Posts Tagged 'sf-kongress'



Science fiction-dag på Tekniska museet

Stockholm, 10 december 2011

Traditionellt brukar SFSF ordna ett julmöte som samlar ett halvdussin Stockholmsfans, bestående mest av styrelsen. Lokalen har varit Forodrims källarlokal på Kungsholmen eller helt enkelt Carolinas vardagsrum. Denna gång samarbetade man med Tekniska museet som upplät en stor lokal, Stallet, som dessutom innehöll ett mindre kafé. Ungefär ett femtiotal personer dök upp, men av dessa var många barn som var mest intresserade av ballongtillverkning i Maria Ballongprinsessan Byquists regi. Barnen var naturligtvis inte helt tysta men genom att det fanns en utmärkt ljudanläggning gick det bra att ha föredrag parallellt med detta.

Musiken i sf

Jörgen Städje

Dagen inleddes med att Jörgen Städje presenterade ”sf-musik”, dvs filmmusik från t ex Forbidden Planet, Star Trek Voyager, Close Encounters of the Third Kind och 2001 (An der schönen blauen Donau) och elektronisk musik av bl a Ralph Lundsten.

John Wyndham och det brittiska imperiets undergång

Jerry Määttä höll ett föredrag om sin forskning kring John Wyndham, som han bedrivit på SF Foundation i Liverpool under ett halvår. Där finns det mycket omfattande John Wyndham Archives, som han fick tillgång till.

John Wyndham kallades John Harris till vardags och han slog igenom brett, troligen genom sin jordnära stil och goda personteckningar. Den engelska nya vågen hade egentligen Wyndham att tacka för mycket men Aldiss och Ballard kritiserade honom för hans ”cozy catastrophes”, en beteckning som är klart missvisande enligt Jerry. Wyndham säljer fortfarande bra och Jerry hittade hans böcker i de bokhandlar han besökte. Trots hans popularitet finns det inte mycket forskning kring Wyndham, men David Ketterer har skrivit en biografi, Trouble with Triffids. Eftersom Wyndham brände alla privata brev har Ketterer fått pussla ihop hans liv med ledning av broderns anteckningar och änkans dagböcker.

Jerry Määttä

Varför fick då Wyndham sådant genomslag? Jerry förklarar det med att han slog an en nerv med sina symboliska gestaltningar av kriser efter världskrigen, som innebar att det brittiska imperiet föll samman. Hans mest populära bok är nog The Day of the Triffids. Som Triffidernas uppror var det den första boken som marknadsfördes som science fiction i Sverige. Till denna återkom Jerry på slutet.

I The Kraken Wakes (1953), Vidundret vaknar på svenska, smälter isarna och London översvämmas, vilket känns påtagligt aktuellt. Vidundret hindrade också sjöfarten liksom att tyskarna hindrade den under kriget, ”Britain rule the waves” gällde inte längre. England blev sönderbombat med ransonering och andra umbäranden, ”won the war but lost the peace”. The Chrysalids (1955), på svenska Den stora hemsökelsen är en efterkatastrofenroman om tillståndet efter ett kärnvapenkrig. En perverterad kristendom förföljer de nya som är telepater, vilket enligt Jerry ska tolkas som att traditionalister hindrar utvecklingen i England.

The Midwich Cuckoos anser han vara Wyndhams bästa bok, som förvånansvärt nog inte översatts till svenska. I den är barnen inte bara telepater utan dessutom helt lika varandra. I den senaste engelska utgåvan har Adam Roberts ett förord där han förklarar att barnen ska symbolisera judiska barn. Det anser Jerry vara osannolikt med tanke på att de är gyllenblonda, och snarare är nazityska. Hur som helst beter sig barnen inte som de vuxna, och de ger en bild av det uppväxande släktet och dess ungdomskultur i England på 50-talet. Fientligheten mot barn- och ungdomskultur finns enligt Jerry fortfarande i Storbritannien, t ex med speciell lagstiftning, och detta har kritiserats av UNICEF.

The Day of the Triffids har filmatiserats åtminstone tre gånger. Katastrofen kan ses som en skildring av Blitzen, och skildringen visar olika sätt att klara sig. Ska samhället utvecklas åt vänster eller höger? Triffiderna har av David Ketterer föreslagits symbolisera nazityskar som invaderar, men Jerry menar att det snarare handlar om att de av Storbritannien koloniserade och förtryckta folken slår tillbaka genom en invasion. Triffidernas sätt att kommunicera genom att slå på sina stammar liknar djungeltrummor, och slagen med giftiga grenar kan symbolisera piskor som ofta fått symbolisera kolonialt förtryck. Wyndham beundrade Wells och The Day of the Triffids kan vara inspirerad av The War of the Worlds. I den är då marsianerna egentligen britterna, som invaderar kolonierna.

Martin Rundkvist

Epokernas kamp

Martin Rundkvists föredrag om epokernas kamp, dvs hur man kan tolka blandade fynd inom arkeologin, har jag avnjutit tidigare (se BEM 4 sid 27) men den smygande övergången från vetenskap till fantastik var lika underhållande denna gång. Tyvärr medgav inte tiden att han fick dra den slutliga poängen men helt nödvändig var den faktiskt inte.

Från spel till roman

Under titeln ”Från spel till roman” samtalade Erik Granström och Anders Blixt om sina fantasyromaner. På 70-talet spelade de Dungeons and Dragons och konstruerade spel utifrån dessa erfarenheter. Anders karakteriserade fantasyspel med orden ”muskler, magi, monster och mångfald men stillastående”, och som samhällsvetare tyckte han att just det stillastående var onaturligt. I hans bok Spiran och staven sker en utveckling, och tiden är upplysningstid med ”industrimagi”, dvs ganska sf-artat. Eriks värld Trakorien är snarare renässans, och han intresserar sig för ekonomi och makt. Att han är veterinär märks på de namn han sätter på platser i världen. Det har behövts många nya namn till det nya rollspel Svavelvinter som baseras på boken Svavelvinter som i sin tur baserades på rollspelet Svavelvinter, ungefär som skett med en del bokbaserade filmer. Trakorien bygger på renässansens Italien, Sumer och Akkad, republiken Rom och vår samtid.

Erik Granström och Anders Blixt

En skillnad mellan roman och rollspel är att i rollspel finns inga egentliga personligheter, medan i romanen är psykologin och utveckling av personerna viktig. En likhet är ändå att i båda tänker författaren på alternativa skeenden, ungefär som i ett schackspel. För Anders är det viktigt att ha slutet klart för sig, annars kommer han ingen vart. Det är farligt med alltför mycket bihistorier, och avskräckande exempel är då George R R Martin och Robert Jordan som båda excellerar i bihistorier så att det blir oklart vart berättelsen egentligen är på väg.

Roos

Genesis/Nemesis – a game of world creation

Under ledning av Roos fick några fans testa rollspelet Genesis/Nemesis. Vi skulle bilda några förföljda grupper med hotad kultur som flyr till en fjärran planet 2080, och det blev samer, socialdemokrater och sf-fans. Handlingen styrdes av en Tarot-kortlek och Roos och deltagarnas tolkningar av dessa, och det hela gav en liten inblick i hur det kan fungera, speciellt för oss som aldrig tidigare spelat denna typ av rollspel.

Vad händer nu inom sf och fantasy

Sista programpunkten skulle vara en presentation av vad som händer inom sf och fantasy, och jag, Carolina och Gabi Rehbinder hade förberett oss för detta. Eftersom det inte var så vansinnigt många som skulle lyssna omformade vi detta till en gruppdiskussion, och vi hade då stor glädje av den stora mängd böcker som Gabi tagit med och som hon bredde ut på golvet mellan oss. Det stod helt klart att det finns en mångfald olika utvecklingslinjer inom både sf och fantasy, och att det dessutom görs många korsbefruktningar mellan olika genrer och delar av dessa.

November: SF- och fantasydag

Uppsala, 5 november 2011

Uppsalafansen med Johan Jönsson som huvudarrangör ordnade en endagskongress i centrala Uppsala som blev välbesökt och mycket lyckad. Lokalen, kulturhuset Grand, fungerade utmärkt genom att en våning användes för fika och försäljning mm och en våning användes för föredrag och paneldiskussioner. Jag har rapporterat från kongressen i SFSFs fanzine SF-Forum nr 118, men vill tillägga att Anna Davour hade ordnat en intressant utställning av sf-böcker för att illustrera sf:s utveckling. Vid varje bok fanns en kort beskrivning av innehållet och relevansen för utvecklingen. Utställningen skymtar på bilden nedan, och vilka böcker som var med i utställningen kan man hitta här.

