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Mon, Jul. 16th, 2007, 08:46 pm
FinnCon 2007

This year's FinnCon was in the Jyväskylä University, again with cooperation with AnimeCon. The weather was humid and wet most of the time. I spent most of the weekend behind the desk of the Finnish Science Fiction Writers and slept on a friend's floor.

Friday July 13 (no Jasons…)
I came too late to see anything about the first science program and half an hour late for the writers' meeting. There were no personal speeches this time. Cheryl Morgan was chairing for Joe Haldeman and Elizabeth Hand. With the title "Borders between imagination and reality" they talked about things like the Survivor having actors (why I am not surprised) with an artificial narrative, manufactured publicity, stolen research results, bestsellers not being the best sellers and how the writer may not even get paid for the freebie copies the publishers is giving away.

The next item was the panel discussion about the science fiction publishing scene. Including literary vs. literate and writing in a cage with marketable limits. Ellen Datlow expressed consternation about the amateur editors (well, understandable if they do not really edit anything). John Clute talked about if we are really accustomed to reading electronic books and using the unscrupulous self-promotion in the web. He also dislikes books with excessive amount of acknowledgements. And about the different kinds of writing groups from mutual mockery to serious constructive criticism to mutual guaranteed flattery.

One truth came out - that big publishing houses do not usually like new ideas because they just might not sell. So often the more interesting books - including the Finnish translations - come from the smaller publishing companies. But they do not have the same distribution networks.

We spent the evening in the Sohvi restaurant again.

That included a short meeting of the board of the Finnish Science Fiction Writers. Including sending reports of grants to tax officials, new writing seminars and the fund to send representatives to foreign cons. The latest Kosmoskynä 'zine came out just in (the nick of) time (although we received the issues the next day).

Three Finns won the traditional table hockey tournament. I was lucky enough to sleep in a friend's place (thought I'm still nostalgic about sleeping on the sofa in the upper floor of the Authors' House years back…).

Saturday July 14
The actual con began the next day. The "mascot" of the con was an (abducted) cow. The organizers had even managed to find a mechanical cow with flapping wings that whirled above the crowds near the entrance (note that the Finnish equivalent to "and the pigs fly" refers to cows instead…)

We actually had to move the table of the Finnish Science Fiction Writers (or to be exact, its contents) to a different place. We ended up besides the memorial table for Leena Peltonen, a SF veteran who died just before the con. It included the books she translated, her favorite plushy and a laptop with a slideshow of pictures.

This time none of the Finnish publishers had anything translated from any of the guests of honor so a Swedish fan had brought some books from the SF-Bokhandeln in Stockholm.

The place was again full of cosplayers with their anime costumes. And the female ones looked much better than their male counterparts. Weapons were forbidden inside the university but at least one guy managed to slip in with his keyblade. There were also many who were apparently children of refugees and not all of them orientals. There was also a small group of ninjas. And many cosplayers who, for some reason, carried papers where they asked to be hugged. Some craze I've yet to hear about?

Since I spent most of the time behind the table, the first programs I missed were the opening by the Emperor Pirk of the Star Wreck and a physics lecture accompanied with dance.

In fact the only event I managed to attend in Saturday was the Urban fantasy - Nothing but sex and violence?. Marianne Leikomaa was wrong to assume that her speech was bad even if it included a list of relevant books. Anita Blake was mentioned but I'm still not interested.

I finished the day in the memorial event for Leena Peltonen. She was an important figure in the Finnish science fiction scene, even in the background after she withdrew from the most festivities. This FinnCon would have been the first she would have attended for several years. In her memory there was a garlic cucumbers and chili chocolate cake.

I found out that my tear ducts still work somewhat.

Sunday July 15
The first item in Sunday was the panel discussion about SF and food. Leena was originally scheduled to chair it. We talked more about the food in science fiction and fantasy than fandom gourmet. As for me, I still wonder why fantasy herbs usually are not used for spices but for Healing Potions and the like. Thought I think that the lack of vegetables in stock fantasy tales has something to do with the trilogies' projected target demographics who is assumed to prefer candy to any greens…

In Leena's memory, the organizers had also brought the chili chocolate cake along. I felt obliged to take a piece. Result was a brief migraine.

Dealer's tables were already short of merchandize (including the volume 4 of Kaoru Mori's Emma). Many of the comic books stands had only manga - including that of Fantasiapelit that mainly sells roleplaying games. The regular Helsinki second-hand bookstore was there (though I had seen many of the books before). One table sold books from the smaller publishing companies, including Loki that recently folded (it had published Iain M. Banks in Finnish, among others). The Bookcrosser's table was small with mainly Stephen King and translated stock fantasy left.

As for our table, at the end of the day we had sold over 500 badges (1 € each) and couple of writing guides. And dozen prizes for the fund to send the editor-in-chief to Swecon. This year's trick was that every time somebody bought ticket, they could select either d12 or d6 (12-sided or 6-sided die) to throw and then we checked the list of prizes. Everyone won something - a book, a subscription of Kosmoskynä and so on.

Cheryl Morgan bought a SMOF badge.

When the con was ending, there was a torrent of rain so I walked to the travel center under a raincoat. Unlike many others, I was going home by a long-range bus. However, there was some trouble in the railways (another reason to boycott them, I say) so I found myself in the same bus with a number of cosplayers who were going to Tampere in order to transfer to a bus to either Turku or Helsinki. In the process I got soaking wet in a queue. Well, the driver seemed to be in good humor.

Mon, Jul. 16th, 2007 09:07 pm (UTC)

Great report! Sounds like it was fun overall.

"Anita Blake was mentioned but I'm still not interested." Does that mean you don't like the Anita Blake books? I don't like them either, I am just curious.

Mon, Jul. 16th, 2007 09:16 pm (UTC)

Fun, although tiring.

And, well, what I've seen about Anita Blake does not make me to look out for more.

Mon, Jul. 16th, 2007 09:19 pm (UTC)

Yes, the first couple of novels were ok, but not for very long.

Mon, Jul. 16th, 2007 11:21 pm (UTC)

Yes, I'm afraid there *is* a hug thing going around lately. Here's the hub, as far as I understand it:


Tue, Jul. 17th, 2007 05:57 am (UTC)

Hmm. Well, I that's better than, say, forcing people to buy something.

Tue, Jul. 17th, 2007 04:50 am (UTC)

Too bad that we didn't meet there. I was working at the board game building (main library building) for the whole weekend.

Tue, Jul. 17th, 2007 05:57 am (UTC)

Yes, your sister told me.