Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The X Files Classics Volume 1

Efter att ha kikat på nya Arkiv X-miniserien och färdigställt ett blogginlägg om den på Onda Cirkeln  har jag även återstiftat bekantskapen med en gammal vän; de första grafiska Arkiv X-novellerna av författaren Stefan Petrucha och illustratören Charlie Adlard. Novellerna har nämligen släppts i samlingsutgåva 2013 med omslag av Sam Shearon, och efter ett besök på SF-bokhandeln idag är den nu i min ägo. Visst är den vacker!

Detta album innehåller alltså samma noveller som jag läste 1995 och 1996, och som jag fortfarande efter cirka 20 år har väldigt fina minnen av.

Jag kan säkert säga att det är få serier som påverkat mig så pass mycket som Arkiv X. (Skrev bland annat historier om "CBI", Childrens Bureau of Investigation. Episka mästerverk förstås, men jag måste ha förlagt dem någonstans för jag hittade det inte bland mina andra konstnärlig alster.


Novellerna som gjorde starkast intryck på mig var "The Silent Cities of The Mind" där en forskare blir kannibal och börjar äta människor, som han sedan hävdar att han ärvt minnen från, och "Trepanning Opera" om en man som hade en nära döden-upplevelse som ung, och därefter inte är säker på om han bara drömmer att han lever, eller om han lever på riktigt.

Dessa är väldigt välskrivna historier med vackra illustrationer, som håller än idag. Novellerna har samma ifrågasättande narrativ som tv-serien, och samma mystik. Den citerade Lovecraft och ställde djupt existentiella frågor, blickade inåt på människan men även utåt mot rymden, och fick mig som 11-12-åring att börja tänka stora tankar om mänskligheten, universum, vår existens och vad som finns där ute. Arkiv X är utom tvekan medskyldiga (tillsammans med Star Trek The Next Generation samt David Eddings "Sagan om Belgarion") till att jag har utvecklat ett sånt stort intresse för fantastik.

Idag när jag återupptäckte novellerna gladdes jag över hur de grafiska novellerna faktiskt håller efter 20 år, men också över hur roliga Mulder och Scully är. De är rena rama oneliner-maskinerna. Varför hade jag glömt bort det? Also, är ganska säker på att mina brorsor spelade Doom, så detta drog verkligen mig tillbaka till 90-talet ännu mer. Ah, those where the days...


Sunday, 3 January 2016

Reading Year Review

I thought I'd pick up my old Reading Year Review, but make it in English this year. These are all the books, anthologies and comics I've read in 2015 (latest reads at the top):

Starlin, Pérez, Lim - Marvel's Infinity Gauntlet
Samuel R. Delany - Babel 17
Katharine Kerr - The Bristling Wood
Katharine Kerr - Darkspell
Kass Morgan - Day 21
Kass Morgan - The 100
Nalo Hopkinson - The Brown Girl in the Ring
Katharine Kerr - Daggerspell
Zen Cho - The Sorcerer To the Crown
Elisabeth Östnäs - Sagan om Turid, Kungadottern
Thomas Årnfelt - Incidenten i Böhmen
Katherine Addison - The Goblin Emperor
Neil Gaiman - The Book of Magic
Johanna Sinisalo - Bara sedan solen sjunkit
Marlen Haushofer - Väggen
James Edward Austen Leigh - Jane Austen, En levnadsteckning
Jane Austen och en annan dam - Sanditon
Karen Lord - Best of all possible worlds
G Willow Wilson - Ms Marvel #1
Taiye Selasi - Komma och gå
Kelly Link - Stranger things happen
Diane Setterfield - Den trettonde historien
Jo Walton - My real children
Carol Rifka Brunt - Låt vargarna komma

Forms:
Novels: 19
Graphic novels: 3
Anthologies: 1
Short story collections: 0

The Genres:YA: 3
Classic: 1
Literary fiction: 3
Fantasy: 12
Science fiction: 6
Biographies: 1

Language:
English: 15
Swedish: 9

Authors nationality:
American: 9
Brittish: 5
Canadian: 1
Austrian: 1
Barbadian: 1
Swedish: 2
Malaysian: 1
Finnish: 1

Male writers: 5
Female writers: 19

The Three Best: 
Zen Cho - The Sorcerer To the Crown
Elisabeth Östnäs - Sagan om Turid, Kungadottern
Karen Lord - Best of all possible worlds

The Big No: 
Kass Morgan. Just watch the series "The 100" and forget about reading the books. 

Summary:
Only 24 books read this year, although most of them really good, and written by women. This has clearly not been the best reading year. Somehow I get distracted. I spent my time doing things I love, like blogging about tv-series at Onda Cirkeln, planning conventions and spending time with friends and family.

What are my plans for 2016's reading?
I wish I could just get to it and start reading all my unread books. I have a whole book case of them, and it's kinda starting to stress me out. I've come to realize that I won't start working off my unread pile unless I restrict my reading, so I've made a new rule for 2016 - I'm only allowed read the books I already own. And I'm not allowed to buy more books.
I've made a slight adjustment to this rule, though, since I have so many series to start reading. If I'm to have any pleasure of my reading, and feel encouranged to read books that are part of series, I need to be able to follow through on those series, meaning I'm allowed to buy sequels in series I'm reading.

So, hopefully this will make my unread bookpiles slightly less stressful. I'm not hoping for miracles, but it would be nice to clear of atleast one shelf of books.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Kass Morgan - The 100

Ett kärnvapenkrig har för 300 år sen fyllt jordens atmosfär med farlig strålning  och tvingat den sista spillran av mänskligheten upp i rymden. De lever på rymdstationen Kolonin, en sammanslagning av många små stationer. Kolonin är en hård plats att leva på med strikta regler om ransonering, luftförbrukning och befolkningsmängd. Resurserna är så knappa att nästan alla brott mot reglerna leder till dödsstraff, om man inte är minderårig.

Clarke Griffin är en ungdomsfånge som väntar på sin 18-årsdag, då hon mest troligtvis kommer dömas till döden. Kolonins beslutande organ (rådet) har dock bestämt sig för att man istället för att avrätta ungdomsfångarna ska skicka ned hundra stycken av dem till jorden, i mänsklighetens första försök att återigen bosätta sig på planeten. Man vet inte att jorden är beboelig, men skickar hellre ungdomarna till en osäker död på planeten än avrättar dem på plats.

De 100 ungdomsfångarna skickas iväg i en rymdkapsel efter en tumultartad start där Kansler Jaha under pistolhot tvingas släppa in Bellamy Blake på färjan, medan en annan fånge vid namn Glass lyckas fly. Kanslern blir vådaskjuten och hans son Wells, som är bland fångarna, skickas iväg till jorden utan att veta om hans far överlever. Efter en hård landning upptäcker de 100 fångarna att de kan överleva på marken. De upptäcker också att de, mot all förmodan, inte är ensamma på planeten.

För er som lyckats undgå det så har jag haft The 100-maraton här hemma. Efter att jag läst Annas inlägg på Onda Cirkeln såg jag tv-serien, sen bloggade jag om den själv. Sen var jag tvungen läsa böckerna. Tv-serien är nämligen baserad på Kass Morgans bokserie med samma namn, och även om seriens skapare Jason Rothenberg har hållit sig trogen till böckernas grundstomme är det mycket som ändrats när handlingen kommit till tv. Böckerna kan med fördel ses litet som ett alternativt universum där saker bara är lite, lite annorlunda. (Vilket är väldigt trevligt när man sett allting som går att ses om The 100, och bara inte kan få nog.)

I böckernas värld är karaktärerna annorlunda. Det finns ingen Raven och Finn, och ingen Abby. (Båda Clarkes föräldrar har blivit avrättade.) Däremot finns det en tjej vid namn Glass som är snarlik Raven, samt att Bellamy mer är en hopslagning av Finn och Bellamy, en charmig men bråkig outsidern. Clarke är mycket mer som Octavia och antagonisten Murphy heter här Graham och har en mycket mer auktoritativ roll.