SF- och fantasydag i Uppsala. Bokutställning i bakgrunden.

Finncon/Animecon 2011

Åbo/Turku, July 15-17, 2011

SF-ish art in the river Aurajoki

This Finncon was the last time it was combined with Animecon, which I regret. It is great fun to watch all the cos-players and other dressed-up or disguised young people.

Richard Morgan and Nalo Hopkinson: On writing

Richard Morgan and Nalo Hopkinson

RM started to write noir cyberpunk and now introduces noir into fantasy. When asked why he writes he answers “what are trees for?”. He has always wanted to be a writer, he wanted the job, and just started doing it. It defines him. SF was his first love in literature. It is hard to find the same spark elsewhere.

Tommy Persson

NH writes SF since it is what she has always read. Her father was an author and her mother a librarian. When asked about influences she mentions Samuel Delany and Ursula LeGuin. As a child she read a childrens’s fantasy where the white children choose a castle and the black boy choose a melon. She read “Welcome to the Monkey House” in a Playboy under her father’s bed.

RM mentions Asimov and Poul Anderson as first influences. He liked Anderson’s writing for the human side, the characters, and the cynical and gloomy style which he had not found before. He also mentioned Michael Moorcock and Bob Shaw, and Gibson who he considered to be influenced by Pynchon.

RM writes whenever he can, mainly in the afternoons, and has no favourite spot. Pullman has to write 1500 words a day and is then released. RM recommends that you ignore the market and just write what you want to write. He has not studied or taught creative writing. NH has both studied and taught at Clarion, but this was after she had been published. She was surrounded by books and wrote by example. The workshop at Clarion gets her to think about her own writing.

At present RM is writing on a Sword & Sorcery trilogy and NH a young adult novel with a focus on the body and sexuality. RM comments that the drive for humans is sex and violence.

Richard Morgan: Black Widow

Comic books are dying and replaced by graphic novels. The superhero stuff is left for those who cannot stand that genre literature (sf, crime etc.) gets increasingly good. It is where those hide who cannot cope with complexity. This is a general cultural malaise; there is less challenge. More people want reading that is not challenging.

A teacher who wanted to use Altered Carbon in his teaching said: “You have no right not to be offended”, which is an unusual, and appreciated, American reaction.

The superheroes from the 1930s always have -man in their names. Can we not go somewhere else? American popular culture is extremely macho, as seen by Susan Faludi in Backlash. In Japan this is not the case, there is much more diversification.

Richard Morgan’s Guest of Honour Speech

Richard Morgan

Altered Carbon took 2.5 year to write and it was unpublished for 14 years. It was sent to several publishers and was refused and rejected. Finally it was accepted by Gollancz. He has written comics in other peoples worlds but not fiction, since he doesn’t want to lose control. Market Forces started as a short story that he sent to Interzone, where they disliked the characters. It rests on a ludicrous concept; it was expanded to a novel and it has always been meant to be dark with an unhappy ending.

Writing is a lonely job. Your companion is the squirrel on the ledge. In contrast, videogame writing is very social.

Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword is the quintessential Sword & Sorcery, and he also likes Moorcock’s Elric stories. RM rites the fantasy novel that he wants to read. It takes him about a year to write a book. He usually doesn’t know where the story will end. He wants the story to feel true when he writes.

The best hard sf author today is Peter Watts according to RM. SF now appears also in mainstream books, as exemplified by Never Let Me Go, and there is also vampire chic-lit. SF has become furniture in the mainstream arena. It is the same with films, and mainstream thrillers contain sf tropes. The barrier between genres will break down.

RM considers the combined Finncon/Animecon to be a good thing that might get anime people to drift into sf as they grow older. He sees no borders between sf and fantasy and thinks it is important with broadening.

Nalo Hopkinson and Richard Morgan: Cultural Appropriation.

This was an interesting discussion on the author’s obligation when using other people’s culture in fiction. As NH says, “They have given to you, what can you give to them?”. RM says that if you borrow you are a guest, and decorum behoves you. You should try to get it right and convey something true.

Something that is just interesting for you can be a matter of life and death for others. There is a risk that you see objects of curiosity instead of human people, e g when you write about male sex workers. Still, if you write about anything important you will offend somebody. The most offended by RM’s Black Man were white Americans. You are not allowed to have black people who are violent and pissed-off. “Non-political”” fiction doesn’t exist, it just means that it fits your own political ideas. Still, some things are true of all cultures: crime, love of children, and suppression of women.

Read texts from that culture and talk to people, try to blend into the culture and not be a tourist. Look at websites and message boards where the people hang out. RM told about an experience in Harlem. There was a very small number of white faces, and everybody looks at you. You get twitchy and uncomfortable. This “research” was important for writing Black Man, since this feeling must be the same if you are a black man in a white city.

RM recommends Small Island by Andrea Levy. When he was young he read Biggles which was very racist. But his neighbour was black which he didn’t think of. NH thinks that sf readers are supportive of writing in unknown areas.

RM said that the film Avatar actually was about native Americans, in a bad way. It is a movie for white men.

NH’s father had converted to Islam whereas her mother was a Catholic. RM considers that the future of Islam is in the US. It is essential not to demonise or marginalise. The women may be the solution.

Morgondagen i dagens och gårdagens science fiction. Strålande framtid eller bara misär?

Kenneth Lindholm, Sofia Sjö, Elisabeth Kronqvist, Ben Roimola

Den enda svenskspråkiga programpunkt jag lyssnade på var en inte helt lyckad panel som hade sitt ursprung i en antologi med positiva framtidsbilder i sf: Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic SF (Red: Jetse de Vries). Ben Roimola modererade. Enligt Kenneth Lindholm är det roligare att läsa om en negativ framtid, t ex där jorden går under. Sofia Sjö menade att sf speglar dagens pessimism. Man jobbar igenom traumana utan att ha någon lösning. Elisabeth Kronqvist tyckte att tv-serier som Star Trek och Stargate ofta är positiva.

Margareta Cronholm, Kenneth Lindholm, his son, Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf

Några exempel på positiva framtidssyner var: Robert Charles Wilsons Spin och Julian Comstock, som skildrar ett lyckligare 1800-tal, Geoff Ryman’s Air, Lois McMaster Bujolds berättelser, Banks Cultureböcker och Kim Stanley Robinsons skildringar av hur vetenskapen räddar världen.

Tyvärr låg övriga svenskspråkiga programpunkter parallellt med de engelskspråkiga, utom det överraskningsprogram på söndagmorgonen som visade sig överraska genom att utebli.

The Masquerade


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Closing session with Kati Oksanen

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Finally, a very warm thanks to the chairperson Kati Oksanen and her crew for a con with a wonderful atmosphere. I will miss the Animecon in future Finncons!

Fantasticon 2010



Copenhagen, Denmark, September 18-19, 2010

Fantasticon 2010 was a small and cosy con, and like in 2009 it took place in the culture house of Vanløse. This time I was accompanied by my wife Margareta, who took lots of notes which have helped me to write this report. I had a good time in the hotel Fy og Bi in Valby in 2009, so we stayed there this time too. The trains are absolutely fantastic in Copenhagen making me, living in Stockholm, quite jealous. Thus there were no problems to get to the con, and it was also very easy to get to Roskilde after the con.

The con was opened by the congress chairman, Flemming Rasch. I had not had time to get accustomed to the Danish so I had problems to understand him. This was followed by Fans in Scandinavia, in Scandinavian; Klaus Æ. Mogensen told us about fandom och cons, and I presented Eurocon 2011 with the aid of Power Point.

Flemming Rasch, Susanne Hodges, Catherine Asaro

The Guest of Honour Catherine Asaro was interviewed by Flemming Rasch and Susanne Hodges. Her first published work was a short story, “Dance in Blue”, for a Christmas anthology, and shortly thereafter Analog published her first story from the Skolian Empire. Many of her stories are part of this family saga, which is hard sf with some military sf. It can also be called planetary romance, and she writes a chapter on that for a textbook. She sees it as a way of looking at our own culture, and asking what is alien in ourselves. She believes that we will get brain implants for intellect enhancement, which might lead to a singularity and possibly a kind of immortality. AIs will also become smarter making it difficult to draw the line between humans and machines. An AI, or rather EI (evolving intelligence), is the main character of the sf novel Sunrise Alley. In the award-winning Quantum Rose, particles from her Ph D thesis in chemical physics are translated into characters, and even the language (“bound state”) reflects the thesis. The story is an allegory, or a fairy tale. She considers there to be similarities between her interests and abilities in the areas math, music and dance; ballet is pattern-oriented.

