Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Jenny Kangasvuo Takes Portti Prize

The first prize of the 2005 Portti writing competition went to Jenny Kangasvuo for her short story Aalto nahan alla.

The second place was tied between Carita Forsgren and Anne Leinonen, and the third (should be fourth, actually) place was also tied, between Jenny Kangasvuo (again) and J.K. Miettinen (who also took second place in this year’s Atorox awards).

The Portti competition is the biggest annual sf short story competition in Finland. Congratulations to the winners!

(according to Netticolosseum)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

pub night

mafia tonight stop had beer stop not quite as many attendees as before stop still around a dozen stop maybe people saving it for christmas party on saturday stop

first ever “turu mafia zine” prize competition won by tomi stop will have better prizes in the future stop

speaking about christmas party—on saturday at seven stop do come stop lots of fun stop christmas food stop will bring industrial-strength mustard to go with ham stop ruffle, music, hot wine, etc stop

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Pub Meeting, Christmas Party

The last mafia this year will take place this Thursday (December 1). Everyone is welcome to join us in Bar Bremer at 6 for fannish chatting and b(h)eers.

On Saturday, TSFS and STK will arrange a Christmas party at the Student village Tenants’ association’s Festival hall (which isn’t quite as grand as the name suggests). The address is Inspehtorinkatu 4 B, and the party starts at 7. The theme this year is fairy-tales. There will be food and drinks fitting for the season (bring your own bottle of anything stronger). Come meet fen from Turku (and perhaps a few from other cities too)!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Risto Isomäki Candidate for Finlandia Prize

The candidates for this year’s Finlandia Prize have been announced, and there is an sf novel among them: Sarasvatin hiekkaa by Risto Isomäki. The story is described by the nomination committee as “an ecological thriller of apocalyptic proportions” and “frighteningly believable in its topicality”.

On a related note, Isomäki is the Finnish guest of honor at Finncon 2006.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Finncon 2006 Has a LiveJournal

Next year’s Finncon has a LiveJournal for info sharing, comments and questions. The only entry so far is in Finnish, but I’m sure questions in English are welcome there too. So, if you are planning to attend (and why wouldn’t you be), go take a look.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

First Thursday

First Thursday of the month is the pub gathering day in Turku. Bar Bremer at 6, welcome! Hope we’ll see some new faces due to advertising during the book fair.

Fair Reporting From Helsinki

I wasn't able to attend the Helsinki Book Fair, but Jukkahoo has a report of the fair, mainly its Scifi-Sunday, and some further links.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Pub Meeting on Thursday

Tomorrow is the first Thursday of the month, and that means a pub meeting in Turku. Bar Bremer, at 6, as usual. Welcome!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Atonova 2005

Atorox statue depicting a robot’s headThe Atonova event was held in the Culture Center in Turku on Saturday. The room was packed: there were about 40 persons present in the audience. Some of them were attending the STK writer’s course that same weekend, but quite a few came just to see the awards event.

People sitting in the audience, listening to a presentation
The program started with a couple of presentations: Liisa Rantalaiho talked about “garden gnomes” (character development in sf) and Markku Soikkeli gave a presentation on religion and time travel in science fiction.

Anne, Mari and Tytti sitting at a table, speaking
Three members of the Nova preliminary jury gave some insight into this year’s competition and some general feedback about the competition entries. After that (and a brief coffee break), it was time to announce the winners of the competition and the results of the Atorox award.

The first prize in the Nova competition went to Johanna Nordling for her short story, Hukkuneet äänet (“Drowned voices”). Unfortunately, the winner wasn’t there to pick up the prize.

Atorox winners receiving the award and flowers
There were a few strong contestants for the Atorox award this year (speculated on by for example Ben Roimola on Enhörningen web site and Petri Laine in Usva 2/2005). The award went to Tero Niemi and Anne Salminen for Matka Reformaan (“Journey to Reforma”), published in their short story collection Nimbus ja tähdet (and one of their stories I wished on my Usva coverage would get translated into English).

People sitting around tables in the bar, chatting
The traditional after-hours party was held in Cosmic Comic Café. The Atonova pub gatherings tend to be a bit different from normal meetings in that the discussions circle around writing and reading (Finnish) sf more than usual. Also, there are people present who don’t visit the normal events that often. My general feeling of the buzz was that most were satisfied with the results this year.

