Monday 27 June 2016

It's Åcan, not Åcannot

Two days before Åcon 8 happened, I fell and broke my ribs (which I don't recommend doing if you're going to a con). But, since I am a very dedicated fan, it wasn't going to stop me from going. It's Åcan, not Åcannot, after all.

The first stretch of the road to Åcon was taking the train to Uppsala.  I was quite immovable, but got a lot of help from strangers on the train. In Uppsala I meet up with Nahal Ghanbari, Anna Bark Persson and later next morning, Maria Nygård. Whenever we four are together, good things happen. We're currently plotting evil schemes planning Kontur while simultaniously running the Swedish tv-series blog Onda Cirkeln with Hanna Svensson and Frida Otterhag (but Frida is AWOL in Japan). We actually kinda signed on to do both of them while in Åland in 2015, so if you're ever in Åland and get an idea -- just go with it, it's probably the best idea in the world!

Thursday morning we took the ferry over to Åland. At the bus we met up with Johan and Linnéa Anglemark, Åka and Ante Davour, Jessica and Tony Elgenstierna, who're mostly all of them in on our Kontur-schemes. We spent the better part of the boat trip to Åland talking about committée-stuff. As one does.

When we got to Åland, the sun was shining, the birds were singing and the sea glistened in the sunlight. It was a good start, and it got even lovelier during the weekend.

The hotel had a nice porch where we sat outside in the sun and drank beer for most of the weekend.
Since Åcon's a semi-relaxacon this means it has a very light program track with a lot of time between items to just hang out, read, explore Åland and drink beer. This suits me very nicely, and worked well with broken ribs.

The first program item was the Guest of Honour speech, where Zen Cho talked about the cloud of ignorance and how accepting that you don't know everything can be a good thing. It was a really good speech and set a good tone for the whole con. Meeting Zen Cho was great, I was immediately star-struck when I saw her at Loncon in the panel with Mary Robinette Kowal about regency fantasy, and I'd read and loved Sorcerer to The Crown. She has a lot of spirit and a contagious laughter.

Tommy Persson and Sari Polvinen had a book-duel, next, which consisted of Sari taking the side of character-driven books and Tommy the side of books with a structure. None of these things are exclusive, yet they can of course lead to very different books. Tommy and Sari landed in the diplomatic consensus that "a good book is a good book", which is all the consensus you need, sometimes.

Early Friday morning I attended Crystal's Impostor Syndrome Workshop. I felt like an Impostor for saying I have Impostor Syndrome (which probably means I have it). It was such a great workshop, Kudos to Crystal for making time for this!

Friday early afternoon I participated in "Marvel's female superheroes" with Kisu Leikomaa, Elisa Wiik and Nahal. Some great things were said. I had a lot of fun and was pleased with the result. I had planned to be in one more program item during the weekend (Wibbley Wobbley Timey Wimey) but ended up in a couple of game shows too, which often happens when Jukka Halme is involved.

The first gameshow I participated was later that Friday, when my team fought against Zen Chos team in "Never Mind the Buzzaldrins" which was a game show where we had to guess the movie from the poster. This seemed easy enough. Except the posters where Polish and very, very artsy (read: had absolutely no connection to the movies). I, Rachel Monte and Tobias Bodlund were named team Amoeba, but quickly renamed ourselves Team Bad Ass. The other team consisted of Zen, Shimo and Merja Polvinen (I think). Their team-name escaped my memory, but not their inevitable victory.

The lovely Candy assisted the game-show host Jukka, and he was a real cutie. I sang to his honour by switching the word "Carrie" to "Candy" in Europes song. It sounded horrible. I'm going to have to make it into a filk.

Saturday meant that I was going to host my first ever panel: "Wibbley Wobbley Timey Wimey". I have always felt the urge Not To Moderate a panel. I really don't think I'm suited for being a moderator. It's just not my thing. But... A while back I wrote something on Facebook a long the lines of "Someone should host  time travel panel! I want to talk about time travel!" So, of course Sini Neuvonen contacted me and asked me to host one on Åland. (Be careful what you wish for!)