Böckerna slänger sig med lite andra begrepp också. Grounders är Earthbounds. The Ark är Kolonin. Jordfolket och rymdfolket är inte så diametralt olika, och man har mycket mer referenser till vår tid och vår värld än i tv-serien. Till viss del kan jag tycka att det är trevligt att de undviker den koloniala tropen, men hade uppskattat om de skippat det dystopiska klassamhället, á la Hunger Games och Divergent. De olika delarna av kolonin var en gång var olika rymdstationer, och folket som bor i de olika sektionerna lever till stor del i olika samhällsskikt. Några sektioner befolkas av arbetarklass, medan andra är befolkade vetenskapsmän och politiker. Och självklart förtrycker de rikare de fattigare.

Böckerna har dock ett stort problem och det är bristen på perspektiv. I böckerna har man ingen aning vad som driver och motiverar antagonisterna, man bara vet att de gör hemska val. Utan deras inre konflikt blir Rådet bara en namnlös ondska att besegra, Grahams handlingar blir bara idiotiska och hjältarnas kamp blir mindre intressant.  Jag saknar även den ursprungliga befolkningens perspektiv. Hur har dom överlevt? Hur har dom utvecklats? 

Det som är så bra med tv-serien är just att man inte är rädd för att utmana ungdomarna och ge dem omöjliga valmöjligheter. Clarke och Bellamy stiger fram som ledare och måste fatta beslut med tragiska utgångar hur de än väljer. Böckerna lyckas till viss del framställa en del av karaktärerna som drivkraftiga, men de försätts aldrig i moraliskt kniviga situationer. För det mesta händer bara saler som ungdomarna reagerar, snarare än agerar på.

Böckerna är trots detta snabblästa och spännande. Kass Morgans vision är cool, dock brister den i genomförandet och saknar den extra dimensionen av moraliska dilemman och feminism som jag kommit att associera med The 100. All cred till Rothenberg som har tagit idén och gjort den till något oändligt mycket bättre. 

Saturday, 10 October 2015

The Brown Girl in the Ring

Nalo Hopkinson was a name I wasn't at all familiar with before Helsinki announced her name as a Guest of Honour for Worldcon 75 in 2017. I got interested and suggested to my book circle that we read a book by her. And so we did.


The Brown girl in the ring is a book about Ti-Jeanne, who lives with her grandmother Gros-Jeanne, in the inner city of Toronto called the Burn. Years of riots have driven the police and businesses out of the the city center, leading to an economic collapse which turned the center to a slum area with poverty, gangs and homeless people. The suburbs have barricated themselves against the slum areas, and every year the elected government officials makes empty promises about cleaning up the streets, but so far nothing has happened.

Ti-Jeanne and Gros-Jeanne make their way in the Burn by helping the sick with special creole remedies. Ti-Jeanne's gifted with the ability to see how people are going to die, but recently other visions come to her as well, freaking her out. She's recently had a baby and has left her drug addicted boyfriend Tony to make a better life for her and the kid, but Tony comes back begging for her help to leave the Burn. Soon Ti-Jeanne has to make use of her extra ordinary abilities to fend for her family in order to survive.

This is a short novel, and a fast read. I loved it very much indeed. It's fascinating to read about the carribian culture and mystics, which I haven't read much about earlier. It's also a book about dysfunctional families, talking about real issues of young parents, abusive spouses, disillusionment of motherhood. It also talks a bit about the life of marginalized people, giving a voice to the people living outside of the social net, in poverty, abandoned by the government. It has some very dark passages, and some graphic violence (trigger warning: torture) that I felt was a bit too much.

It's a near future dystopian tale, but feels very much like present day. It's written in 1998, and almost 20 years later, I feel like the future this book depicts is the world we're already living in. Which makes it all the more eerier. 

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Daggerspell - #1 of the Deverry Cycle


Jill is the daughter of a serving lass and a silver dagger, a man who fights for his keep. When her mother dies, her father Cullyn takes her with him on the road. She grows up learning the tricks of the trade, but she's also gifted with the sight and can see things before they happen, and see the wildfolk, gnomes and fairies, something that frightens her father. One day, she meets Otho, the silversmith, whom gives her a riddle: "If ever you find no one, ask him what craft to take."

Little do she know, the man named no one (Nevyn) is out there, looking for her, and has been for hundreds of years...

Many moons ago, I read this series (almost the whole of it in Swedish), and I completely loved it. When I talked about the series this summer with Hanna, the more we talked, the more we felt like reading it again. And so, we have set up a schedule of one book a month for 15 months. Join us if you want to!

The story, if you're not already aquainted with it, is a sword and sorcerer fantasy inspired by the celtic culture. It tells the tale of prince Galrion, a man touched by magic, and his betrothed Brangwen, her brother Gerraent and their friend Blaen. Three men whom all love the same women, and Brangwen whom herself is destined to become something more than just some mans wife.

It's a tale of love, friendship, betrayal and a debt that has to be repayed, if not in this life then in next. These four characters fates are entwined forever, until they fulfill their destiny.

The first book of the series tells the stories of three lifetimes. Jill's lifetime starts in the year 1045, and the book then gives a flashback to Brangwen's lifetime, 643, and later on Lyssa's lifetime, 696.

I've never been one for sword and sorcerer tales, but a part of what makes this series so great is that is has borrowed the language and settings of a late iron age, early medieval celtic europe. You just fall in love with the environment and the way they talk, and you're pulled into the world immediately.

The magic of Deverry is called dweomer, and it's as simple as it is extraordinary. It's explained beatifully as a sort of sixth sense; The dweomer warning when something's not right, the ability to see beings and other dimensions, the energy that flows between every living thing and the silver threads that connects us. I love it.

Another thing about Deverry is the wyrd. Every man and woman has his or her wyrd, or destiny if you will. It's kind of like the hinduism's reincarnation, which says that the negative and positive kharma in your life dictates what you will become next.

One of my favourite characters of this story is Jill herself. (Perhaps because she reminds me very much of myself.) She's sometimes described as a masculine woman due to the fact that she's tall, walks with long strides, fights and doesn't like dresses and she has her own agency. Still she manages to avoid being a Strong Woman™, the stereotype that say women can only be strong when they've rid themselves of anything feminine. I'd say, Jill's both masculine and feminine. She's cocky, she's awkward, she's curious, scared, happy. She feels lust, she feels all different kinds of emotions. So do most of the men in this story too. I love the fact that Kerr writes the characters this way, showing the range of emotions men and women can have. Sometimes the men just sits down, bawling their eyes out, or shakes of fear. I love the fact that we have these characters that show how gender doesn't have to dictate our behavior and interests.

That being said, I'm afraid the book suffers from a great deal of sexism and violence against women, too. And although there are some great characters, there are also some wincingly badly written characters too, like Brangwen and Lyssa, whom both are completely without agency and mostly are victims of circumstance.

Some spoilerwarning should perhaps be of use here, since I'll talk about the end a bit.

As much as the series is about Jill and the sorcerer Nevyn, I feel that this book is really about Cullyn, Jill's father. In all of his lifetimes, he's been related to, or a man who cannot or should not love, Jill/Brangwen/Lyssa. It's an unclean love and he's a tarnished man. As Gerraent, he's deeply unsettling and discusting, and as Tanyc, he's gone fullblown psycho. As much as I'm repulsed by Gerraent and Tanyc, I cannot feel repulsed by Cullyn even though he loves his own daughter, and sometimes treat her appallingly. His character is deeply flawed, and he makes mistakes, but he learns from them, rights his wrongs and frees himself of his wyrd. As Nevyn thinks in the end; "he'll never see Cullyn as Gerraent again, only as himself".

I feel like the morale of the story is that even though you're destined to do something, it's still your choice. "Can a man change his stars?" asks little William in the movie A Knight's Tale. "Yes, William", his father replies. "If he believe enough, a man can do anything."