Catherine Asaro

Even if this sf-con must be considered as a small one, there were several parallels, and it was not always easy to choose. We next listened to Catherine Asaro singing, accompanied by her daughter’s boyfriend on the piano. The couple was good at entertaining us while we had a beer and a sandwich.

 

 

 

 

 

While I was sitting at the Eurocon 2011 table, or rather looking at the huge used books sale, Margareta listened to Thomas Winther interviewing Kaspar Colling Nielsen. Mount København is an absurd and strange book with 17 different stories about the mountain. These are not ordinary short stories and it is not a novel. It took three years to write and a long time with the publisher. He uses notebooks, “China books”, where he for years have written down small ideas for stories, and he reads the story “The pelican” about a doctor who transforms himself into a bird. Another story is about a “manolitic” man, who is magnetic, whereas in “The Tennis Player” a man restrings his racket with guts. One of the stories was from Valby. The publisher made a selection, but Kaspar Colling Nielsen had no impression that this was aimed at making the book easier to sell. A story about how the mountain was built, which took 200 years, was too long to be incorporated. He had sent the manuscript to several other publishers before Gyldendal accepted it. The long time between the acceptance and the actual publishing decision was tiresome.   

Carrie-Lynn Reinhard

 

We then listened to an interesting talk about Superheroes, by Carrie-Lynn Reinhard. She described the results of an international survey, questioning fans about their conceptions about superheroes. She got 112 answers, and the first question was what defines a superhero. He/She should have a sanctioned mission, superpower(s), a secret identity, a codename and a costume motif. The medium is often visual. To have an extraordinary ability was most important in the survey, and a strong moral code was also important. The best known american superheroes were from DC: 1. Superman, 2. Batman; and Marvel: 1. Spiderman, 2. Wolverine. The Phantom (Fantomen) is not a superheroe since he lacks superpower. From Argentine comes The Eternauta who fights against an alien invasion. Borderline superheroes are Robin Hood, Jesus and Pippi Långstrump. We were also shown an entertaining Italian parody of Spiderman.   

Catherine Asaro, Carrie-Lynn Reinhard, Rikke Schubart, Niels Dalgaard, Tue Sørensen

The panel discussion Researching the fantastic genre was moderated by Tue Sørensen. Niels Dalgaard mentioned that he had written a Ph D thesis about Danish SF but was thrown out of the university. Rikke Schubart had not yet been thrown out although she was teaching about computer games, TV and films. She started with horror fiction and films, then action films, and wrote a book on what they are all about. She has also written fiction, e g with vampires, and she is fascinated by emotions, especially bad ones like disgust, repulsion and anger rather than romance. Carrie-Lynn Reinhard, whom we had listened to just before, had studied how people use virtual realities, like Second Lifeor when watching a film. Catherine Asaro told us about her research in sf, where she had studied the planetary romances of E R Burroughs and M Z Bradley. She also used some research in her hard sf, when she tried to understand e g what the light would be on a planet with a certain tilt of the axis. She also does some scientific research in the university, but now she mainly teaches.

The moderator wanted to know how the research was done, and Niels Dalgaard answered that he went through gaudy magazines e g looking for mad scientists. For Rikke Schubart it took two years just to find out what she was interested in. You need to collect very much information in order to know that you do not need to know it. Carrie-Lynn Reinhardt uses questionnaires and wants fans to answer. You need to get allowance from a review board in order to do studies today. It is easier to study phenomena on internet where you don’t risk to hurt anyone. Catherine Asaro has used the library catalogue at Harvard, and gets the article via mail. She often uses Wikipedia for a start and then checks by looking up the references. She also mentions that she looked for a Jack Vance book in the Baltimore SF Society, where there are thousands of books.

Finally the moderator wanted to know how others react to their work. Catherine Asaro’s colleagues say: “You write what?”, “Are you still in high school?”, unless you win an award. Carrie-Lynn Reinhardt’s friends think she is cool. Fan culture is accepted since it makes money. The effects of games, with sex and violence, are of interest and grants are provided. Rikke Schubart first tried the department of comparative literature but there it was considered trash. She changed to the department for film and media, where her interests were accepted. Niels Dalgaard had no other department to go to. He was frustrated and wanted people to know what sf is before they look down upon it. This panel was interesting but would have gained by more interaction between the panelists who instead gave short lectures

The young, Danish author Camilla Wandahl was interviewed by Flemming Rasch, and Margareta listened. She has written sf since she was young, and in 2003 she had a short story in a competition at Fantasticon for stories written for those under 17 years. She won, and won also in 2005, and her contribution was published in an anthology. She knew nothing about fandom before; it was the competition that attracted her. She has not read much sf but has seen some films. She has worked in a writer’s group which generated a novel manuscript that has so far not been published. A good thing with these courses is that you learn how to handle a rejection; that you can send the manuscript again after a time. Hjerte i vente is her first accepted novel. She had good help from the editor; after five turns with the manuscript the contract was signed. From this she learned to prepare her manuscripts several timed before they are assessed. The first reviews pointed out that young authors write for young readers about young persons. After some novels she joined a group writing detective stories, where 15 pages were to be delivered every fortnight. In this way she wrote a YA detective story about four 13 year old youngsters who find a mystical role-playing book. She finds it difficult to write about children today because they live in secluded environments, they are in school or in leisure centers and are fetched by their parents, they are not as free as before. It is a challenge to create a thrilling setting and situation where they lose their mobiles and have to manage by themselves.

Camilla Wandahl is now a full-time author and earns her living from royalties and lecture fees. The society “HUF” (www.huf.dk), “hopeful young authors”, helps in application for grants, finding lecture opportunities, writing CV, making web page etc. (Which sounds extremely good!) She writes every day, even if only for half an hour or two pages, but in the writer’s group they write four times 20 min every day and discusses the texts in between. This produces much text in a weekend. She barely reads any adult books other than detective stories, but she reads YA books for inspiration, and now mainly realistic books since she wants to build identification objects for youngsters. She initially thought that it would be easier to write fantasy, but it also demanded its skill. It is not possible just to add a dragon. She does not always know the end of the book she is writing but she often writes a one page synopsis. She tries to write “first time”-stories: Love, deceit, boy/girl, and is not interested in writing for adults. Is there any risk that someone else writes the same story? A consolation is that there only are seven archetypical stories, and everyone writes them again and again. The library fee can be granted to anyone who has participated in an anthology; she knows all ways of financing from HUF. She believes that YA sf is coming. Her advice to others is to write much and often, and rewrite, and if possible join a writer’s group. She has her own blog about writing, http://www.camillawandahl.dk.

Svend Kreiner, Jeppe Larson, Niels Dalgaard, Flemming Rasch, Stig W. Jørgensen

The sf novel of the decade is a good idea for a panel, and the members of the panel had decided before which six books they chose. Flemming Rasch moderated the discussion, and Stig W. Jørgensen started by suggesting Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Years of Rice and Salt. It is an alternate history, and goes back to e g Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. It tells about an aggravated pest epidemic. There are no historic persons but Islam gets an Age of Enlightenment in Samarkand. There are new world wars during the story of the book that spans from the 14th century to the future. It is a moral book in ten parts. The character’s thinking is dominated by a reincarnation theme. 

The literary scholar Niels Dalgaard supports the interest in that book and that it represents the core of the alternate history trend. The book reflects historical interpretations. He also proposes Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, in which the rotation of Earth is increased making it isolated from the rest of the universe, with an accompanying time displacement. How would humanity react? It is good old sf, and there is a sequel, Axis. 

Jeppe Larson would have chosen Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds, which takes a big perspective of the universe, with references to Arthur C Clarke and other classics. It is new Space Opera with Sense of Wonder. But the main characters are atypical, and there is super science like in the 30s, making one suspect that it is a parody. Two women are the main characters, but they lack characteristics.

Svend Kreiner preferred River of Godsby Ian McDonald (one of the GoHs at Eurocon 2011). The story takes place in a future India, that has collapsed. The main plot is a conflict between AIs and humans. Stig Jørgensen reads as a tourist, it is the background that is interesting. The book is demanding and should be reread a lot. It appears to be inspired by Neuromancer and is an example of neocolonialism. 

