Sunday, July 27, 2008

Finncon: Sunday

Back from Finncon. (Although I’m sure the dead dog party is still going strong as I type this.)

Panelists sitting behind the table, discussing

Sunday started (for me, anyway) with an excellent discussion about the definitions of the fantastic. Smart and interesting commentary that flowed very well. This I would have listened to for a longer period.

In addition to the panel, I saw Charles Vess and Petri Hiltunen show and tell about their works and interests (interesting), part of the definitive war panel (a bit formulaic, as the definitive panels tend to be nowadays) plus the fandom quiz by Jukkahoo (funny and arbitrarily judged, as always, although the competition might be just a little unfair when the questions are about events some participated in, while some others hadn’t even been born yet).

A huge crowd, standing up, singing for the con chairperson

The closing ceremony started with awards for some competition, for people who mainly weren’t present. And then they had some anime awards. I’ve probably said this before, but I don’t think awards belong to the closing ceremony, but should be a separate item instead. But anyway, final words were said, the K-9 (who evolved from a cow in a year) was passed on to the next year’s chairs, the committee, guests, and other participants got their (well deserved) thank yous, and then it was time to go home.

Eemeli, Jukka and Topi wondering about the little doggy “robot” on stage

So, the first Finncon in Tampere is over. We’ve had the event in a whole new city, by a whole new crew (or many new people anyway). That is great, I think, and I hope we’ll see another Finncon in Tampere someday. The con newszine mentioned 5 000 visitors on Saturday, so the total amount of attendees should be somewhat higher than that (but probably not by very much).

The venue worked reasonably well (if only—as I said yesterday—because the weather was nice and a lot of the anime people spent their convention outside). I heard there were a few technical glitches and some crowded moments, but I managed to avoid those. As long as you didn’t go to the “anime end” of the building, there was enough space to move around. The sf societies’ tables and vendor space were better than in the previous two years—you could actually approach them and see people—but there still was a problem of them being in a crowded hallway.

But even if the crowding issue wasn’t as bad as it has been the previous couple of years, the appearance of the event was still badly disproportionate and the place still felt too much like you were at an anime event that contained these little spaces of science fiction inside it (the programming rooms), and it wasn’t easy to connect with friends among that many people.

The programming ran nicely on time and the programming spaces seemed to be tended to well, but personally I thought the content of the programming was somewhat light and general—much of it felt a bit introductory. (Of course I’m judging largely by the items’ descriptions on the program book, so I might be wrong here.)

But all in all, I had a good time. Talked to old friends, made new ones (hi Val & Mike!), and was entertained by the programming. A big thank you to all the organizers, you did a huge job, and the Tampere Hall is still standing. (I hope all of you are too.)

photos

Finncon: Saturday Evening

The yesterday party was a typical Finncon party—in good and bad. The bar, Telakka, was too small and way too hot to be comfortable. Fortunately there was a terrace outside, but it was crowded, so you had to choose between sitting and breathing. The lines for the bar were quite long.

Telakka terrace, filled to the brim with sf people
Of course, the place being crowded also meant lots of people to talk to.

Masquerade judges at their table, looking at a character from a comic by Petri Hiltunen
The masquerade worked—or didn’t, depending on your expectations—as usual. The trend nowadays is unfortunately to have the masquerade at the bar,
which usually means there’s no stage and too many people to really see
the contestants. I think Cheryl is getting used to the Finnish way of doing masquerades, but the other judges probably were in for a bit of a surprise if they expected anything like the Worldcon masquerade. Instead of doing serious costuming, the Finns tend to just whip up costumes and concentrate more on having fun. (Of course there occasionally are some really fine costumes too.)

Maybe this had something to do with the judges deciding to go for a bit more unorthodox way of creative awarding: instead of traditional scoring, there were awards for the most unexpected costume (the Inquisition), the most obvious brown-nosing (the Petri Hiltunen characters), and so on.

The inquisitor trying to stab Black Cat

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Finncon: Saturday

Got to the convention center a couple of hours later than I’d originally planned (thanks to the party yesterday), but still with plenty of time to wander around the convention and catch a couple of program items.

Main entrance to Tamperetalo, people in cosplay costumes going in and out
Tampere-talo is working pretty well as a venue for Finncon. Inside, it’s not too crowded, and the air conditioning seems to be coping (if only barely) even though it’s rather hot outside.

Main Hallway, people wandering about
The main hallway is certainly a step up from the usual. Very nice.

A crowd gathered at a vendor table looking at various anime items on sale
The closer you get to the end where most of the anime programming (and vendor space) is, the hotter and more crowded it gets. Still, at least the whole place doesn’t look like this.

The Helsinki SF society and the Helsinki Uni sf club table, with zines, t-shirts, etc.—and a TARDIS standing behind the desk
The Helsinki societies brought a cool TARDIS to the con!