Ok, spoilers are gone now.

If you'd like to read more reviews about Daggerspell, I've just found this lovely Daggerspell review series with authors Aidan Moher and Kate Elliott:

Introduction of Daggerspell Reread and Review with Aidan Moher and Kate Elliott
The Daggerspell Reread and Review Part One
The Daggerspell Reread and Review Part Two
The Daggerspell Reread and Review Wrap up

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Jag och Oakfairy läser om Sagan om det magiska landet Deverry

Jag har varit "in the zone" och läst och recenserat Incidenten i Böhmen, Sagan om Turid och Sorcerer to the crown, så därför skriver jag detta lite sent omsider. Som Oakfairy har nämnt så tänker vi ge oss på en omläsnings-utmaning, och ni får gärna haka på om ni känner er manade!

Vi återvänder till en av våra gamla favoriter; Katharine Kerrs Sagan om det magiska landet Deverry, en sword and sorcerer-fantasy med keltiska inslag.

Första gången jag läste Deverry-serien var 2008, då jag var nyinflyttad i Skåne. Efter att jag slukat de 12 första delarna på svenska (översatta av Johan Frick som jag numera känner!) rusade jag och köpte bok nr 13 och 14 på på engelska, eftersom de inte skulle bli översatta. Den sista boken kom ett år senare, 2009, och jag köpte den men det blev aldrig så jag läste den eftersom jag började bli lästrött då.

Jag tänkte att det skulle vara kul att börja om och har skaffat alla böckerna på engelska, medan Hanna kommer läsa dom tolv första på svenska. Häng med oss på en magisk resa genom dweomer och wyrdar!

Hämtat från Wikipedia:
Silverdolken (utkommen 1995 på svenska, originalet, Daggerspell, 1986 på engelska)
Safirringen (1995; Darkspell, 1987)
Draktronen (1996; The Bristling Wood (UK), Dawnspell (USA) - 1989)
Häxvargen (1996; The Dragon Revenant (UK), Dragonspell (USA) - 1990)
Alvblodet (1997; A Time of Exile (UK/USA), 1991)
Järtecken (1997; A Time of Omens (UK/USA), 1992)
Hökvingar (1998; Days of Blood and Fire (UK), A Time of War (USA) - 1993)
Korptider (1998; Days of Air and Darkness (UK), A Time of Justice (USA) - 1994)
Storkonungen (1999; The Red Wyvern (UK/USA), 1997)
Blodsfränder (1999; The Black Raven (UK/USA), 1999)
Elddraken (2001; The Fire Dragon (UK/USA), 2001)
Guldfalken (2006; The Gold Falcon (UK/USA), 2006)
(ej på svenska) The Spirit Stone (2007).
(ej på svenska) The Shadow Isle (2008).
(ej på svenska) The Silver Mage (2009) är den sista boken i serien.

Zen Cho - Sorcerer To The Crown

Zacharias Whyte, the Sorcerer Royal of Great Britain, is having a difficult time. Not only is he a freed slave, adopted by the last Sorcerer Royal, and disliked by the very same Society of the Unnatural Philosophers he now leads, but Englands magical stocks are ebbing and everybody blames him for it.

As a way to leave town for a bit, he goes to a school of gentlewitches to give a speech about magic. There he cross paths with Prunella Gentleman, a chockingly pragmatic and forward young lady with a certain talent for casting spells and hexed. She was brought by her father to England from India as a young child. Shortly thereafter, her father died and left her in the care of mrs Dauberney, the owner and headmaster of the school. Prunella one day discovers a family secret, and is at the same time made aware of her caretakers disinterest in her. She decides to make a better life for herself, and turns to Zacharias for help.

This book is a great victorian fantasy-adventure, in the style of Jane Austen, but with dragons and other magical creatures in the style of Naomi Novik. It is a great read, fast paced and witty, full of vivid characters, women with agency, people of different colour. She's lending her voice to the people who were enslaved or colonized by Britain in the 18h century, giving us a side of the story we've never heard before.

She even uses magical abilities as a metaphor for women's issues, when the white men state that "women's bodies are to fragile for magic, that they are too nonsensical to learn thamaturgy", ecchoing the words of that time used in other contexts, when women was told it was unnatural for them to aspire to learn skills and do things on their own.

And then she proves them wrong.

I truly loved this book, and you should all read it!

If my review is not enough to persuade you, here's Anna Bark Perssons review too. Listen to Anna.


Sunday, 20 September 2015

Sagan om Turid - Kungadottern


Jag brukar inte ta emot recensionsexemplar längre för att min läsning är väldigt sporadisk och det är få böcker som jag tagit emot som faktiskt blivit recenserade, vilket är trist för dem som skickar ut dem och trist för mig som inte lever upp till förväntningarna. Men när jag fick erbjudandet om att få ett rec.ex. av Elisabeth Östnäs vikingafantasy i young adult-skrud kunde jag inte tacka nej, för den har jag längtat efter att läsa ända sen Elisabeth Östnäs började twittra om att hon skrivit den. Tack Berghs förlag och Elisabeth!


"Sagan om Turid - Kungadottern" är den första boken i en serie som handlar om den unga kvinnan Turid under den sena vikingatiden. I den lilla by där Turid växer upp är tillvaron karg. Turid drömmer om att resa och se världen, men hennes far och styvmor Ingeborg har bestämt att hon snart ska gifta sig och bli drottning. Ingeborg har också bestämt sig för att Turid ska bli en völva, som Ingeborg själv. Saker ställs på sin spets då vintern kommer till byn och svälten härjar, och Turid måste ta makten över sitt eget öde.

Detta är en otroligt välskriven historia. På ett fåtal meningar i första kapitlet lyckas Elisabeth Östnäs inte bara lägga grunden för miljön och tiden utan skapa djupt sympatiska karaktärer. Turid är en underbar ung kvinna med stor vilja, och hon och familjens öden har berört mig djupt. Jag älskar också språket som är enkelt och är vackert och gör att man sugs in i historien direkt. 

Att få läsa om vikingatiden är också efterlängtat! Mer av detta, omedelbums!

Jag kan dock tycka att omslaget är något missvisande, det ger intrycket av att detta är en barnbok men den är knappast lämplig för små barn då den stundvis är ganska mörk och blodig. Jag läste den med stor behållning som vuxen och kan rekommendera den för alla mina vänner, yngre som äldre. Läs!

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Incidenten i Böhmen

Min självdisciplin vad gäller läsning har varit otroligt dålig under och efter sommaren, mycket på grund av att så mycket spännande händer på internet! Är fortfarande uppe i varv efter sommarens alla kongresser, och planerar nu framåt för denna höst och nästa års kongresser. Det har tisslats och tasslats på alla sociala medier, det har mailats, det har Facebookats, jag har spammat Twitter med memes. Men jag längtat efter läsningen. Som jag har längtat. 

Efter Archipelacon började jag läsa Thomas Årnfelts Incidenten i Böhmen, som jag köpte på plats på Åland. Jag jagade också ifatt Thomas och tvingade honom signera den åt mig på en fest där. That's how I roll... 



Nu har jag läst färdigt boken! Det blev en väldigt långsam läsning, trots att det var en väldigt tunn bok. Det har absolut inte något med boken att göra, utan beror alltså på min icke-existerande koncentrationsförmåga. Det är snarare bokens förtjänst att jag fortsatte, den var lättläst och spännande och väldigt bra.

Incidenten i Böhmen (som förövrigt är en snygg titel) handlar om Maximilian och hans tjänare Bertuccio som får i uppdrag av inkvisitorerna i Rom att leta rätt på en grupp jesuiter som försvunnit någonstans i Böhmen. De följer jesuiternas spår till en by i Böhmen, tar in på krogen och börjar utforska och förhöra invånarna.

