Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Topelius Nominees

Suomen nuorisokirjailijat, the Finnish union of authors writing for children, youngsters and young adults, awards the Topelius prize annually for best Finnish youth novel. If this year's nominees are anything to go by, the "culture was" has truly been won where it counts, in the minds of young readers.

Grafomania reports on the nominees, and four out of the five nominees are described as being fantastic fiction. There is ecological sf, dystopic fiction, paranormal romance, and magical realism. When the one remaining nominee is explicitly mentioned to be realistic fiction, that tells me that different forms of the fantastic are becoming the norm, at least among the youth books.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Kone Foundation Grants

The Kone Foundation gives out annual grants for research, art and culture (a total of 13.6 million € in the latest round). Among the cultural grants recipients there are a couple of sfnally interesting ones.

  • Maria Björklund, 10.500 € for an album-length story an accompanying exhibition of her wonderful comic strip Planeetta Z.
  • Anna Kristiina Tuura, 7.900 € for a movie script called "Utopia", an ironic comedy about the future of Finland after receiving hundreds of thousands of refugees in 2017.
  • Ismo Virtanen, 9.000 € for an interplanetary full-length animation film Robonauts.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Itäranta Takes the World

Itaranta harper1 300x228

I mentioned some of this in an earlier post, but it’s worth mentioning again: HarperVoyager has signed Emmi Itäranta for a two-book English rights deal in UK, US, and Australia. The first, her debut novel, Memory of Water (Teemestarin kirja) will be published in the UK next spring.

Teemestarin kirja has also sold to Germany for publication by Reihe Hanser planned in 2014.

This is great news! I’m happy that one more excellent Finnish book is finding its way to a much larger audience.

Update: the book has also been sold to the Czech Republic, to Plus.

Portti Short Story Competition 2012

The Tampere Science Fiction Society has traditionally kept very quiet about the results of their annual short story competition, but from the URS Facebook update we learn about this year’s results. The results are:

  1. Janne Juhani Kuusinen: Todistaja (2000 €)
  2. (tie) Katri Laukkanen: Kierto (500 €)
    Tero Niemi: Kasvottomien kellojen Ursula (500 €)
  3. Shimo Suntila: Milla ja Meri (300 €)

The award for the winner is 2000 euros; the total sum of the awards divided between the winners and honorary mentions is 4200 euros. The award jury was: professor Frans Mäyrä, editor Kanerva Eskola, and Portti editor Raimo Nikkonen. Congratulations to the winners!

Updated with info from FSFWA (story names and price sums); more info there.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Kalevi Jäntti Award to Emmi Itäranta

The Kalevi Jäntti fund gives out awards to promising young writers. This year, three authors have received the award, and one of them is Emmi Itäranta for her debut novel Teemestarin kirja. The novel is a dystopic tale of a future world that is almost out of water. The novel is beautiful and I’m very happy it gets recognition. The prize is worth 16 000 euros.

Update: According to YLE news, Teemestarin kirja will be published in English by HarperCollins in USA, Britain and Australia in 2014.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Iron Sky Team's New Project

This has been covered, in addition to the Finnish papers, in at least Variety & Hollywood Reporter (and of course spread all over Facebook and Twitter), so you’ve probably seen it already, but: the Iron Sky team’s next film (together with several international players) will be Jeremiah Harm, a hard-boiled sf action flick based on a graphic novel by Alan Grant and Keith Giffen. In addition to the international cast and crew, they will once again be collaborating with fans, so check out the team’s blog for further information along the way.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Iron Sky Awarded at Utopiales

No mention on the official web site yet, but according to a tweet from Energia, Iron Sky was awarded the Audience Award and a Special Jury Mention at the Utopiales science fiction festival in France. Congrats!

Friday, November 02, 2012

Turku Newsletter

The “Turku newsletter” is a new project that sends an e-mail on the 1st of every month. The newsletter covers sfnally interesting things that happen in the Turku area during the month.

The e-mail is distributed via the Turku sf society mailing list. This is a low-volume list that everybody interested is invited to join (no membership required). The newsletters are also archived, so you can read them via the web if you prefer.

The archive plus a link for joining the mailing list can be found on the list info page. The first newsletter came out yesterday, and covers events in November.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pub Meeting on Thursday

November starts this Thursday, and that means that the monthly pub meeting is upon us once more. See you at Teerenpeli on Thursday at six!

URS has published a new anthology, Me emme valehtele ja muita Puolueen hyväksymiä novelleja (“We do not lie, and other stories endorsed by the Party“). These will be for sale at the pub meeting, so come take a look!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

New Sf Con in Vantaa Next April

Spefi-Vantaa is a new one-day minicon that will be held at the Tikkurila library April 13 next year. There will be a guest of honor (a good one, but not officially published so I can’t reveal who she is yet) and other programming, in the same vein as the Tamfan and Turconen minicons. More info on the website, or from Ella Peltonen.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Finndom in Swecon

Kontrast, this year’s Swedish national convention, starts on Friday. There are a couple of Finnish program items scheduled this year.

This year, for the first time ever (as far as I know) there’s a Finnish language program item. Suomikummaa (Saturday 2 PM) is a discussion about new and interesting Finnish sf books, in Finnish (apparently there are quite a few Finnish speakers in Swedish fandom and Uppsala who might be interested in finding out about good books to read in Finnish).

On Saturday there’s also a program item about the recent elephant in the Finnish fandom: the Helsinki Worldcon bid presentation (6 PM). The Helsinki bid doesn’t have a table at the convention, and Eemeli, the bid chair, is not attending, so if you have questions about the bid, come here and ask Jukka everything you want to know about the bid.