Charles Stross’ Halting State takes place in an on line game. The main characters are a policeman, an insurance manager and a young nerd in the IT-business. It is a typical example of a “close to now”-book.  

The last book was Flood by Stephen Baxter, where a group is kidnapped and in the meantime there is a catastrophe, and when the kidnapped persons return they look at a new world. There are many references to early sf, like Heinlein. The sequel, Ark, is not as good.

In the final discussion it was concluded that everyone likes Spin and The Years of Rice and Salt. It was remarked that there was no female author. Svend Kreiner suggests a new author, Neal Asher, who might be interesting in the future. 

Flemming Rasch, Jeppe Larson, Catherine Asaro, Klaus Æ. Mogensen, Asmus Kofoed

The hard science programme item, that Swedish cons today often lack, was entitled The future of space exploration, and Flemming Rasch moderated the panel consisting of Asmus Kofoed, Klaus Æ. Mogensen, Catherine Asaro and the cyber scientist Jeppe Larsen. We went to the moon before we really had the technology. Now we have the technology but lack the incentive. It takes ten years to build a space program but the US changes its government every eight year. There has to be a commercial drive, like interesting metals or 3He for fusion power, that might be found on the moon.

How would we travel further than the moon? Plasma engines for faster travel, and perhaps robots instead of humans. Possibly nanomachines which could send back information. A space elevator is another possibility, but could be vulnerable to lightning, terrorists etc. 

What could we expect to meet? Most likely robots, with their own civilisation. A possible reason why we have not met any other life is that it could be very strange. We might not recognize it as life. 

After the con we went to Roskilde and had a look at the impressive Viking ships.

 

 

Tricon 2010 / Eurocon 2010

Tricon 2010, Cieszyn, Poland, August 26-29, 2010 

 

The combined Eurocon and national cons for Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia took place in Cieszyn in the south of Poland and actually also in the Czech part of that city, Cesky Tesin (unfortunately the website I am using does not like the Polish and Czech characters). To reach this place I flew to Krakow via Prague, and by bus from Krakow to Cieszyn. I had hoped to have a nice bus trip through the landscape that I have never seen, but the little bus was crowded and far from comfortable. Still, I got a view of some landmarks in Krakow and also of the countryside with many mountains. Poland was an inexpensive country and the hotels, Liburnia and Gambit, were perfect for me. The convention in the local university branch was in walking distance. I was there early to put up some posters for Eurocon 2011 in Stockholm, and when I registered I got so many books that I had to go back to the hotel and put them there before the start of the programme at 13.00. The programme had 13 parallels in the university building and 5 in a school in Cesky Tesin! However, the latter ones were mainly on gaming, and only one or two of the slots in the university was in English. Still I admire the organization of such a huge convention, with about 1500 members! The written programme book looked like a WorldCon one, and was absolutely perfect, with three parallel languages. 

Igor Kniaź

The first programme item I listened to was a talk by Igor Kniaz, 19th Century Inventions Are Back. He told us that he was from Warsaw and an sf fan since 1999. In a thought-provoking manner he demonstrated that many if not most of the everyday inventions that are used today stem from the 19th century, and also male clothes and ways we live. Thus, the inventions of hoovers and refrigerators made it possible for women to start working in the industry, and the care of women that had been an important task for men earlier was no longer relevant in the 19th century. Other gadgets in the home that were invented then are the safety pin, the sewing machine and the washing machine. Even computers were invented then as implicated in The Difference Engine, even if they were not produced. I just wondered which household inventions in the 20th century that were really new. 

Radosław Kot and Paweł Ostrowski

Radoslaw Kot and Pawel Ostrowski next talked about Space Opera – Humanity’s Unfulfilled Hope. I found this less interesting, mainly because they did not stick to their own definition of Space Opera, “Adventure stories set in space”. These are a continuation of sea adventure stories, the first of which was The Odyssey. Instead of talking of modern Space Opera, although they mentioned Alastair Reynolds, they concentrated on military sf which to me is quite another genre (and without interest). Thus they talked about mistakes in films like Battlestar Galactica and about David Weber’s books about Honor Harrington. 

A bus took us to the Polish-Czech border and from there on a bridge a group walked rapidly on down a street. When we arrived at the central station in Cesky Tesin I registered some doubts in the leading group, but finally they found the open square where we were supposed to meet. There were several groups fans dressed as in Star Wars or as medieval warriors, and the leading figure was a dragon with a spine of umbrellas. The parade went ahead in the direction of the station again, but had to go back and after one more mistake it was on its way towards the Friendship Bridge where the actual opening of the convention took place, with talks by among others the mayor and the chairman of ESFS, Dave Lally. The parade then continued to the corresponding square in the Polish part of the city, Rynek, where we could listen to nice medieval music. 

 

Dave Lally giving a speech at the opening ceremony

Eckhard D. Marwitz

 Even in the evening of this first day of the convention, Thursday, there was programming and I listened to Eckhard Marwitz from Germany talking about German SF authors translated into other languages. He gave us a list that did not appear to be complete, but he asked us to send him information to make it more complete. It was interesting and amusing to hear him talk about Walter Ernsting, who did not manage to sell his own books to a publisher but only his translations. However, he succeeded when he gave himself out as being the translator when in fact he was the author! He was active in SF Club Deutschland and wrote short stories in the fanzine Andromeda. According to Marwitz he was also the first maker of the Perry Rhodan series. 

Piotr Cholewa, Roberto Quaglia, Dave Lally, Bridget Wilkinson

Petra Bulić

Friday started with the General Meeting of the ESFS (European SF Society). Petra Bulic presented a bid for Eurocon 2012 in Zagreb, Croatia, April 27-29 with some introduction already on the Thursday April 26 (petra.bulic at gmail.com). In addition to a bid from London there was also one by Peter Redfarn, OrientExpressCon, in a train from London to Zagreb. Philip Pullman was suggested as GoH. A prebid for 2013 was announced by Borys Sydiuk for a convention in Ukraine, and Dave Lally announced that he will go to a meeting with the organisation International Union of Associations. The votings took place on Saturday morning, when the sitting steering board was reelected. 

Gerhard Kraus mentioned that in his country, Luxembourg, there will be an exhibition about Hugo Gernsback celebrating his 100th birthday. This will take place in a national literary centre, from October 2010 to February 2011. 

Piotr Cholewa interviewing Bridget Wilkinson

The Guest of Honour Bridget Wilkinson was interviewed by Piotr Cholewa. She told us that she had been suggested as foreign liaison for the Worldcon 1987. Her parents had travelled quite a lot, and she likes to go places. She also knows many languages. An interesting observation she had made is the fannish border through Europe, starting to the east of Finland, down through the Baltic and the border between Denmark and Germany, to the east of the Netherlands and then out to the west. In England she had meetings in her own house, whereas in Poland there had to be an organisation with special localities. Possibly this is due to differences in legislation, but I think there may also be differences in traditions. 

Anna Studiarek, Steven Erikson, Anna Kontek

In Steven Erikson: Meeting with the Guest, Anna Kontek asked questions in Polish which together with the answers were translated by Anna Studniarek. He thinks the characters are more important than the story, and he is interested in making a comment on this world but in a way so that you do not recognize it. Fantasy can otherwise be escapism. His universe is open-ended, and anything is possible, but he does not want to put in elves and trolls or the medieval kings and warlords. His world was created by role-playing when he studied archaeology, and he was inspired by Roger Zelazny. He collaborated in this with another archaeology student, Ian Cameron Esslemont. They were irritated over the bad realism in role-playing games, e g the location of cities. He majored in archaeology and has a minor in the history of classes. He thinks that there should be a sense of continuity since cultures interact and change. 

Asked for a favourite character he says that as an author you cannot have that, you have to have compassion and understanding for all. He admires Robin Hobb for her technique, and mentions Alan Garner and Don DeLillo as models. On George R R Martin he says that both kill off their heroes, and Martin had told him not to write so fast! He tends to read sf rather than fantasy, and he says that he might write a stand-alone sf novel. 

Wojciech Orlińsky

On Saturday afternoon I listened to a lecture on Lem and Communism by Wojciech Orlinsky, the question being, was he a communist or an anticommunist? Apparently Lem hid an anticommunist manuscript inside a crime story, but he evaded the question by saying that he was not dignified enough to consider himself an anticommunist. His stories from 1949-1955 have not been translated, and include some stories that can be considered anticommunist, e g “The Magellan Nebula”. Another socialist drama from 1951, “Paradise”, is apparently a parody, enthusiastically supporting communism. He hated his final novel, Fiasko, that was written 1987 under the new rule. It is an answer to his early pulp fiction. 

