Thursday, 23 June 2016

Fantastika 2016

I was thrilled when Carolina Gomez Lagerlöf announced that they were doing Fantastika at Dieselverkstaden again. I never attended Fantastika in 2013. I would have loved to, but due to circumstances, I couldn't.

This time, I was there working for three different conventions; LunCon 2016 that I'm hosting this fall, Kontur which I'm on the concom for next May, and the big Worldcon 75 which I'm on staff for. You're probably wondering if I'm mad, doing all of these constuff at the same time. The answer is yes.

I packed all my flyers, con-t-shirts and went.


Join us, and together we shall rule fandom as readers and fans!

I met up with my Finnish friends at the Central Station in Stockholm and went out for lunch at the lovely Rice-restaurant near Dramaten. I ate all the watermelons. And the sushi. And ice cream with salt licorice. So good! I met a new Finnish fan, Linn Gröndahl, and we bonded on the bus over our disabilities. She was a cool and awesome person!

Then we went to Dieselverkstaden.

My first thought was that it was a really nice and big venue, suited for all purposes. Throughout the weekend, though, I started noticing stuff I felt was a bit off, like the Dealer's room was a bit hidden, the accustics were horrible (concrete walls are not good for large gatherings!) and the Bistro was horribly noisy.



First item was Merlin, the man, the myth, the magic wih Rhuddem Gwelin. An excellent talk about the different versions of the myth and how it changed by christianity. Morgana became an evil sorceress, Guinevere became an adulteress and Nimue became evil. I really loved the talk, and it was fascinating to hear how the story changed with the different times. I loved that Rhuddem was so much in love with Colin Morgan (I am too!). This talk could easily have been in a bigger room, as it was filled to the brim.

Then, I met the lovely Therese Norén who'd emailed me the week before; "Hey, I have a gift for you. Remind me to give it to you at Fantastika." I'd been like: "GIFT? What gift? Am I getting a gift? I wonder what it is? Probably dillchips? Can't you tell me? Giiift! Tell me now? I wanna now! GIFT!"
And she was like: "It's a gift."

Very mysterious.

It turned out to be A WHOLE BOX OF SUPERNATURAL. I almost cried.

Then Eva Norman told me that they had made sure the Gopher Hole had dillcrisps. And incidently, Luke Smith also informed me that he had bought and eated dillcrisps. I congratulated Luke, and congratulated myself since the dillcrisp-fenomenon is becoming rather large in Sverifandom.



Maria Turtschaninoff's Guest of Honour interview with my friend Nahal Ghanbari was another good item. Maria is truly a gifted writer with such creativity and love for stories!

Later on, I had my first own item; The open mic from 21 until 22. Unfortunaly, we had almost noone in the audience. I went to the sofa groups outside and asked a few members to come and listen, which they obligedly did.

A.R. Yngve

A.R. Yngve talked about "Frank and the Robot", Tobias talked about Laird Barron, Tora Greve talked about Sture Lönnerstrand and Calle Werner talked about Peter Nilssons books. We finished early, and I tried, valiantly, to fill the time with bad puns -- I even made an unprepaired talk about conspiracies, but in the end we closed down early. (Not without us making some Luncon-advertisement of course, since me, Calle and Tobias are all a part of the Luncon committee.)

Most of the other members of the con were at the panel about the big Fannish Feud around Feminac. I would have loved to gone to, too! I was actually told by Lena Jonsson, one of the participants in the panel, that they had created the panel mostly because of my suggesion, so it was a shame I wasn't able to go. 

I was a bit disappointed, honestly. The thing about Swecon is that I love it. I want to see it all. I want to talk to everyone. Be everywhere.

I was uplifted by Jukka Halmes quiz. Jukka is the funniest guy I know, and I'm his biggest fan. He had the same kind of quiz in Åcon (which I shall have to write about soon), and me and Tobias Bodlund had been among the contestants then. This time we were in the audience, smirking about how we remembered all the answers. (Only I didn't remember much, really.)

Tobias Jarl: "Can it be... The Exorcist?" (How on earth did he see that in that pic?)

Tobias Jarl impressed me with his skill of associating pics with movies. This picture above was from the movie poster to the Exorcist. Noone but Tobias got that. Later, Ian Sales won the respect and awe of Finnish Fandom by scoring high on the fourfield-questions that were quite impossible. (Although I got the Jukka-thing!) Ian Sales is an excellent guy!

After the programs ended, people seemed to wander of somewhere and I went to bed early. At two o'clock in the morning Nahal and Anna stumbled in. I sad up, very confused, and tried to understand what was going on. Anna tried to explain repeatedly but I sounded like a deaf and confused grandmother. "T-shirt? What are you doing? Where are you going? What are you doing? What t-shirt? What are you saying?"

Then I put the hearing aids on.




The next morning, I became increasingly suspicious that the program-team had a grudge against me when my next program item "First time at an SF-convention?" had almost no audience either. This time I went to the Dealers room and got Swedish Zombie-Jonny and his friends to listen. Later Jonny came up and said to me and Eva that he really appreciated the presentation, which made me really glad. And at the dead dog party on Sunday I talked to Jörgen Jörälv who'd been to my item at Confuse. I was told he really appreciated it, and the bingo was great too, so that made me happy again. Have to do that bingo again!