On Sunday at 11 I’ll be chairing a panel discussion about what’s currently happening in the Finnish fandom. This item is in English, so if you’re interested in our doings here in Finland, welcome!

There are many interesting program items at Kontrast, and quite a few Finns participating in other items as well. Hope to see you at Swecon!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Locacon in Jyväskylä

Lokacon is a minicon that will be held in Jyväskylä on October 20, at the Writers House. The themes are the end of the world and steampunk, and the guests are YA authors Katri Alatalo and Magdalena Hai, and comics scholar Katja Kontturi. On the preceding Friday, there will be a literature and science fiction event at the Multia library. Both events are free to attend.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Turconen

The Turconen minicon started on Friday. There was a pre-convention reception at Turun Sarjakuvakauppa organized by the local sf society and the Turku comics society. I’m told it was one of the most popular events ever held at the store. The official pre-con pub night at Cosmic Comic Café was also a success, with hardly a chair left at the pub. The night went quite well: meeting friends over a few beers, accompanied by the cosmic soundtrack played by Dj Tekri.

Yesterday was the official convention day. The arrangements started quite early in the morning, and we were well set up by 10:30 when the doors were opened to the public.

E-kirjat Turun kaupunginkirjastossa

Our great host at the library, Gunnar Högnäs gave a presentation on the e-books lending situation at the library, with lots of information about the hoops they have to jump through with publishers, and also some good links to resources for lending books.

J. Pekka Mäkelä

Next up was our Guest of Honor, author J. Pekka Mäkelä, who gave an impressive performance, reading some texts accompanied with a guitar and some sound effects. Afterwards he was interviewed by Shimo Suntila.

The other program items for the day included a round-table discussion about pulp literature that was accompanied by delightful audience participation (mostly by Boris Hurtta, a pulp author, among other things, himself). There was also a discussion about favorite characters in science fiction that was plagued by a couple of unfortunate cases of cancellations due to illness, but luckily replacements could be volunteered, and the discussion was quite entertaining. The last item, a new books discussion, also went smoothly and produced a good list of sf books to check out. All in all, I think the programming was quite succesful, and the audience seemed to enjoy it.

Pulpin ihanuus

Our goal was to have 30 persons attend the event, with an optimistic goal of 50 persons. The most people we counted in the programming room at one time was 54 (which filled out the room quite nicely), and since there were people coming and going the whole day, I’d say at least 70 persons visited the event, so we were very happy about the turnout.

TSFS:n pöytä

After the convention, there was an opportunity to visit the comics store across the street. Mäkelä visited a local book store to sign some books, and we went to have dinner afterwards. In the evening, the con ended with another pub night, this time at Teerenpeli. The upstairs lounge was just big enough for the crowd that showed up, and many fun conversations were had. I noticed at least a few new faces at the event—I hope some of them liked what they saw and will stick around!

I would say the first Turconen was an unqualified success. Thank yous all around to everyone who made the convention possible!

more photos | Shimo’s con report | J. Pekka Mäkelä’s report

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Elizabeth Hand in Helsinki

Elizabeth Hand is dropping by for a quick visit in Helsinki next week. There will be an extra mafia (fandom pub night) at St Urho’s Pub on Monday, September 17, starting around 8 PM. Hand is a wonderful author and a very nice person, so if you have a chance, pop by to meet her there!

Horror Event in Turku

Kaiken maailman kauhua” is a horror-themed event that will take place in Turku-sali (Student house A) on October 13, from noon to 6 PM. The event will comprise short presentations, horror stories, etc., and after the program there will be a “ghost walk” in Turku. The event is meant for young adults, but everybody interested is welcome (not recommended for children, though). Attendance is free.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Turconen Program

The program for the Turconen minicon has been announced!

If you’re coming to Turku already on Friday, you’re most welcome to the pre-con pub night at Cosmic Comic Café, starting around 8 PM!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ready Player Finland

Ernest Cline blogs about his trip to Finland.

I returned from trip my to Finland a few days ago, but I’m still recovering from jetlag and a significant hangover. The primary piece of wisdom I brought back from Finland is that Finnish science fiction fans love to drink even more than they love to talk about science fiction.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Turku Pub Meeting Today

Yes, it’s autumn again, and the Turku pub meetings move back to Teerenpeli. Meet you there today at six! (A new issue of the Turu Mafia Zine will also be published; come and get yours.)

MemoCon in Tampere

MemoCon is a minicon in Tampere on September 29 (from 2 PM to 5 PM), organized by the Tampere section of the Finnish Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association. The theme of the event is memory and history in sf.

There will be a presentation on “The memory of a scene in fantasy”, discussion about the Turconen event, and publication of the Kosmospenaali fanzine issue 2/2012 (articles for the ish would be welcome).

The event is free to attend.

More information available from Markku Soikkeli.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Worldcon Dreams in Public

A moment ago, Eemeli presented the Helsinki Worldcon bid in the Chicago Worldcon. Some people (mainly Kevin Standlee) tweeted during the Q&A session. See the story for a synopsis of what was said.

Update: Video from the business meeting with the presentation is now also online.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Worldcon Dreams

Apparently there is now a bid for a Worldcon in Helsinki in 2015. And it’s open for people who want to be pre-supporters (20 €) or friends of the bid (80 €).