Atorox Winners posing with the award statue
All in all, this year’s Atonova was very succesful. The presentations were professional and entertaining, and I found it very interesting to hear about the background and inside workings of the Nova competition. The place was just big enough to hold the event comfortably, and the fun fen made sure the event was entertaining well after the official part had ended.

Although I still feel that on those years there is a Finncon, the Atorox award should be presented there, if the organizers want to keep making the event better, the Atonova event has potential to develop into a minicon worth attending in the future.

Atonova photos

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Atorox 2005 to Tero Niemi & Anne Salminen

The results of the Atorox award for the best Finnish sf short story published in 2004 were announced today at Atonova.

This year's winners are Tero Niemi and Anne Salminen for Matka Reformaan. Congratulations!

The top ten short stories voted by members of Finnish sf societies are:

  1. Matka Reformaan by Tero Niemi & Anne Salminen (Nimbus ja tähdet)
  2. Khii/yksin/Taivaanalla by J.K. Miettinen (Portti 3/04)
  3. Häivähdys sitruunaa by Leila Paananen (Portti 4/04)
  4. Velhonaisen salli elää by Anne Leinonen (Portti 2/04)
  5. Yhdeksän ruukkua by Johanna Sinisalo (Tähtivaeltaja 4/04)
  6. Lautturin tytär by Anne Leinonen (Portti 1/04)
  7. Oudot vieraat by Carita Forsgren (Portti 2/04)
  8. Lihan käsivarsi by Jenny Kangasvuo (Portti 3/04)
  9. (tie) Cowgirl Blues by J.K. Miettinen (Finnzine 1/04) and
    On vielä pimeää by Tero Niemi & Anne Salminen (Nimbus ja tähdet)
The full results are available on the TSFS page.

Nova 2005 Results

The Nova 2005 winners were announced today at Atonova.

The results are:

  1. Hukkuneet äänet by Johanna Nordling
  2. Toimikas by Paula Susitaival
  3. Myria by Kari Tossavainen
  4. Kauneus on riittävä syy by Maarit Heikkinen
  5. Höynä ja kärtty by Marika Riikonen
  6. Repaleisia perhosia by Hannele Hakala
  7. Ensimmäinen tapaamani noita by Tiina Männistö
  8. Värit III: Paperilohikäärme by Saara Henriksson
  9. Ilmassa linnut, maan armoilla ihmiset by Anne Alasirniö
  10. Orson Shaneyn kasvot by Heikki Nevala

Friday, September 16, 2005

New Finnish Zine

Cover of Usva 2/2005 (containing a lot of black)Well, strictly speaking, Usva isn’t brand new—two issues have been published, and the latter already some time ago—but it just took me a long time to read the latest issue, and even longer to write something about Usva.

This shouldn’t be taken as a sign that I don’t much care about Usva, though. On the contrary, I think it's a wonderful and ambitious effort to better the field of Finnish science fiction by publishing material from both new and recognized writers (and also from outside the normal sf circles), and add an alternative to stories from the couple of big short story competitions that tend to nominate much of the short fiction published in other fanzines. In issue 2, there are six short stories from different writers, one article, and a news column (and also an English summary, for those who really want details on things they can’t read). The news has an emphasis on writing-related things, which suites this zine very well (and makes it a bit different from all the other news columns).

I’ve criticized Finnish sf stories before for generally being too unoriginal for my tastes, often being a bit thin (for example, concentrating only on setting the mood, but forgetting a plot, characters, or both), and too often lacking the polish I’d like to see in published stories (even if they are published “only” in fanzines). I’m afraid I’m not going to change my opinion yet—the short stories in Usva 2 didn’t do much for me. It’s not that they are bad or poorly written (I thought they were above average in this regard), they just didn’t click for me. With one exception: Tero Niemi and Anne Salminen’s Eräitä kevätpäiviä, eli taivaallisen laatikon tapaus was very enjoyable (although long) story, which managed to bring a fresh new point of view to a world familiar from their earlier stories while being as well written as ever.

I really want, by the way, to see a couple of Anne and Tero’s short stories translated to English some day, since I feel they’d be an excellent showcase for today’s Finnish sf and hold their own against many acclaimed stories (nominated for major awards, even). In addition to this one, Kuten ihmiset tekevät definitely, and for a third, maybe Ja jumala kutoi mattoja omista hiuksistaan or Matka Reformaan. Anyone? Please?