Maximillan träffar Baronessan Magdalen, ägaren till slottet bredvid byn, och blir i egenskap av lågadel inbjuden till att bo hos henne medan han genomför sin utredning. Detta gillas inte av greven von Birgen, som äger grevskapet bredvid och är mitt i ett försök till att uppvakta Magdalen. Maximillian och Bertuccio inser snabbt att något inte står rätt till med von Birgen. Samtidigt börjar mystiska saker hända, en kvinna försvinner, och de hittar nedgrävda lik. Och någon för en vetenskaplig journal där den beskriver olika experiment som den gör med mänskliga försöksobjekt...

Detta är en underbar historia med gotiska drag. Den har delvis en dagboksform, vilket för tankarna till Stoker, Shelley och Lovecraft. Språket känns stilfullt och passande för tiden som det utspelar sig. Jag gillar verkligen karaktärerna Bertuccio och Elsa, vet inte om jag gillar Magdalen, jag får inte riktigt grepp om henne. Maximillian är nog det största mysteriet dock. Bit för bit under bokens gång får vi reda på mer om hans bakgrund, men bara brottstycken som man får försöka pussla ihop till en händelse. Jag gillar hur subtilt saker framställs. Det gäller att inte missa tonlägena i boken, för då riskerar man att tappa viktiga bitar av pusslet.


Detta är en spännande läsning och jag ser fram emot mer av Thomas!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

ConFuse 2015

This month I've attended the annual national Swedish science fiction convention (Swecon) ConFuse. It took place in Frimis (the free mason-hotel) in Linköping and was arranged by Linköpingsfandom (or as I like to call them; The Illuminati). Frimis was a beautiful venue with slightly gothic architecture in the bar and dealers room. It had pilars, chrystal chandeliers and huge old oil paintings, mixed with 70's interior design. Perfect hideout for Illuminati, I'd say.

ConFuse had three excellent Guests of Honour (GoHs), Kristina Hård, Madeline Ashby and Ben Aaronovitch, three very lovely authors. Kristina has written Himalayabreven, Alba and Kleptomania and is coming out with the second book in the Kleptomania-series (Snösommar) the 6th of november,  which I am eagerly looking forward to. "Remember, remember, the 6th of november..."

I haven't read Madelines books but I intend to. She's written (among other things) iD and vN, two sf-novels about artificial intelligence. I love AI-themes, and she seems like a brilliant person.

Ben Aaronovitch has been writing for a while about Peter Grant, a police officer in London who deals with supernatural crimes. I've read the first book, Rivers of London, and loved it. It's funny, mysterious and totally brittish, which pleases an anglofilian like me.

 I'd somehow agreed to be in four programme items; "Fandom and social medias", "Meet and Greet - Conventions and fandom for newcomers", "Conventions then and now" and the following group discussion. To start from the beginning I think I should say that the con really started at home, with me spending the better part of the vacation at my parents house preparing for these panels/discussions. I even made bingo cards for all the newcomers so they could have some fun with the new expressions and stuff.

The week before ConFuse I managed to sign up for two more programme items; as a helper in Bellis NoFF-auction and as a judge in Jukka Halmes Game Show that was a rip off totally original show called Pointless. My friend Tobias said I was trying to take over Swecon. You don't know how true that is... Mouahahaha. In the future, it will be called Fiacon and there will be massage chairs and dillchips everywhere.

The trainride to Linköping offered a lot of familiar faces. Not only did I meet my friends Therese Norén and Marie Engfors on the station, when I got on the train I managed to get the seat just behind Hanna Svensson, my friend and co-blogger for our tv-series blog Onda Cirkeln. What are the odds for that?

I blame Illuminati.

I also met Hannas friend Mia, who was about to attend her first con. I had my first opportunity to introduce the concept of fandom to a newcomer so I immediately handed out a bingo card to her, and offered them some dillchips. As one does.

Getting to the con was easy, and there I met almost everyone I know in Swedish and Finnish fandom, and also said hello to two old friends from Luleå university (Hi Björn! Hi Nils-Erik!) who simultainously, but not together, had decided to come to Swecon, because they had heard about it from me.

I got to introduce my dear friends from Malmöfandom to my fellow Swedish fans. I was so proud to be in Swecon with not only Simon and Calle, but also Tobias, Frida, Camilla, Ingrid, Karolin and Helen. Malmöfandom is growing and becoming a big group not only at pub meetings but at cons, too! (I should count Johan Jönsson to Malmöfandom too, but I think his heart is still with Upsalafandom. Nah, I'm counting him too. Upsala can't have him. Sorry guys.)

Frida Rosengren, Helen Ekeroth, Tobias Jarl, me, Camilla Svedén and Ingrid Thulin.

The con started with an short opening ceremony where Jonas Wissting, the Illuminati leader, introduced the Guests of Honour, and explained that he had forgot The Spirit of Swecon at home™. This is a thing that happens a lot at Swedish cons. (The forgetting-the-spirit-thing.) It's nice to have traditions, and we are proud of ours. AT LEAST WE HAVE SPIRIT, OKAAY! ;)



The first item of the programme was Madeline Ashby's GoH-speach, which I attended. It was about her work as a consulting futurist and author. Very intriguing. She tells her stories from a marginalized PoV, illuminating issues of the poor, the outcasts, different groups of people, which I think is a good approach and something that's important in litterature. We already know the PoV of the white heterosexual male, we need other voices too.

After that I prepared for my panel at 8 pm. It was a great panel to start with. It was just me and my friends, chatting about social media and fandom, which I hope was enjoyable for others too. Although I had some points of mine that I never got to make, and Johan held a seven minute monologue in the beginning that was interesting but perhaps a bit too long. ;) Me and Anna argued that fandom is a community that thrives on social media, where we connect and create and spread the word about what we do. Johan held the PoV that social media is great, but the text culture that we are a part of need more space to flourish. We need the fanzines.

Me and a couple of friends continued the discussion in the bar, and Alexander Hallberg said the brilliant thing: "Fanzines are mostly you holding a monologue about what you like, but in social media you can hold a conversation about it with someone else."

Fanzines are great (and sure, you can send in your own texts and that could be construed as conversation) but I think fandom not only will survive the online phenomenon that is twitter and facebook, but that social media works really well for us.


After the Social Media-panel I listened to Marianna Leikomaa interviewing Ben Aaronovitch. (Marianna, you have such a great english accent!) Ben talked about his time on Doctor Who, and about Peter Grant and the studios asking for a white actor to play Peter in a movie, saying that Ben should see it as a "raceless" movie. Yeah. No.

Ben seems to be a funny and relaxed guy, even if he doesn't like cats. (I had a moment to talk to him in the Green room and ended up having a long conversation about cats and dogs.) I've read Rivers of London and found it really good, now I want to read the other books too.

Thus ended the first day of programming. At night in the bar, I had a blast. Dave Lally had been kind enough to bring me a doctor who-scarf (you know, those really long ones) so I wore it and it was beautiful. I also invented the concept tandem-scarf since the scarf was big enough to fit two necks easily.


Saturday was the big day for me. Me and Karolin had a lovely breakfast at our hotel where two elderly citizens asked us if we were on a school trip. (Naw!) Then we headed to the Green Room where Karolin helped me to cut out bingo cards. At 11, me and Eva Norman held an introduction to fandom and conventions, which went great. I even had two newcomers tweeting me about it. I'm so happy, it was fun! I want to do it again.

Björn Hedblom posted this on instagram too. As you can see, it's all about t-shirts.

After a sushi lunch with Malmöfandom, Norrlandsfandom and Hanna, we listened to "Telling Stories in Different Media". They talked a lot about writing for games, which was interesting even though I don't play that much.

From left to right: Thomas Årnfelt, Alexander Hallberg, Jessica Elgenstierna, Ben Aaronovitch and Tobias Bodlund
Ben explained that he finds it easy to write for comis since he doesn't have to describe word by word what happens in the story, the artist can co-create the story. For example, he could write "And then an accident happened" and the artist would create some sort of accident.

