Archive for September, 2009

Hur andra ser oss

Jag har nyss gjort en rundresa i Stockholms biblioteksvärld för att affischera för Imagicon 2. Många bibliotek var positiva, men i Alvik skulle man tala med barnboksbibliotekarien och på Medborgarplatsen hänvisades jag till ungdomsavdelningen. Det här stämmer illa med åldersfördelningen i fandom! (Tack till David Langford)

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Fantasticon 2009

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For Fantasticon 2009 I arrived in Copenhagen already on the Friday, August 28th. Since I was free for a couple of hours I strolled around in the old university quarter of Copenhagen, the latin quarter, which I got to from Nørreport. I had planned to check out some antiquarian book shops in order to extend my collection of Niels E. Nielsen, and was lucky to find that there was a clearance sale so I bought a copy of Lilleputternes oprør. I also visited Fantask but the sf book shop in Stockholm is definitely bigger. After a smørrebrød and beer I went to the museum Glyptoteket, and walked from there to my hotel, Fy og Bi in Valby. It was a very cosy hotel and the name probably referred to the film studio close by. In the evening I went to the restaurant Riz Raz in the center of Copenhagen to eat together with the organizers and the guests of honour.

My hotel in Valby: Fy og Bi

Gwyneth Jones and Lea Thume at Riz Raz

Gwyneth Jones and Lea Thume at Riz Raz

Olav Christiansen at Riz Raz

Olav Christiansen at Riz Raz

On the Saturday I walked to Vanløse, and had time to print flyers and posters for Eurocon 2011 and Imagicon 2 at the library in the same house. The congress localities were nice and suitable, and I spent quite some time at the big book table where the fan Morten Søndergaard sold his collection of sf books. The program was surprisingly rich for a two-day con and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Flemming Rasch opening the con

Flemming Rasch opening the con

There was no program in English directly after the opening, but already at 13.00 Charles Stross was interviewed by Niels Dalgaard. Stross’ story collection Wireless has been translated into Danish, Antistof. Stross remembers that he wanted to become an astronaut after the moon landing. He then wrote instead, but sent out his stories much too early. His first 10-15 years of selling were not successful. He studied pharmacy but felt that he was not cut out for that job. He “did not have a good 1980s”. He wrote on an Amstrad PCW but it lacked a word counter. [Oh, the Amstrad! I had one at home and one at my job, and I still think it was a lovely machine, with its Locoscript word-processing program and acceptable printer. Sadly, it was not compatible with later PCs.] He got a masters degree in computer science and went into that industry for a decade. Around 2000 the dotcom bubble burst when he was between jobs. He spent 2 months free-lance writing for computer magazines.

Charles Stross, Niels Dalgaard

Charles Stross, Niels Dalgaard

He sent his first novel, that he called A Festival of Fools, to Patrick Nielsen Hayden who let it lie for quite some time, but actually had considered buying it. This space opera, targeted at the US market, was published after some years titled Singularity Sky, referring to a paper by Vernor Vinge on singularity. Stross’ real singularity novel is Accelerando, first published as a series of short stories in Asimov’s. He considers the sequel Iron Sunrise to be a better book than Singularity Sky.

He considers that scarcity of food is not necessary; it is due to bad distribution. He is not a big fan of capitalism, but not of communism either.

Stross does not want to write the same novel again and again. Readers tell the publishers that they want the same, but what they really want is the same experience.

In his novel Glasshouse there are references to the film The Village and the tv series The Prisoner. He wrote it because he was annoyed waiting for John Varley’s novel Red Thunder. Glasshouse is Stross’ own John Varley novel, the one he felt that Varley should have written. One basis for the book is the Stanford prison study in psychology, where half of the students were assigned to act as “prisoners” and half as “guards”. The experiment had to be cancelled after three days due to gross abuse and dehumanisation. “Glasshouse” is British military slang for a military prison.

His “Laundry novels” are written just for fun. He likes British spy thrillers and H P Lovecraft. Here magic is a branch of mathematics. The Jennifer Morgue is a “James Bond novel”.

He is infatuated in Woodehouse, but the parody Scream for Jeeves has already been done. Stross’ short story “Trunk and Disorderly” could be Woodehouse for the 21st century?

For Saturn’s Children he picked Heinlein, but the late Heinlein instead of the juveniles. The plot is one of Heinlein’s three plots, “The Man Who Learned Better”. Nipples go “spung” in the story and apparently it is not about a human but instead a sex robot.

Halting State is a serious novel. The computers are faster and the bandwidth increased. Cyberspace will be draped over the reality. In a sequel there will be vat-grown meat and the transplant industry will produce human meat that might also be used as food, i e in cannibalism.

Dalgaard mentions the name Stroctorow for the collaborations with Doctorow, and Stross admits to some similarities. Traditionally sf was defined by travel and speed, but the speed revolution has ended. Instead there is a revolution in information processing. The sf of the 50s and 60s was written for engineers, but traditional sf does not talk to the engineers of today.

Stig W Jørgensen, Klaus Æ Mogensen, Charles Stross, Niels Dalgaard

The science of near-future science fiction was discussed by Stig W Jørgensen, Klaus Æ Mogensen, Niels Dalgaard and Charles Stross, who actually dominated the discussion. Brunner’s “black tetralogy” and Christopher Priest are examples of near-future sf, but today there is very little. Vampire stories may be near-future but are hardly sf. Real near-future sf is very hard to write. An example is that when the financial crisis hit it stole his plot. Sf about near future has dealt with surveillance systems which know where all mobile phones and cars are. Rather, probably genomics will change the near future. It is getting cheaper, and by portable gene scanners the entire human genome may be analysed. Then proteomics and artificial organisms will have an immense impact. 3 D printers may be used for illicit handguns or for making copies of the anatomy of your neighbour’s daughter…

“Property” will change. “Intellectual property” is not transferable, since you do not lose it when you keep your copy. The scarce limits that are constructed are just fakes. However, artists should be paid for their work but a better way has to be found. According to economic theory infinite supply leads to zero cost. The real problem is how to cope with the excess of information. Karl Schröder writes far-future sf with the opposite of singularity, where all subjects of research have been researched, or are to difficult to pursue further.

Stross is angry with Bush. The money spent in Iraq could have been used for five Mars programs.

The worst horror scenario might be the grey goo, with self-replicating nanomachines. However, this is what bacteria are.

Ellen Miriam Pedersen, Gwyneth Jones, Ralan Conley

Ellen Miriam Pedersen, Gwyneth Jones, Ralan Conley

Jesper Rudgård Jensen, Knud Larn

Jesper Rudgård Jensen, Knud Larn

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The panel Men travel to Mars, women live on Venus was manned (sic) by the moderator Jesper Rudgård Jensen, Knud Larn, Ellen Miriam Pedersen, Gwyneth Jones and Ralan Conley. Knud Larn doesn’t distinguish between male and female writers, but thinks that feminists opened up a portal to other kinds if writing. Although he is not gay himself he finds stories involving homosexuality interesting. Gwyneth Jones finds gender important from a historical point of view, when women started to emerge as readers and practitioners. Also, feminism in the real world had an impact in the 70’s. She also interprets the early sf stories: They are basic adventure stories and the reward is access to females. The symbolism of male rockets penetrating the female void indicates the deeply sexual content of sf in the 50’s and 60’s. Ralan Conley thinks that there is more versatility in female roles in sf than in fantasy, where the roles are either a damsel in distress or an amazone. There are few horrific women in horror stories. Interestingly, the term android is used for sexless, but gynoids for sex machines.