I also liked Petri Laine’s column about this year’s Atorox nominees a lot—even though the tone was much too mild. If someone says there’s not a single bad short story among the nominees, I say he needs to adjust his tolerance levels for poor writing, recycling used plots and writing about nothing in a not-too-interesting way. But it was still a worthy article, and I’d like to see more features along these lines in future issues.

What’s also interesting about Usva is its method of distribution: It is published as a pdf file that can be downloaded from the zine’s web site for free. So, there really is no good reason not to go and check Usva out right now.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Excellent Minicon

The Tähtivaeltaja Day minicon was held last Saturday in Helsinki, with author M. John Harrison as the GoH and main attraction.

The Place

Overview of the lounge to the stageThe Dubrovnik Lounge was a perfect setting for a con of this type and size. It seated an audience of a few dozens comfortably. (We arrived just in time to conquer a couple of tables and a very comfy sofa.) The bar was also right in the lounge, and had a decent selection of bottled beers and some ciders available. (The less said about the tap selection, the better.)

The stage was on the other end of the lounge, and the PA system worked ok—mostly—so the program participants could make themselves heard, even though the noise from the hallway, where the info & sales desk was located, grew a bit disturbing occasionally.

The Program

Toni Jerrman and Johanna Sinisalo sitting on the stageThe day started with the heavy hitters. First, Toni Jerrman talked with Johanna Sinisalo about science fiction and writing. This was followed by Jukkahoo interviewing Harrison. M. John Harrison and Jukka Halme sitting on stageThe topics varied from climbing to introducing his books to the audience to deconstructing pretty much everything. Both sessions were interesting and—even having heard the speakers before—managed to find new things and fresh points of view to discuss.

New Writers panelists on stageThe panel of the up-and-coming Finnish sf writers was more of a joint interview session, and worked well as such. I enjoyed seeing the faces of some of the writers that have appeared on the pages of Finnish fanzines lately (but haven’t been an active part of , at least for very long), and would be happy to see more items like this one at future conventions.

Turkey panelists on stageThe panel discussing movie turkeys was ok, I guess, but since the subject matter really isn’t my cup of tea, I’m probably the wrong person to judge. Extreme movements panelists sitting on stageAnd the definitive nazi pig panel (about extreme movements in science fiction), despite boasting its offensiveness, was quite civilized, rambled rather badly (had some funny speculation about Bush being thrown to Judge Dredd, though), and in the end, I’d be surprised if anyone managed to be offended by it. Could it be that the topics juicy enough for a “definitive panel” have run out, and the time has come to put this (many times in the past roaringly hilarious) program item out to pasture?

The World We Live In panelists sitting on stageThe World We Live In was the title of a panel discussion about the relationship between real life, politics and science fiction today. The panelists included the GoH Harrison and a member of the Finnish Parliament, Jyrki J.J. Kasvi. The topic was interesting, and there were some very good individual comments, but overall I didn’t think the discussion really got going. It might have benefitted from a little longer timeslot to get things in gear and a little tighter moderation to get in focus, perhaps.

The last program item for the day was “Huttu juttu,” a quiz show hosted by Jukkahoo & assistant. I can’t really comment on how this one looked to the audience, since as the show started I was drafted to be one of the competitors. The basic idea was to guess the most common answers to sfnal questions that 100 persons had been asked. There were two teams competing: Helsinki (including the judges, apparently) against the civilized world. The rules were complicated, with speed-tapping a table, stealing the other team’s answer and—no matter who won the round—giving all the points to the Helsinki team. Which still didn’t manage to win. The losers got pasta; winners were given appropriate buttons. Mine says, “50 % of people are stupider than average”. (By the way, did you know that when 100 persons were asked to mention a book that has the word “Mars” in the title, the fifth most common answer would be “The War of the Worlds”?)

The People

Overview of Dubrovnik Lounge; people standing in front of the barOne of the highlights of a small convention like this one is seeing friends. Even though I’d decided to watch the program for a change, there was still plenty of opportunities to talk to people you don’t get to see very often. And meet a couple of new ones, too. (Hi, Eemeli!) I hear that even though the lounge with the programming was filled nicely for the day, there wasn’t a shortage of people to talk to in the bar outside either (not a big surprise there).

Jukkahoo with a mic, smilingThe person of the day award goes to Jukkahoo. In addition to interviewing Harrison, hosting the quiz show, and managing to be his usual jolly self in between, he also MC’d the evening party with aplomb. He clearly had a lot of fun (as he himself admitted in Muffins), and so did we.