I sat a while in the dealer's room on saturday, talking to people about Worldcon, Luncon and Kontur. And Älvsbyn. But the dealer' room had bad air and the accustics were really bad, so I had to leave early. I went to the hotel room, had a shower and that picked me up a bit. Though, as I was drying my hair I almost had a heart attack because Johan Jönsson walked in on me. (He'd gotten the key from Anna to get her USB-stick before a panel). Luckily I was wearing a towel.



The Appropriation and exotification panel was awesome. Nahal and Anna Ceras Erlandsson talked the most, and had interesting things to say from their unique perspectives. Nahal mentioned Castle in the air which featured a persian carpet salesman, and how she loved the book but later re-read only to discover how the culture is depicted as a horrible and dirty place, and how absurd it was that the carpet sales man decides to move to the western country which he felt what  nicer because it has greens, even though the western country was at war. Because of course it's more important to have clean and green cities than being safe from war...

Anna Bark Persson and Anna Gustafsson Chen where also in the panel, which should have been named Nahal and the Annas with the double surnames.

After that I felt a bit over-tired and went to talk to a lot of friends at the restaurant Bistro. We sang silly songs and talked about fandom. Tobias Jarl and a few others where being intellectual. Me and Hanna Hakkarainen just showed each other pics of cute cats and babies. Then my brain just stopped working, I started to lose words and couldn't concentrate, so I went outside for fresh air. I found a spot under the hut on the other side of the road, so I sat there and was joined by Adam Thorp for a while.

I started noticing more and more how my tired brain got worse as the weekend progressed, I had headaches, got tired quickly and couldn't focus, couldn't join the conversations. It probably was due to the fact that the venue had concrete walls and the sound was too noisy for my poor ears. I'm afraid I became quite boring at times.

Because of that tiredness I missed Nordic Fantasy AND Feminist SF in the 70s and today. Such a bummer! 

The big thing me and my Kontur-committée friends have been waiting for happened later that evening: The vote for next Swecon!  We had secured four Guests of Honour already, Ann Leckie, Kameron Hurley, Saladin Ahmed and Siri Pettersen, and we couldn't wait to tell people about them.

We won the bid, so next Swecon will be named Kontur, and will be in Uppsala the 26th til 28th of May. We're so excited about it! Make sure you come!

The first thing that went through my head after we won was "Yes, we get to do the Swecon!" The second thing that went through my head afer we won was "OMG, WE'RE DOING A SWECON!" *panic* 

And then there was the Alvar Prize. I was nominated for the second time, and competed against Håkan Wester, a very nice and pleasant fellow who's done a great job with Västeråsfandom.

I had not counted on me winning, but apparently everyone else had. I had thought that I might win, but my utmost concern was wether or not I would cry if I did.

I have a tendency to be emotional. It's really embarrassing. I won a phone once at a big convention for my school, and when I got up to receive it I started crying a bit. It was very embarrasing. (This is why I can't ever get married, I would just weep and be a mess.) So I'd tried to steel myself against being too emotional, and I succeeded. Perhaps a bit too well. I was like "OK, let's get this over and done with!" I wish I had prepared a speech and maybe some good pun. Such a wasted opportunity.

Anyways, thanks again to all of you whom voted for me. I am so happy to have so many dear friends in fandom, who seem to think that I'm doing something right! Love you all!

My third item was Generations of fans  with Caroline Mullan, Mats Linder and Luke Smith. It was a nice panel, but again, there were few in the audience. I can't really understand why the item was placed against another fandom item (International fandom). I would have loved to hear that too. Why, oh why! Anyways, stuff was said, nothing controversial (other than when a member of the audience blurted out that we talked too much and that it should be a dialogue, not a monologue. We had a dialogue, but not with the audience. That's not what panels are for, that's what discussion circles are for.)

Caroline mentioned how some fannish stuff like Mushroom in the morning (?)-jokes can be a bit off putting and how much that saddened her. Some in-jokes can be off putting, but rather than stopping with them all together, we must work to le people in on the joke. My immediate thought was that my dillcrisp-joke is becoming like that, and I would love for that to be a thing in Sverifandom.

Luke Smith and me!

Talking with Caroline and Luke, I got increasingly curious about the British fandom. Lately a lot of British fans have started to come to our cons. This is so nice! Later me and Nahal found out Nnedi Okorafor is coming to Eastercon in 2018, and so we must go!


One of the funniest things all weekend was the NoFF auction at Saturday night. The bright and brilliant friend of mine,  Hanna Svensson, made up hilariously funny stuff on the go, and the interaction between her, Bellis and Johan Anglemark was lovely. I laughed so hard I cried.

At Saturday's party, the best part was Johan Jönsson reading aloud the Swedish translation of Star Wars 4, with empathy.

The second best part was the discussion we had about how Sverifandom would look in 2050. "There will probably be panels discussing how dillcrisp affected Swedish fandom." It's important to make your mark on fandom, and mine is apparently the importance of using microphones, and dillcrisps.