I also went to see "AI and Robotics: A look into the future" where Patrick Doherty held a talk about what artificial intelligence is and what we can do in robotics today. I found it fascinating and a bit scary. But at the end I was mostly irritated because he talked about 5 minutes too long, and seemed to argue that we should not be afraid of giving A.I. weaponry, and that the laws of robotics could be in the way if we were to defeat terrorism.

In the evening I was a part of the "Conventions today and tomorrow" panel with Saija Kyllönen, Johan Anglemark, Eva Holmström and Anna Davour, moderated by Karl-Johan Norén. Before the panel we had somewhat different ideas about what kind of stuff that we should or should not discuss but it in the end I think it went spendidly, even though I was told that I relied too much on my papers and looked at them too much. It a big thing for me to be able to talk without loosing my trail of thought, and I overcame my nervousness and talked a lot. I think I did the best I could.

I have voiced my opinions so many times on the mailing list about what we can do to introduce newcomers to fandom, and felt that I had many things to say. I hope people don't think I talked too much though. I talked about the importance of letting new fans set their mark on fandom too, and the importance of telling people what it is that we do, that set us apart from other fandoms.

Afterwards I held a group discussion about cons, and was joined by Joakim Mäki, a fairly new fan that's a part of Umeåfandom, David Lally, Herman Ellingsen and Lars-Olov Strandberg. Lars-Olov is one of the oldest fans in Sweden. In fact, he had been to the first Swedish con in Lund in 1956, and even was the Guest of Honour in the 2005 Worldcon (!!!). He made some interesting reflections about how it was in fandom then and how it is now. "Now a days, there a lot more women. It makes it more interesting."  Bless you, Lars-Olov. And Go Women! When I told him that I'm doing a mini-con in Malmö this october, he just lit up and got really excited about it. There hasn't been anything in Malmö since the 60's, so he was very glad and decided to come and hang with us. This is the beauty of fandom. It doesn't matter if you are 90 or 19, we're all just as enthusiastic.


After participating in three items, I had developed a bit of an headache and a sore throath to I went to the bar to have some tea. I hung out with Joakim Mäki, Hanna and Mia, and Mias boyfriend Daniel. Joakim is a really nice fellow, and he comes from Kiruna in norrbotten, my home county. I'm glad to see that fandom is spreading up north to my hood. There were more fans from Umeåfandom attending and they all seem to be really nice and fun to hang out with. The puns were flying all over the place. (And you know how I like puuunnss!) I have promised to come to a pub meeting next time I'm in Umeå. My brother lives there so I'm there sometimes.

Jukka's height is only exceeded by the height of his character. 
In the evening, I joined Quiz with Jukka Halme, and we did a Pointless-show. Jukka was the host and I was his Osman (the judge). It was really fun! I'm a big fan of Pointless, and also of Jukka Halme. He is a great entertainer and his quizzes and game shows should never be missed. If you don't know what Pointless is, I recommend you watch it on youtube. It's more fun than Jeopardy or The Weakest Link. The host Armstrong and his sidekick Osman has this dry, witty sense of humour that's so typically brittish. I'm already working on new ideas for next time!


The last item of the day, and my sixth and final appearance in the programme was the NoFF-auction with Bellis. It was a very fun show too, but it was a bit hard to come up with ways to sell the Science Fiction Magazines. I managed to bid too, and bought Anna Davours fanzine "Nålpistol" from 2005, among other things. 

Afterwards I hang out in the bar for the rest of the evening, talking to the Wester brothers, Tobias, Camilla, Frida and Mr Lally himself. Håkan Wester asked me for tips on how to build your own fandom group from the scratch, as we have done in Malmö, and I was happy to talk about it. He then went on to form Västerås-fandom. Yay! \o/

The final day of Swecon started with the Ancillary Panel, with Tommy Persson, Olov Livendahl, Saija Kyllönen and Thomas Cronholm. It was about Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, the novel that won the Hugo last year, and rightly so.

It is a great book, and the panel seemed to agree about that too. At first glance, the gender issue was the focus, but Tommy explained that on the second reading of it, he found that it actually was about colonization.

Tommy seems to have realized that he should have read the book before the panel. He makes up for it by quickly browsing through it before the panel.
It makes us think about what gender is. Some naturally assume that, for example, the people in the military are men. By changing everyone's pronoun to a female pronoun, it challenges assumptions about what defines men and women. I asked the panel to compare it to Left Hand of Darkness, where Ursula LeGuin consequently used "He" as the gender pronoun. Olov said that he thinks if we want to raise the issue of equality, it's better to use the gender pronoun that isn't the norm. I completely agree. Saija said that she would've liked it better if Leckie used "they" instead of he or she, and I think that could work too. My guess is that this will be the next thing tried.

Afterwards I attented the Troll panel with Kristina Hård, Oskar Källner, Carolina Gomez Lagerlöf (Moderator), Anna Vintersvärd and Rasmus Kaj. It's always nice to listen to authors talk about folk lore and mythology, and is talk of this becoming the nordic fantasy genre, nordic weird.

At noon, the Swecon bid happened. There were two competing Swecon bids. Bellis wanted to do a Motorcon, which would be a month long, with 34 Guests of Honour, and a big dead dog-concert with Motörhead. The membership would cost about 100 000 SEK (but not to worry, it could be paid in small installments). The other bid was Fantastica, at Dieselverkstan in Stockholm. It won, despite the allure of Motorcon. :D


Then the winner of the Alvar Prize was announced. Maria Nygård won, which was awesome. She's done so much for Swedish fandom and without her, I'm not sure I would've found my way to fandom in the first place. After being nominated three years in a row, and even having a bunch of friends making a campain video for her, it was time for her to win.


Then Lars-Olov Strandberg got to receive an lifetime achievement award, and we sang a song about him, written by Karl-Johan Norén. It was a really wonderful celebration of this grand master of Swedish fandom.




 After that, I spent some time in the Alvarfonden Second hand book shop, where it was cosy and I felt like Giles from Buffy. "I need to consult my books." Selling books for Alvarfonden is a great way to meet new people, and just hang out and relax.





The last two items of this years Swecon was Animating locations and Therese Norén's Metafiction in Supernatural.


Johan Jönsson moderated the panel, and Jenny Milewski, Kristina Hård and Ben Aaronovitch talked about the places they write about. Jenny Milewski had a lot of fun stuff to say about writing horror stories in student halls and IKEA. She said that you should think about what potential the places has, and showed a fun book about a company that looks exactly like IKEA were they have explored the potential of being trapped, when you exit a room, you enter the same room again, with escalators moving the wrong way and stuff like that.


Even though I haven't seen much of Supernatural, I was drawn to the Metafiction in Supernatural-talk because I know Therese and she's a very enthusiastic and engaging person to listen to. It was really interesting. More of this, please! Metafiction is such a fun thing to play around with. 

Another person who uses metafiction is Jasper Fforde, who has written books about Thursday Next were the characters from Austens books come to life. Coincidentally, Jasper Fforde is the Guest of Honour at next years Finncon, and guess who's going there? Meeeeeeeeeeeee.

The closing ceremony was framed by Karl-Johan Noréns beautiful filk about Linköping saving fandom. It was a lovely way to end Swecon. I could try to summarize the weekend in a few words, but I wouldn't do it better than Madeline Ashby so I leave it to her:


Dead Dog was a blast too! I spent time with new and old friends. I talked to Markus Sköld, one of the authors in the Swedish anthology Waiting for the machines to fall asleep, I talked to the lovely Sini Neuvonen and GoH Kristina Hård, I managed to do some NoFF-Smoffing with the Finnish NoFF-candidate Mikko Seppänen and Korppi Susi. (Yes, NoFF-smoffing is a word, and now I just have to make sure I become the NoFF-candidate next year.)

As you can see below, me and Olov has started a new tradition - to take dead dog pics together from every Swecon we both attend. I hope we'll be doing it for many years.

