Books from Worldcon

I only actually bought one book in Finland. That was a copy of Gender Identity and Sexuality in Current Fantasy and Science Fiction to give to Kevin as a birthday present. However, I still came away with quite a few books.

First up is Giants at the End of the World, an anthology of Finnish Weird fiction edited by Johanna Sinisalo and Toni Jerrman. I think this one was given away free to all attending members. I can’t see any way to buy it just now, but it does have ISBNs for ebook editions so hopefully it will be available soon. It includes short fiction by a variety of excellent writers including Sinisalo herself, Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen, Maria Turtschaninoff, Emmi Itäranta and Anne Leinonen. There is also the first chapter of Summerland, the forthcoming (next year) novel from Hannu Rajaniemi.

The authors featured in that book have either had novels published in English, or have at least featured in one issue of the Finnish Weird magazine that Jerrman put together to help promote the Worldcon. However, as Sinisalo notes in her introduction, that is only the tip of the iceberg. To get a better idea of what is going on in Finland you need Never Stop, an anthology edited by Emmi Itäranta that features only writers previously unavailable in translation. This one is available to buy, though apparently only as an ebook rather than the paper edition I picked up at the launch party.

At the same event the publishers, Osuuskumma, were also promoting The Self Inflicted Relative, an anthology of 33 drabbles (100 word stories) by Finnish writers in English. It is also available as an ebook.

The other country that was heavily promoting translated fiction at the convention was China. At a party put on by Storycom, the organisation that has worked with Clarkesworld to bring Chinese SF to the English-speaking world, I was given a copy of Touchable Unreality. This is a beautiful anthology in both Chinese and English. All of the stories have been in Clarkesworld, and right now the book is only published in China. Neil talks about it here.

China is, of course, a huge country, and Storycom is by no means the only company publishing SF. I also spoke with a representative of Douban Read, the publishing arm of a massive Chinese social media company. Apparently they have been publishing a lot of science fiction, and are keen to make some of it available to the English-speaking market. I was given a small book containing two stories: “The Khazar Key” by Zhu Yiye and “Teartide” by Wu Fugang. Given the enormous population of China, there must be many more great writers there waiting to be discovered.

Finally in the translated fiction arena I was given a copy of the Worldcon 75 special edition of Parsek, the Croatian fanzine produced by the folks who put on SFerakon. It is entirely in English and includes both fiction and non-fiction. The fiction contributors include Aleksandar Žiljak who was a guest of honor at this year’s Eurocon, and my friend Milena Benini.

I also got given a sampler for one book written in English. It is Luminescent Threads, the latest non-fiction book from Twelfth Planet Press. Following in the footsteps of the hugely successful Letters to Tiptree, this book contains essays about the work of Octavia Butler. I’m pretty sure that I backed the Kickstarter, so I have effectively already bought the book.

I’m delighted to see all of this translated fiction about. If that’s what having a Worldcon in a non-English-speaking country means, may we have many more of them.

Update: Anne Leinonen has been in touch to inform me that both Never Stop and The Self Inflicted Relative are available in paperback from the Holvi store.

Posted in Books, Clarkesworld, Finland, Science Fiction, Translations | Leave a comment

Best Dressed at the Hugos Award

For many years now I have been doing fashion coverage of the Hugos. I confess that I am no way up to the standard of Genevieve Valentine and her brilliant reviews of major movie business awards, but these are our people and hopefully that counts for something.

I was disappointed by the absence of the Campbell Tiara this year, but Amal El-Mohtar made up for it with this lovely creation.

Guys can dress up too, and Max Gladstone certainly pushed the boat out here. He told me that the little shop he bought it from was closing the very week he went to buy this lovely outfit.

Sarah Gailey certainly caught the eye in a stunning gold creation. Here she is totally outshining me and the other finalists & acceptors for the Related Work category.

However, the winner for the night was Likhain. She wore a traditional Philippina dress, specifically because she wanted people back home to see their country represented. She had her mother send it over especially for the ceremony. Here she is (right) with Aliette de Bodard (left).

As usual there is no trophy or prize money, just the warm and fuzzy feeling of having outshone everyone else at a glittering ceremony.

All of the photos are by Paula Heinonen.

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My Hugos Dress


Having got back to Helsinki, I have been able to pick up all of the photos that Paula Heinonen took at the Hugo Awards. Here are Kevin and myself all dressed up ready for the show.