Unlike the Wårldcon bid, this one isn’t a hoax but a real bid, although I don’t think anybody—not even Eemeli—really expects it to have any chance of winning. Maybe it will serve as an exercise for the future, though (I know there are at least a handful of people who really do want to organize a Worldcon in Finland, and a couple of them might even have some idea what that would really mean), or at least as a fun project.

At the moment, the bid committee consists of Eemeli Aro, Jukka Halme, and Kristoffer Lawson. Eemeli is currently at the Chicago Worldcon, so if you’re there and this interests you, I’m sure he’d be happy to discuss this further.

Kalevala Exhibition in Turku

Kalevala

There’s an exhibition of the art of the gorgeous Kalevala graphic novel by Kristian Huitula in Turun Sarjakuvakauppa on September. The official opening ceremony is today, 5 PM to 7 PM.

The exhibition tour continues also in libraries around Finland. If you’re interested in the book, there is an English-language edition that is available at least in Sarjakuvakauppa, as well as the publisher’s web shop and in Bookplus.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sinisalo on Weird Fiction Review

There are three posts up on Weird Fiction Review that are about Johanna Sinisalo: There’s an interview of Johanna by Adam Mills, an essay by Johanna called Weird and Proud of It, and also an excerpt of Johanna’s Finlandia and Tiptree Award–winning novel Troll, A Love Story. Recommended!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Making of Iron Sky

The Helsinki Art Museum will feature an exhibition of the Making of Iron Sky (September 28 to January 20):

The exhibition showcases material from the making of the film, from costumes to storyboards to scale models. Production: Helsinki Art Museum and Blind Spot Pictures

(via Enhörningen)

Games Exhibition in Turku

The Turku Castle is currently featuring an exhibition of strategy and role playing games.

Risingshadow.net Shortshort Competition

The Risingshadow.net site has announced a shortshort fiction competition. The theme of the competition is ”shadow rising”, and the deadline is at the end of the year. The winning stories will be published in Usva, and there will be some book prizes as well.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ernest Cline Visits Finland

Ernest Cline, the author of the excellent Ready Player One, will visit Helsinki in the beginning of September. There will be an extra pub meeting at St. Urho’s Pub on Tuesday, September 4 where fen have a chance to meet with the author from around 7 PM.

The Finnish translation of Ready Player One has just come out, translated by J. Pekka Mäkelä. The book is an excellently entertaining read, especially if you grew up in the 80s or have an interest in either pop culture or computer games. (I don’t care much for games, but was completely hooked by the book and enjoyed it very much). Highly recommended!

Arts Council Grants to Writers

The Arts Council of Finland has given out its annual grants to writers, among them some familiar names. Congratulations to Timo Parvela (5-year grant), Tiina Raevaara (1 year), and Maria Turtschaninoff (1 year) for getting support to continue writing more fantastic fiction!

Friday, August 17, 2012

R.I.P. Harry Harrison

Harry Harrison

On Wednesday, we were saddened to learn of the passing of Harry Harrison, 87. Harrison was an SFWA Grand Master, inductee of the SF Hall of Fame, and Worldcon Guest of Honor. In addition, he was a co-founder of the World SF organization (a forum where writers from the West and the East could meet discuss their work). He also had a small but significant role in the Finnish fandom.

The Finnish “First Fandom” has been named Dinosaurs, after their US counterpart. The Finnish Dinosaurs consist of founding members of the first Finnish sf-society, Turun Science Fiction Seura, and their generation, plus one person from abroad: Harry Harrison. There was a good reason behind including him among the Finnish Dinosaurs.

Harry Harrison had an influential role in the formation of the Finnish science fiction fandom. Harrison had met Finnish fen in Sweden and later in Helsinki at King-Con in 1982. During these meetings he gave valuable advice on how to organize science fiction societies and conventions; he also advised on how to avoid schisms inside fandom. Accordingly, Leena Peltonen, a translator, editor, critic and chief editor of the Aikakone fanzine, brought with her the official Dinosaur badge to Harry Harrison, when he was an author guest of the Jyväskylä Arts Festivals in July 2005.

Several of the Finnish fen met Harry in Helsinki, Jyväskylä, or Copenhagen at different cons. He is widely remembered as an approachable, kind, funny, and intelligent person with whom lengthy conversations were had, in a civilized manner over glasses of red wine. It came as quite a surprise to him when the young generation, especially the women, proved to be ardent fans of the Stainless Steel Rat.

Harry Harrison & Jyväskylä Fen

Several of Harry Harrison’s works have been translated into Finnish:

  • Aikakoneen saaga (The Technicolor Time Machine) 
  • Avaruuslääkäri (Spaceship Medic) 
  • Bill – Linnunradan sankari (Bill, the Galactic Hero) 
  • Bill – Linnunradan sankari robottiorjien planeetalla (Bill, the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Robot Slaves)
  • Kuoleman planeetta (Deathworld 1)
  • Ruostumaton Teräsrotta (The Stainless Steel Rat)
  • Ruostumaton Teräsrotta pelastaa maailman (The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World)
  • Ruostumaton Teräsrotta presidentiksi (The Stainless Steel Rat for President)
  • Ruostumaton Teräsrotta syntyy (The Stainless Steel Rat Is Born)
  • Ruostumaton Teräsrotta tahtoo sinut (The Stainless Steelrat Wants You)
  • Ruostumattoman Teräsrotan paluu (The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge)
  • Tilaa! Tilaa! (Make Room! Make Room!)
  • Bill - Linnunradan sankari mauttoman mielihyvän planeetalla (Bill, The Galactic Hero on the Planet of Tasteless Pleasures, with David Bischoff)
  • Bill - Linnunradan sankari zombievampyyrien planeetalla (Bill, the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Zombie Vampires, with Jack C. Haldeman)
  • Bill - Linnunradan sankari pullotettujen aivojen planeetalla (Bill, The Galactic Hero on the Planet of Bottled Brains, with Robert Sheckley)
  • Stonehenge - Atlantiksen tuho (Stonehenge: Where Atlantis Died, with Leon E. Stover)

(This post was authored together with Liisa Rantalaiho and Irma Hirsjärvi. Photos by Joanna Kurki. Bibliography from Jussi Vainikainen’s sf resource site.)