A view from the second floor to the lobby
There’s lots of lobby room and places to sit down for a bit of rest or chatting with people. The only thing missing is a decent bar (or if there is one, I haven’t found it yet).

Markku Soikkeli, Cheryl Morgan, Ben Roimola, Farah Mendlesohn, Mike Harrison, and Edward James behind a table discussing
Genre criticism panel. The panel was a bit unevenly composed: when you have four very knowledgeable critics, who in addition know each other well and very obviously have talked about these things before, the two Finns in the panel didn’t have much to contribute (and six is usually too many for a panel anyway). The panel didn’t stay on topic that well but contained a lot of interesting discussion anyway.

Jukkahoo in his Lipton suit talking to Farah Mendlesohn
Farah Mendlesohn was interviewed by “James Lipton”. A good talk that was way too short and felt hasty—this item should have had a slot twice the length it now was.

Sorsapuisto, lots of people in colorful costumes
The whole Sorsapuisto was overtaken by people in costumes. Thank goodness it wasn’t cold and rainy—it would have been a disaster if all those people would have tried to fit inside Tampere-talo!

That’s it for now; the evening party is about to start. More reporting later.

Tähtifantasy Award to Ngugi wa Thiong’o

The winner of the second annual Tähtifantasia award for best translated fantasy book was announced at Finncon. The winner is Variksen velho by Ngugi wa Thiong’o.

The jury described the novel as a political satire full of dark humor that has the absurdism and richness typical of African storytelling. Wa Thiong’o’s characters and use of language were praised by the jury, who also noted that the novel expands the definition on fantasy, proves that it is written also outside the west, and introduces the African mythology and culture to us.

The award is given by the Helsinki Science Fiction Society. The jury consisted of critic Jukka Halme, critic Aleksi Kuutio, critic and editor Anne Leinonen, and Osmo Määttä from the Risingshadow fantasy forum.

Susi Vaasjoki Wins Atorox

The Atorox award for best Finnish sf short story published last year was announced at the Tampere Finncon a moment ago. This year the award goes to Susi Vaasjoki for the short story Taruntekijä (“Story Maker”) which also won the Portti short story competition. Carita Forsgren came second for Trio Org and Jussi Katajala third for Vetehinen (“Water Spirit”). This was the 26th time the award was given.

The top ten this year is:
  1. Susi Vaasjoki: Taruntekijä
  2. Carita Forsgren: Trio Org
  3. Jussi Katajala: Vetehinen
  4. Tuomas Saloranta: Lihan lapset
  5. M.G. Soikkeli: Maan langat, Marsin hiekat
  6. J.K. Miettinen: Jäytää
  7. Mari Saario: Keveät
  8. (tie)Heikki Nevala: Herra Tvist
    Petri Salin: Exit only
  9. Heikki Nevala: Kauhun kaksi huonetta
More info on the competition is on the TSFS Atorox page.

Finncon – Friday

The Finncon Friday went as expected. I hear there was a lot of good quality programming in the science department as well as the writing one. Of course I missed all of that. But during the evening there was the mighty Finnconkampen: the tabletop ice hockey tournament.

Finnconkampen

The winner, once again, was Pasinen.

The Champion


The very nice Czech delegation to Finncon:

Czecshs


There was quite a good turnout on the terrace of the Telakka pub, discussing this and that about science fiction:

Telakka

Rauni Lintula Wins Nova

The results of the Nova short story competition for beginner sf writers was awarded tonight at Finncon. The top three this year are:
  1. Rauni Lintula: Marva
  2. Marketta Niemelä: Västäräkki
  3. Juha Huhtakallio: Nukkekoti
Congratulations to the winners!

Friday, July 25, 2008

In Tampere

Have arrived in Tampere for Finncon. Traditionally missed all of Friday’s programming; now waiting for the evening festivities to commence.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Charles Vess in Turku

Charles Vess, who is one of the GoHs at Finncon this weekend, and his wife Karen Shaffer are coming to Turku on Monday and would like to meet some local fen. If you’d be interested in meeting them, drop me a note either by e-mail or SMS (040 576 6450).

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Monthly Pub Thursday Reminder

Tomorrow is again the first Thursday of the month, so there will be the traditional Turku sf pub meeting. Bar Bremer, at six.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Swedish NOFF Delegate Selected

Portrait of Jonas, tired but happyThe Swedish fandom has selected their NOFF delegate for the year. The winner is Jonas Wissting, who will be traveling to the Tampere Finncon in July.

Jonas comes from Linköping where he’s been active in fandom since the beginning of the 2000s. He was involved in organizing this year’s Swecon as well as a couple of earlier Linköping conventions, and is also a member of the Åcon 3 committee. He’s coming to Finncon “because it’s nice to go to a convention with Finnish fans,” so say hello to him in Tampere!

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...