Sunday I got up early to listen to Maria Turtchaninoff's Worldbuilding-talk which was great! I had spent the week reading Anaché and Maresi; fascinating storys with good characterizations, interesting and unique worlds and a fresh take on gender and feminism.

Me and the Onda Cirkeln-members had our tv-series panel which was awesome fun. (Let's do that again, shall we!) Then we went out for lunch with our friends Sara and Marie. Then I just mingled, sold memberships for Kontur, talked to people about Worldcon and fangirled over Gilman.

The convention ended on a high note. The choir Gléowine sang songs from LoT and GoT beautifully, and I sat next to the polish fan Marcin, a nice fella'! We enjoyed the closing ceremony tremendously. I had goosebumps.



The dead dog party was lovely as ever. I sat outside, mostly, where it was less noisy. Me, Jukka Särkijärvi and Tobias Bodlund plotted a take over of Denmark. Later in the evening the ideas for Kontur started sprouting, and we decided upon making a game show for Kontur (and I, at least, decided that Jukka Halme must be one of the contestants, schhhh, don't tell him!) and then Tobias got a phone call from his friend Anna whom asked: "Do you want to go swimming, we have a car?" He was somewhat reluctant. Ian Sales added: "Look on the bright side, at least she didn't say 'Do you want to go swimming, we have a cow.'" Tobias stated that he'd go swimming if the car was amphibious, and Ian Sales then added that HE would go swimming if the cow was amphibious. Hilarity ensued.

Later in the night we found our way to the hotel lobby where me and Ian Sales showed pictures of our cats (this is the greeting ritual of the crazy cat people). I talked a bit to Markus Olausson too, and Luke was a bit tired.

"Paint me like one of your french girls."

On that note, the tale of the Swecon 2016 must end. We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun. The program I thought was a bit disappointing (probably because I missed everything), the venue was a bit hard on the ears, but the con was well-arranged, the Green room was nice, and Swecon's always the most anticipated time of the year for me, because I get to meet all my friends.


But, there's another story to be told of Fantastika, a parallell story about a very confused hotel staff.

Me and Anna Bark Persson booked a hotel room together in January. Being roomies with Anna's always a good plan. I put her to sleep by munching on dillcrisps and she wakes me up early so I don't miss anything of importance. Maria Nygård later joined in May, I contacted the hotel again and booked an extra bed for three nights.

The day before the con Anna texted and said she would not be staying the last night because she had to work on monday. Maria would be leaving on Sunday too, so I was going to have the twin room by myself the last night. I remebered that Jukka Särkijärvi had been searching for a place to stay from Sunday til Monday, so now I had a bed to offer, and became the lady in shining tiara and saved the day.

I contacted the hotel and asked them to remove the spare bed since it was only the two of us staying the last day. They where confused since I hadn't payed for it (which they never told me to do) but it was easy to fix and I got the spare for two nights, and was going to pay at the desk in the morning. 

The day of the con, Maria fell ill with the flu. (Poor Maria, she really wanted to come.)

I felt sorry for the hotel staff too, when I once again contacted them about the spare bed, this time cancelling it all together. They were beginning to be rather confused by me ordering and cancelling spare beds at this point. 

Then on Sunday morning, Linn came and asked if she could leave the bag in my hotel room for the last night, since she was taking an early boat Monday morning. Sure, I said, but where are you going to sleep? I don't have to sleep, she said, I'm going up early. Yeah, I said, I think you should try to sleep for a few hours. *using my motherly voice* Linn said okay.

Thus we were three sharing the room the last night.

I went back and asked for an extra bed, again, and they said they would put it up there for one night. So now we had three people sharing a room for the last night after all.

But when we got up to sleep after the dead dog party, there was no extra bed.

I called down and they had to start looking for an extra bed at two in the morning. They finally found one and said "have it for free, since we messed up".

Admittedly, I can see how they might have been confused about the whole extra bed situation. And that's how you play Confuse-a-hotel.




Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Dark Orbit


Dark Orbit av Carolyn Ives Gilman är en av de absolut bästa böckerna jag läst i år! Det är en first-contact-historia som är originell och spännande.

I en avlägsen galax finns federationen Twenty Planets, och där bor Sara Callicot som är en av dem som val att spendera sitt liv genom att utforskar rymden. Hon färdas genom en ljusstråle genom rymden tar så lång tid som ljuset tar att nå till platsen, därför är det ett ensamt liv. Sara har nu lämnat sin familj, alla sina vänner och hela sitt liv bakom sig för en av de längsta resorna någonsin -- hon ska resa 58 ljusår bort till en outforskad planet som heter Iris. Hennes svepskäl är att studera besättningens team-arbete men hennes riktiga agenda är att skydda Thora Lassiter, en släkting till hennes uppdragsgivare, som hamnat mitt i en stor politisk skandal där hon blandat sig med rebeller och gjort uppror på Orem och nu skickats till Iris som straff. Thora har enligt ryktena blivit galen, men när Sara möter henne blir de snabbt vänner. Sen, när Sara och Thora och en grupp forskare reser ner till planeten för att utforska ytan, försvinner plötsligt Thora. Sara försöker desperat ta reda på vad som hänt henne. Under tiden så upptäcker Thora att det finns liv på planeten, varelser som får henne att ifrågasätta allt hon kommit till att ta för sanning.