Harry Harrison & Ipa

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Anne Leinonen Interviewed

Over at International Speculative Fiction, Cheryl Morgan interviews Finnish author Anne Leinonen. The interview is focused on Anne and Eija Lappalainen’s award-winning YA book Routasisarukset, and the attempts to get Finnish fantastic fiction translated to other languages.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Picnic

The traditional Dirk Gently’s Holistic Picnic takes place next Saturday (August 18). The gathering is at the Helsinki railway station, under the departing local trains sign, at 2 PM. Free attendance; you’ll need some money, the Helsinki trains timetable, and salted peanuts. The destination will be determined using the Helsinki maps in the phone book and flipping a coin. For more information, contact Vesa Sisättö, tel. 050 534 7747.

050 534 7747

Frankenstein & Space Monster

The Turku kirjakahvila puts on a series of outdoor movie shows this autumn. On Wednesday, September 5 they’ll be showing the movie Frankenstein Meets the Spacemonster from 1955.

New Sf on Finnish Tv

Hubotit - melkein ihmisiä

There will be a couple of new sf series on Finnish television. The first, a Swedish series called Hubotit - melkein ihmisiä (Äkta människor, or “real people”) starts this Thursday on Yle 2. In the series mankind has developed very humanlike robots, and the series handles the issues society will have as a consequence.

The new J.J. Abrams series Alcatraz starts on Sub September 2. The premise is that in 1963 Alcatraz really wasn’t closed down because of the reasons publicly stated, but instead all the prisoners and guards just vanished without a trace, and now they return in modern-day San Francisco.

On Mondays, starting September 3, Mtv3 will show Better off Ted, a comedy series about a guy working in a very weird r&d department, and who also can break the fourth wall and control events in the series.

Also on September 3 will start an interesting series called Misfits (Yle 2). It centers around a group of delinquents that end up having superpowers (but do not instantly become heroes as a result). I’ve seen some of the series, and Heroes it isn’t. Recommended.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fantasy Feast 2012

This weekend, the Turku Science Fiction Society hosted the Fantasy Feast, a pseudo-medieval, fantasy-themed gathering held in the Tippsund campground.

Fantasiapidot 2012

The Fantasy Feast is a long-standing tradition (the first Feast was held in 1991, and this was the ninth time it was organized). The recipe has remained pretty much unchanged since the beginning: people dress in loosely medieval style, fantasy-inspired garbs, gather together in a remote location, and spend the weekend playing games, socializing, eating a feast, sitting in a sauna, playing (and listening to) music, and in general just having fun.

Fantasiapidot 2012

Although the people organizing the Feast are new (I don’t think many—if not most—of the organizers this year were even born during the first Feast), the spirit of the happening was the same. A lot of effort had gone into the arrangements this year: there was the traditional tournament (with inventive games to play), the battle of the bards (I only visited one day, so I missed that), and the feast itself, but also lots of programming for the kids (there seem to be more children attending every time—which is not surprising since there are many people who’ve attended the Feast from the beginning, and quite a few of those have children nowadays), and also a “ritual” calling the spirits of the forest (which tied into the earlier events and contests during the weekend). Plus a wonderful twist in the best costume competition: instead of costume photographs, gorgeous drawings were made of the contestants. Unfortunately I forgot to photograph these, but you can see some of the works of these very talented artists (who were also organizing the event) on their website.

Fantasiapidot 2012

The feast seemed to me somewhat smaller than in the days of yore, but maybe this was just because so many of the attendees were kids; I think the number of attendees was all in all not that different. Although I’m not that interested in the fantasy setting and dressing up (and in all the fighting with foam weapons going about—in my days we had steel swords, but considering how many kids there were it’s probably best the times have changed) any more, it was very nice to see lots of old friends, some of whom I haven’t talked to in a few years. And it was of course fun to see the next generation run around and enjoy themselves (both the figurative one—the organizers—and the literal one—I attended the Feast with my daughter) at the event. A big thank you to the organizers and here’s hoping the tradition continues!

More photos from the event

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Jääskeläinen Gets Translated

Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen announced on his blog a while ago that he has sold the English rights for his debut novel Lumikko ja yhdeksän muuta to British Pushkin Press, and the novel will be published in English sometime in the future. Yay!

Finncon Parity?

Since quite a few people nowadays seem to be interested in such things: there are no panel parity or other such gender equality programs in effect in Finncons, but I’ve previously claimed the con is pretty equal, or in fact has more women participating in program items than men. I thought I’d do a quick count to see if my assumption was correct.

As counted from the published program book, this year’s Finncon program participants included 73 women and 69 men (not all program items listed all participants, and there may have been changes, but this was as close as I could get from online documentation). 

Oh, and looking at an earlier Finncon in 2010 (2011 was combined with Animecon, and I think looking at a science fiction convention is more interesting; also 2010 was an interesting year for me since I was one of the organizers), there were 71 women and 58 men in the program. So I don’t think my quip that if we were to strive for panel parity, we’d have to drop quite a few interesting women from the program was totally unfounded.