Mike Harrison (as he preferred to be called) was a splendid guest: charming, interesting and funny. I saw him last year at Swecon, but didn’t really get to talk to him then. People sitting at a table in restaurant ZetorThis time I was lucky enough to sit by him at a dinner after the program, and had a great time chatting with him. Kudos to Like for publishing his book in Finnish and helping bring him to Finland!

One thing that occurred to me was that a smaller con like this, with emphasis on fen, should perhaps try a Swecon-style banquet dinner: to arrange something for maybe 40 to 60 persons to attend. It’d be a nice way to continue the conversations after the day’s program, and would also eliminate the hassle of quite a lot of people going around asking who’s going to eat (and where) and wondering if there’s room in restaurants to accommodate any larger parties. Maybe next time?

The Party

People standing arund at the party, talking. Toni and J.J.J. in the front.The evening party was held at ravintola Kirja. The place was not typical for a sf con party, and at least in the beginning seemed maybe a little rigid with tables set in straight lines and people sitting in their own little groups. That didn’t bother anybody, though, as people started wandering around, and the feeling at the party was very good.

Petri (dazzled by the light) and Sisättö giving the Jet Ace Logan awardThere was some programming at the party also: The Jet Ace Logan award was given for the most improbable way to try to conquer Earth (War of the Worlds), and the stupidest way to save it (Signs). Blommila (back turned) reading, Jukkahoo holds the lightAnd then, “Sell a book”, in which the participants read a beginning of a book, their goal to convince the audience of the unique qualities of the works. Ilja Rautsi reading a book closelyThere were many magnificient performances, including reading The Unknown Soldier in Chinese and one so passionate that the book actually caught fire! The winner of this very enjoyable and extremely funny event was voted by the audience. The most audible cheer went to Ilja Rautsi for his rendition of Paikka nimeltä Plaston by Erkki Ahonen. Congratulations!

Conclusion

(Ran out of subtitles beginning with a “P”. Sorry.)

Our delegation wasn’t staying in Helsinki overnight, so we had to cut the party a little short to start driving back home. Everybody was happy, though, and we felt the con had been a great success. Big thanks to all the organizers and supporters who made the event happen. Here’s hoping for many more of these events!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Light Wins Tähtivaeltaja Award

The Tähtivaeltaja award for best science fiction book published in Finnish last yeard was given today—as was expected—to the novel Valo (Light) by M. John Harrison. The book was published in Finland by Like.

M. John Harrison is currently visiting Finland and can be met at ESCON and Tähtivaeltaja Day this weekend.

From Kaleva, Babek Nabel

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Things To Do: September

There are a couple of sf events in September worth noting: ESCON takes place in Helsinki on Friday, September 9. It’s organized by the Espoo science fiction society ESC and targets mainly 16–20-year-olds, but everyone is free to attend.

The program starts at 4 PM. There is a panel for those who have read the Harry Potters and want to find more books to read, a presentation about movies made into books (and the other way around), and an exiting fairy tale draw-and-tell by Petri Hiltunen. The big names of the event are authors Johanna Sinisalo and M. John Harrison. There’s also a literary workshop in collaboration with the Finnish sf writers’ association.

The following day (Saturday, September 10), there is a minicon in Helsinki, the Tähtivaeltaja Day. It is held in the Dubrovnik Lounge from noon to 6 PM. Guest of Honor is M. John Harrison. Other program participants include a lot of the usual suspects. There are Q&A session with Johanna Sinisalo and Harrison, panel discussions about movie turkeys, upcoming Finnish sf writers, extemist movements in sf and the relationship of real life, politics and science fiction. Also, a quiz show by Jukka ”Kaskelotti” Halme. The evening party will be in Ravintola Kirja from 8.

The following weekend, the Atorox award for the best Finnish sf short story of 2004 and the Nova competition prices will be presented in Turku in the Atonova minicon. The event takes place on Saturday September 17 at 3 PM (and not 2, like some shoddy fanzines have reported). Atonova is organized by TSFS and STK. There are a couple of panel discussions about writing sf, some feedback from this year’s Nova competition judges and a panel discussion with Atorox and Nova winners. After-hours party will be at Cosmic Comic Café (from half past seven).