Det som jag gillade med denna bok var att den bygger på nya och fräscha idéer om hur liv på andra planeter ser ut, och presenterar perspektiv från både ursprungsbefolkning och rymdfarare. Den bjuder på filosofiska diskussioner om vad verklighet är, intressanta diskussioner kring handikapp och förmågor, och ifrågasätter våra förutfattade meningar. Den påminner om Contact och Interstellar, två filmer som också tar sig ut på djupt vatten och vågar diskutera helt galna koncept om rymdresor och verklighet.

Läs, läs, läs!

(And I'm sorry, I'll translate this review to English soon! No time now.)

Sunday, 29 May 2016

The Magicians


I finished The Magicians by Lev Grossman last night. It took me quite a long while to read it, and I have some mixed feelings about it, but mostly good ones. Especially about the ending, which left me wanting more.

The Magicians is about Quentin Coldwater, who finds himself drafted to Brakehills University, a school for Magicians in learning. Q's been feeling depressed lately. Feeling like he doesn't belong. His friends make fun of him for being sucked up in the Fillory books, which -- to be honest -- are kids books. Fillory is a magical place with fairy creatures (very much like Narnia), a place that draws the three Chatwin siblings in and sends them on adventures. Q wished he could escape to Fillory, instead of being stuck in the real world in upstate New York. Then he stumbles upon Brakehills, finds out that magic is real, and finally starting to feel like he's whole again. But he soon finds out that the magical world is a dangerous and hard one, even more so than the mundane world, and everything can turn to shit within the blink of an eye,

Someone described The Magicians as Harry Potter for grown-ups, and that's just what it is. While Harry Potter has a filter of sparkle and twinkle, a sense of wonder, the Magicians has a filter of car exhaust and dirty back alleys. It's original in that sense, makes it feel real. When the magicians are everyday people, it gives the story-telling an edge, or a bit of kitchen sink-realism if you will.

The narrative is a bit uneven, though. It starts out as an exciting tale of discovery, and slumps into the every day school life, and further on looses a bit of steam before the big reveal. It lost me about half way through before I dedicated myself to finishing it and got drawn in again. For those without patience, bear through -- it's worth it. Some might not notice the slump as much as me, but that's because I'm easily distracted.

The big finale was lovely, and the aftermath intriguing. I'll definitely keep reading Lev Grossman's Magician-story.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

I'm doing something :D

There's a lot going on at the moment. I'm currently overloaded at work, and at the same time working on three conventions, two blogs, and trying to read as much as I can. Convention-season's soon upon us. Fantasticon, Fantastika, Finncon. And in between, some well needed vacation.

I'm going to spend next weekend writing in a cottage in Småland, will hopefully have time to blog about Åcon 8 then. For now, let's just stick with this:

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey

Spoilers for Doctor Who season six.

In my swedish blog Onda Cirkeln (that I have with five of my friends) I dedicated a post to crazy conspiracies and epic ships. I talked about Legends of Tomorrow, which is quickly becoming one of my fave series. It's here:  Galna konspirationsteorier och episka ships

For those of you who don't know Swedish: I am talking about Rip Hunter's lineage. I've got this crazy theory that he's related to Sara Lance. Don't worry, it's not a spoiler, it's nothing else than my imagination... Oooor is it?

DC's Legends of Tomorrow -- "Blood Ties" -- Image LGN103A_0257b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Caity Lotz as Sara Lance/White Canary and Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Now I've got more fuel to the flame. Bear with me.

Rip Hunter is played by Arthur Darvill, which many of you recognize as Amy Ponds boyfriend Rory Williams in Doctor Who.

amyart_1893101c

Doctor_Who_s_Arthur_Darvill__I_wish_Amy_and_Rory_had_gone_back_to_the_sixties

The woman behind Arthur Darvill is Alex Kingston, playing River Song, a mysterious time traveller that turns out to be Amy and Rorys daughter, Melody Pond.
riversong1

Alex Kingston is also playing Sara Lance mother Dinah Lance i Arrow.
Arrow -- "Heir to the Demon" -- Image AR213b_0293b -- Pictured (L-R): Caity Lotz as Sara Lance, Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance, and Alex Kingston as Dinah Lance -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Sooooo...  In Doctor Who  Arthur Darvill's character is the father of Alex Kingston's character . In Arrow Alex Kingston's character is the mother of  Caity Lotz's character (Sara Lance).

Then Caity Lotz's character  HAVE TO BE the mother of Arthur Darvill's character  in Legends Of Tomorrow.

Case closed.

No, I'll never give this crazy theory up.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Because you're still objectifying me

I am a woman of 168 centimeters in height, and approximently 70 kilos. I have a round face, small jaw, crooked teeth, bad hearing, glasses and hearing aids. I have got a lot of scars and bruises, on the inside and outside.

I have arthritis in my left collarbone, and the sole of my left foot is afflicted with another illness. I've been told my kind of arthritic disease could affect my other joints, causing loss of function. My spine could get affected. I am constantly tired.

I've always been an independent person. I moved away from my childhood hometown the week I graduated from high school, in 2003. I was 19. I got my drivers licence that same week.