Gwyneth Jones indicated that female writers are subjected to disqualification. As an sf writer she wants to write about science but encounters that “women should write about womanly things”. She thought that things had changed when she started writing, but found that it is very difficult for a woman to be accepted as an sf writer. It is hard to get the readers to accept the science. Interestingly, after the unmasking of James Tiptree, Jr., she was no longer in the top of sf.

Klaus Æ Mogensen gave a Science talk: Anarchonomy, where he talked about his work at the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies. “Anarchonomy” is formed from anarchy plus economics, and follows Peter Kropotkin’s definition of anarchism as a network society, explaining the workings of the internet. He gave several examples of value for free on the internet, like Wikipedia, technorati, delicious, Myspace.com. These are examples of the process described in Eric von Hippel’s Democratizing Innovation (www.tinyurl.dk/2435). Another example is Ohmynews, an amateur journal on the net that is the most read in South Korea. The information overload necessitates someone who finds out what is worth reading.

Copyleft with a mirrored © sign is a symbol for free utilities like Mozilla and BitTorrent. There has also emerged social lending, without banks. The idea to give one laptop to each child (www.laptop.org) would lead to a decentralised internet that is impossible to police. Fab@Home is an open source project to make 3 D printers that can make Lego pieces etc., and in the “reprap” project self-replicating printers are made. These processes are good for the environment since there is less transportation and garbage can be used for the processes. Drawbacks are that there is no liability for the manufacturer, and that it is hard to streamline.

The idea to give information away for free is nothing new. Universities have given knowledge away (but there are signs today that this might change).

H H Løyche, Flemming Rasch

H H Løyche, Flemming Rasch

The Danish sf author H H Løyche was interviewed by the congress coordinator Flemming Rasch, but unfortunately in Danish so I missed quite a lot. Løyche first wrote a short story with time travel. He read both Perry Rhodan and Ballard. He has written short stories for a weekly supplement to the journal Jyllandsbladet, and he thinks his writing corresponds to about four novels a year. In the anthology Dystre Danmark he has an authentic story, but he writes mainly sf and detective stories. Two novels that he mentions are Støj, which is a detective story containing a climate catastrophe, and Mission to Schamajim. He has also made a threesided chess and a lot of posters, and his latest project concerns H C Andersen’s sf. In order to find that he read everything that H C Andersen had written, and he thinks that his novels are much better than the short stories. He found 27 texts that could be used for a collection of Andersen’s sf, e g about a civilisation on the bottom of the sea. He also made illustrations for these stories and for the front of the book. This has a comet over Copenhagen, since there were many comets during H C Andersen’s life which might have influenced him.

Gwyneth Jones

Gwyneth Jones

Gwyneth Jones gave a Kierkegaardish talk called Either/Or. In her North Wind there is a riddle from the bible, where Isak has to kill his son in order to have a future, but thereby also makes him lose his future. There is an opposition between an esthetic and an ethic way of living. In sf there is often progress or utopia. It can be a road to heaven or hell – but which is which? And how to build a good state, a utopia? Tom Paine wrote The Rights of Man in 1791 and the ideas have developed to the UN declaration of human rights in 1948. But there has also been a development of technology that took us to the moon. Where are the bodies of the space race buried?

In early sf there was no conflict between progress and utopia, and many sf authors were happy to be invited as experts in the star wars initiative. Just as for Stalin “art serves the cause”; the perfect future is the reason.

Utopia itself brings on the violence, and Jones cites from Che Guevara’s diaries. Also in U K LeGuin’s The Word for World is Forest gentle people had to go to war to protect themselves. Jones referred to a statement by an anonymous sf fan, “if 95% of the human race doesn’t make it and 5% does, it is still worthwhile (e g to go to space)” that she found reprehensible, and she went on to cite U K LeGuin again. In “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” it is common knowledge that the good fortune of Omelas requires that an unfortunate child be kept in filth, darkness and misery. Those who cannot accept this walk away to an unknown fate. This is a devil’s bargain, and there is no guidance in the story. Who are subject to the worst tragedy, those who stay or those who leave?

However, Jones suggests that by small increments, small improvements in living it might be possible to achieve a utopia. “Small is beautiful”.

Jones also mentions her own story “Identifying the Object”, Karin Boye’s Kallocain and the film Bladerunner. Someone in the audience translated Sören Kierkegaard fittingly into “Grim Graveyard”.

Jesper Rudgård Jensen, Ralan Conley

Jesper Rudgård Jensen, Ralan Conley

Ralan Conley  was interviewed by Jesper Rudgård Jensen. Conley is an american who has lived in Denmark for the last 20 years. In the early 90’s he had free time that he spent on writing a novel, 700 pages on paper. He got a no from every publisher and instead wrote short stories to get some practice. He then wondered what market there could be and what he learnt he now spreads via his website. The idea is that authors could help each other via the web or email.

Conley writes epic fantasies which are really sf. He has done variations on the Jack the Ripper theme where he goes west. He likes the stories to unfold since he then entertains himself. Having an outline makes him bored. He types with two fingers and if he tries to use all he loses his creativity. He enjoys editing his stories afterwards. He likes to put people in extreme situations, like mining on other planets. In Tales of Weupp there is a planet where magic works.

Much sf is now being marketed as mass market stories, e g Michael Crichton’s. There are markets for short stories and about 700 such markets are listed on his website http://www.ralan.com. This page is funded by donations.

Michael Kamp, Gwyneth Jones, Lea Thume

Michael Kamp, Gwyneth Jones, Lea Thume

In the panel Writing for children and young adults, Gwyneth Jones told that she started writing for children and thought that as she grew herself also her intended readers would be older. She worked as a script writer for the sf cartoon Tellybugs, where she made 3’55” stories for Chip, Sam and Bug. After that she wrote ghost stories for teenagers under the name “Ann Halam”. She likes writing for young adults, and mentions as inspirations Arthur Ransom, H C Andersen, Tolkien, C S Lewis and Diana Wynne Jones.

Michael Kamp tells us that he has published six books, which the libraries classify as 13+. He does not aim at teenagers and believes that you shouldn’t. However, the language should be understandable for teens.

Lea Thume thinks that children need books they have to grow into; they should have to “stand on tiptoe”. Jones responds that you should be as straight as possible. Simplicity should be an ideal. A successful example is Alan Garner’s Red Shift, which most children won’t understand although it is simply written. It has strong and strange sf ideas.

Kamp comments that you have to downplay the sex parts; the teens can take all the other stuff. Jones agrees and thinks that there is too much graphic description in Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now, about a 16 year old girl who falls in love with a 14 year old boy. You should have pity on your readers: they might be embarrassed since they might read the book in class. These books would stand behind the librarian. Thume comments that this is not the case in Denmark where sex is treated in a very open-minded way. Still, Kamp thinks that sex should be avoided since it detracts the attention from the story you want to tell. As Jones says, pornography kills character.