Together with the other Swedish fans I walked to the big Sport Hall for the Award Ceremony. We took places at the very front, but this did not stop the organizers from asking for me and Sten in the loudspeaker. It was announced that Eurocon 2012 will be held in Croatia, and awards were presented. To our surprise and pride we had to get up and accept two prizes for Swedes, in the category Spirit of Dedication. The Swedish author Lars Jakobson received the prize in the subcategory “An artist, author of one or more works”, and the film Metropia or rather its authors Fredrik Edin, Martin Hultman, Stig Larsson and Tarik Saleh in the subcategory “An author of a performance (film, play, ballet, etc.)”. The “symbolic object” was this year a stone obelisk, which Sten had some problems taking through customs. 

Aleksandra Cholewa, Sten Thaning, Bridget Wilkinson, Petra Bulić, Dave Lally

Fandom is a way of life was chaired by Aleksandra Cholewa, and discussed the organisation of fandom in some European countries. Petra Bulic started by telling us that in Croatia there are clubs for Star Trek, fantasy and sf in general. Cons are held in three cities, and one con is an sf writers con with just 50 participants. There is no national society, and the three largest clubs organize the cons.

Sten Thaning told about the organisation in Sweden, where there are a few clubs and cons are mainly held in the university cities. Bridget Wilkinson said that in UK the Eastercon is the big con, and there is also NewCon. The situation in Ireland was described by Dave Lally. The big con, Octacon, is held in October, and there is also a literary con. He listed some Irish webzines: Slovobooks, Lostcarpark and Albedo One. And he admitted to being a vexillologist and to being fascinated by borders, so after the con he would search out the spot where Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia meet. 

Dave Lally was also in charge of the feedback session, Eurocon – what worked, what still needs improvement. Since we will host the Eurocon 2011 I had some interest in this. There was a desire for more links on the web site, and there was some confusion since much information was only given in Polish. The location in two parts of the city was not appreciated, since it took too much time to change place even if there were buses. The toilet signs were confusing – it is not self-evident that a circle means female and a triangle male. There was a wish for a thematic list in the congress booklet, and it would have been good to have a room just for chatting. There was a lack of social space. There were also some complaints on the general behaviour: Mobile phones should be switched off, especially if you sit in a panel. And too many came too late to, or in the middle of, some programme items, which can be quite disturbing. Other tips were to have guided walking tours before and after the con.

Sten Thaning, Dessy Petkova and Mårten Svantesson at the Eurocon 2011 desk

Since we had a fan table promoting Eurocon 2011 in Stockholm, I missed quite a few of the apparently interesting programme items, e g two on Philip K. Dick, and I did not see the GoH Orson Scott Card at all. Still it was a very nice con and I am sincerely grateful to the organizers. 

Since I stayed a day in Cieszyn I could do some walking myself, and had a look on this interesting and beautiful city. The sight-seeing I had planned for Krakow, however, was spoiled by heavy rain. I managed to take a look on the old city, and to save myself from the weather I looked in a huge galleria. Since the shops were the same as in Stockholm I went out in the rain again.

Finncon 2010

The Finnish yearly con rotates between cities and Finncon 2010 took place in Jyväskylä 16-18 July. I arrived by plane in Helsinki (644 SEK!) already on Thursday morning and spent some hours in the city, visiting two art museums. The Amos Anderson Art Museum was surprisingly dull although the special exhibitions of modern art and photos were worth a visit.

By Jacob Dahlgren

In contrast, Kiasma, the Museum of Contemporary Art, was far from dull. The architecture in Helsinki was interesting already, and this wonderful building fits nicely, although it is the inside that is most amazing. In the exhibition from the Fire & Rescue Museum I was thrown back half a century (and to the SF of that time) when I looked at the information boards and posters presenting civil defence and fire fighting procedures before and after the nuclear attacks that the artist Jussi Kivi had secured from a former Soviet  underground shelter in Estonia. I then stepped into the Swedish artist Jacob Dahlgren’s 3 D world of coloured bands, reminding me of the new trade mark of the commercial centre in my home commune Sollentuna. I usually get bored trying to look at video installations, but this time I was stunned by several of them. A visit to Kiasma will definitely be on my agenda every time I am in Helsinki! 

Inside Kiasma

I chose to go by plane also to Jyväskylä where the airport was pretty small and located out in the woods. In the afternoon when I arrived I was surprised to find that there was no bus transfer to the city, so I had to take a taxi for more money than the flight from Stockholm. Jyväskylä was a nice city and the main problem was the tropical heat that the hotel room was not equipped to handle. 

I enjoyed walking in the evening when the temperature had fallen slightly. I had planned to take a look at the Wreck-a-Movie event but after quite some time of waiting I gave up. Instead, the first programme item for me was the Hugo discussion. I had some problems to find out where this took place and when I got to the veranda of a villa outside the university area it was crowded and of course very hot. I missed the first comments of the excellent panel, consisting of Cheryl Morgan, Tommy Persson, Jukka Halme and Marianna Leikomaa. They had started with the short stories, which I had found to be an unusually weak category this year. Jemisin’s “Non-Zero Probabilities” was considered to be fantasy rather than sf and to be well written. To me it only was ridiculous. The only story worth reading in my opinion was Will McIntosh’s “Bridesicle”, but if I understood the panel correctly they thought that Resnick’s “The Bride of Frankenstein” might win. The novelette category was much stronger. The panel considered Stross’ contribution “Overtime” to be a weak horror story and not one of his best. “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” by Eugie Foster was in my opinion an interesting and well written story, and the panel agreed but did not like the ending. The opinions differed regarding the robot-in-love story “Eros, Philia, Agape” by Rachel Swirsky, that was considered sweet and fine but still not very good. The entertaining ”James Bond goes steam punk” story by Paul Cornell, “One of Our Bastards is Missing”, starring prince Bertil of Sweden, might work as part of a novel, which Cheryl Morgan told that it actually was. The story of a world on a Dyson sphere, ”The Island”, by Peter Watts, did not work but was definitely hard sf and I thought it was of some interest but a bit hard to read. My favourite in this category was “It Takes Two” by Nicola Griffith, also hard sf but this time about mind-changing drugs in relation to lesbian love. Really well written and with implications regarding both sex and free will. I got the impression that this might have been the panel’s favourite too. 

Cheryl Morgan, Jukka Halme, Marianna Leikomaa, Tommy Persson

Tommy Persson’s favourite in the novella category was ”Shambling Towards Hiroshima” by James Morrow and he also liked Kage Baker’s ”The Women of Nell Gwynne’s”, which might win because the author died recently. Ian McDonald’s “Vishnu at the Cat Circus” in Cyberabad Days was appreciated by the panel as was also ”Act One” by Nancy Kress, the only story I had read in this category and although I was a bit sceptical when I read it I remember it well, which means that it affected me. 

Over to the novels. Cheryl Morgan thought that Boneshaker (Cherie Priest) was fun, and not traditional steampunk. It has a strong female character. The one she hoped would win was The City & The City by China Miéville. This is an extraordinary story with ethnic groups not seeing each other, but it might not be sf or fantasy. The story about a postapocalyptic America, Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America by Robert Charles Wilson did not interest her, whereas the best one aside from The City & The City was Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente, describing a fantasy city that you can only reach by having sex. As probable winner she put The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi with its postcolapse Thailand. 

Tommy Persson really liked The Windup Girl which is not a fix-up although the characters appear in short stories. He also liked The City & The City, and he found Comstock and Boneshaker entertaining, whereas Palimpsest, although beautifully written, could have been told without sf/f. Marianna Leikomaa commented that the city is the main character in several of the nominated books. She loved Palimpsest but hopes that The City & The City will win. Jukka Halme’s favourites were The City & The City and The Windup Girl and he found Boneshaker entertaining and easy, almost simple. 

In the film category, the panel thought that Avatar would win. The panel considered the best and most important related book to be On Joanna Russ, edited by Farah Mendlesohn. Jack Vance’s self-biography, This is Me, Jack Vance! (Or, More Properly, This is “I”) was said to be a great book and a pleasure to read, although too much of a travelogue where he explains his writing. 