Posted in Awards, Clothes, Personal | 1 Comment

Tampere Site Visit

I have no idea whether the Finns are serious about bidding for Tampere in 2032, but just in case I paid the proposed site a visit today.

Tampere is just over an hour by train from Helsinki and has been the site of many successful Finncons. Right now it does not have the facilities to host a Worldcon, but there are plans to build a brand new convention center around the railway station. This is an ideal location. There are already many hotels in the area, including two Scandics, a Holiday Inn that appears to be undergoing a massive expansion, and a giant Sokos that might be the ugliest hotel in the world. There are cheaper hotels as well.

There are plenty of places to eat in the area, and as the university is close by some of them are very cheap. And there is a small shopping mall. The city is building a tram network that will be in operation much sooner than the convention center is built, so getting to other parts of the city will be easy. My only reservation is the airport, which is very small and currently only has bus links to the city.

The main attraction of Tampere is the brand new Moomin Museum located inside Tampere-talo, a massive arts complex located just 5 minutes walk from the railway station. I visited the Moomin Museum a few years back and, while it had lots of great things in it, it all looked a bit sad. The new museum has put a lot of work into presentation and is well worth a visit if you have any interest in Moomins (save for eating them, Paul).

The city also has a fascinating cathedral with some great art, and the world’s only Lenin museum. The great revolutionary lived in Tampere for some time while plotting his take-over of Russia and the city has lots of interesting material connected to his time there.

Today I visited Vapriikki, a museum complex a little further out of town. It contains several discrete exhibitions including a brand new games museum. Most of the material in it is concerned with electronic games, for which Finland is justly famous, but it has some board games and RPG material as well, including a whole section on Finland’s annual role-playing event, Ropecon, which was in Messukeskus two weeks before us.

Vapriikki also contains a natural history section, a geology section, exhibits about life in Tampere in 1918 and 1017, a doll museum, and Finland’s Ice Hockey Hall of Fame. It does not yet have an exhibition devoted to the sayings of Kimi Raikkonen, though I am sure that will come eventually.

Right now there is also a traveling exhibition with material from the Forbidden City in Beijing. It is Qing Dynasty, so relatively modern, and very impressive.

I put a whole lot of photos on Twitter today if you want to see more.

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Still in Finland

As I had some suspicion of just how exhausting Worldcon would be I planned to spend a couple of days after the convention hanging out with my dear friend, Irma Hirsjärvi. This involved taking a trip up to Central Finland where the internet connectivity is not as world-beating as it is in Helsinki, so I am offline much of the time.

I am, however, getting to write. There will be a con report in due course. Nor have I forgotten about the Emerald City Best Dressed at the Hugos Award. I will do that post once I have been able to catch up with Paula again and get the rest of her photos.

In the meantime I continue to be absolutely mortified about the number of times during the convention that I mistook someone for someone else. Whether this was just tiredness or the signs of impending senility, I am not sure, but I’d like to apologize profusely once again for my rudeness.

I’m signing off now as apparently I have to go for a cruise on a lake this evening. It is a tough life, and I will probably get eaten to death by mosquitoes, but I am willing to make that sacrifice for you.

Tomorrow I will be spending a few hours in Tampere, the proposed site of the 2032 Worldcon. The convention center we plan to use has not been built yet, but work on the city’s brand new tram network is underway, and of course the new Moomin museum opened earlier this year. Guess where I will be going. Hopefully there will be photos on Twtter.

Posted in Conventions, Finland, Where's Cheryl? | 4 Comments

Worldcon: Day 5

Yesterday I had just one panel, at 16:00. It seemed to go well. The morning was spent catching up on sleep and the afternoon on bagging interviews with people for a Worldcon special show on Ujima next week.

In the evening I attended the Dead Dog and the Old Pharts (former Worldcon Chairs) parties. I confess to having had a few tears hearing people who have chaired good conventions praising Jukka for his achievement. These days most Worldcons take place in cities, and even venues, that have held one before. To run a successful Worldcon in a country that has never had one before and where English is not the first language is an amazing achievement. I am so proud of Finnish fandom.

The final stats for Helsinki were as follows:

  • 10516 total memberships of all types
  • 7119 “warm bodies” on site
  • over 2000 attendees were at their first Worldcon

The term “warm bodies” represents a formula for calculating memberships that takes into account facts like five people on one-day passes not being the same as one person on a full membership. If you need an explanation, ask Kevin.