Jones also adds that it is unethical to mention underage sex. [Personally, I think it is strange that you can describe an act of murder but not an act of love.]

Asked about recommendations Jones says that she can only answer what she liked. Among films her favourite is Kurosawa’s Tokyo Story that describes Tokyo before the war, and among books she prefers juvenile books written by U K LeGuin and Diana Wynne Jones. A favourite is Archer’s Goon. Kamp mentions Pratchett.

According to Jones, horror and ghost stories should be short. A puzzle detective story by Agatha Christie is about 30 000 words. M R James inspired Jones to write ghost stories, and she also mentions influence from H P Lovecraft and Sheridan Le Fanu.

Johan Anglemark asked the panel about the possible influence of role-playing games on the plotting in young adult books, and Jones considers that Sheri Tepper’s early books were heavily influenced by role playing.

Charles Stross, Gwyneth Jones, Niels Dalgaard

Charles Stross, Gwyneth Jones, Niels Dalgaard

The last panel I listened to was about British science fiction, with the two GoHs, Stig W Jørgensen and Niels Dalgaard. Jones pointed out that the differences between individuals are much greater than the differences between US and UK authors, in the same way as they are greater than the differences between men and women. Still, Stross thought that there might be differences between US and UK sf. John Christopher, Wyndham and Christopher Priest wrote about an England where the best was over and the empire dead. There was a feeling that the British were let down – “hey, you were on the winning side, you don’t need any support”. Jones answered that British sf had stronger links with US than with the rest of Europe. She was born in a socialist utopia. US was worried, due to other socialist utopias.

Stross read Interzone in his teens and wanted new stuff, radical in an undefined way. Interzone was published by a “collective” that found out that they were actually slaves of David Pringle. Many new British sf authors were first published in Interzone in the 80’s. Britain did not get cyberpunk but instead a second “new wave”.

Damgaard mentions that Denmark had “cosy catastrophes” like in UK.

Jones sees herself more as a European author, and Stross as an american one. He answers that you have to sell to US to get a proper career.

Jones and Stross had different views on the early “new” space opera Consider Phlebas by Iain M Banks, whether it was influenced by the Falklands war or the Vietnam war. Banks is a very British author who does not sell in the US. Peter Hamilton is right-wing and best-selling. Stross is surprised that Ken McLeod has won a libertarian award, and that he himself was nominated. McLeod is the son of a preacher and picked up Trotskyism at the university. Stross says that McLeod’s tetralogy describes different types of socialism in the four volumes [I missed that…].

British sf authors cheat since they can sell in the US and still have the healthcare of UK. In a space opera future the disadvantage of being British vanishes making it easy to sell in the US.

Jones comments on the “mundane manifesto” of Geoff Ryman. She finds it quite restricted, but when she sent in an invited short story to an anthology she could include FTL and aliens and still get it accepted as “mundane sf”. Stross read the manifesto differently: Go back to the basis of sf and skip the tropes. It is possible to write mundane space opera, and an example is Saturn’s Children. [True, actually].

Jones resisted writing space opera but her latest is definitely that. It features a capital similar to Brussels, and she feels that space opera gives you a good possibility to write about the present.

Michael Pargman and others at the book sale

Michael Pargman and others at the book sale

I left the congress by the new driverless metro, strolled around in the center of Copenhagen for a while looking at the new theatre and opera buildings and generally had a wonderful time, to finally continue with the metro to the airport. A fantastic weekend!

Finncon 2009 / Animecon VII

Finncon 2009 in Helsinki was also Animecon. The con was impressive both by being well organized, the many sf fans present (1000?), the huge halls used for program items (in Kaapelitehdas) and perhaps mainly by the very many (10000?) anime or manga fans dressed in cosplay costumes. The event took place in the weekend July 10-12, and the weather was wonderful so the manga fans spent a lot of time outdoors, admiring each others’ costumes. Since many program items were in Finnish we got our own Alien Supplement to the Program Book, in English.

First a few pictures from the Animecon.

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The con

Tommy Persson, Johan Jönsson, J Pekka Mäkelä, Alastair Reynolds, Toni Jerrman

Tommy Persson, Johan Jönsson, J Pekka Mäkelä, Alastair Reynolds, Toni Jerrman

In the gigantic Pannuhalli I listened to the panel Science in Science Fiction. The chairman Tommy Persson started by saying that he considered accuracy to be necessary, and got immediate response from Johan Jönsson who does not notice mistakes since he is a humanist. Accuracy is important but most readers don’t notice mistakes. The idea is what is important. He admits to getting complaints on the science in his short stories. Pekka Mäkelä presented himself as a translator and pointed out that it is difficult to know what liberties you may take when you translate science-related parts of a story. For Alastair Reynolds, who is not only an author but also a space scientist, the story comes first. It must not be stupidly wrong like a square earth, but wormholes can be accepted. The science should be levelled down and be in the background. Toni Jerrman, the editor of the Finnish sf-magazine Tähtivaeltaja, says he is easily fooled but the fans criticize. The author should concentrate on the story rather than getting it correct.

Reynolds finds it hard to keep up with the development in science, and cites Charles Stross who has said that it is impossible to write near-future sf. It is always wrong since the world is rapidly changing. The present is not a particularly difficult period; the period 1910-1920 saw enormous changes. Perhaps the rate of change is less if you go back 200 years. Now genetics is moving rapidly but cosmology has stalled with the big bang. However, keeping up in science is fun, it is not a chore.

Tommy likes Timescape by Greg Benford because it describes the life at the university. This is true also of Greg Egan’s books. He then asks for books with too much science and Reynolds comes up with Greg Egan who can have too much cosmology and Kim Stanley Robinson who has too much geology in the Mars book. Among older books he considers that Herbert’s Dune books have aged better since they are mainly about politics, whereas Hal Clement’s books have aged worse. Reynolds contacts biologists to get the biology correct, but he also admits that the whole point of sf is to be a bit naughty; it must not be too correct.

Jukka Halme, George R R Martin, Adam Roberts, Alastair Reynolds

Jukka Halme, George R R Martin, Adam Roberts, Alastair Reynolds

On writing. In the likewise enormous Merikaapelihalli the GoHs were interviewed on their writing by Jukka Halme. Alastair Reynolds started in his teens. He wanted to write stories after having seen To Russia with Love. He wrote about future history and aliens, and never stopped. In school he regretted that he had to choose between science and arts. He studied physics and math in order to study astronomy, and he thus could not take history or English. He has never studied writing but is now a member of a writer’s group. He also likes reading books on writing and has taught writing. He recommends Brian Stableford’s book on writing sf, and also likes Stephen King’s manual. Most important is to write all the time.

He has written 40-50 short stories and still writes them. A novel takes about six months to write and another six for corrections etc. After writing a novel he is exhausted.

Adam Roberts finds being at the con, with its lots of people, to be a life-changing experience. He has always written novels, which come in fragments first. It is necessary to finish even if it is rubbish. Short stories are more difficult to write since they require compression.