Looking more closely at this year’s figures, one can make some other observations, though. In the science programming, there were 10 men to only 2 women participating in the program items. So that might be something to pay attention to in the future. On the other hand, in the program items where writers discussed writing sf, there were 32 women and 11 men. So I think it’s fair to say that women writers aren’t discriminated against at Finncon (not that I’ve heard such claims in Finnish conventions).

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Atorox Award to Pasi Jääskeläinen

The 2012 Atorox award for best Finnish sf short story published last year was announced at Finncon. The winner is Kirje Lethelle (“A Letter to Lethe”) by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (published in the anthology Valhe & Viettelys). The top three this year were:
  1. Kirje Lethelle by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (Valhe & Viettelys)
  2. Uralin sininen by Tomi Jänkälä (Spin 4/2010)
  3. Kuulen laulun kaukaisen by Petri Laine and Anne Leinonen (Portti 2/2011)
This was the 30th time the award was given. There were 22 stories in the long list.

Monday, July 16, 2012

R.I.P. Polaris

Found on Facebook today, a notification by ex-chair Mixu Lauronen: the Oulu sf society Polaris has been officially terminated. The society was founded on December 10, 2001, and the termination date is July 10.

The society has been inactive for years, but in its day it used to, among other things, publish the zine Mytago, and give out the Lumimies award, given for various fandom-related activities.

Peter Watts to Finland in 2013

Peter Watts

Next year’s Finncon in Helsinki has added the acclaimed Canadian author Peter Watts to its Guests of Honor.

Peter Watts has won, among others, the Hugo and Shirley Jackson awards. His novel Blindsight will be published in Finnish in 2013.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Discworld Play in Turku

Vartiosto valmiina palvelukseen

The Jo-Jo Theater in turku will put up a play “Vartiosto Valmiina Palvelukseen” based on the Terry Pratchett book by the same name (orig. Men at Arms) and the Stephen Briggs play adaptation of it.

The play is translated by Kristian Aho and directed by Kauno Takarautio, and it will premiere on October 12.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Finncon 2012 Program Announced

The Finncon 2012 program has been published on the convention web site. Go take a look!

Tähtivaeltaja Award to Hannu Rajaniemi

Hannu RajaniemiThe Tähtivaeltaja Award for best science fiction book published in Finnish last year was given to Kvanttivaras (The Quantum Thief) by Hannu Rajaniemi on June 20.

The jury commended the book for successfully bringing together scientific ideas, engaging entertainment and literary quality. The combination of a detective story, roguish main character and hard science fiction offers an exhilarating amount of sfnal concepts and nods to its literary fore bearers (such as Arsene Lupin). The novel ponders the human identity and its boundaries within its many layers of memory and intrigue. The Quantum Thief is a rare combination of intelligence and entertainment.

The Tähtivaeltaja Award is administered by the Helsinki Science Fiction Society. The jury comprised critic Hannu Blommila, editor Toni Jerrman, critic Elli Leppä, and critic Antti Oikarinen.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Meet Cat Valente

Cat Valente is currently in Turku with her husband Dmitri. They would like to meet local fandom for drinks and chat at Cosmic Comic Café tonight at 7 PM. Welcome!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Launchland: Finnish SF Music

Just came across this a couple of days ago: Finnish musician Lauri Järvilehto, a.k.a. Songsworth, released an sf-themed album earlier this year. Launchland is “Music for the Science Fiction Imagination”, according to Songsworth:

At the end of the day, this music is about imagination. The worlds where my mind has wandered have left their mark, and that mark is stamped on these songs. I hope that these songs go some way to propel you too to new worlds beyond anyone else’s imagination – your own private worlds, with a shared genesis in these stories.

I hope this album gives you the odd chance to launch at the stars – and land at worlds never before seen by anybody else.

The artist draws inspiration from sf books (by Alastair Reynolds and Hannu Rajaniemi, to name a couple) and comics, and names songs after works that connect to them in his mind. The style is instrumental synthesizer music that instantly feels sfnal (at least to someone who grew up in the 80s listening to Vangelis, Jarre, etc.).

The self-published album is available on iTunes and Amazon, and you can also download it on Songsworth’s web site.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Åcon 5: Thursday

As usual, Åcon Thursday started very early. Went to pick up our Guest of Honor Cat Valente at the hotel and headed for the ferry terminal. Had a cup of coffee. Joined the cattle drive wandering to the ferry. Breakfast, Ölcon, a short Finncon meeting, some shopping, quick lunch.

Arrived in Mariehamn and checked in the hotel, then sat at the registration desk for most of the evening. Got lots of oohs and aahs from the more technologically-oriented persons about the credit card reader I brought that connects to the iPad (it also proved very handy since the nearest ATM is at the town center).

This is the largest Åcon ever—92 registered members, most of them present (some arriving tomorrow, a couple that couldn’t make it). There wasn’t much programming today: the opening ceremony, a squee panel (where the panelists and the audience talked about things they are enthusiastic about, in the style of the SF Squeecast) and the traditional Do not disturb sign workshop. This year added the Please disturb signs in the mix. There were some very imaginative entries, including a zombie Moomin one.

Some people have now gone to see the special screening of Iron Sky organized for Åcon members at the local movie theater. The rest are having a sugar rush party at the hotel, with a selection of candy Hanna and Mika brought, and of course some nice beers from the hotel bar.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Åcon 5 Ready to Go

The Guest of Honour Catherynne M. Valente has arrived in Turku safe and sound. All is ready for Åcon to start tomorrow!

