I have spent the weekend at one of my favorite conventions: Åcon, which is held in Mariehamn in the Åland islands, half way between Finland and Sweden. The weather was magnificent, and as far as I can see a good time was had by all.
Because of the location, Åcon is a perfect meeting place for Finnish and Swedish fandom. The ferry service from Turku to Stockholm stops off at Mariehamn roughly half way along the route. So the convention is always international. However, perhaps thanks to the Helsinki Worldcon, this year was more international than most. We had fans from Norway, Denmark, The Czech Republic, Poland and Wales (me), plus a Guest of Honour from Cornwall and her husband who is (I think) English. And to cap it all we had Eurovision on the Saturday night.
Wales and Cornwall do not yet have their own Eurovision entries. We shall have to work on this. They are bound to be better than anything the BBC can come up with.
Emma Newman was fabulous, as she always is, and the convention got two writer guests in one because Pete is excellent value as well. The large stacks of their books all sold out so obviously they impressed the convention members.
I got to do two panels. The first was on novellas and featured Pete, Johan Jönsson, and Václav Pata. In it we roundly disagreed with just about everything in the panel description, and everything that Gary and Jonathan had said about novellas in the last Coode Street. Nevertheless we appeared to agree that we all liked reading novellas. Mostly I think we agreed that weird things happen in publising because publisher are weird. Václav made a good case for prefering novellas to novels because he’s a screenwriter and they are much easier to convert to a script.
My other panel was on audio and featured Emma and new Danish pal Sanna Bo. Emma terrified us by explaining just how much work, and how many skills, are required to narrate an audiobook. After that we mostly talked about making podcasts, which is so much less complicated. Of course Emma and Pete use a lot more technical tricks in making Tea & Jeopardy than most people use on podcasts, but that’s them, insanely talented people that they are. I explained about Ofcom rules for live radio, which led to some epic swearing because we can do so on convention panels without getting fined.
I believe that the panels were all recorded, so there may be podcasts of the discussion available at some point. Emma and I will have earned “explicit” tags.
Åcon has a lot of game-show type programming in the evening. Fia Karlsson ran The Match Game. Much to my surprise, she had not heard of Kevin doing so at Worldcons. Clearly the game appeals to fannish people.
I decided to pass on the chocolate tasting this year because I have a lot to do and needed time in my room, but Emma and Pete were suitably awed by Mercedes and her top quality wares. One of the problems with Åland is that there is just too much good food to be eaten.
There’s no news of the guest for next year yet, but Åcon will be happening again. As it is tied to the Ascension Day holiday it moves around in the calendar and next year will be right at the end of May. Hopefully I can make it.