The idea behind his novel Swiftly is that it is set in a world where Brobdignag and its neighbours are true history. He calls it alternative and steam-punky. The idea is new; no one has used Swift’s world before.

His last novel is a thriller, “James Bond in his 70’s”. He prefers to write in a Starbuck Coffee Shop, and he doesn’t pay much attention to his surroundings when he is writing. He despises writers groups. Instead you should write as much as you can, you should finish, and “show, don’t tell”.

G R R Martin wrote about spaceships before school. He wanted to be an astronaut but was not physically fit so he wrote about it instead. He took journalism instead of creative writing, because he needed a day job. “This led to adjectivitis, so he joined Adjective Users Anonymous.” Martin started to write short stories, and wrote for tv. The pay was good and you are in a work situation which is good, since writing can be a lonely profession. The other side of it is that people tell you how and what to write. As a whole it was a good experience. He stopped mainly because what he wrote did not reach the audience since it wasn’t produced.

Martin lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but was born in New Jersey in a federal housing project. His father was a longshoreman who never purchased a car. He went to his first sf con in 1971 in Washington DC, after having sold his first sf story. There “he met his people”. He talks about travelling, and the other way to go places, reading books. His first sf book was Heinlein’s Have Space Suit – Will Travel, which is a book that many started with, e g Connie Willis and Melissa Snodgrass. He remembers that book but not the school pals which is more real? We are our memories.

Tarja Rainio, Marianna Leikomaa, George R R Martin, Päivi Väätänen, Tanja Sihvonen

Tarja Rainio, Marianna Leikomaa, George R R Martin, Päivi Väätänen, Tanja Sihvonen

Saturday started with a panel on The New Breed – Modern Vampire Mythos. George R R Martin started with a description of the Transsylvanian “old breed”, that he wrote about in his novel Fevre Dream. All cultures seem to have some tradition of vampires, illustrated by legends from Africa and China. The classical vampire of Bram Stoker is a soulless creature. The vampire of Fevre Dream is a monster, but Fredrik Pohl has used vampires against nazis and then they were good. The new breed is more like a rock-star and tends to be the hero. The moderator, Tanja Sihvonen, adds that they are a symbol of otherness and therefore popular.

In the tv series True Blood the vampires can survive on synthetic blood. Still, blood is a symbol for life and there is also the relation of blood to genetics and race. Marianna Leikomaa commented that the risk of AIDS today makes blood more connected to death than to life. In the film Lost Boys it is fun to be a vampire; you are young forever, party all night and sleep all day. In books humans often want to be vampires, perhaps because they are sexually appealing. Stoker’s vampire is Victorian. Women should not have or like sex. Vampires have an irresistible force. You are taken, body fluids are mixed, and you lose consciousness.

The vampires of today, for example in Stephenie Meyer’s books, live in trailers and drink beer and are not threatening. The vampires of Poppy Z Brite are sexy and great characters, and the vampires in the Saint-Germain series by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro are old, nice and considerate. They do not reproduce but give pleasure to the woman. There appears to be a class system among those monsters, with vampires being highest, werewolves coming next and at the lowest rank we have the zombies.

Maria Candia, Maria Turtschaninoff, Hannele Mikaela Taivassalo

Maria Candia, Maria Turtschaninoff, Hannele Mikaela Taivassalo

Finncons höjdpunkt var en svenskspråkig panel om Ny finlandssvensk fantasy. Maria Candia, som skriver sf på finska, samtalade med författarna Maria Turtschaninoff och Hannele Mikaela Taivassalo. Panelen inleddes med att Maria T läste ur sin bok Arra. Legender från Lavora som jag sedan köpte ute i den stora mässhallen. Enligt Hannele finns det ingen ny homogen finlandssvensk fantasy, i så fall möjligen bilderböcker. Hanneles bok Fem knivar hade Andrej Krapl ser hon knappast som en fantasybok själv. Temat är liksom för Finncon resan både i denna och i Arra. Båda böckerna är uppbyggda som klassisk vardag, och det handlar mycket om att finna sig själv. Hanneles bok startar i en lerig by där allt är brunt och vardagligt. Det är en drömmens verklighet men konkret utifrån en konkret geografi, dock utan namn. Miljön finns på Finlands karta, den bygger på riktiga ställen. Geografin i Marias bok finns däremot bara i hennes huvud, men den har en klart nordisk touch. Handlingen är förlagd till Lavoras forntid. Vi följer en vardaglig kamp, med kvinnohjältar som städar och väver. Det finns ändå magiska element. I fantasy måste man få in läsaren i en fiktionsvärld, och för detta krävs igenkänningselement. Det är då lättare att åstadkomma den nödvändiga “suspension of disbelief”. Hanneles bok är mer realistisk. Det är en konkret värld men ändå surrealistisk med drömlika personer.

På frågan om hur mycket av de själva som finns i personerna svarar Maria att hon finns i alla, t ex har hon vävt. Hannele förklarar att på en gång är huvudpersonen helt hon själv och samtidigt är allt fiktion. Hon stjäl från sig själv och sin omgivning. Det roliga med fiktion är att man får vara någon annan.

Som förebild anger Maria Irmelin Sandman Lilius, och hon känner sig språkligt påverkad av henne. Indirekt har då också Tove Jansson påverkat henne. Maria nämner också Maria Gripe och Astrid Lindgren, och att hon dessutom läst mycket utländsk fantasy. Hannele svarar ungefär detsamma men tillägger Kalevala och Eddan. Dessutom har hon förebilder i den surrealistiska traditionen i finländsk teater och bildkonst. Så har Svenska teatern gett Sagan om ringen, och radioteatern har haft en fantasyserie med en medeltida touch. Frågan om de skriver noveller besvaras med att ingen köper dem. Och slutligen konstateras att finlandssvensk fantasy knappast säljs i Sverige, vilket känns egendomligt och tragiskt. Sf-bokhandeln har inte dessa författare, men jag lyckades köpa Hanneles genom AdLibris.

Arra läste jag när jag kommit hem, och den levde synnerligen väl upp till mina förväntningar. De magiska elementen smygs på en så långsamt så att man inte blir förvånad när Arra flyger. Och huvudpersonen engagerar genom sitt utanförsskap och hennes sätt att bemästra detta.

Riktigt lika givande var inte den inte att lyssna på Vilgot Strömholms föredrag med titeln Ursäkta mig, finns det någon finlandssvensk fandom. Det finns tydligen en organisation kallad Föreningen för underliga intressen vid Åbo Akademi, papperstidningen och websidan Enhörningen, en finlandssvensk Tolkienförening, Lindon, och Helsingforsfandom har pubmöten varannan torsdag.