I studied for four years in a university, got a magister degree in political science 2007 when I was 23. I then packed my bags and moved 1600 kilometers to the south. I left my whole family and all my friends and started a new life.

I got a job in a government agency at 24, and I've been working for seven years within a very complex system in a position that's kind of tough. I am being told I am an exceptional administrator. I own an apartment. I have two cats. I am turning 32 years old this year, and am thinking about starting an pension savings account. But the pension agency thinks I don't need to yet. I'm thinking of joining a car pool company.

I am a capable, independent woman who knows her own mind. I have opinions on all kinds of matters. My parents call me for advice on all sorts of things, I sometimes feel like I am taking care of them, instead of the other way around. I almost never ask anyone for help, I always try to do things on my own. I like it that way.

Suffice to say, I'm an adult.

Personalitywise, I am a down-to-earth, pragmatical person. I like the quiet life. I don't care for late night parties, make up and I hate skirts and dresses. I am probably one of the least glamorous person you'll ever meet. I'm not really concerned with my appearance and most of the time I'm direct and to-the-point.

I have ambitions.

In my spare time I run an association with some friends, that I started in 2012. I'm currently chairing my second con in Skåne, while simulaniously working on another committée in Uppsala. I'm travelling a lot, Japan, Barcelona, Finland, England, Scotland, Gran Canaria. I'd like to go to the US, and to Scotland, again. I like castles and being out in the nature.

My goal in life is to read as many books as I can, watch great movies and shows, hang out with my friends and have great convention adventures. I'm not in a relationship, and I don't like to date. I love my life and am happy alone.

Why am I telling you this?

Because, all my experiences in life tell me that most guys never seem to care about what kind of person I am.

I am constantly being told I look pretty. I am being told I should be flattered. I am being catcalled. I am being told I should smile more. I am being told I too will meet a nice guy some day. I am being told I would look good in a flowery dress that billows around me. I am being told by strangers that "I have that certain something".

If I meet a guy and am nice to him, he will in most cases take this as encouragement to pursue a relationship (because why else would one want to spend time with me?).

Because, as long as you think I am beautiful, I am worthy of your attention.

Being judged by your looks is degrading. Being an object instead of a person makes one feel slightly unimportant in this world.

And I am important.

Monday, 28 March 2016

The Just City

I just read Jo Walton's The Just City, about a group of Platonists whom come together and create a the city Platon imagined as "the just city". They become the masters of the city, and over time they collect young children of ten years of age and begin to educate them in the ways of Platon. With time, they chose which children to be philosophers, and give them golden pins. There is many other different metal pins with different meanings, and it's suppose to represent the soul of the wearer. The iron pin is given to the workers, and the silver pins to others. Everyone is given different chores, and as they reach adulthood they are paired with another of the same caste/class, and they become married for a day. Any children of the marriage are given up to the city, to be cared for as a group by the people of the city, because families are viewed as injust. Sexual relations outside the marriage is considered injust too, as one should love all citizens equally.

It's a mindboggling philosophical experiment, giving modern context to the ancient philosophers ideas. Would Platons Just City be just? Would the humans in the city strive for excellence?

At the same time it has a strong feminist approach, showing the ways women have been treated through time, analyzing what it means to be woman in a world ruled by men and then giving them agency to be their best selves. It does not shy away from womens hardship. It shows rape,  psychological scarring, post partum depression, as well as women failing, women succeeding, women feeling lust or envy. It does all these things, and more, and still I get the feeling the author's not trying to write on our noses, but just has this curiosity and thirst for discussion.

Walton has created this unique setting where gods and robots, time travel and mystical divine intervention coexists,  The main characters are the gods Apollo and Athena, one reborn as a human and one disguised as one, and the women Maia and Simmea, of different times but with equal interest in philosophy, and the Platonistic world. We also get to meet Sokrates.  And robots.

I haven't read anything like this, and I'm not sure I ever will. It's wonderful and great. Read it!

Friday, 25 March 2016

These hearing aids aren't just for show A.k.a. This message speaks volumes.

In July 2014 I wrote this post in Swedish after attending Swecon 2014, the Steampunk festival, in Gävle, Sweden.

I was asked to be on the program, which made me simultaneously very happy and very nervous. I’d never been on a panel before and didn't know if I actually had something sensible to say. And, of course, there's my hearing disability to be nervous about.

I was worried that I would mishear the audience questions, or mishear what my fellow panel members would say, or that I would get too tired and have a hard time concentrating during the panels. This might seem silly, but as a HoH (hard of hearing) person, you get fairly use to hearing the wrong thing, answering the wrong thing, and seeming a bit confused. People don’t see the hearing aids, they don’t see what you can and can’t hear, and I think many just assume you’re a little bit slow.

It's not a question of me being slow, dumb or unintelligent. 

I was born with a sensorineural hearing disability, caused by a damage in my inner ear. I don’t have the needed amount of hearing cells, and the ones I have are not functioning as they should. It's inoperable. I can’t use a cochlear implant. The only thing that helps are hearing aids.

Different from a conductive hearing loss which affects all frequencies, my hearing loss means I have more difficulties hearing certain frequencies, and that sound gets distorted, even with a hearing aid. Which means that I have to process sound and figure out what it means. 