If you’re not able to attend and want to follow what’s going on at the convention, the best way is probably on Twitter. There should be some updates on the convention web site during the weekend as well.

The convention program book has been published in an electronic version; you can download it from the web site in epub format.

PS If you arrive in Turku already today and want to meet people, the word on the street is that some Åconites will gather at Cosmic Comic Café today (probably around 7 PM).

Friday, May 04, 2012

Summer Meetings; Reverse Time Trek

At the pub meeting yesterday it was decided to once again go to the restaurant Koulu for the summer meetings. So from June 7 onwards you can find the Turku sf pub meetings at the Koulu terrace (or somewhere inside if the weather is too cold or wet to be outside). Welcome!

We also decided to go on a Time Trek some time after Finncon (late July/early August). More specifically, we’ll take the Time Trek walking tour (an outdoor route that symbolizes the history of the Universe, with 1 km representing each billion ears in the age of the Universe). To make things more interesting (or more convenient if you want a more practical explanation) we’ll do the trip backwards, starting at the University of Turku and ending in Piikkiö, where there will be a barbecue at the journey’s end. More details will follow later; everyone is welcome to walk with us for either the whole 13.7 km route or just a part of it!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Finncon 2012 Wants You

Finncon 2012 (in Tampere in July) has begun their gopher recruitment. If you feel you could contribute to the convention, go sign up and let them know you’d like to help!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

BaCon on Saturday

FUI and Tutka will organize the BaCon 5 minicon this Saturday at Terrakoti. The theme this year is race. The program starts around 2 PM and looks as follows:

  • 2 PM Unofficial program starts with the movie Shaft
  • 4 PM Official program: meaty music video, followed by ST: TNG episode “Darmok”
  • 5 PM Dinner break (bring your own food)
  • 6 PM Ritual eating of cabbage and bacon, socializing
  • 7 PM video program

Friday, April 20, 2012

URS on Tour

The wildly active Uusrahvaanomainen spekulatiivinen fiktio (“new pulp”) movement goes on tour around Finland to celebrate the publication of their latest anthology, Huomenna ne tulevat (“Tomorrow They Come”). Members of the movement will be appearing in Helsinki, Tampere, Espoo, Turku, and Jyväskylä to advertise (and sell) the new book and talk about new pulp sf.

The tour dates are available at the link. The tour will visit Turku on two occasions: at the next pub meeting on May 3, and also at the Kirja irti event on May 26.

IronSky Awarded at BIFFF

Iron Sky received a couple of awards at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival: The Silver Méliès Award and The Pegase Award (an audience prize). Congratulations!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Sergey Lukianenko in Finland

Update: Due to an illness in the family, Lukianenko has unfortunately had to cancel his visit to Finland.

The Russian sf writer Sergey Lukianenko visits Helsinki next week for the publication of his latest translation, Yöpartio (Ночной дозор, in English Night Watch). He will be interviewed at the Pressi-klubi, visit the Helsinki mafia, and also visit the Tampere Book Fair.
  • Thu Apr 12, 3 PM – Pressi-klubi, Pullman Bar, Helsinki Railway Station
  • Thu Apr 12, 6 PM – Pub meeting, St. Urho’s Pub, Helsinki
  • Fri Apr 13, 5 PM – Tampere Book Fair
  • Sat Apr 14, 10:30 AM – Tampere Book Fair

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Iron Sky Gala Premiere

On Monday, there was a big gala premiere event for Iron Sky in Tampere. Shimo already wrote an account of our visit there, so I’m going to just add a couple of photos from the event.

Iron Sky Gala
Gala buffet after the premiere

Sinisalo
The movie is based on a story by Johanna Sinisalo

Cast & Crew
Cast & crew on stage

Iron Sky Gala
Tv interviews

Otto & Dietze
Götz Otto & Julia Dietze spent the evening pretty much being hounded for quick chats and photo requests

Laibach
Laibach performed a great gig at the gala

Laibach Laibach Laibach Laibach

Monday, March 26, 2012

Last Issue of Pulp Zine Out

Juri Nummelin’s Pulp zine has come to an end. The last issue is 4/2011. The issue has enough sf content to warrant a mention here: there are reviews (including a couple of very topical E.R. Burroughs-related ones), plus articles about Flash Gordon books, Big Little Books, and graphic novels. The zine can be read at the link above.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Iron Sky

A few years ago, a bunch of indie filmmakers were in Turku, starting the premiere tour for their ambitious project, a special effects–heavy movie made on a shoestring budget. The movie was called Star Wreck, and it went on to become the most watched Finnish movie of all time.

Where do you go from something like this? You think bigger, of course. After more than six years, many of the same guys are again on tour. This time they (backed by an impressive bunch of financial supporters, a story by a Finlandia-awarded author, an international cast, and a huge fan following) have gone to the other extreme and produced Iron Sky: the most expensive Finnish movie ever (although on a Hollywood scale, I guess they are still operating on a shoestring budget). And tonight the Iron Sky tour came to Turku.

Turku was a riot of awesomeness, biggest crowd so far, standing ovations loved every moment.
@energia

Queue for Iron Sky preview

The largest movie theater in Turku filled with an enthusiastic crowd (and quite a few familiar faces from the local fandom). After the movie there was a Q&A with director Timo Vuorensola and producer Tero Kaukomaa—uncommonly for Finns, the audience had so many questions there wasn’t time to give answers to everybody—and Timo and Tero were also available for signatures and quick chat afterwards, so I’m sure everybody got their money’s worth today.