All the events are free to attend.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

First Thursday

First Thursday of the month this week. And that means the Turku fandom’s pub gathering at Bar Bremer at 6. Welcome!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Worldcon: Friday

Part 1Thursday • Finally getting on with the Worldcon words and pictures…

On Friday, I somehow managed to be at the con site at 10 in the morning. Went to see people talk about taking care of their GoHs, hoping for juicy horror stories. Alas, the panel was quite civilized and contained no gossip. Had a nice lunch in a nearby restaurant, wandered around,

The Internet Lounge Finnish Fandom presentation in the Exhibits section

and popped back in the art show and dealers’ room (I’d decided on not buying many things this worldcon, but we still ended bidding on a couple of David Hardy paintings),

Yellow masquerade costume A big, green thing (masquerade) Scorpius costume, à la Farscape

and also saw a couple of other panels.

Panelists discussing ‘Care And Feeding of a GoH’ David Hardy giving a presentation, with slides Panelists sitting behind a table

Friday had a lot of candidates for best missed program item, like “What’s hot and what’s not” (on cool sf that misses the nominations or defies categorization), “Greg Pickersgill GoH Experience” (heard a lot of good things about this one) and “Secret history of Ansible” (ditto), but not one that would rise above others.

Best program item, however, is easy: in the evening there was a Reductio ad Absurdum play Lucas Back in Anger, an under-two-hours version of all six Star Wars movies. It was at times hilarious and most of the time at least moderately funny, with occasional strokes of genius. And an audience of thousands playing Imperial March on kazoos! I laughed more than I had in a long time (although I suspect Saturday managed to top that record; more on that later).

Lucas Back In Anger opening splash screen Guy on stage, starting the show Dalek, Cyberman and Luke (whining) Cardboard speeder, with C-3PO pushing Obi-Wan giving a stormtrooper the hand-waving The cast in an invisible Millennium Falcon Darth Vader and Obi-Wan standing Luke astonished, Vader with... sexy lingerie A makeshift jabba with a minion Obi-Wan singing, with cardboard accessories, words showing in the back The cast taking a final bow on stage

On to the parties. Friendly Norwegians had lots of beer. Chicago had hot dogs (eventually). Everybody had nice people.

Friendly Norwegians serving drinks at their party A couple of Chicago Party hosts standing behind a table Chicago Party at full gear Ipa & Martin sitting and resting

Wrecked

The Star Wreck on Wings tour kicked off this evening in Turku, the main attraction of course being the fan film Star Wreck 6: In the Pirkinning.

Hannu in the barAs I feared the worst about the movie (the previous episodes are totally unwatchable), I’d agreed to meet a couple of other members of Äksy in the pub for a couple of beers before watching the film. It might have benefitted from a couple more (although the puns in the pub were at least as bad).

We then proceeded to Klubi where the event was to be held. To our surprise, there was a huge crowd outside the club, waiting to get in. This thing is way more popular than I would have anticipated. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait in line to get in (there were a couple of guys among us that had played small parts in the film: Hannu, the engineer from Turku, and the Artist previously known as the Finnish Trekkie).

A long queue outside the club The queue crawling into the building

The club was packed. There was a brief introduction from the cast and crew present, and the film started (about half an hour late, probably because they tried to fit as many people in as possible).

Full audience waiting for the film to start Three guys from the cast and crew standing in front of the screen

And the film itself? Much better than I’d thought it would be (as I said, I’m no fan of the previous episodes). Mostly awful acting, not the least from the lead character, but not quite as bad as in episode 5 (or what I’ve been able to stomach of it—maybe it was because there were a lot more sfx scenes and less acting this time). Some quite funny parts (especially the Russian propaganda commercial, and some scenes on board the Babel 13 space station), and altogether I thought it was mildly amusing. (Most of the audience seemed to enjoy the humor quite a lot.) And with the best-looking officer on any Starfleet bridge so far to boot (and I’m not talking about captain Pirk here).

I’m certain that fans of the previous Star Wrecks will enjoy this film enormously, and for the rest of us, it is quite watchable and very interesting for the sheer scale of it. The production values are impressive for a fan film—and they even got Kari Väänänen to star in a minor role!

Screenshot from a propaganda commercial Captain Sherrypie, Commander Ivanovitsa of Babel 13 The bridge of CPP Kickstart Epic Space Battle

Afterwards, there was a performance by the band Roihu that has made music for the film. (Didn’t stay for that, though.)

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 i...