The normal speaking tone is around 60 decibels. I can pick up mosts frequencies as low as 45-55 decibels. Birds chirping and people whispering is almost silence to me. I am never going to be a sneaky ninja. I could never really participate in a whispering game. Heck, even sounds in the normal speaking range is going to fall of my registry. Some consonants are very hard. In Swedish, such words as juni or juli are a huge challenge for me.

Every time I listen to someone talk, or try to participate in a conversation, I have to focus, concentrate really hard, and translate the distorted sound into words that make sense to me. I have to figure out how to fill in the gaps. This makes me tired all the time, and being tired makes it even harder to listen. Imagine if someone took away every third word in this text. Reading this might then be a very tough nut to crack! Welcome to my everyday conversation.

My brain is constantly working overtime trying to interpret sounds through my damaged inner ear. And it takes a lot of brainpower. But despite my best efforts, and hearing aids in both sides, the sounds gets distorted, or they just fall away. I usually hear about 80-90 % of what's being said with hearing aids.

On a good day.

When it's peaceful and quiet around me.

When the person talking to me is right in front of me. Like, right next to me.

Needless to say, in noisy environments like cons and such, my hearing aids and my ability to concentrate will be put to the test. It's a real struggle, one I always lose in the end since I get too tired. And it sucks.

As a kid, having the disability-talk was hard, and I was afraid my friends would stop coming around if I was too demanding or troublesome. I get that it's tiring to have to think about how you stand when you speak to me, and to talk slowly and clearly. So I dealt with it in a joking matter, my way of solving the problem without even having to explain myself. I told my friends I was a spy and the hearing aids were my spy gear. When someone said something I didn't hear, I blamed my in-ear-spy-device.

"These hearing aids aren't just for show" has gotten to be my adult-joking-thing. I like to make jokes about my condition to help people remember it.

The problem is, it's not working any more. I really need my friends to understand how this disability affects me, like every day. And I really need those of you who arrange cons to learn what to do to make things easier for me and others with hearing disabilities. It's difficult for me to talk about it since I've spent my whole life trying to Not Be A Nuisance, but this is my reality and it doesn't go away.

First of all, it's a social handicap. It's a communication obstacle. I'm having trouble following conversations since I mishear words.

As disabled, you develop strategies to be able to make the most of social gatherings. If I do go out on the town, I usually take off my hearing aids (they don't help much anyway if I'm in a noisy environment). If I'm in a coffeeshop with friends, I sit in the middle of the room so everybody is equally close to me. I also try to ask questions, summarize and confirm that I’ve heard right, and that way I catch up if I miss a few words.

My hearing disability often results in me double checking instructions, to make sure I got them right. I ask and ask again, and sometimes I have to cut in while people are talking and ask them to repeat themselves. I constantly worry about being rude, disrupting my friends like that, but if I don’t catch the phrase while it’s said, the rest of the sentence may be gibberish too. I’m constantly feeling like a socially awkward penguin because of this.

It’s also demanding for my friends, whom have to accommodate my special needs. They have to be sure to include me in conversations and make sure that I hear them. I am constantly missing the punch line in jokes, and sometimes when asked if they can repeat the word, I am told that it’s not important or “I’ll repeat it later”, which inadvertently makes me feel outside and less important. I know it’s not easy for them, and it’s sure not easy for me.

Secondly, it’s exhausting to have to concentrate so hard all the time.

I avoid noisy environments like discos, concerts, pubs, games. Sometimes I choose to attend these things, like cons, but I always know that there will come a time when I pay for the effort with physical and mental exhaustion. (All my spoons and then some.)

What can you do to help?

In social situations: 

Face me when talking.
Repeat or double check that I’ve got the important information.
Help me sit in the center so I can hear everyone.
Speak clearly, and if I ask you to repeat yourself, try to raise your voice just a tad, but mostly speak slower and more clearly.
If you have a induction loop in a facility, use it.
Microphones should always be used, and if an audience microphone is available, use it too.
Alternatively, have the moderator repeat the questions.

When I’m at conventions, I always sit in the front row. If I’m in a panel I prefer to sit in the middle. This is what works for me -- if you don’t know what works for someone else, try asking!

And how did it go at the Steampunkfestival?

Some panels went just fine, if I was placed in the center and didn’t get an audience question. Some panels worked less fine if the moderator forgot to repeat the audience question before someone answered it.

In one panel, I got an audience question and waited for the moderator to repeat it. My silence was interpreted as confusion or not having a good answer, so other panel members answered instead, while I looked like a question mark. I felt really stupid.

I had a slight problem understanding the guests of honour too. One spoke really fast, and one stuttered. It can’t be helped, I get that. People talk the way they talk. I chose to attend other program items.

One panel I listened to did NOT work at all, though. The moderator asked the audience (without using the microphone) if he could skip using the microphone. I misheard him and thought he meant “Do I really have to use the mic?” so I said yes.

When he then put the mic down and started to talk I thought he just chose to ignore me and I got really upset. I stayed and tried to listen, but got so bleedingly tired that I started crying. When the panel was over, I stepped up and said a few harsh words and then I stormed out. Not my finest moment. But I think this illustrates the importance of microphones.