In case you haven’t heard about Iron Sky, it’s a science fiction comedy about space nazis returning to Earth in the year 2018 from their hideout on the far side of the Moon. And no, the movie isn’t quite as silly as the concept sounds. Instead of a haphazardly assembled collection of jokes we got a proper movie, with a plot that makes sense (within the premise, of course), with several good performances, and even a couple of emotionally touching moments. In addition to quite a few laughs.

Candy

This is however a light comedy, so you shouldn’t pay too much attention to realism (things like people falling great distances without harm, and apparently without mass either, or how a huge swastika-shaped base on the surface of the Moon has gone unnoticed for decades, or how objects fly in space). This isn’t a political satire either, so the political content is quite lightweight, although there are a couple of insightful moments (I especially liked one scene at the very end of the movie which showed that even in a comedy there can be consequences to actions, and suddenly made the audience stop laughing when they realized what was going on). For fans of funny pop culture references, the movie has plenty to offer (plus there are a few amusing in-jokes that you probably have to be a Finn to catch).

As those who’ve seen the trailer know, USA in 2018 has a somewhat sarahpalinesque president. I was sceptic about this based on the trailers (I feared a Saturday Night Live–style pastiche), but am happy to report that it’s not as bad as it sounds—as a matter of fact it isn’t bad at all; the character is pretty funny. The nazis are also handled with skill: they are a difficult subject to have as comedic characters that aren’t one-dimensional screwballs but I think the movie pulled it off. (They got quite a bit of funding from Germany, so apparently they thought so too, and the film opened at the Berlin film festival and got a good reception there as well.) There were a couple of slapstick moments that I didn’t think quite fit in with the rest of the movie, but all in all the balance of humor, dramatic moments, and general silliness was a successful one.

Q&A with Iron Sky director & producer

The film has an international cast, mainly from Germany and Australia. Götz Otto (those who remember him from the film Downfall should pay particular attention to one scene in the film—you’ll recognize it when you see it) makes an impressive nazi, and Julia Dietze lights up the screen with her presence (It’s such a cliché to say she brings both strength and vulnerability to the role, but still it applies here quite well). Other cast performs also well, maybe with the exception of Peta Sergeant who I thought overacted quite jarringly at times. The movie has several strong female roles (without making a fuss about it), which is a plus (a friend pointed out after the movie that it also passes the Bechdel test).

And the final word, as this is a science fiction film: how are the space effects? One word: awesome. The retro-nostalgic design of the sets and spaceships is stylish and impressive, and the action scenes are exceptionally well carried out (no prolonged futile battles here, the action works). Also, being scored by Laibach can never hurt a movie, especially one with such grandiose moments as Iron Sky. I was very happy to notice that the movie doesn’t forget it’s a comedy during the action scenes, as sometimes happens. All in all, the movie certainly has charm, and I enjoyed it quite a bit!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cultural Grants for Sf Zines

The Ministry of Education and Culture have announced their annual grants for culture magazines. Congrats to the sf (and related) znes that are one the list!

  • Finnish Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association for Kosmoskynä, 1 100 €
  • Tampere Science Fiction Society for Portti, 14 000 €
  • The Finnish Comics Association for Sarjainfo, 17 000 €
  • Turku Science Fiction Society for Spin, 2 000 €
  • Helsinki Science Fiction Society for Tähtivaeltaja, 13 000 €

Monday, March 19, 2012

War of the Worlds in Helsinki

In January 2013, Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds will play at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki. The producers promise good music and lots of special effects, including a 10-meter tall Martian Fighting Machine and a hologram Liam Neeson. Sounds entertaining. Tickets will be sold starting March 26.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Finnish Sf Competes for Spektakulärt

Via Enhörningen: two Finnish novels are in competition for the Spektakulärt (Spectacular) award given by the Spektakulärt web site dedicated to new Swedish fantastic literature and film. The nominees are De hemlösas stad (“The City of the Homeless”) by Annika Luther and Pop by Marcus Prest.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Åcon 5 Filling Up

Åcon 5 (an English-speaking sf convention in Mariehamn in May, GoH Cat Valente) is going to be the biggest yet. So far, 85 people have signed up for the convention. Åcon has a membership cap of 100 which might be filled for the first time. So if you’ve been thinking of attending but haven’t done anything about it yet, you should sign up now.

Also, the hotel room quota is all but gone. We’re looking into getting the rest of the hotel included in our quote, and also checking out alternative accommodation options (including Kaptensgårdarna across the street), but if you want to secure a room at the convention hotel, acting quickly wouldn’t really be a bad idea.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

New Sf Con in Turku

J. Pekka Mäkelä
Next September there will be a new science fiction convention in Turku: Turconen. The date of the con is Saturday, September 22, and the venue is the Turku main library.

The Guest of Honor of Turconen will be author and translator J. Pekka Mäkelä. We’re planning to have a dinner + pub night on Friday, and the programming will run from Saturday morning until some time in the afternoon. There will be some evening program on Saturday as well.

The Turconen committee are Harri Kiiskinen, Pasi Karppanen, Harri Miekka, and myself. The Turku Science Fiction Society is also involved in organizing the event.

Welcome to Turku in September!

Finncon 2013 Announced

The preliminary website for Finncon 2013 was unveiled this weekend at Finnsmofcon. Next year’s convention will take place in Helsinki, at Kaapelitehdas (same location as in 2009), July 5 to 7, 2013.