In terms of total memberships, Helsinki is third behind Spokane (2015) with 11,742 and London (2014) with 10,718. Both of those conventions were boosted by high numbers of supporting members wanting to vote in the Hugos to counteract the Puppies. In terms of warm bodies it is second behind Los Angeles (1984) with 8365. That was boosted by being the first venue ever to show all three original Star Wars movies back to back. Helsinki was not boosted by anything other than a brilliant local fandom, and had they not had to start turning people away due to lack of space they might well have beaten LA’s record.

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Congratulations, Dublin!

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Dublin beat Rottnest Island and all of the usual silly other write-in bids that we get when a bid is unopposed. The 2019 Worldcon will therefore be just a short flight over Wales and the Irish Sea from Bristol. It will be very easy to get to. I hope to see a lot of Welsh and West Country people there.

The list of Guests of Honour can be found here, and the membership page is here.

I am, of course, deliriously happy for Ian McDonald.

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Hugos Redux

I haven’t had much time, and even less brain cells, to study the Hugo stats. Also I don’t have all of the photos that Paula took for me yet. There will be a proper fashion report in due course. However, in the meantime here are a couple of pictures.

First up, a much better picture of the trophy than the one I tweeted yesterday.

And secondly Emma and Pete singing a victory song in the style of the Little Chickens.

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Worldcon: Day 4

I was so tired last night that It forgot to set my alarm and woke up 1.5 hours later than planned. While I did get around 7.5 hours sleep, I didn’t get breakfast because I had an 11:00am panel and it takes almost an hour to get to the convention from my hotel.

Thankfully the panel went well. This was the one on the history of gender, which I had suggested. Originally I had been asked to moderate, but Scott Lynch kindly stepped into that role to allow me to talk more. He did a great job of keeping order on a panel with three very opinionated women (Jo Walton, Gillian Pollack and myself). My apologies once again to Thomas Årnfelt who didn’t get much of a look-in, but had some great medieval history info when he did.

I spent most of the panel telling anecdotes about trans history, but I did also get to do some show and tell. There is a great company in the dealer’s room who make cuneiform tablets. If you have some text, they’ll do a custom one for you. So I got them to make this:

For an explanation, see this blog post.

I also got to attend (and I had to queue early to get in for both) two trans-themed panels. Neither of them told me much new, but it was great to see packed out rooms for such things. The first trans panel I can remember at Worldcon was in Montréal in 2009. There were about 15 people in the audience, one of whom was a very hostile feminist, and all of the other panelists were cis. Here we had several trans-themed panels with a variety of identities represented (including non-binary people with no wish to transition medically), and all of them were younger than me.

Despite having got a decent lunch, the no breakfast thing meant that by mid afternoon I was fading fast. Thankfully Otto managed to catch me and steer me to the staff lounge for some vitamins before I collapsed. However, that was not before I managed to mistake someone for someone else on several occasions and embarrass myself horribly. My apologies to all concerned.

In the evening Thor came to see the masquerade. Despite beating on the roof of Messukeskus very hard, he didn’t get in. Thankfully he got bored after a while and I was about to get out to the party run by the lovely people from Storycom. I got to meet some young Chinese writers and a guy who has started a convention in Hong Kong. And we got to see Neil Clarke on film, which partially made up for his not being here.

I didn’t see the masquerade, but I gather that Miki Dennis got a big prize, as is only right and proper. Best in Show, however, seems to have gone to a very young person in her first masquerade. I want to see photos of that.

Overall things have gone very smoothly today. There are still queues, and some panels do max out, but the vast majority of people are getting to see what they want to see. The discussions I’m hearing in the hallways are changing from, “why don’t these idiots do something about the overcrowding” to “wow, this is an amazing convention!”. One day left, and I suspect it will only get better from here.

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Worldcon: Day 3

That was an even longer day, and I’m only back at my room now because I skipped the Hugo Loser’s Party.

The space issues are vastly reduced now. The panel I was on today had 20 people in the audience for a room rated to seat 200. Of course it wasn’t perfect. Sometimes programming guesses wrong when it goes to the popularity of a panel. But for the most part anyone who wanted a seat for one.

The text-based coverage of the Hugos went pretty well, which is good because the live video failed. Thanks to Kevin, to Susan de Guardiola who stood in for Mur, and to everyone who joined us online.