Olov and me at ConFuse 2015

Me and Olov at Kontrast 2012
At the end of the evening, when the pub closed, the song Closing Time got stuck in my head. Me and a small company moved on to another pub were we talked about tv-shows, family traits and a bunch of other things I don't remember. I showed everyone my favourite opening of all time, from Warehouse 13. But it was from the wrong season, sadly, so I had to show them another one of the openings. (Thanks to everyone for being patient with me, and not strangling me.) And then I tried to explain the Warehouses, and failed. But Johan Anglemark succeeded in explaining it in a way that everyone could understand:


And finally, I had to fall back to my hotel room, since I was dead tired. But I managed a final tweet before I fell asleep.


I am ever so gracious.

Thank you to the Illuminati Linköpingfandom for arranging this lovely event. Thanks to the Guests of Honour for being amazing, thanks to everyone who attended and helped making this a wonderful weekend.  Until next time!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Why everyone should watch Sense8




I've recently had my mind blown by a new TV show called "Sense8", about a cluster of eight people from all over the world who are telepathically connected. They can feel what the others feel, talk to each other, visit each other and access each others knowledge and capabilities.

The concept in itself is a great starting point for an entertaining show: "How do we live our lives when we are simultaneously living seven other lives?" But the thing about Sense8 is that it does so much more than just entertain. It has  characters with great depth and substance, and the show makes you feel for them deeply. And, by letting the characters share each others lives and emotions, it also makes them (and consequently you) challenges issues greater than ourselves like gender, culture, ethnicity, sexuality and identity.

Amanita and Nomi.

How would you live your life if you have the experiences of a lesbian trans-woman, a straight white male, a straight white woman, an African man, a German gangster, a Korean businesswoman, a gay Mexican actor and an Indian woman? If you were both straight, gay, trans, man, woman, a person of colour, white, poor, rich, famous or a nobody?

It asks important questions like: Are we obligated to honour our parents, even when they fail us? Do we make the choices in our lives, or do the choices make us? How do we deal with problems?

Wolfgang

In the end, Sense8 has a strong message.

The character Jonas Maliki says: "Killing is easy when you don't feel anything", meaning that the ability to feel empathy is what we should hold on to.

I don't think we talk enought about empathy, or the lack thereof.

I wish more people could put themselves in my shoes, to feel what I feel when I talk about sexism. I wish more people could open their minds to different world views and realize that we don't have to fear what is different, and that we're not that different anyway.

I think everyone should watch Sense8.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Women, do we really need them?

Parris McBride spoke at Archipelacon about life in fandom in the seventies, and jokingly said she's educated a whole generation of fans on how to speak to women. People laughed, and I did too, but I think it's funny and sad because it's true. They even had panels where they discussed questions like "Women, do we really need them...?" (I don't remember if the panel was about fandom or SFF.)

Fandom is a great community with a lot of open minded people. We've read and seen fantastic stories and dream of things out of this world.

Fandom also has a problem with racism and sexism, as most communities has. Some people will always be jerks. But we have a code of conduct to tell us that conventions are supposed to be a safe haven for everyone. And at the same time. every day, all year, every year, there's this social construction telling us we're different kinds of people. Masculine and feminine. Women and men. People from different cultures, religion and ethnicity. Heterosexuals and homosexuals, bisexuals, transgendered and queer. It takes some getting used to, to see past these things.

I'm going to tell you a secret about how to do get past it.



You have to realize, there is no spoon.

But what does it mean?

It means, don't see the social construct. It isn't what we're made of, it's what society makes us. See the person behind it. Yeah, I might be a woman, but I'm not defined by my gender and I would like to be seen for and treated as the person I am, thank you very much!

I've often been told that I'm pretty. I've been told I should wear more make up to make my "lovely eyes" shine. I've been told I should wear dresses and skirts and clothes that compliments my body. I'm being told that I should think about how I behave in front of young men, that I'm a warm and hugging person which easily can confuse young men into thinking I'm feeling more for them than I do.

I've had it up to here with people telling me how I should or should not behave, dress or how I should live my life. Also, I'm getting pretty tired of people not understanding what a huge problem objectification is. People, mostly men, rolling their eyes and cursingly telling me I'm one of those "feminist".  Like wanting people to treat you as a person, treat you the same way as they would treat their male friends, is a bad thing.

Hey, here's an idea. For every time you give a woman a compliment, give the same compliment to two of your male friends, and you'll see how strange it sounds.

"You have a nice ass in those jeans, buddy."
"Yeah dude, I think you would look great in a flowery dress, rolling in the wind."
Try catcalling one or two of them, just for fun.

See how degrading it is?

I think the more empathic you are, the more you can feel what other people feel, the more you can understand this. And everyone's not cut out to be an empath, but they can still learn.

A while ago I had a long discussion with people on Facebook who was distraught to be told that they were objectifying women. They're just being nice guys, they said, and if this is the kind of world where they can't give women compliments about their looks, they don't want to be a part of it.

Well, if this is the kind of world were I have to put up with men being entitled to objectify me, I don't want to be a part of it either.

Back to fandom, again. Sorry, I derailed a bit.

Fandom's my tribe, my people. We're all different, but maybe more alike than you think. I am a socially awkward nerd who likes to watch Star Trek, who likes robots and timetravel and maybe you're just like me.

Try to realize, there is no spoon.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Archipelacon

Last week, I embarked on a great and marvelous adventure. I set my sails to Mariehamn, Åland, to attend Archipelacon, a convention created by nordic fandom, mostly from Finland and Sweden.

I've been looking forward to this convention ever since the worldcon last year in London, where I first heard about it and immediately decided to become a member. I heard that the Guests of Honour would include George R R Martin and Malmö-based author Karin Tidbeck. Both authors are amazingly good with words, I've read and loved all of their work. The other Guests of Honour were Johanna Sinisalo, the finnish author of "Not before sundown" (and writer of Iron Sky). The fan Guest of Honour was Parris McBride, who also happens to be GRRM's wife. Gary K Wolfe, also a long time fan, was the academic guest of honour. This was a really impressive list of GoH:s, but it wasn't just that, that made me want to go. I also wanted to hang out with the finnish fandom that I'd met in London. Who would say no to a four day long party with the finnish fandom!?

The journey

Since I live so far away from Åland, and the ferry from Stockholm left around 7 am, I decided to travel up to Stockholm the day before the con started, so I could arrive to Åland with the rest of the fans by thursday noon. So, the adventure started on wednesday morning with me and my friend Frida (she taged along for her first convention!) taking a plane from Malmö, spending the day sightseeing in Stockholm. We saw Gamla stan, SF-bokhandeln, ate some really delicious sushi and ice cream, and Frida found a store that had her nickname (Farraw) on it.


Since we were in Stockholm a day early, I had ordered my loyal subject the Stockholm fans to come to a pre-con-party. And so they did.

Bellis, Pebbles, Karl-Johan, Herman, Henrick, Karl-Johan, Hulda, Therese, Michael and Tommy met me at Monks, and later we were joined by the amusing brittish author Ian Watson and the lovely spanish translator Cristina Macia whom I met last month at Fantasticon in Denmark. It was a happy reunion, and a great way to kick off our Week of Fun with Fandom!

Henrick and me, on the way to the con, traveling by ferry to Åland.
Early thursday morning, slightly hung over and dead tired, we huddled off  to Värtahamnen and to the Baltic Princess. Me and my friends managed to get a few more hours of sleep in our cabin on the ferry and 5-6 hours later, we arrived at Mariehamn, checked in to our hotel Arkipelag and rushed over to the registery.

First impressions

Some things struck me during the con as unusally well organized. First of, the committee of the con seemed happy and relaxed, the registration went by in a flash and we got beautiful and well thought out programme and badges. The venue was spacious, with a high ceiling, glass doors to let the sun in, and the first floor had long stands of books and a chocolate stand. It was all centered around a lounge and a veranda (next to the sea) were fans met, drank beer and hung out.

