
Impressed by people at #swecon2017 – whenever someone claims they don’t need to use the mic everybody shouts Yes you do. Well done, fandom!

May 27
Next year’s Swecon will be in Stockholm in June. Site selection vote took place at #swecon2017

Vi har haft Sweconomröstning! Nästa års Swecon blir Fantastika i Stockholm!

May 27 21:09
— I hate research
— I love it. I have a degree in history you know
— You bastard!
GoHs discussing writing at #swecon2017

May 27 21:10
Being a writer is like having homework for the rest of your life
— Ann Leckie at #swecon2017

May 27 21:15
I think the #swecon2017 panel just launched the concept of Chekhov’s Great Eagle.

May 27 21:25
Panel spiraling out of control. But totally in a good way. Also worldbuilding bartering—maps for research tables on travel time #swecon2017

May 27 21:29
Who knew you can have a worldbuilding panel that’s actually very entertaining‽ #swecon2017

May 27 21:30
Apparently you just need to put Kameron Hurley, Siri Pettersen & Ann Leckie on it. #swecon2017

May 28 04:26
Señor Humidor’s Amazingly Scientifictional Cigar Club
Señor Humidor’s Amazingly Scientifictional Cigar Club at #swecon2017

May 28 04:34
Pub Night
There were more Finns than Swedes left standing (or rather sitting) at the pub. So I guess we won #swecon2017!

May 28 04:35
On the other hand, Swedes are the worst (judging by the Cards Against Humanity score). #swecon2017

May 28 04:37
The pub closed and threw us out. I think we’re meant to take the hint and go to bed. Good night! #swecon2017

May 28 12:28

Uppsala Uppsala
So pretty! #uppsala #swecon2017

May 28 17:59
Swecon Dead Dog
A Finn, a Swede, a Dane, and a Norwegian walk into a bar… #swecon2017

May 29 01:18
The pubs close early in Sweden. The situation is desperate — Tommy is drinking a lager #swecon2017

May 29 01:39
💀 🐶 celebrated well and properly. Thank you organizers for another 👍Swecon! #swecon2017

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...