And most importantly:

TEA AND JEOPARDY WON A HUGO!!!!!!

Posted in Awards, Conventions, Finland | 2 Comments

Worldcon: Day 2

There has been a convention. I have done many things. Tomorrow I will do even more. Gods willing, I will be reporting live from the Hugos here. I am also being an emergency, holographic Neil Gaiman as the real Neil is busy working on the Good Omens mini series. I do not expect to have time to blog tomorrow other than that.

In the meantime the concom is getting a handle on the overcrowding. Everyone I spoke to today said that things were better than yesterday, and many panels had empty seats. Attending membership is, I believe, over 6100. There were almost 5000 people on site yesterday, which is more than the peak attendance of any non-US Worldcon save for Loncon 3.

Kevin and I were chatting with Jukka this evening. Someone, I think Kevin, said that Helsinki had scored a Critical Hit, but that doing so was not always good. No, I said. You have scored a Critical Hit. You are now covered in the intestines of the huge monster that you have slain with a single blow. You smell awful.

Slowly but surely, the Helsinki committee is digging its way out of the gigantic pile of shit that its unexpected success has caused.

By the way, it is worth noting that it has always been the plan that the Dealers’ Room would be open to the general public without the need for a membership. This has not changed. People who turn up and cannot get in can still see part of the convention.

Posted in Awards, Conventions, Finland | 2 Comments

Buy My Book, Please


The very fabulous Gender Identity and Sexuality in Fantasy and Science Fiction was published today. Copies are available from Luna Press in the dealers’ room, or through the usual outlets.

If you can’t stomach the thought of another essay on trans characters from me, you might want to get the book for Juliet McKenna’s article on the myth of publishing being a meritocracy in which men naturally rise to the top. Or you may prefer Kim Lakin-Smith reflecting on grotesque female bodies in the work of Frances Hardinge and Neil Gaiman. Jyrki Korpua’s essay, “What About Tauriel”, is one I’m keen to read after hearing him talk about the Peter Jackson movies today.

A very kind person that wasn’t Kevin asked me to sign a copy of the book today, so I know that at least one copy has been sold.

Posted in Academic, Books, Feminism, Gender | 3 Comments

Worldcon 75 Day 1: Where Did All These People Come From?

The Helsinki Worldcon is now well underway, and the big topic of conversation is the attendance. On the face of it, this is a good thing. We all want Worldcon to grow. The largest number of attending members in history is still LA Con II in 1984 with 8365. LonCon 3 in 2014 had more members in total, but only 6946 attending. The last I heard Helinki was up to 6001. Some of those may be day members, who have to be counted somewhat differently from full attending members, but even so it is an impressive number. Helsinki certainly looks like being in the top 5 Worldcons by size.

Unfortunately, based on previous Worldcons outside of the US/UK axis, expected numbers for Helsinki were more like 3500. Messukeskus could handle that easily. It is more than big enough in terms of exhibit space for what we have. But the function space, where programming happens, is stretched to the limit.

There are many things that a Worldcon can do to cope with the unexpected, but building new program rooms is not one of them. Seeing how memberships were going, Helsinki did negotiate some space in the library across the road. It did not try to turn empty exhibit halls into function space because we all know how badly that went in Glasgow in 1995.

Hopefully tomorrow, with more program streams in operation, the pressure on space will ease, but right now what we have is every program room packed solid and many people getting turned away. Messukeskus is very hot on fire safety. Personally I’m going to avoid program at much as I can because I have been to many Worldcons and there are lots of people for whom this is their first experience of the convention. Hopefully other regulars will do the same. I don’t envy the Helsinki team trying to sort this out, but I guess if you must have a major problem it is better to have one that was caused by your amazing success in other areas.

Everything else appears to be running fairly smoothly. There are plenty of food vendors open at the convention and they seem to be doing excellent business. The dealers, fan tables and art show are all up and running. If I’m not trying to get to panels I may see more of the convention tomorrow.

Posted in Conventions, Finland | 6 Comments

Rugby World Cup Kicks Off

If I wasn’t busy in Finland I would be at home watching the Women’s Rugby World Cup on TV. The first round of matches started today in Ireland. Wales had the worst possible draw, beginning their campaign against the mighty Kiwis. Naturally we got thrashed. You’d think that the next game against Canada might be easier, but actually the Canadian women are very good. Thank goodness we have Hong Kong in our group. Canada utterly destroyed them.