Which only goes to show what NOT to do during conventions (or in general):

Avoid asking if you can be excused from using microphones. It only makes HoH (hard of hearing) people feel like a nuisance. We don’t want to make a big thing out of it. We want to have every possible help we can get without having to beg for it. And some people, like me, have a hard time asking for help.

Think about how you stand in position to the hard of hearing-person. Think about how the sound travels. Make sure you stand fairly close and facing the person.

When someone asks you to repeat what you said, don’t repeat it in the exact same tone. Take it a bit more clearly and slowly, and maybe a bit louder but no yelling. Yelling is rude.

I usually miss the first words of the sentence if the talker is turning to me or stuttering at the start, and if I lose the start I often don’t understand the context. So repeating the key words is helpful.

These tips are helpful when making accommodations for people with my kind of hearing disability. But please do remember, not all hearing problems work the same.

If you’re unsure of how to help, ask, do not assume. Don’t be scared of asking me about my hearing disability, I’m glad to see people taking an interest in how to help me. I know not everyone feels this way, though, and I’m not always up for the discussion. I suggest you proceed with caution and respect when you have questions.

I hope these tips can help people understand the ways sensorineural hearing loss works, and that social exclusion and mental and physical exhaustion is a big part of it. I hope future convention committees can take this under consideration.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Connie Willis: The Oxford Time Travel-series

Jag har älskat Connie Willis ända sen jag läste Blackout/Allclear, de senaste böckerna i tidsrese-serien Oxford Time Travels. Det som gör Willis så bra är att hon tar sig tid att beskriva olika eror i historien och hur människorna var på den tiden. Miljöbeskrivningar får en att känna som om man vore där, och karaktärer är engagerande och otroligt realistiska. Samtidigt är tidsrese-delen väldigt intressant gjort. Sex år senare har jag återstiftat bekantskapen med Connie Willis och läst de två första böckerna i (den ytterst fristående) serien. Doomsday Book och To Say Nothing of the Dog.


"Doomsday book" börjar i Oxford, år 2054. De tidsresande historiker gör sig klara för att fira jul. Alla utom Kivrin Engle, det vill säga. Kivrin är på väg att resa till 1300-talets Oxford. Århundradet har dock blivit rankat som en 10:a och anses för farlig för de tidsresande historikerna, men eftersom Basingame (chefen för fakulteten) har gått på julledighet och Gilchrist, vikarierande fakultetschef, inte bryr sig om riskerna finns det ingen som har befogenhet att stoppa dem.

Professor Dunworthy och doktorn Mary Ahrens försöker prata Gilchrist och Kivrin ur det, utan att lyckas. Tidsresan stressas igenom, och medan de väntar på dataresultatet insjuknar tidsrese-teknikern Badri hastigt i en mystisk sjukdom. Badri försöker i sin feberyra säga att någonting inte gått som det ska, men blir snabbt okontaktbar. Runt om dem på universitetet bryter en epidemi ut och hela universitetet sätts i karantän. Gilchrist stänger ner labbet för julen och alla tekniker som skulle kunna tyda datan för att verifiera att Kivrin hamnat där hon ska har gått på julledighet och vägrar gå in i karantän-området.

Under tiden som epidemin sprider sig 2054 så landar Kivrin på fel plats i medeltiden, och insjuknar i samma epidemi som rasar på universitetsområdet. Dunworthy, sjuk av oro, försöker desperat att hämta hem henne, men vet inte att hon hamnat 28 år fel, i 1348. Det år digerdöden kom till Oxford. Parallellerna mellan digerdödens framfart och epidemin i Oxford skapar en dramatisk kamp mot klockan.

Doomsday book innehåller intressanta detaljer om livet och människorna i 1300-talets England.  Det står snabbt tydligt att verkligheten såg väldigt annorlunda ut jämfört med de föreställningar Oxford-historikerna haft. Kivrin upptäcker att hon inte förstår språket, att hennes klänning med bjärta blå färger inte passar in och att stanken är värre än hon trott. Steg för steg lär sig Kivrin mer om medeltiden (och genom henne, även läsaren) genom att visa dessa små detaljer som samtidigt förankrar en fast i miljön och får den att kännas realistisk.

Vi får lära känna den medeltida familjen som Kivrin bor hos, lilla Agnes som älskar sin hund, hennes storasyster Rosamund som ska bli bortgift med en gammal gubbe, den elaka farmorn Imeyne och mamman Eliwys. När pesten kommer till Oxford är man så väl investerad i familjens öde att varje dödsfall känns hjärtslitande. Kivrin försöker att förutse pestens framfart genom att använda statistik och sannolikhet, men boken visar att i realiteten så funkar det inte att resonera så, för det alltid finns oanade konsekvenser man inte kan värja sig mot.

En av mina favoritkaraktärer i 2054 är trettonåringen Colin "a nice boy, very bright, though he has the most wretched vocabolary. Everything is either apocalyptic or necrotic.". När karantänen slår till är han fast med historikerna på universitetet och blir till oväntad hjälp för Dunworthy. Colins ungdomliga fascination för tidsresor speglar mitt eget intresse för genrén, och hans relation till Dunworthy precis som Kivrins relation till Agnes är rörande familjär.