The hotel where I slept was in crawling distance, the food market and the mainstreet was just around the corner, the bar at the venue was full of tasty Åland-beer (yum, Stallhagen Delikat and Baltic Porter!) and the staff was professional and good, and they selled easy-to-carry sandwishes. Never once did I go hungry, thirsty, or got lost from my friends, or had issues with noisy areas. And that is really, really good, since I have a hearing disability and can't really cope with noise. They could not have chosen a better spot.

The programme items

The convention started with an orchestra playing a song from Skyrim, and then Johan Anglemark and Sari Polvinen opened the convention ceremoniously with the guests of honour on stage. It was short and to the point. I didn't recognize the melody from Skyrim since I'm not a gamer, but I liked it all the same anyway. Frida was ecstatic. The ceremony took place in the main auditorium, which was a huge room and I felt sure everyone of us would fit in there if we wanted to. That meant that the most popular programme items would never have queues, unlike the worldcon London where we queued most of the time. As a Swede, I should be fairly used to queuing but it's really boring and I don't want to waste time waiting. When there's only four days of con I want to make the most of it.

Some memorable items on thursday's programme was "Nordic Weird" with Karin Tidbeck and Johanna Sinisalo. They talked about what genre they write, and what started their writing careers. Both agreed that neither of them have actively thought of them as weird fiction writers. Johannas readers mostly don't even find her by seeking out SF or fantasy. Karin said she just don't care about what genre she writes, and just focuses on seeing were the story goes. Karin started writing at a very young age, influenced by Tove Jansson, and Johannas writing career started while she was very active in finnish fandom. It was a good panel and I especially liked Karin's speech about what she wants to explore as a writer. The idea that reality is very thin, and that something lurks in the shadows and in the cracks, shaped her as an author and as a human being. It tickles my imagination.

The moderator Jukka Halme (who's name you all should know by now because I'm his number one fan) asked if their genre could be a sort of Janssonian fiction, and if there's something in the water that makes nordic countries write about this kind of things. Karins response came quickly: "It's the pickled fish."  And Johanna: "The light summers and dark nights." Karin also explained that other countries are drawn to her fiction because of the melancholy thing, which seems to be an aphrodisiac. Take heed, Nordic authors!

Another memorable thing on thursday was the orchestra playing songs from different sf-movies, which was ah-maaa-zing! More of that, please!

Quinsonitus playing Deep Space Opera. Photo taken by Henry Söderlund.

On friday, I went to four panels and sat for an hour in the Alvarfonden second hand bookshop-room, selling books and chatting with people.

The program items I saw was "Worlds of Water" which was a presentation about the Viking Age in Åland, "Life in fandom" with George R R Martin, Parris McBride, Gary K Wolf and Johan Anglemark as a moderator, "Zombies, Necrophiles and Spiraling Penises" by Torill Kornfeldt, and last but not least "Mad Scientists" with Torill, Anna Davour and Helena Kiel. I'm kind of shocked that I went to so few items, and in retrospect I'm sure I've missed a lot but I had a great time on the veranda, drinking beer and hanging out with my friends.

Bellis, Henrick, Johan, me, Frida and Marie-Louise. Picture belongs to Luke Smith.

The programme item about the Viking Age was really interresting, and the archeaologist Kristin Ilves was a good speaker. She talked about geomythology and explained that the nordic mythology of Ragnarök, and the fimbulwinter leading up to it, can be the result of an extreme weather phenomenon that happened around 536-545, and that early writings tell about some kind of meteor striking the earth, causing a blue sun and really cold summers. Readings indicate that sulfuric acid is found in the Greenland ice from that time, also indicating that there might have been some kind of volcanic eruption some years earlier.

Life in fandom was really awesome.I love these meta-panels about panels and life in fandom, and how the community has evolved over the years. Parris and George talked about how they met in a sauna in a convention in the seventies, which was cute and amusing. George also said an interesting thing about how fandom's been in the pasts that I hadn't thought about: When your family buy you books for christmas, they would mostly get it wrong since they don't really get you and sff. But in fandom in the sixties, seventies and eighties mostly all fans had read the same books and had great discussions about them. This was like your second family. That sort of thing is hard to do nowadays that the genre has expanded. But as common denominators go, nowadays you can be sure that you will find someone to talk to about your favourite tv-shows. And I still feel like fandom is my OTF.

It was interesting to hear about Parris experience as a woman in fandom in the early days when women wasn't that well represented in conventions. She had do endure sitting in a panel about "Women in sf - do we really need them?" for seven years. Archaic. She made a joke about helping to socialize a generation of fans who didn't really know how to talk to women. (Sometimes, I feel that way too. But that's something I'll save for another post.)

After that, Torill held an awe-inspiring and crazy presentation about the way animals and amphibians behave, mate and are designed. She's done this presentation before in swedish and the rumour of how fun it was had already spread to Finland, making it insanely popular. We completely filled the room, the floor, and people stood against the wall and in the doorframe. We were so many fans that we almost couldn't close the door. I talked to my mum the other day, telling her about Torill and her plans to go to Sibirien and visit the russian scientist whom wants to create mammoths, and mum was like: "Someone should make a movie about her life." I'm agreeing with mum, and adding "someone should give her the nobel prize, just because."

Mad scientists; Torill Kornfeldt, Anna Davour and Helena Kiel.

The last panel of friday was held by the awesome swedish scientists and fans Torill, Åka and Helena. They were funny and clever about the way scientists are depicted in films and litterature. Helena made the conclusion from Dante's Peak and Tremors that geologists are the sexy ones. Torill was unhappy with the biologists in Prometheus, whom seemed to be slightly to naive for their occupation. They also asked and answered very important questions:

"What would it be like if mad linguists ruled the world?"
"Just look at XKCD.com."

I LOL:ed. A lot. :D


On saturday, I listened to Maria Turtschaninoff, Kristina Hård, Petri Hiltunen and Johanna Sinisalo talk about "Trolls in nordic SFF". They all have different takes on the troll mythology, some have beautiful trolls (more like faeries), some have ugly ones, some trolls like treasure, some are more like seducers. The authors all consulted books, historic texts and nordic folk lore which gave them inspiration for their trolls. Sinisalo and Hiltunen often refer to their work as "troll punk" which I totally loved. (I must learn finnish so I can read Hiltunens graphic novels!) They talked a bit about tropes with trolls, that they've been used as cautionary tales for young women so they won't follow a beautiful stranger into the woods, or so they won't think the grass is greener on the other side. It has also been used as a way to talk about postpartum depression, as a way to relate to having children and becoming estranged to them. In the age of christianity, the devil took the place of the trolls, and so the cautionary tales lived on. The authors today often use mythological creatures as a metaphore for cultural and ethnic differences, and Petri Hiltunen explained that he's bringing evil trolls to the mix as a metaphore for greedy business men. Fascinating indeed!

Another item on my list for friday was at the library in Mariehamn, which was open for the public. What a great idea to show the public what we do and make it possible for them to sample a bit of our culture and happenings. A good way to find new fans, too!

In the library I listened to Torill (again, I seem to be stalking her!) talking about "Reality's Jurassic Park"and about extinct animals and what they have meant for us and for the nature. She talked about the passenger pidgeon and the auroch, and the thought of creating mammoths again through elephants to help the Sibirian tundra grow colder, which will help the environment. Torill was brilliant as always, and made everyone laugh, and also made us think about the world we live in and how we treat it.

Later on I listened to the english version of "Karin Tidbeck's guest of honour interview", where I made an awkward attempt of asking a audience question to Karin but then realized I hadn't thought it through, so noone could understand what I was asking. Afterwards, I hid in my hotel room for a while so I could sulk it out in private and go "OMG I'm so awkward!" until I got over it. I didn't remember anything that was said in that panel, due to the sheer trauma of the embarrasment, so I went to the one in swedish on sunday. Where I sat quietly.