Finally, Cheryl Morgan announced that she is setting up a publishing company for e-books, Wizard’s Tower Press. She will get things back into print, and have them properly proof-read. There will also be a webzine, Salon Futura

The next programme item also took place in Kirjailijatalo, the authors’ house, or rather on the veranda with its 30 chairs. This was of course not enough when the GoH Ellen Kushner and her wife Delia Sherman talked about Science fiction and research. After a while the other GoH Pat Cadigan joined after having had a look on a particle accelerator. For Delia Sherman research was an everyday activity, since stories for her are things that happen to people. She reads folklore and fairytale, and tells us that the texts about leprechauns and pookahs on the internet are not correct. She prefers to look up historical details rather than constructing an entire world. Art, mythology and folklore are changing and shared, they cannot be copyrighted. Ellen Kushner tells that in the old days you went to your bookshelf or the library. She also criticized the notion that preference for some folklore follows bloodlines. Does she have to be Scottish to appreciate Thomas the Rhymer? 

Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman

To a question from the audience Delia Sherman answered that anything can be seen as uncanny. It depends on the point of view. She likes to discuss her work before it is finished, and thus not follow Stephen King’s advice. His book on writing can be recommended, but she strongly recommends to read several books on writing, and also not to think too much but rather write with the hindbrain. Pat Cadigan recommended that you should read loved books carefully to find out what it is that you admire. “Look under the hood, squeeze the tires.” Her copanelists added that you should read mindfully, and even type at least a page of your favourite stories. 

The discussions on writing continued in the afternoon in the panel On writing with Saara Henriksson moderating Ellen Kushner and Pat Cadigan. The latter always knew that she wanted to write. She read Judith Merril’s Best of the Year anthologies which were not stratified and contained stories by various authors like John Cheever and Ward Moore, and every shade of sf, fantasy and horror. She stresses the importance of readers and fans, and she wanted to be on the committee for the Worldcon 1976 in Kansas city since she wanted to meet the GoH, Robert A. Heinlein. Her first submission was to Analog when she was ten, in 1963, and her first sale was in 1969. She recommends everyone to send in their work! 

Saara Henriksson, Ellen Kushner, Pat Cadigan

Ellen Kushner has always loved reading, and thought that it must be a pleasure to write. She got praise from adults for her writing, but she never wrote to conclusion. She has written short stories but they always turned out as parts of novels. She has lots of unfinished stories and plans to go back to them, but so far she has not. About her novel Swordspoint she says that it is uncategorizable, being neither fantasy nor mainstream. It took her a year to write the first draft. It is important to first get it done. You can always rewrite! Phase two is to get input from readers. 

Pat Cadigan has a fragment box and keeps it handy. She is a short fiction person, and started by writing half the nights in addition to her day job. Every novel is a different creature. She begins in the middle and retrofits the beginning, which is not easy. 

Ellen Kushner got encouragement from older writers. She had coffee with Gene Wolfe and M. John Harrison wrote her beautiful letters. She admires Gardner Dozois who can both write and edit, with emotion and passion. She loves talking about her work and thinks better when she talks. However, she does not belong to any writer’s groups. In contrast, Pat Cadigan does not talk about her work until it is done. Writing is private. Her husband reads everything when it is ready. If she gets stuck and lost she goes out and tries to find herself. The environment does not matter when she is writing. It can be beautiful, noisy, smelly – it does not matter. When she wrote Mindplayers she had a baby whom her mother cared for, and now she has two children and a 90 year old mother. 

Pat Cadigan wrote a novelization of a movie, that turned out to be much longer than a script, and it contained lots of extra background and character descriptions. For her a good book is when you don’t see the words any longer but just pictures in your head. 

Ellen Kushner says “art feeds art”, and recommends going to museums, listening to music etc. Her aim is to be “read when dead”, to make a difference, affect. This is a sort of immortality. 

The fan table in the main building

The rest of the con took place in a house at the university, and there were many items in Finnish which I unfortunately would not have understood. The participants in the panel Introduction to Mannerpunk – Fantasy of Manners panel were the by now well known couple Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner, moderated by Kati Clements. The title is a pun or joke formed from the comedy of manners, as e g written by Jane Austen. It is not a tragedy since no one dies. There is tension due to rigid rules, and society is a character in the novel. It takes place in the drawing rooms, with everyday social fights. Traditional fantasy is not like that. Kushner read LeGuin’s The Wizard of Earthsea, and liked it better than Tolkien. She tried Jane Austen’s Emma but could not understand it, but suddenly it made sense when she came to college and experienced hierarchy. She calls Georgette Heyer the Jane Austen of the 20th century, and she thinks that women are more interested in human interactions. 

Delia Sherman, Ellen Kushner, Kati Clements

The Fourth Street Fantasy convention in Minneapolis was seen by Donald D. Keller as a literary movement, but Kushner prefers to name this movement “mannerpunk” from cyberpunk and call her book “A fantasy of manners”. Interest in human interactions is a rule, and a feature is an interest in language. The “interstitial arts foundation” did an anthology, Interfictions: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing by Delia Sherman and Theodora Goss. 

The paper announces nazis on the moon

Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner has written together. They say that you have to have the same steps, the same approach, the same end goal, and it helps if they love the same authors, in this case Trollope. They give each other assignments, e g to write a scene. Kushner writes dialogue whereas Sherman writes descriptions. 

They want to do new things with the genre, like China Miéville does in The City & the City, which has strangeness without magic. The whodunnit is not the interesting thing in this book. This is the way fiction is going. 

Liksom 2009 hade Finncon 2010 en finlandssvensk programpunkt, 150 år av finlandssvensk fantastik. Ben Roimola ledde diskussionen med Kenneth Lindholm, Petri Salin och Vilgot Strömsholm. Titeln syftar på att Zacharias Topelius 1860 publicerat en berättelse från ett framtida Finland, Simeon Lewis resa till Finland år 5,870 efter werldens skapelse, efter de kristnes tideräkning det 1,900:de. Enligt uppgift en tråkig berättelse men med bl a luftskepp. Tillsammans med många andra finlandssvenska fantastikverk listas den på Enhörningens hemsida. Redan 1851 hade musikkritikern och satirikern A. G. Ingelius utkommit med den gotiska skräckrysaren Det gråa slottet, och i samma genre kom Topelius Den gröna kammaren i Linnais gård 1881 som blev film 1945. Fältskärns berättelser innehåller en hel del fantastik och antologin I Unda Marinas fotspår, berättelser från hav och land, av Gun Spring & Bo-Eric Rosenqvist från 1996 går I Topelius stil. T.A. Engströms Rymdkulan från 1957 är tidstypisk, klar sf, men knappast rekommendabel. Den innehåller svarta plastinylbyxor och kan möjligen vara lämplig för 12-åringar. Bo Carpelans Rösterna i den sena timmen från 1971 är också klar sf med en värld efter kärnvapenkriget. Det märks att det är en 70-talsbok från kalla kriget. Den lyriska stilen lindar alltför mycket in hemskheterna. När den gick som hörspel uppfattades den som verklighet. 

Ben Roimola, Petri Salin, Vilgot Strömsholm, Kenneth Lindholm

Kenneth Lindholm rekommenderade Sebastian Lybecks Latte igelkott och vattenstenen från 2009. Kjell Lindblads Resan till mitten är en fantasy för barn, men handlar om en författare som har svårt att skriva, och ser på dammsugare ur dammtussarnas perspektiv. Björn Kurténs Mammutens rådare om neandertalare ingår i genren paleofiction, ett för mig nytt begrepp som också var ett tema på en av de finskspråkiga programpunkterna. Yvonne Hoffmans Ögonen och andra spökhistorier är spännande och vardagliga spökhistorier, och Merete Mazzarellas November är mörka ihopbundna historier som är kryddade med sf. 

Carolina at the Eurocon table

At the Con presentation Carolina presented Eurocon 2011 in Stockholm, and Kati Oksanen Finncon/Animecon 2011 in Turku/Åbo July 14-17. Turku will be cultural capital in 2011, and the venue will have room for 3000 people. The GoH will be Richard Morgan and Nalo Hopkinson, and the theme myth and VR. The first day, Thursday 14/7, will be focussed on research on sf and fantasy, and Saara Henriksson will lead discussions on writing. There will be an extensive programme in Swedish. 