Two Guests of Honor have been announced (more to be announced later): the freshly Nebula-nominated author Aliette de Bodard from France, and the Finnish science fiction and realfantastik author and translator J. Pekka Mäkelä.

There will once again be a Finfar research seminar at Finncon, and their guest scholar will be Stefan Ekman from the University of Lund in Sweden. Stefan will also be present at Finncon.

Fan Fund News

At the Finnsmofcon (the co-operation event of the Finnish sf people) this weekend a new fan fund was founded. We’ve had NoFF (the Nordic Fan Fund) for a few years to send Finnish fen to Nordic conventions, and it has been a success. Now it was decided to expand this a bit. So NoFF became OFF (with people). The NoFF delegate selection will continue to exist within OFF mostly unchanged, but in addition OFF will—if enough money has been raised—help fen travel to other conventions abroad. Funds can also be used for domestic purposes (such as sponsoring less expensive accommodation for Åcon, etc.). OFF will operate officially under the wing of the Finncon association.

NoFF 2012At the meeting it was announced that the Finnish NoFF delegate for 2012 is Tomi “bgt” Mäntylä from Turku. Tomi will be traveling to a Nordic convention (which one, will be announced later) this year. Tomi has already been active and created a Facebook page where you can follow his NoFF activities. Congrats, Tomi!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tähtifantasia 2012 Shortlist

The shortlist for the Tähtifantasia Award has been announced. Nominated for the best fantasy book translated into Finnish last year are:
Notable about this year’s shortlist is that for the first time, one book (The City and the City) has been shortlisted for both the Tähtifantasia Award and it’s science fiction sister the Tähtivaeltaja Award.

The Tähtifantasia winner will be decided by the jury that is: critic Jukka Halme, critic Aleksi Kuutio, writer and editor Anne Leinonen, and Risingshadow.net representative Osmo Määttä. The winner will be announced at Finncon in July.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Tähtivaeltaja Award Shortlist 2012

The shortlist for this year’s Tähtivaeltaja Award (for best science fiction book published in Finnish last year) has been announced. What is remarkable about this list is that three out of five novels are written by Finnish writers (even if one of them is a translation). Go Finnish sf!

The shortlist, with the jury’s comments, is as follows:
  • Routasisarukset by Eija Lappalainen and Anne Leinonen (WSOY)
    “An engaging vision of the future full of fascinating detail, tight narrative, and conflicts between very human hopes and wishes.”
  • Toiset (The City and the City) by China Miéville (Karisto)
    “A detective story full of sense of wonder. Detective Tyador Borlú tries to solve a difficult murder mystery in a quantum entangled, impossible double city.”
  • Kvanttivaras (The Quantum Thief) by Hannu Rajaniemi (Gummerus)
    “The international breakthrough debut of a Finnish author. A vibrantly imaginative sf opera about a charismatic master thief.”
  • Pääteasema (Terminal World) by Alastair Reynolds (Like)
    “An idea rich vision of a distant future society divided into zones of varying technological advancement.”
  • Enkelten verta by Johanna Sinisalo (Teos)
    “A chilling dystopia about the power balance between humans and animals full of topical ecological thematic and deep mythological thinking.”
The Tähtivaeltaja Award is given by the Helsinki Science Fiction Society. The jury of the award comprises journalist Hannu Blommila, editor Toni Jerrman, critic Elli Leppä, and critic Antti Oikarinen. The winner will be announced in late spring.

* * *

That is an impressive list, to say the least! Traditionally I’m terrible with award predictions, but still I’d guess the final choice from five good candidates will be decided between Toiset and Kvanttivaras (haven’t read Pääteasema, but there doesn’t seem to be similar buzz for it as with the other four nominees). Of these two, I’d perhaps sway on the side of Kvanttivaras as to which will win.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

Åcon 5 Hotel & Travel Info Online

The ferry travel and hotel booking info (and prices) have been posted on the Åcon 5 web site. Go take a look and book your trip and stay now!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Finncon 2012 Website + Hotel

The web site for Finncon 2012 (next July in Tampere) is now in operation. There seems to be some minor glitches with the language selection, but I’m sure those will be worked out quickly.

A thing to note if you’re planning to attend the convention: Tampere hotels are pretty booked already, so it’s a good idea to take care of the hotel package, even if the price is a bit higher than is usual with Finncons (150&nbps;€/night for a 2-person room). If you want cheaper hotel rooms, the Omena hotel (very basic but clean and totally ok self-service hotel, the closest one is a couple of blocks from the official con hotel) still has some rooms for about 80 €/night/room (there are beds for four persons in a room), but I’d book them very quickly, because I think they might not be available for too long.

Update: links fixed after they’d been changed on the web site. Language selection and linking is now ok.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Festival of Living Literature 2012

The Festival of Living Literature will take place February 11 in Tampere. This year’s theme is “Nature and Creativity”. The program includes among others Markku Soikkeli interviewing authors Risto Isomäki and Tero tähtinen on how literature can save Earth.

Fantasy Feast Registration Open

The eight Fantasy Feast will be organized August 10–12, 2012, at Tippsund in Taivassalo. Registration is now open at the TSFS web site.

Attendance fee is 47 € to 57 € (depending on the type of accommodation), discounts for TSFS members and juniors plus volunteer are available. The fee includes accommodation plus five meals during the feast.

Iron Sky On Tour

The upcoming Iron Sky movie will be on a preview tour around Finland in March and April. Preview tickets cost 25 € and include, in addition to seeing the movie before the official premiere, a Q&A session with cast and crew, a signed poster, and an exclusive tour t-shirt.

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...