Maria Turtschaninoff, Linnéa Anglemark, Johan Jönsson

Maria Turtschaninoff, Linnéa Anglemark, Johan Jönsson

Panelen Läslampan leddes av Enhörningens redaktör Ben Roimola, och handlade om svensk fantastik. I panelen satt Maria Turtschaninoff, Johan Jönsson och Linnéa Anglemark. Johan presenterade sig som tidigare ledare för Cathaya och berättade att han har websidan Vetsaga. På Finncon skulle egentligen Irmelin Sandman Lilius varit hedersgäst men det krockade men en resa. Hon hoppas komma på en annan con. Hennes novellsamling Mänskors och fåglars vingar hade gjort stort intryck på Maria när hon läste den efter att ha lånat den på biblioteket. Det var en aha-upplevelse att man kan skriva vuxenlitteratur på ett fantastik-sätt, och hon lyfter fram känslan för det absurda och humorn. Marias språk har påverkats av Sandman Lilius; hon beskriver det som en osmos in i hennes eget. Hon läser en novell, och rekommenderar också Fru Sola-trilogin.

Johan Jönsson rekommenderar John Ajvide Lindqvists debutroman Låt den rätte komma in. Det är en väldigt svensk skräckroman. Tyvärr har hans böcker blivit gradvis sämre efter denna.

Linnéa lyfter fram Tove Jansson. Muminböckerna är bra medicin mot lätt depression. Det gäller speciellt de två sista som inte är barnböcker: Pappan och havet och Sent i november. De handlar om samma situation. I den förra reser Muminfamiljen ut till en liten ö, och i den senare berättas om hur de kvarvarande reagerar.

Ben visar upp P C Jersilds efterkatastrofenroman Efter floden.

Alastair Reynolds

Alastair Reynolds

When Alastair Reynolds Speaks and Reads, he talks about the relation between sf and science. He starts by describing his own sf. Revelation Space and its successors take place in the same universe. It is far future sf whith a house of suns. He is now a full time writer but was a scientist working on e g pulsars. Space opera is hard sf having fun. Old space opera took place in the solar system which was possible when we didn’t know so much as today. Thus, Weinbaum could write A Martian Odyssey and Clarke The Sands of Mars, but Dune was written after the Mariner expedition and it was then necessary to go out further. In the 70’s stories were written about space habitats which were even bigger in the 80’s, with Bruce Sterling’s Schismatrix and Joe Haldeman’s Worlds. In the 90’s we got the new Mars books, Paul McAuley’s Red Dust, Ian McDonald’s Desolation Road and Greg Bear’s Moving Mars. There were also stories located to outer planets and moons, like Ganymede in Greg Benford’s Against Infinity. In the recent The Quiet War Paul McAuley describes human life on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. These could have life in the salt water present.

Planets are now found everywhere by several methods, mainly by observing the wobbling of the star as the planet rotates around it. Thus Epsilon Eridani has a planet as Reynolds luckily assumed when he wrote The Prefect.

More speculative is the spin-off from string theory, the presence of brane-worlds, parallell to our own. Gravitons might slip between the brane-worlds allowing communications and disturbances. Why we are present in just this universe could be explained by The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (also a book by Barrow and Tipler), stating that the cosmological constants in this universe are suited for life.

Where do we go in the next 30-40 years? Probably we will go back to the mind-blowing technology of Apollo, and return to the moon. Perhaps we will be back there already in 2020.

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Marianna Leikomaa, Cheryl Morgan

The panel in the Hugo 2009 Discussion presented themselves. Cheryl Morgan is a member of the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee and has actually won a Hugo award, Tommy Persson votes for the Hugo, and Ben Roimola has read the nominees for ten years.

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Tommy Persson, Adam Roberts, Ben Roimola

Adam Roberts was also in the panel, and in the short story category he liked “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” since it was exciting and properly written. Also Cheryl Morgan preferred this but thought that Chiang’s “Exhalation” would win (which it did). No one in the panel voted for the excellent “Shoggoths in Bloom” among the novelettes. Instead they preferred Kessel’s pastiche “Pride and Prometheus or James Alan Gardner’s love story. The panel also missed the winner in the novella category, and instead voted for my favourite, “Truth” by Robert Reed or the unreadable and incomprehensible “True Names” which tries and, sadly, fails to describe different levels of reality in a computer. By showing pictures Cheryl Morgan demonstrated the superiority of the artist Shaun Tan over the other nominees. As best related book both Cheryl Morgan and Adam Roberts preferred Rhetorics of Fantasy by Farah Mendlesohn, but as Cheryl Morgan predicted John Scalzi won instead. Adam Roberts was seriously worried about the short-list for the novel category. They are all young adult books and very traditional. He hated Stephenson’s book but thought it was the best, since Stephenson actually did something new. Tommy liked Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, and Ben predicted, correctly, that it would win. Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother was criticized for infodumping and for being a political runt and ploddingly written. Scalzi’s book was considered to be an unsuccessful attempt to write from the viewpoint of a 14 year old girl.

Adam Roberts Speech was interesting and dealt with the nature of sf and what in sf that captured his heart. He disagreed with Farah Mendlesohn’s recent book Rhetorics of Fantasy, where sf and fantasy is divided into categories according to “type of story”. There is a similar problem with The Encyclopedia. In this way you miss what is marvelous in the story. Fans like similarities and by division into categories it is easier to find what you like. However, you have to ignore a lot to put Beowulf and Terminator 3 in the same category.

Sf is metaphorical literature. It does not reproduce our world but it is concerned with our world. Poetry works by a metaphorical process, and sf is a poetic process. Sf provides the transport or ecstasy that is Sense of Wonder, and does that better than any other literature. The breaking out of the grid is absolutely contrary to the possibility of categorizing. Thus he got a profound sense of transcendence from reading The Lord of the Rings when he was 8 or 9 years old, but copying these books misses this completely.

Adam Roberts mentions that Ballard (Crystal World) and P K Dick see the world in an alienated way. By resonance this is also true of Jack Vance. He himself tries to take sf and “fuck it up” in different ways, like estranging books by making parodies. The Office is a marvelous parody of reality tv, causing laughter. Laughter is hard to explain. It could be caused by fear, embarrassment or disrupting cultural hierarchies, and be an escape from the grid. Comic authors of sf are e g Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. The best humour touches on something profound. His own comic sf book is Yellow Blue Tibia. He names the three best writers of the 20th century: Bulgakov, Wodehouse and Samuel Beckett. Wodehouse has a flawless style that makes you laugh.

During the final discussion Roberts comments that writing is a more immersed form of reading, and it is no problem to be both an author and critic. The best sf critic today is Roger Luckhurst. Finally he derogates fandom by the expression “fans are slans” and explains the categorizing of literature with the pleasure people get from it.

The Sunday started with a discussion between Alastair Reynolds and Antti Oikarinen on the subject Journey into Space. The first step is to go up in orbit. Using a cannon would crush the travellers, and linear accelerators are expensive. Marshall T Savage has suggested seven steps to colonize Mars. He is considered crazy but had some good ideas. Arthur C Clarke suggested the space elevator in 1979. It would take several days to go out to space in the elevator. Another possibility is a high tower that can be inflated, but according to Reynolds this would not work. Another project, called Orion, uses atom bombs under a plate at the end of the star ship.

The second step is to go from orbit. Probably new techniques will come, e g based on antimatter or fusion. The third step is to go to other stars, and one possibility is to use generation ships but this would surely lead to sociological problems. Freezing could be a solution since this has been done with mice already. The blood has to be replaced very rapidly to assure medical stasis.