Elsewhere the USA got off to a winning start against Italy and England thrashed Spain. Ireland-Australia and France-Japan are being played this evening. Scotland did not qualify for the finals.

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We Are Officially Received


Worldcon isn’t due to start until tomorrow, but this evening a bunch of us were invited to attend a civic reception at City Hall here in Helsinki. Obviously the city couldn’t fit all 6,000+ attending members in, so the convention ran a lottery weighted by contributions to programming. Kevin and I were both lucky enough to get in. There were also fans from Finland, Sweden, Ireland, France, Croatia, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, China and doubtless many other countries as well. It all looked very official (and incidentally gave some of us a great opportunity to check in with senior convention staff in a relaxed and informal fashion).

Of course it also made the forthcoming convention seem so much more welcome in the city. Comparisons were made with Winnipeg in 1994 as the last time a city had pushed the boat out for us in this sort of way.

The building now used as City Hall was originally built as an hotel in 1833. The style is Russian Imperial, Finland having been annexed by Alexander I in 1809.

After the reception a lot of people disappeared off to a karaoke bar. I got registered and went back to my hotel because I was very tired day looking around the city. My Fitbit says I did almost 25,000 steps today so I think I have earned a rest. What worries me is that the con hasn’t started yet. Ooops.

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A Trip to San Antonio

No, not me, I’m still now allowed into the USA. I’m talking about G.V. Anderson, the young writer from Dorset whose first professional sale, “Das Steingeschöpf”, has been chosen as a World Fantasy Award Finalist.

Naturally she’s very excited, but World Fantasy is in San Antonio this year and a trip to Texas is expensive. So she’s crowdfunding the cost of flights for herself and her significant other. Every little helps, so if you have a few pennies you can donate the appeal is here.

Also, if you are going to World Fantasy, there’s a young lady who could do with some friends to look after her.

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Introducing Rainbow Stumps

The lovely people at Stonewall UK have made huge strides in combating homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in football through their Rainbow Laces campaign. However, that’s just one sport among many. I’m much more interested in rugby (where Gareth Thomas and Nigel Owens have already done great work) and cricket. I’m delighted to report that Stonewall’s new cricket-related campaign, Rainbow Stumps, launched today.

The plan is to have representation at T20 matches around the country all through this week. There are both men’s and women’s matches taking place. The good folks at Sky Sports are also on board. Look, here’s Bob Willis:

(For the benefit of non-cricket people, he’s always that sour.)

Athers, Bumble and Naz have also got in on the act.

Of course the whole point is that LGBT+ people want to be involved in sport too. That meant that Stonewall needed to find people with a passion for cricket. How could I refuse? Here’s my contribution.

The timing is rather unfortunate. I would love to be down at Taunton on Saturday to cheer on Somerset and Western Storm, but there is a small matter of a Worldcon keeping me here in Helsinki. Sorry folks.

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Beware Fake Hugos

I understand from Kevin that there is an event being promoted on Facebook that offers a link to live streaming of this year’s Hugo Award ceremony. This is fake, and will probably lead to a site loaded with malware. Details of how to follow the text-based coverage that Kevin and I will be providing are here. There is no official link for the convention’s video-based coverage yet, but when it is available it will be posted on the Worldcon 75 website.

Update: the official live stream will be via YouTube at this address.

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Toilets in Helsinki

One of the things that worries people most about visiting a foreign country is making sure they use the correct toilet. As you will have noticed from my videos, major venues such as the airport and Messukeskus doing the usual signage thing, which is fine unless you come from a country where men traditionally wear skirts and/or women trousers. However, bars and restaurants around the city may use words instead of pictures, or just have letters like they do in St.Urho’s, the fannish pub. So which door should you use?

Persons who are male-identified should use the door marked M, or Miehet. You may also see H or Herrar if the venue’s preferred language is Swedish.

Persons who are female-identified should use the door marked N, or Naiset. You may also seen D or Damer if the venue’s preferred language is Swedish.

Gender neutral toilets are very rare here.

Of course some places may try to be cute and use other terms, in which case the best advice I can give is to lurk and watch who uses which door.

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Friday Night is Cruising Night

On the first Friday evening of each month proud car owners in Helsinki bring their beloved vehicles to the harbor where they can be admired by others. Otto and I took a trip to see the show. Here are some pictures.

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