The sunday interview I really, really liked, since it went deeper into the books and Johan Jönsson and Karin had such a funny, relaxed style. Karin joked a lot about the fact that she doesn't like her books being labeled dystopian, but then accidently said that they were dystopian and had to rectify it by calling it antiutopian.

Karin explained more about creating her novel "Amatka", and that she really liked the idea of a world reacting to language. Of course, then she had to clean out all kinds of metaphorical language, parables and stuff like that, which was a difficult job. There are so many interesting things said in that interview, but I'm going to have to narrow it down to one thing I want to highlight as very good: she wants to write about people whom suffer from mental illness, because these people exist in the world, and she wants them to have a part in it in her books. That was great, since I feel very strongly about the issue and feel that we need to hear these peoples voices and break the stigma that surrounds it. After all, depression is something about 50 % of human kind suffers from, it is a huge part of the human condition.

But now I'm getting ahead of myself. Lastly, on saturday, I sat in Alvarfondens second hand bookshop again, this time for two hours. It was a great way to meet new people, one of whom was Alexander Hallberg, Sveroks chairman and fellow nerd. We talked about creating associations (unifications?) and bringing people together, something we're both passionate about. And I sold some books, too.


On sunday, I went to two more panels except Karins interview, and then there was the closing ceremony. It all went by too quickly! *sobs*

The second item of the sunday programme was the panel "Translators and writers", moderated by the lovely Johanna Vainikainen, whom have the most soothing and pleasing voice and a relaxed and nice contact with her panel members. Listening to her moderating the panel was a joy in itself. The authors and translators were really good speakers too, Ian Watson and Cristina Macia make a fine pair and are funny to listen to. They are married, and like to tease and joke with each other, which is really entertaining to watch. Tanya Tynjala is a peruvian author and translator, but speaks and has translated to french too. Also in the panel was Karin Tidbeck and J. Pekka Mäkelä, both sf author, and also translators. Karin has translated her short stories collection Jagannath. I learned much about translating, about how different it can be from translator to translator depending on the publishing company, the pay, the amount of work and the level of collaboration with the author. And there are different styles of translators too. They had a good discussion about if a translator should translate word for word, or though for thought? Can there be nuances where the translator interpret the book, in the spirit of the author? Cristina felt the translators job is not to rewrite the book, and she has a more direct word for word approach. Tanya said her goal is to make the english reader feel the same as the spanish reader, to try to feel the voice.  Both had good points to make on the subject.

Cheryl Morgan, Tanya Tynjala, Ian Watson and Nini Neuvonen.

The discussion continued in next panel, "Science fiction and fantasy translated into english" were Cheryl Morgan took the helm of moderating Ian, Tanya and also Sini Neuvonen for an hour and a half. The panel was very informative about different translated works, and Cheryl Morgan mentioned she will post a list of the books mentioned, so I will try to get a hold of it and link it to this post. They talked a lot about the struggle of getting books translated, and mentioned "Finnish weird"; a impressing initiative made by the Finns, where they had fans translating their favourite Finnish writers. After that panel, I ran to the finnish bookstand and bought the magazine.

One point made about translated work is that the english speaking population has a tendency not to read translated work as there is so much written in their own language, and Cheryl Morgan asked the question "How do we encourage people to read translated work?" The question remains unanswered, but the panel gave a lot of good book tips which hopefully will help build some bridges.

The closing ceremony was a very fine thing, filled with applauds, hugs, and the guests of honour gave their thanks and said that they were really impressed with what the Archipelacon concom had done. GRRM encouraged everyone there to vote for Helsinki in 2017, and said that if they win the bid, he would be there in 2017 along with Connie Willis, Scott Lynch and the rest of the gang.

(I have voted, have you? Ask me how!)

The Finns are really good at this stuff, and I am thoroughly amazed by them all. I have made so many new acquaintances this weekend, and have gotten to know the Finns I met at Worldcon a bit more, and I miss them all terribly already, along with my fellow swedish fans.

The parties

Ah, the parties, What can be said about the parties? The parties were great! The Åland summer is very much like the summers in northern part of Sweden with the never dying light and the silence. Only, not as quiet... We had a pool! And karaokee! And I've even heard rumours about skinny dipping. Dammit guys, next time you have to tell me! ;)

"Look, the book matches the pool!"

The nights where bright and full of warmth from infrared heating. And full of mad scientist-laughter, Brotherhoods without banners, pool parties, singing, fezzes... Just an amazing buzz of people.

There were some really enthusiastic people singing Queen-songs in the karaokee-corner, and there were Jukka Halme and his evil gang, taunting me with the song "spiderpig" because I was scared of a humongously big evil spider of doom that hung in a fine thread from the ceiling. Jukka Särkijärvi and I stood shaking of shock and terror, hugging for comfort, until Karl-Johan Norén saved the day by smashing the spider with a pad. A brave man, that Karl-Johan, risking his life against the beast to save us.

We heard the drums in the distance, and saw Cthulu rising before us, from his watery grave.
We had a standing joke about me and Frida. The second day, when I had introduced her to a bunch of people, Frida was saying how she felt I was very much like Barney Stinson in "How I met your mother" with "Haaaaaave you met Ted?" and she was Ted. Not a bad comparison. (Although I'm not fixated on suits and getting laid.) But I do like magic. Frida mingled and got to know people and had a great time. It warmed my heart to see my best friend getting to know all these amazing people in my life and enjoying their company and the con too. Frida says that my hobby is to collect people, and I think the best thing about collecting people is when you're able to bring them together, and when they like each other as much as you like them all... it's like magic.

Another funny thing is when someone came up to me and accidently called me Frida. (That's how much they liked her. I'm starting to get jealous of her.) Later, Torill accidently called me Frida, and then I myself accidently called Frida Fia. (That was really weird.) Suddenly I had an identity crisis, which I confessed to having on twitter. That caught the attention of Tero Ykspetäjä, and all weekend long he enabled this crisis by said "Hello Frida!" to me. Thanks for that, Tero. Really. I'm gonna send my therapists bill to you. :P

Evil Tero!


I had a really great time, to which I owe many thanks to my very wonderful, understanding and good-for-waking-me-up-before-I-overslept-room mate Anna Bark Persson, and to our gang of Frida, Maria, Markus, Nahal, Veronica, Arina, Kristina, Hanna and Jan. We had a lovely dinner on sunday at Dino's were we squeezed together in a small booth and talked about the convention and other things. We also think we have figured out what killed the auroch. (Smoking is bad for you! What do you think, Torill? Could the aurochs have been nicotine addicts?)

I have made some big promises during this con, and all of them I intend to keep. I made a solemn vow to learn finnish when Jukka Särkijärvi started learning swedish, and to make a convention in Malmö the year after Nahal does one in Uppsala. Seems like a good plan. About learning finnish: I've actually downloaded an app and spent the better part of this weekend trying to learn words. Olisi. Jollekin.Työskennellä. Maito.

They say that learning another language is good for the brain, and prevents getting alzeimers, so I'm being healthy too. (And also it is good when wanting to read finnish sf-litterature).

There have been a lot of fans from different countries at this convention. But I started thinking, maybe, we're all from the same country; the fandom country. We speak the language of SF but have different dialects, and we don't let that hinder us from connecting and making friends. Frida's soon traveling to Japan for an exchange year, and will be seeking out the japanese fandom. The brittish fan Luke Smith has begun to learn swedish. Some Finns are talking about coming to Swecon and I'm definitly going to Finncon next year. And maybe Åcon. And maybe Eurocon in Spain, which will be in november 2016, hosted by the lovely Ian and Cristina! (Maybe I'll have to learn spanish too.)

There are so many things to be said about this convention, and I could talk about it for ages, but I think I'll just end this here before it become a novel. My very last words will be  an echo of Jukka Halme's eternal wisdom: Fandom is love.