Cheryl Morgan, Marianna Leikomaa, Johan Anglemark, Jukka Halme

Cheryl Morgan, Marianna Leikomaa, Johan Anglemark, Jukka Halme

In the Book Talk Cheryl Morgan, Marianna Leikomaa and Johan Anglemark discussed under the chairmanship of Jukka Halme, who first asked for the last really good book that they had read. Morgan picked Palimpsest by Catherynne Valente, which is a book where you go into a fantasy world. Marianna mentioned George R R Martin, and Johan the secondary fantasy world of Jasper Fforde. Jukka had found Thunderer by Felis Gilman. This is new weirdish fantasy, reading as easily understandable China Miéville. The mention of Miéville triggered the suggestion of his The City and the City and Un Lun Dun, but the latter was considered to be minor Miéville by Johan and Jukka, who instead mentioned José Saramago.

When asked for good entertainment, Marianna picked Justina Robson’s Quantum Gravity series, and Morgan suggested Adam Roberts latest, Yellow Blue Tibia, where Stalin demands an sf story of alien invasion, which then really happens. She also likes Liz Williams’ Inspector Chen series. Johan was entertained by Ellen Kushner’s The Privilege of the Sword, but says that you should begin with Sword’s Point. Jukka suggests the sword and sorcery of Jeff VanderMeer, and David Gemmel who has written a reenactment of Troy.

As the best science fiction book, Cheryl Morgan chose Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin or Axis, I am not sure which she meant. Marianna’s choice was Ian McDonald’s Brazil or River of Gods, and Morgan added his Desolation Road to this list. Johan picked The Jiddish Policeman’s Union stating that it technically is sf, and Jukka also took an alternate history but instead the steampunkish Mainspring by Jay Lake, and the author Adam-Troy Castro. Other authors and books that were mentioned were Paul McAuley, Kari Sperring (Living with Ghosts, often at Eastercons), Seamus Heaney (Beowulf), M John Harrison (Nova Swing), John Meaney, Tim Powers, Zoran Živković, Daniel Abraham and Graham Joyce (The Facts of Life).

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Irma Hirsjärvi, Parris McBride, Cheryl Morgan

In the last panel I listened to three female fans talked about fandom. This panel was not announced before and I have no title. Irma Hirsjärvi from Finland has written a Ph D thesis about Finnish fandom, Faniuden Siirtymiä. Suomalaisten science fiction fanien verkostot (Mediations of fandom. Networks of the Finnish science fiction fandom, 2009). She interviewed lots of sf fans. The first signs of a fandom were seen in the 50:s, the first sf society was founded in Turku in 1976, the first Finncon took place in 1986, was supported by the Ministry of foreign affairs since 1995 and was combined with the Animecon since 1999. She met sf by reading Burroughs, and she read in solitude.

Parris McBride, George R R Martin’s partner, started by pointing to the greatest thing that happened to fandom, the appearance of girls in the 70:s. Cheryl Morgan went to role-playing cons in 1976, and was encouraged by Martin Hoare to go to an Eastercon. She then went to Australia and now lives in San Francisco. McBride says “we won” – the biggest tv series and films are sf, and in the states twice as many sf books are sold as mystery books. She found fandom when she lived as a hippie and sf reader in the 60:s. She contacted fans in the area, but did not meet them, and went to her first con in 1974. Then she “had found her home, came home to her tribe”. Morgan agreed that everybody is an sf reader today. Some want to put up the walls of the ghetto again.

Irma Hirsjärvi started to talk about the political aspects of sf fandom, and McBride commented that there is a broad spectrum of political views, but when fans or authors meet they distinctively avoid political discussions since this rapidly leads to feuds. Morgan agreed that fans may be inherently right- or leftwing.

McBride calls American fandom the grandfather of fandom. It gave women freedom to be sf writers. Gay, lesbian and bi are respected in fandom. In a sexist group started in 1989 no broads were allowed. This started a fight because it was against the idea of fandom. However, Morgan had to propose via her boyfriend since then men listens.

Fandom is non-profit, but media fandom may be profit-driven. Members of worldcon committees pay for their memberships, and any profit is transferred to the next worldcon. Finncon is funded by cultural foundations. Cons in the US or the UK are not funded. In the US there is less taxes and no funding of any culture, whereas in the UK taxes are used to support “high” culture like opera, classical music but not sf or pop concerts.

In the fan room: Ahrvid Engholm, ?, Kenneth Lindholm, Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf, Jesper Svedberg

In the fan room: Ahrvid Engholm, ?, Kenneth Lindholm, Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf, Jesper Svedberg

That was the last I saw of the spectacular event called Finncon/Animecon 2009. Together with Carolina I walked to the central station and took the bus to the airport. 

AplaCon i Bredaryd

Karl-Johan och Therese

Karl-Johan och Therese

Efter Eurocon i Fiuggi hade jag tänkt besöka både Alcocon 3 och Åcon 2, men det kom för mycket i vägen. Nästa kongress blev därför AplaCon, eller Aplakonen, som på badgarna definierades som den första småländska sf-kongressen, 12-14 juni 2009. Det har diskuterats om detta verkligen var en kongress men jag kan inte se något skäl till att inte kalla den det även om antalet deltagare inte var så gigantiskt (14). Det är faktiskt möjligt att räkna upp deltagarna: Glenn och Ylva Petersen, Britt-Louise Viklund, Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf, Lars-Olof Strandberg, Tommy Persson, Michael Pargman, Magnus Wahlström, Henrick Pålsson och Mårten Svantesson, plus förstås jag och hustru Margareta samt organisatörerna Karl-Johan och Therese Norén. Programmet hade säkert vunnit på om också Ylva Spångberg hade kunnat delta, men hon blev förhindrad av familjeskäl. Som på många andra kongresser var det omöjligt att få veta när den skulle börja så jag och Margareta kom inramlande i invigningen som samtidigt fungerade som middag. På programmet som jag med tiden fick tag i stod att jag skulle leda den första programpunkten, vilket också hade varit bra att veta. Nu kördes i stället frågesport av Jeopardy-typ och hedersgästen Glenn Petersen läste sina dikter ur tidiga fanzines.

På lördag förmiddag fanns möjlighet att delta i en guidad tur i hembygdspark och industrimuseum, men jag och Margareta fortsatte i stället vår bilfärd söderut till den fanniska centralorten Viken, dit vi nådde strax efter 10 för att mötas av en mycket yrvaken John-Henri. Lustigt förresten att just adressen Lingonvägen 10 är så populär bland fansen. Yrvakenheten förklarades av att dottern Laura vunnit i en idrottstävling dagen innan, vilket firats rejält. Alltnog, efter lite skitsnack och kaffe åkte jag med herr chefredaktören till självaste redaktionen för att låna SF Forum 1-54, elegant inbundna av Mats Linder. Och det är klart att man ska ha sina F&SF i ett kassavalv!

Tjugo mil senare var vi tillbaka på Bredaryds Wärdshus och intog lunch för att sedan lyssna på en av Therese ledd diskussion kring Doctor Who, en serie jag tycker är ovanligt underhållande för att vara sf-tv-serie men ändå inte speciellt intressant. Därpå ledde jag själv en diskussion kring noveller och genom att många av fansen var mycket debattlystna blev det hyfsat innehållsrikt.

