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Mon, Jul. 19th, 2010, 03:43 pm
FinnCon 2010

I spent the last weekend in FinnCon 2010. The weather was unpleasantly hot, ranging 25-33 degrees Celsius (in fact, author Boris Hurtta joked that we should organize a FinnCon in January for a change to see if it would affect the weather...:-).

I lost my cell phone (it was probably stolen) - with all the phone numbers in it - couple of days before the Con so I spent part of my time to get some of those numbers back. This was also the first time I‘ve had a proper camera with me so I took lots of pictures but my pals seemed to tolerate me.

At least nominal theme was “roots”. Guests of Honor were Ellen Kushner (ellen_kushner and her partner deliasherman); lady Pat Gadigan (fastfwd), Finnish author (and singer) Sari Peltoniemi and fan veteran Liisa Rantalaiho. Formidable ladies all.

Vaskikirjat (one-man publishing company run by a friend) published Kushner’s Thomas the Rhymer a while ago. And the Finnish edition of Lady Cadigan’s Mindplayers (that happens to be one of my favorites) has reached third printing as of this writing. She also kept using the novel’s Finnish name Mielenpeli.


I had booked a room in Hotel Harju (formerly Hotel Amis). In wintertime it’s student housing that’s converted to a hotel for the summer (less than 100 € for two nights). Unfortunately, there was no air conditioning to speak of, so I didn’t sleep that well. Handheld fans seemed popular in the con as well (there were also those for sale in some of the dealer’s stands).

This is the key to the room...

Friday begun as the Writers Meeting of the Finnish Science Fiction Writers was in the Writer’s House in Jyväskylä.

All the guests had a speech but I arrived just before Peltoniemi’s talk was beginning. The ex-chair of the Finnish Science Fiction Writers interviewed ladies Kushner and Cadigan about their writing. Lady Kushner likes to show her work in progress to others, lady Cadigan doesn’t (in that respect she’d be closer to Finnish phrase One should not show a work in progress to fools nor gentlemen... :-) )

Lady Sari Peltoniemi

Ladies Kushner and Cadigan

Rapt audience

And I finally get to meet lady Cadigan, who recognized my net moniker. I was bit surprised but delighted.

Then there was the Nova award announcement; winner was Tomi Jänkälä with his “Uralin Sininen” (Blue of the Urals).

The con proper begun at Saturday. As usual in Jyväskylä, it was in the Jyväskylä University main building.

This time FinnCon didn’t include Animecon (for various reasons) so there were only some cosplayers; couple of jedis and characters from Farscape. The only related program seemed to the cat cyborg building workshop although there were couple of dealer selling anime plushies.

Has Force something against my camera...

In addition to them and booksellers there were also some handicrafts sellers and stands for the Green League party, the Pirate Party and Jyväskylä chapter of SETA, Finnish gay-rights organization (they just received a huge influx of members after a recent attack on the Pride parade and vandalism of their Helsinki HQ).

Table of the SETA organization

This year the Finnish Science Fiction Writer’s Association had a same table with Tutka, the Science Fiction Culture Cabinet of the University of Turku. Usually I would have spent major part of my time there but Tutka people did the job well. Not to mention that there was no room, as you can see below...

There has been some trouble with the Kosmoskynä ‘zine; printing of this year’s first issue was delayed due to fusion of two printing companies in Espoo (and the following increase of expenses) so there was only the editor’s personal copies present. The second issue was printed in Tampere but the printer sent it to Turku against instructions and the chair and the ex-chair struggled to get it redirected to Jyväskylä (in one time the postal "“service" claimed it was missing).

As for the last year's last issue, it’s still in back burner...

Media was also interested. I counted three 2-3-person camera crews and at least one of them didn’t speak Finnish. A friend also told me later that he had seen me in television somewhere in the background.

MTV3 channel interviewing T. J. "Godfather" Hämäläinen. Is the girl with the microphone scared of him or something?

Programming was diverse from lectures from Soviet space probes to swordmanship, discussions about zombies in Finland (very rare, I assure you) and Mystery Science Theater 3000, a physics show (with a microwave oven), Mensa test, etc. Of course, I didn't see any of those...

In her GoH speech lady Kushner sang apparent Celtic songs (with a guitar). Sari Peltoniemi talked about the “gate theory” of trying to get young people read. I wanted to go to see lady Cadigan read but my metabolism disagreed with me... So I went to the kaffeeklatch in Sohwi later.

Lady Kushner before picking up the guitar

Just one of the panel discussions in the largest auditorium

Traditional place to retreat after the con day is the Sohvi restaurant:

Equally traditional is the table hockey tournament:

After that we came back to the university party rooms. During the evening’s festivities I missed most of the masquerade, partly because it was so hot inside, partly because of the tightly-packed people (I’m still not fond of crowds). However, I agree that the right guy won (see below). His bow looked rather authentic.

Esteemed Chairwoman of the Finnish Science Fiction Writers, Anne Leinonen

Graphic artist Petri Hiltunen

Esteemed lady Liisa Rantalaiho

Finnish-Swedish writer Petri Salin

Head honcho of Tähtivaeltaja magazine, Toni Jerrman

Sunday’s temperature was more tolerable, probably due to clouds.

Lady Cadigan begun her GoH presentation with Finnish. After that Cheryl Morgan interviewed her and she recalled her fledgling writing years, including trying to invite Robert Heinlein to a con and her experiences with cyberpunks. She also talked about how the publishing has changed and not for the better, even if she mainly talked about “legitimate” publishing.

I eventually spent a brief time at the desk of the Science Fiction writers. I missed the Science Fiction Writer’s meeting in Writer’s House because it was at the same time as Lady Cadigan’s program (though I was too tired to think about any sensible questions).

Gopher disemboweling a mechanical cow

Feeling better already?

Tired representative of Sweden

In the end, I was too tired to go to a dead dog party even I have liked the place previously. And still I missed the intended long-distance bus and had to wait for two hours for the next one...

Mon, Jul. 19th, 2010 02:10 pm (UTC)

it sounds like a really great time. Nice pictures (I liked the costume of the guy who won). I think the heat has been intolerable all around the northern hemisphere this past week

Tue, Jul. 20th, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC)

I quite like that photo of Ellen and me that you took at Writers House! Mind if I save a copy?

Wed, Jul. 21st, 2010 06:42 am (UTC)

Go ahead. Would make my day :-)

Sun, Aug. 1st, 2010 11:15 am (UTC)

Wonderful report - thank you so much. I have been stupidly busy - it IS summer on Saaremaa, but today I posted - with photos - a brief account of my more recent activities. Usually, my posts are friends locked, but I've left this one open if you wish to take a look.