I thought that - if I'm ever going to host a panel about anything, it should be time-travel, so I accepted. I recruited Åka, Shimo and Tommy, and prepared a bunch of themes;

* Why do we need temporal mechanics?
* Destiny-schmestiny
* The Blast from the Past
* Are you my mommy?

I thought the panel went ok. I'd prepaired for it months ahead, sent out questions to the panelists and was not very stressed about it at all. Afterwards I had a lot of people come up to me and say they liked it. I hope there will be a next time!

Me and Hanna Svensson, posing with out Time Travel-t-shirts!
There were a "Romance and fantasy"-panel with Zen, Kisu, Tommy and Merja as a moderator. I'm full of admiration of Merja, she's indeed marvellous. Her Brittish accent is very good too!  Tommy quickly stated that he was the token male, and laughter ensued. It was a good panel! I really liked it!

It was followed by "History and writing" with Zen, Shimo, Vesa Sisättö, Petri Hiltunen and Sari Polvinen. It too was a great panel and they even got in a few good points about appropriation too.

The last item of Saturday was the game show "Just a Speculative Fiction Minute" and I was, again, recruited as a contestant. It was improv and that's not really my strong suit so I got out of my comfort zone real quick. It was set up so that I'd get a title and the audience would shout some directives, a theme, a genre and some elements and then I had to review or explain the story as if it was a real book. And in 60 seconds. The first time I got horror and it really, really went bad. I went about it all wrong, trying to tell the horror story instead of getting laughs. I got a few sympathetic laughs, and went with a different approach for the next few ones.

The last one was about a Russian cabaret, Swedish Sharkballs and Vulcanos, and I made up a story about Vulcans in a Russian Cabaret that was hated by the audience (that was Vulcans too), and how they showed their dislike by giving the actors the "Vulcan-Nooooo!" and then sinking them into shark tanks. Thankfully people laughed.

Mikael Teern and Johan Jönsson. Micke seems to be Johan's body guard here. He was making some kind of jedi wave, I think.

The Saturday party was a blast too. So many good friends together at one place is almost always a guaranteed fun night, but I can't stress how lovely it is to be among this exact crowd. Swedish and Finnish Fandom are the best.

Ben Roimola and his wife (sorry, your name escapes me) came up to me and said that I'd been very funny on the game shows, and I was very thankful to them for saying that, even though I felt it couldn't be true (my impostor syndrome acting up). Then Mikko Seppänen and Elisa had read my blog post about the crazy Legend of Tomorrow-theory, and we had a fun talk about that, one fellow tv-addict to another. Then we started talking about Star Trek, and Petri quoted one of the first movie, and I quoted another, and Mikko quoted another, and so on and so forth until one of the persons listening said that it felt like being on a carusel and then getting thrown off and seeing it spinning out of control.

Talking about the beauty of Star Trek is one of those small moments that adds up to the feeling of how much I belong in fandom. Having a program where people are allowed to discuss regency fantasy and romance fantasy in a serious way, is another. I've been called a fake geek girl for liking romance, but here no one judged me. I have gotten used to not even being given the time of the day when talking about Star Trek, but these people not only listen, they accept that I'm every bit as much of a Trekkie as them. They take me seriously. And I love them for it.

Also they're really funny!
My good friend and fellow punster Tero, whom obliged me when I just had to take a pic of him and tweet "The night is dark and full of Tero's". 

I totally loved the con, I loved the program, I loved the people and the atmosphere. It suited me very well. I loved the game shows, even though I felt a bit awkward at times. (And I would go up there again!)

This is just one of the many reasons I'm working on Worldcon 75. Finnish Fandom has been involved in the three greatest cons I've been too, Loncon, Archipelacon and Åcon. We need more people to meet the Finnish fandom and and experience the Finnish cons.

I'm gonna go to Finncon this weekend. I expect it to be an awesome con, too.

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.)