Kati Oksanen

A very informative and entertaining lecture on The roots of British TV-sci-fi was given by Kristoffer Lawson. He started by stating that a society without sf is a society with problems, where no one strives forward. UK, US and Japan have broadcast sf from early times. Rossum’s Universal Robots was sent by BBC in 1938. The first British TV sf serial was aimed at children, in 1951, followed in 1953 by the serious and scientific The Quatermass Experiment produced by Nigel Kneale. In the US at the same time there were heroic serials, e g Buck Rogers. A spy series, The Avengers, from 1961 had sf elements. Sydney Newman from that serial was also the first Doctor Who. This serial ran 1963-1989 with a new start in 2005. The Tardis and the Cybermen were present from the beginning. In 1965 Gerry Anderson produced the serial Thunderbirds with dolls, and later Space 1999 which had a US feeling and was aimed at that market. The mother of all paranoid serials, The Prisoner, started in 1967, and the year after Nigel Kneale produced another serial, this time a reality show called The Year of the Sex Olympics. Blakes 7 was created by Terry Nation in 1978, and the apparently far out Sapphire & Steel in 1979 by Peter Hammond. Douglas Adam’s The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy is from 1981, and in 1984 Richard Bates produced The Tripods based on a novel by John Christopher. This looked interesting from the film strip, in contrast to the Red Dwarf from 1988, a sitcom in space. After this Star Trek redefined the genre, and in 2005 Doctor Who appeared again. 

When Pat Cadigan was interviewed by Cheryl Morgan, she started in Finnish that I am ashamed to admit that I don’t understand. She told us that she got an Underwood typewriter from her mother and started writing short stories. An early favourite was Robert A. Heinlein, whom she met at a con in 1976. He has readability, and she wanted her work to have that. Tunnel in the Sky changed her life, and she recommends this juvenile for those who have not read anything by Heinlein. It is a rite-of-passage, problem-solving book, but not of the Lord of the Flies-type. 

Cheryl Morgan interviewing Pat Cadigan

Cheryl Morgan expressed admiration for Cadigans ideas – she has come up with computer virus and spam, which can be compared with Arthur C. Clarke’s invention of communication satellites and space lifts. Synners is about computer viruses. Morgan asks how to get women back into writing sf and not fantasy, and Cadigan says that this is up to the woman. The publication rate is low right now and women drop off first. Furthermore, sf is still perceived as a mainly male thing. “Sf for boys, fantasy for girls.” About her own books she says that Synners is better than Mindplayers, and that Tea from an Empty Cup is an accessible mystery that is easy to understand. Fools is a problematic book but won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. 

Build your dream convention was a panel on the ideal sf con, with Sari Polvinen, Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf and Johan Anglemark. The con should be organized with a programme, and according to Johan it has to be aimed at fandom. Sari prefers intimate, small cons with discussions rather than panels, and Carolina mentioned Conversation that had a lot of small discussions and a critic as GoH. Programming is important when you don’t know anyone, but Johan has shifted from wanting fannish cons to desiring good programming. Readercon almost killed his ambition since the programming was so good, with lots of professionals. Carolina was irritated by the panels at ArmadilloCon where a lot of authors just showed their own books. 

Sari Polvinen, Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf, Johan Anglemark

Cheryl Morgan stressed the importance of topic selection for panels, and to have proper moderators who contacts the other members of the panel. Programme items may be submitted from members of the con. This is done at WisCon, but according to Johan this does not work in Sweden since people are too shy. He also suggests that panel subjects are tested first by the committee. 

For Carolina, the idea of a con is a sort of family reunion, where you meet your friends. An efficient way to get involved is to be a gopher. Another way is to have quizzes etc, as they have at Redemption according to Tommy Persson. Sari points out that hotel cons make for good interaction, and for her the relaxacon Åcon is perfect. The number of members should be a couple of hundreds. For Carolina Eastercons are perfect, and Johan wants at least 300 members. He thinks that programming is good in Sweden, but a problem is that the panellists are not sufficiently prepared. He finds it fascinating that the authors come for free. The GoHs are very important, and it is important that they want to participate. 

To this discussion I would like to add: I appreciate that conventions are different; I want to be surprised. And I think that cons can serve to recruit new members to fandom, i e they should not only be directed towards fans but also to those interested in subjects close to sf/f.

Urban fantasy was discussed by a panel where Marianna Leikomaa started by defining this genre as stories where the city is a character, and Johan Jönsson added that it should be a contemporary setting. Delia Sherman modified this to a requirement for an industrial setting that hasn’t to be today. The important thing is that the country is left behind. Magical things can occur also in cities. “The city is the new forest.” Powerful urban fantasy has to be about this, and how to deal with this situation. Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf points out that this is not what people think of when they see the term urban fantasy – what do you get in bookshops? Marianna answers that you get paranormal romance, and the panel tried to draw the line between these two genres. Twilight is an example of paranormal romance. 

Delia Sherman, Johan Jönsson, Marianna Leikomaa, Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf

Urban fantasy is highly mannered and formal, like Palimpsest and Jeff VanderMeer’s books. Terri Windling has written many stories about a border town situated between fairy and mundane, in Neverwhere the city is very important, and Charles de Lint is important in the genre. Gormenghast is perhaps not really urban fantasy, but has probably influenced e g China Miéville by its grotesqueries. He writes from a deep knowledge of cities. In urban fantasy the city is used as a metaphor, describing a compressed society. 

Some vampire stories could be classified as urban fantasy, like Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite, The Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas, where the vampire is interested in eating dinner and is very considerate. This could have happened in a city, and this is Delia’s favourite vampire book. 

Johan says that not much urban fantasy is published in Sweden. One example is the recent Udda verklighet by Nene Ormes. The setting is a strange city, and the story is clearly at the heart of urban fantasy. Delia Sherman’s own The Changeling, a children’s book, has been translated into Swedish, and is absolutely urban fantasy. Marianna mentions Johanna Sinisalo’s Not before sundown which is a sort of urban fantasy. 

Cheryl Morgan, Ellen Kushner, Pat Cadigan

The final panel was called Dreaming of reality, where we listened to Ellen Kushner, Pat Cadigan and Cheryl Morgan. I wrote down some interesting expressions: “All fiction is made up but sf/f is more made up”, ascribed to Neil Gaiman, and “Sufficient magic is indistinguishable from science”, ascribed to Jonathan Lethem. “In dreams you should follow your ethical compass since it might not be a dream.” “In life there is always an option”, says Ellen Kushner, and she loves to have her characters have dreams. The sf writer and editor Scott Edelman blogs his dreams, and Pat Cadigan based her stories in the collection Dirty Work on her dreams. The others say that they cannot remember dreams; they are as candy floss. If Pat Cadigan wants real life she goes out. Since all fiction is fantasy, why not write it big? 

Not an Anime con, but still...

Fans at the sauna

I volunteered as driver for the dead dog party at a sauna in the woods close to the city. This was a very nice ending to a well organized, entertaining and rewarding con, and I am deeply grateful to the organizers. I took a bus to the airport and had some time to look around, so I found a little lake close by.

Condense – den tunga kongressen

Göteborgskongressen Condense ägde rum mellan 18 och 20 juni 2010, en tid det kunde vara skönt att inte vara i Stockholm. Förberedelsen innebar denna gång att fylla bilen hos Johan Anglemark med banankartoner innehållande SAAM-antikvariatet. Vi åkte sedan från Stockholm till Göteborg genom ett soligt sommar-Sverige, och passade på att titta på Bottnaryds träkyrka och speciellt målningarna av mäster Anders Falck från 1695.

I Bottnaryds kyrka

I Bottnaryds kyrka

Efter att ha begrundat det hemska öde som kan vänta i gafians käftar, den undflyende enhörningen och svårigheterna att läsa sf på annat än svenska, engelska och danska fortsatte vi mot norra Göteborg för att till slut hitta fram till Apple hotell som faktiskt var lika sjabbigt på insidan som på utsidan men i gengäld bjöd på middag och stor frukostbuffé. Mindre kul var att vattnet försvann under lördagskvällen. Visserligen var inte det hotellets fel men man kunde möjligen ha tänkt sig att personalen skulle ha försökt att skaffa fram något mer än 33 cl Loka för tvätt och tandborstning.

Babels torn i Bottnaryds kyrka

Vi kom ner redan på torsdagskvällen och hade alltså en hel del tid på fredagen. Medan Margareta gick på ett jobbrelaterat möte vandrade jag runt i botaniska trädgården och lyckades hitta det träd som förser hela världen med näsdukar.