Britt-Louise intervjuar Glenn

Britt-Louise intervjuar Glenn

Från Britt-Louises intervju av Glenn har jag antecknat att han som så många andra fastnade för sf genom Egen rymddräkt finnes och Vintergatans son. Sf öppnade upp nya perspektiv och var nytt och hisnande. Heinleins ungdomsböcker tilltalar grabbar, med förortskillen som kommer ut på spännande äventyr. När han läst Rymdhunden frågade han bibliotekarien på Värnamo bibliotek om det fanns fler sådana böcker. Han träffade Maths Claesson på biblioteket och Värnamofandom uppstod. Han gick vidare till att läsa på engelska, och läste också fantasy men även om det var spännande och trevligt öppnades inga nya dörrar.

Som 20-åring åkte han till sin lättnad till Göteborg 1980. Där startade han och Johan Frick SF-bokhandeln. Innan dess hade han ägt en New Age-bokhandel som gick omkull. Han tycker att det är roligt att rekommendera rätt bok till rätt person.

Fandom kom han i kontakt med genom Erik Anderssons fanspalt i JVM. Han skickade efter fanzines, och åkte på sin första con Seacon 1979 i Brighton. Club Cosmos i Göteborg ser han som mer seriös, och själv är han framför allt fanzine-fan. Han läser 99% sf och fantasy.

Glenn är utbildad till psykolog och har jobbat sex år som klinisk psykolog. Det slutade när han blev oense med läkaren. Nu jobbar han, förutom med sf-bokhandeln, också på nystartade förlaget Stjärnfall, där han ger ut chick-lit-böcker.

Ylva, Carolina, Tommy

Ylva, Carolina, Tommy

Härefter följde en utmärkt middag med fyra sorters öl, följt av whiskyprovning med fyra sorter. Den första exklusiva maltwhiskyn kallade vi Bell’s, medan vi klarade av att konstatera rökighet hos en annan, betydligt billigare. Så nu behöver man inte köpa de dyraste sorterna längre.

Söndagens programpunkt var den klassiska ”Lars-Olov visar bilder”, även om det denna gång var via en dator. Den sista programpunkten, om svenska hotellkongresser, som övergick i död hund, missade vi eftersom vi ville anträda återfärden hyggligt tidigt. Kongressen hade varit trevlig med en hel del intressanta diskussioner, men det hade inte skadat med mer program och bättre information.

Eurocon 2009 i Fiuggi, Italien

Tomas i Paestum

Tomas i Paestum

Eftersom vi nu är många inom svensk fandom som tycker att det är dags för en svensk Eurocon så var det självklart att jag åkte till Fiuggi där omröstningen om Eurocon 2011 skulle ske. Dessutom längtar man ju till Italien, inte minst i mars när man vill ha lite värme. Det var förstås inte det man fick; vi t o m bilade i snö, och det blåste och var rejält kallt ibland. Jag och Margareta bilade i alla fall runt i syditalien under en vecka, och såg bl a Ostia Antica, Pompeji och Paestum, något jag verkligen sett fram emot.

Kongressen

Sten och Dessi vid middag

Sten och Dessi vid middag

Vi bodde på kongresshotellet där allting försiggick. Där åt vi frukost, lunch och middag tillsammans med alla andra kongress-deltagare, och hade mycket trevligt. Måltiderna tog upp en stor del av kongresstiden.

 

 

Kongressen inleddes med en måttligt intressant programpunkt, The American writer’s strike repercussion on USA television Sci-Fi med tre personer som på olika sätt arbetar med Star Trek, Lolita Fatjo och Larry och Janet Nemecek. Vi fick se mängder av bilder av författare och skådespelare från Star Trek när dessa demonstrerade våren 2008 under strejken. Vi fick veta att strejken gav ungefär hälften av vad de ville. En effekt var en ökning av reality tv, vilket kan sänka ackordet för de ordinarie skådespelarna. Strejken ledde också till att den nya Star Trek-filmen blev försenad. 

Thomas Mielke med fru vid middag

Thomas Mielke med fru vid middag

Den tyske författaren Thomas Mielke talade om The Legend of Varus: ”Arminus (Hermann the German) meets Orlando furioso, men först berättade han att han gick på sin första sf-kongress 1957. Han har skrivit en hel del sf men konstaterat att han inte kan leva på det även om han fått priser som t ex Robert Sheckley Award på 20 000 euro. Han skriver i stället historiska romaner, gärna med gamla hjältar som Gilgamesh och Attila. Han har nu översatt eller snarare skrivit om Ludovico Ariostos Orlando furioso vilket kräver att man är väl insatt i den aktuella historien och förstår skämten. Berättelsen är en samling medeltida äventyrshistorier utan moral. Hur ska man förklara medeltida hedersbegrepp?

Boken Die Varus-Legende handlar om slaget i Teutoburgerskogen, som år 9 avbröt romarnas frammarsch norrut. På den ”tyska” sidan stod Arminius (Hermann) med sin gerilla, och romarna leddes av Varus som varit kansler hos Herodes och tidigare stoppat ett uppror i Judéen. Slaget har senast utnyttjats för propagandasyften av Hitler, men redan Luther använde Arminius i sin propaganda mot påven i Rom och gav honom namnet Hermann. Enligt Mielke har Angela Merkel planer på att fira 2000-årsminnet av slaget vid ett monument i Teutoburgerskogen men han anser att det är alltför förknippat med Hitler.

Thomas Mielke var en trevlig person som vi träffade en hel del under kongressen. Med i bagaget hem följde också hans tyskspråkiga 500 sidor tjocka Orlando furioso men den har vi än så länge inte läst.

Ian Watson

Ian Watson

Ian Watson hör till mina favoritförfattare och självklart lyssnade jag därför på hans Artificial Intelligence and Story Telling, även om jag hört honom berätta en del om detta tidigare. Han inledde med en exposé över AI i litteratur och film, och drog en parallell till Fermis paradox: Var finns de artificiella intelligenserna? Watson hade talat med den svenskfödde filosofen Nick Boström om huruvida AI har medvetande och uppfattar sig själva. Kanske språk krävs för att man ska få en uppfattning om kontinuitet och därmed medvetande, och då blir historieberättandet fundamentalt. Medvetande krävs dock inte för utveckling – när mänskligheten gick från jaga/samla-kultur till agrikultur var det knappast ett medvetet val utan det var snarare en idé, en ”meme” som lyckades överleva. Om medvetande bara är en vanföreställning – varför skulle det då uppstå i en maskin? Det kan ju också, som Boström spekulerar om, vara så att vi faktiskt redan ”lever” i en datorsimulering.

Watson är skeptisk till förekomst av extraterrestriellt liv – vårt solsystem är tämligen unikt med t ex den stora månen. Det innebär att det knappast finns något som försöker förgöra oss, och vi kan nog klara av att styra bort kometer som hotar!

Bridget Wilkinson, Ian Watson, Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf

Bridget Wilkinson, Ian Watson, Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf

Efter en rejäl middag vidtog Eatcon, en buffet med delikatesser från olika ställen i Italien och oss ”foreign guests”. Vi passade på och bjöd på diverse svenskt bröd, kaviar, ost och lingondricka. Vin fanns i stora mängder i alla fall.