Historia har aldrig varit så intressant som när den läses i skönlitteratur med engagerande karaktärer. Visst finns det säkert historiska felaktigheter, jag vet till exempel att Willis fick kritik för att hon i Blackout/Allclear använde sig av en tunnelbanestation som inte fanns än - men det är för mig inte livsviktigt att precis alla detaljer blir rätt, så länge det viktiga stämmer.

Min enda reservation mot boken är att det känns som om Willis överanvänder förvirringsursäkten för att skapa spänning. Badris tendens att feberyra och inte svara på frågor om vad som är fel med tidsrese-släppet bidrar till ovisshet och spänning, men det upprepas för många gånger, även med Kivrin i medeltiden. Jag skulle inte säga att Willis håller på informationen för länge, men hon är väldigt glad för att använda förvirringstropen, inte bara i Doomsday book utan även i "To Say Nothing of the Dog". Men det tjänar historierna väl, så jag tillåter det.

I den andra boken "To Say Nothing of the Dog" är året 2057. Vi möter Ned Henry som är med i ett projekt för att restaurera Coventrys katedral. Hans uppdrag är att lokalisera en vas åt Lady Shrapnell, projektets överhuvud. Men vasen visar sig vara synnerligen svår att hitta, och Ned skickas kors och tvärt genom historien i åtskilliga dagar tills han drabbas av time-lag, med klara symtom som svårighet att tolka ljud, överdriven sentimentalitet och hallucinationer.

Ned värvas till ett livsviktigt uppdrag i den viktorianska eran, men är så snurrig så att han inte uppfattar uppdraget och hamnar konstant i situationer där han riskerar att ändra historians förlopp radikalt med potentiellt fatala konsekvenser för utgången av andra världskriget. I sann Willis-anda.

To Say Nothing of the Dog skildrar den viktorianska eran, med samma detaljrikedom och lärorika berättarteknik som Doomsday Book. Till exempel får Ned lära sig att det är ett stort etikettbrott att prata om graviditeter - allt som har med sex att göra var så tabu att man inte låtsades om det. Boken har dock en mycket lättsammare ton än Doomsday Book, samt en romantisk sidohistoria vilket passar väl ihop med den viktorianska miljön.

Även om boken är lättsammare så är den även mer teoretisk. Många tycker Connie Willis böcker innehåller för mycket historia och för lite science fiction, men denna bok väger upp det genom att utforska reglerna kring tidsresorna och "nätet", den teknik man åker genom tiden med.

Den resonerar kring vad som är möjligt, berättar mer om mekaniken med kritiska punkter, crisis points, i historien dit man inte kan åka eftersom de händelser som skedde då hade för stor påverkan på historien och minsta ändring till historien riskerar att förändra framtiden. Samtidigt så etablerar den tidskontinuumet som en slags entitet som arbetar för att motverka de paradoxer och "incongruities" (motsägelser) som skulle kunna uppstå genom att den orsakar "slippage" (glidning) för tidsresenärerna vilket gör att de hamnar i en annan tid eller en annan plats, och därför inte har en påverkan på historien. Det går dock att ändra historien, och många av karaktärerna orsakar diskrepanser som de försöker rätta till, med varierande resultat.

Tidsresehistorier som dessa har en slående likheter med fantasy; ödesbestämda händelser. Precis som fantasy ofta beblandar sig med profetior beblandar ju sig tidsresor med saker som kommer att ha hända, eftersom de redan har hänt. Men trots att profetian eller ödet vill uppfyllas, så kan ju många saker gå fel och ödet behöver ibland hjälp på traven. Det är intressant att se hur historier hanterar detta, och vad som händer när man ändrar historien. (Tidsrese-sf är lite av en favoritgenre hos mig, om det inte framgått.)

På ett sätt är det smärtsamt tydligt att dessa böcker är över 20 år gamla. Framtiden - så som Willis såg den 1991 - hade inga smartphones! Det fanns bärbara telefoner, så kallade handhelds, och det fanns vidders, videokameror. En kan ju tänka sig att Willis borde ha förutspått hur tekniken skulle utvecklas, men det är nog svårare än man tror. I Willis fiktiva framtid utrotades också katter 2004, vilket känns rätt skrattretande. Att en stor pandemi inträffade 2010 känns dock mindre skrattretande.

Dessa böcker, samt Blackout/All Clear, kan jag varmt rekommendera till alla anglofiler, historieälskare och tidsreseälskare. De är lättillgängliga, ofta humoristiska och rörande. Willis fortsätter att vara en av mina absoluta favoriter, och jag vill verkligen understryka hur bra hon är:

"Though she has published fewer solo-authored novels than any of them, Connie Willis has won more major SF awards than Philip K. Dick, Arthur C- Clarke and Isaac Asimov combined." - Adam Roberts, introduction to Doomsday Book.

Kvinnor inom SF, you guys. Det finns många bra kvinnliga sf-författare, men tyvärr är de kvinnor och därför får de ingen uppmärksamhet. Låt oss ändra på det? Läs Connie Willis!

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.