Näsduksträd

Mycket spårvagn blev det vilket onekligen är trevligt, i alla fall när man sitter i den och inte i en bil bredvid. Spårvagn alltså till Eriksberg och Eriksbergshallen som inrymde utställningen And There Was Light som uppgavs innehålla verk av da Vinci, Rafael och Michelangelo. Och visst var det trevligt att beskåda da Vincis La Bella Principessa men för 245 kronor per person hade man väntat sig lite fler original, färre reproduktioner och mindre pladder i hörlursguiden som närmast var ett måste för att man skulle få ut något av utställningen. Rekommenderas ej. Då var det betydligt mer givande att besöka Röhsska museet.

Kongresslokalen, Fräntorps Folkets Hus

Kongresslokalen Fräntorps Folkets Hus var från 50-talet med väl bevarad karaktär; riktigt trevlig men möjligen lite för liten. Speciellt saknades en ordentlig vimmelyta, och SAAM-antikvariatet hade svårt att bli exponerat och utnyttjat för de spontana diskussioner som är en speciell poäng med de gamla böckerna. Mängder av sf-illustrationer på väggarna gav den rätta atmosfären. Programmet var inte så omfattande, speciellt söndagen kändes tunn, men i gengäld var det omväxlande både till form, med paneler, föredrag och diskussioner, och till innehåll med fysik, litteratur, författare och fandom. Dessutom förekom film, spel, tävlingar och auktion, men från dessa aktiviteter kan jag inte rapportera. Baren var liten men utmärkt och tillhandahöll öl och mackor samt dessutom frukost! På lördagen serverades prinsesstårta.

Inge R. L. Larsson, Justina Robson, Nene Ormes, Peter Bengtsson

The opening of the con included the opening of the Russian doll to let out the spirit of fandom which is now traditional at Swecons. The Guest of Honour Justina Robson was interviewed by Peter Bengtsson, and she mentioned some influences: A favourite author is Robert Holdstock, whose Mythago Woods series becomes more and more sf as time goes on. She mentions Lewis Carroll, and likes Richard Morgan’s charismatic energy and how he puts his ideas in the background. She also mentions China Miéville and Kelley Armstrong who writes about werewolves and witches, and especially the early works by Ursula K. LeGuin. Justina Robson also likes the mind-bending stories by James Tiptree, Jr., and the completely alien aliens of Octavia Butler and her descriptions of racial prejudice.

Regarding her own work I noted that she had thought for a long time about the characters in Living Next Door To the God of Love and that she likes the characters. I found that book hard to read but it has stuck in my memory. Her plans for the future include sf with nanotechnology, looking like fantasy but actually being sf.

Sten Thaning, Justina Robson, Tommy Persson

Justina Robson

Justina Robson participated in the subsequent panel debate on whether there is a difference between hard/heavy and soft/light sf, together with Sten Thaning and Tommy Persson. Her opinion was that hard sf is extrapolation that has to be explained, whereas no explanation is needed in soft sf. Still, her Silver Screen is hard sf although not much is explained. Mundane sf is a sort of soft sf, where e g FTL is not allowed. Biology is no longer excluded from the “hard” sciences. Historically soft sf has human interest whereas technology dominates in hard sf. She wondered whether these distinctions really are of interest today. Fantasy where the rules are clearly defined could be called hard fantasy. Two hard sf authors are Alastair Reynolds and Greg Egan. Finally it was stated that sf should not be mistaken for predictions of the future.

Diskussionen vid Frukost med boktips med Johan Frick som ledare skulle mått bra av att fler åhörare släppts in. Nu blev det mest hans egna rekommendationer som i och för sig var intressanta: Paul McAuley’s The Quiet War, som dock hänger intimt ihop med efterföljaren Gardens of the Sun; Peter Watts’ hårda sf Blindsight, Catherynne Valente’s Palimpsest och Alastair Reynolds’ Terminal World, som till skillnad från hans tidigare inte är hård sf utan snarare påminner om China Miéville.

Från panelen Finns det mer sf än vi ser? med Nene Ormes, Marianna Leikomaa och Per Åkerman har jag noterat Nenes kommentarer om att vi lever i en sf-värld med intelligenta hus, Google etc, vilket sannolikt förklarar varför hennes kunder i sf-bokhandeln i Malmö frågar efter magiska böcker snarare än sf. Den sf som finns i böckerna är redan sann.

Patrik Centerwall, Nene Ormes

Patrik Centerwall gjorde en sällsynt lyckad hedersgästintervju av Nene Ormes. Förutom att hon är författare och arbetar i sf-bokhandeln i Malmö driver hon debutantbloggen på webben. Om sin egen debut med Udda verklighet berättar hon att boken såldes slut redan före recensionsdagen, vilket stämmer med ett sug efter svensk fantasy och sf. Tidigare har hon varit sagoberättare, t ex i live, rollspelare, och läst mycket fantasy som Inger Edelfeldt och Katharine Kerr. Hon har jobbat som arkeolog och som reseledare i Egypten för Temaresor. Hennes debutbok var också hennes examensarbete på författarskolan på Lunds universitet . Där fick hon ta mycket skit för att hon skrev fantasy – hennes lärare frågade, ”tror du på det där själv?” Hon fick en ny handledare, Therese Granwald, som förstod henne och som gav henne en lista över rekommenderad litteratur, som innehöll Nenes egna favoriter.

Nene Ormes

Patrik tycker att boken Udda verklighet känns svensk. Hon berättar då att hon gillar att skriva på svenska, som hon ser som ett fantastiskt språk som är som gjort för att berätta sagor på. Hon tycker också om gömda, okända platser, som det finns många av i Malmö. Hon berättar om en port hon hittat som inte fanns när hon efter några år sökte upp den igen. ”Udda” i boken är en person, som inte vill sticka ut. Andra personer i boken har verkliga förebilder men har förstås ändrats. Hon beskriver boken som ”urban fantasy”, egen vardag med fantasy pålagt.

Martin Cederwall höll ett fascinerande föredrag om strängteori. Riktigt hur strängar med en storlek runt Planck-längden, 10-35 m, förklarar hur det kan finnas flera parallella universa långt från varandra förstod jag nog inte. Och lite bekymmersamt blev det när han ansåg att vi inte kan räkna med några experimentella bevis för att strängteorin är riktig än på flera hundra år.

Stefan Ekman

Stefan Ekmans seminarium, Vad innebär det att forska om fantasy? handlade förstås om hans doktorandprojekt Writing Worlds, Reading Landscapes: An Exploration of Settings in Fantasy. Han konstaterade att världen är viktig i fantasy och sf, och kan t o m vara huvudperson. Ofta lånas berättelsen från gamla myter och sagor, men sätts i en annan värld som blir central. Forskning på fantasyvärldar saknas. Det man kan studera är hur världarna är konstruerade. Fantasyböcker har ofta en karta i början, och Stefan har funnit att det gäller för 33 % av det som kallas fantasy. Mellan fantasyvärlden, faerie, och den vanliga världen kan det finnas en skarp gräns som i t ex Gaimans Stardust. I Encyclopedia of Fantasy beskrivs begreppet ”poldern” som är den begränsade fantasyvärlden, en liten miljö som måste upprätthållas genom att gränsen försvaras. Exempel är Lothlorien i Tolkiens värld och Holdstocks Mythago Wood. Detta kan ses som en extremkonservativ, nationalistisk idé och ett försök att bevara det förflutna. Många moderna fantasyverk tar ställning för eller emot detta.

Helena Kiel, Henrik Otterberg

Intressant var också Henrik Otterbergs föredrag om Philip K. Dick, och speciellt handlade det om hans forskning kring Androidens drömmar, som lett till att han hittat referenser till René Descartes och kyrkofadern Isidor genom namnen Rick Deckard och John Isidore. Detta ger extra djup åt bokens innehåll kring artificiella och biologiska varelsers rättigheter och fria vilja.

Karl-Johan Norén, Johan Anglemark, Michael Pargman, Sten Thaning, Hans Persson

Under kongressen röstades om vilken svensk kongress som skulle vara Swecon 2011. Eftersom det inte fanns något motbud var det självklart att det blev Eurocon 2011, men det firades i alla fall med bubbel samtidigt som kommittén försökte sälja medlemsskap.

Gunilla Jonsson,Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf, ?, Katja Lindblom

Helena Kiel

Till slut infångades den fanniska anden och Helena Kiel förslöt den ryska dockan. En mycket trivsam kongress, som avslutades med Dead Dog Party på The Rover inne i Göteborg.


20-22 mars Dieselverkstaden