 

 

 

På fredagmorgonen stod Dave Lally för programpunkten UK TV SCI-FI: The current Sci-Fi situation in UK television, men särskilt ”current” var det ju inte att visa delar av TV-shower från 50- och 60-talet, som Quatermass, Skydiver, The Avengers, Danger Man och The Prisoner. Programpunkten fortsatte på lördagmorgonen med Patrick McGoohan Tribute där vi fick se det inledande avsnittet av The Prisoner samt bekanta oss med inspelningsplatsen och förlagan, den avskilda och märkligt konstlade semesterorten Portmeirion i Wales. McGoohan spelade i Danger Man samtidigt som The Saint spelades in, men han vägrade vapen och kärleksrelationer och nobbade därför att spela James Bond.

Geoffrey Landis är inte bara sf-författare utan också forskare som studerar Mars, och det var det han berättade om (för ca 15 personer) i Mars exploration and the Mars exploration Rover mission. Mariner 4 visade inte (1965) några tecken på vatten på Mars, men Viking-sonden 1976 gav bilder som tydde på att det tidigare kunde ha funnits vatten. Landningsplatsen för Rover bestämdes till vad som kunde vara en gammal flodbädd. Det fanns höga halter av svavelsyra, och pH i tidigare oceaner borde legat på 1-2, men de kan ha varit neutrala tidigare. Kiseldioxid tydde på att det tidigare kan ha funnits varmt vatten. Ett tekniskt problem är att solpanelerna dammar igen, mest beroende på små sandstormar, ”dust devils”. Den kommande Mars-sonden kommer därför att vara isotopdriven i stället för att ha solceller. Den kommer också att ha laser för att kunna förånga sten så att dessa kan undersökas spektrometriskt.

Ännu färre, kanske tio, lyssnade på en bisarr ryss som pratade om andligt inflytande på sf, samtidigt som ett bildspel med helgonbilder rullade på duken. Tyvärr vet jag inte vad han eller programpunkten hette eftersom det kommit in genom en programändring. Ikoner har så stark utstrålning att de måste täckas med silver, sol och måne påverkar olika kulturer, UV-strålar joniserar luften och hjärtat har en egen frekvens (inte pulsen!) som är individuell. Han beklagade att han inte hade mer tid att förklara detta och reinkarnation…

Eftermiddagen fylldes av programpunkter på italienska men till slut kom Eurocon 2010 presentation. Den äger rum 26-29 augusti i Cieszyn på gränsen mellan Polen och Tjeckien och nära Slovakien, därför också kallad Tricon. Staden och lokalen, universitetet, visades upp i PowerPoint, och det verkade som om man hade storslagna planer med minst 1000 deltagare. Det finns ca 2000 sängar tillgängliga. Orten fyller 1200 år samma år, och det kommer att firas. Det kommer alltid att finnas program på engelska (vilket inte var fallet i Italien…). Programmet kommer att innehålla litterära, akademiska, rollspels-, Tolkien-, Star Wars-punkter och filmer, konserter, utställningar mm.

Bruce Sterling

Bruce Sterling

Meeting with Bruce Sterling innebar att denne amerikan som nu är bosatt i Turin berättade om utmaningar och möjligheter för sf. Amerikaner och britter är sf:s romare och greker. Amerikansk sf hade en nedgångsperiod under Bushadministrationen, liksom all annan kultur. Det är kris i publiceringsindustrin genom de elektroniska texterna, men fiktion behövs för att ställa moraliska frågor och ge moraliska svar. Den paranormala romansen Twilight representerar USA av idag, med den döda pojkvännen och nedbrunnen kyrka. Han kan inte bry sig om marknaden. Drivkraften är i stället sf:s möjlighet att ge ”cognitive estrangement” som kan förändra läsarens tankesätt. Det sker i subliminala budskap som hos Lovecraft, men det saknas hos E R Burroughs.

Sterling bor som sagt i Turin. ”Nietsche blev galen där men är man redan galen kanske det botar.” Han skriver italiensk sf genom att använda namnet Bruno Argento; det förändrade hans sätt att skriva. Han har lärt sig av Italo Calvino, vars bästa bok är den kompakta Invisible Cities.

I Meeting with Ian Watson and Roberto Quaglia berättade dessa om den gemensamma novellsamlingen The Beloved of My Beloved som på utsidan försetts med den säljande varningen ”Contains material which some may find offensive”, och de hade så roligt själva när de berättade om boken så jag var tvungen att införskaffa den. Till beslutet bidrog naturligtvis inte det medföljande kortet med naken blondin. Läst boken har jag dock ännu inte.

Geoffrey Landis, Mary Turzillo

Geoffrey Landis, Mary Turzillo

På söndagen lyssnade vi bara på en programpunkt, Meeting with Geoffrey Landis and Mary Turzillo. Eftersom det bara var jag och Margareta samt en italienare som lyssnade så fick vi vara ovanligt aktiva med frågor. Detta författarpar har varit på en Clarion workshop, och de diskuterar sina berättelser med varandra och i skrivar-workshop. Deras uppfattning var att sf ska handla om hur vetenskap och teknik påverkar människors liv.

ESFS: Bridget Wilkinson, Piotr Cholewa, Roberto Quaglio, David Lally

ESFS: Bridget Wilkinson, Piotr Cholewa, Roberto Quaglio, David Lally

Ett sidoprogram som pågick då och då under kongressdagarna var ESFSs allmänna möte, och det framkom där att Spanien hade visat intresse för Eurocon 2012 samt att 2014 kan bli året för nästa europeiska Worldcon, då i London. Röstningen om Eurocon 2011 hölls på lördagen kl 12.00, och ledde som bekant till att Sverige fick sin första Eurocon. Att Nova SF vann omröstningen om bästa magasin är ju också historia, men BEM passar på att gratulera! Synnerligen välförtjänt!

Totalt sett var den italienska Eurocon en intressant upplevelse. Uppenbarligen har man uppfattningen att alla kan italienska – beskrivningen i programboken av gäster, kartan över kongresshotellet och de flesta programpunkter var på italienska. När dessutom något program var på engelska satt de italienska kongressdeltagarna och pratade med varandra, eller kom helt enkelt inte. Många programpunkter hade pinsamt få lyssnare, och alltför många var ointressanta för mig – jag har inget intresse av att lyssna på Star Trek-skådespelare. Rent kulinariskt var kongressen dock utmärkt, med mycket stora och varierade luncher och middagar. Och genom att vi var relativt få som inte var italienare fick man möjlighet att umgås med dem, så jag samtalade en hel del med både Thomas Mielke och Ian Watson.

IMG_0234bVi svenskar utnyttjade förstås också kongressen till att göra reklam för Eurocon 2011 och Stockholm, och förutom vid ”Eatcon” så bjöd vi på lingondricka, snacks och godis på lördagskvällen när vi vunnit omröstningen. Fem medlemmar fick vi på så sätt i alla fall, och fler verkade intresserade. 


Swecon i Stockholm 15-17 juni

Västerås 17-18 november