Posted by jukkahoo
Last Thursday was just another day in the life of jukkahoo. I woke up, read the paper and the post (it arrives around 8AM) and got myself ready to go and meet yet another famous sf-author. This time I had been invited to a lunch-meeting with Harry Harrison (thanks to LIKE). Arriving a bit early, I had the chance to realise that modern folk art is pretty much as good as modern art as a whole.
By popular demand (don't know about the popularity per se, but there was some pushing) I seated next to HH and managed to please him by giving him a nice promo t-shirt of Finncon2006 (soon to be on the net, too...).
HH is already 80+ and his walking is a bit twonky, but as an interesting conversationalist, he is still very much up there with the best. Amusing and entertaing anecdote after another spew forth from his mouth, with eager heads/ears to assimilate it all. All in all, it was a nice occasion, while the food was surprisingly bland and uninteresting (Sanomatalo Namaskaar lunch).
I had heard earlier, that Jyväskylän Kesä has not been able to provide HH with a caretaker ie. train-companion. As it turned out, they still hadn't anyone for the job. As this was somewhat embarrassing and well, akward really, I wasn't that difficult to persuade into taking this job. We went to check out HH's luggage's from the hotel. We run into bit of a problem, when the block of Sokos had a power failure. Finally we got the bags out and headed for the nearby terrace in order to drink something cold. Which didn't happen since the bar was also out of power. Finally we (that being me, HH, Otto Mäkelä and Toni Jerrman at this point) managed to find the cool location of Oort (or something to that effect, Orvert? Ooburt?).
HH and I took the train at 3.30PM and headed straight to the restaurant, never to actually sit on our seats. The 3 and half hour trip went by very smoothly, as we talked about, well... everything, really. How he wrote his only tie-in novel for the Saint, about the life and living in the US (of which I had some knowledge as well), fandom as a whole and in various countries (HH was there when the fandom was born in USA, Ireland and Finland!).
I haven't read HH's novels in a long time, but after this experience, I turned to my shelves and dug out his last book the first book of the Stars and Stripes trilogy (and probably his last fictional work, as he thinks that he has no more tales to tell, yet he would like to write couple of non-fiction books - maybe about his early years and life, wholeheartedly agreed by this fan here!), Stars and Stripes Forever. I read couple of first chapters of this Alternate history, where the idea is: "What if the United States and Britain had gone to war in 1862? What if the American Civil War had not run its course and, instead, the two armies of North and South had combined against a common enemy: Britain?" I was pleasantly surprised by the fluid storyline, while maybe less enchanted by some of the infodumping. I'm going to continue with this as it looks like a fairly entertaining story. I did like his Hammer and the Cross trilogy (co-written with John Holm Aka. Tom Shippey!), where the basic premise is that there is not just a Christian God, but powerful Nordic gods as well, and the vikings are thus able to defend their way of living and even conquer Britain.
I managed to get an autograph for a copy of the old Kuoleman planeetta (first Deathworld book in Finnish). I must say I was a tad jealous of Toni, who got HH's autograph for his new printing of the Ruostumaton teräsrotta from LIKE, which looked very nice next to his old copy of the same book by John Books (from 1980, like my copy of Kuoleman planeetta), with an autograph of HH from the year 1982, when he was in Finland for the first time!
We met Mika and Ipa in Jyväskylä and escorted HH to his hotel room, for a brief repose before the 8PM dinner extravaganza at restaurant Figaro. Now, you need to eat well in Jyväskylä? You go to Figaro. Not only do they have a very good kitchen, they also have excellent service, and even at reasonable price, methinks.
Of course, I didn't have to worry about the money, since I was a guest there. And were we ever indulged? A full course meal with wining and dining, aperitifs and reperatifs (I mean drinks afterwards). So much so, that my fairly substantial belly was filled to the brim and i was already more than a bit sloshed. But so was everyone else, from Juha Hemanus to Outi Heiskanen, and HH, who mentioned that he cannot in all honesty understand what (if anything) goes on in monsieur Chirac's brains, when he disses Finnish cuisine. A lot is wrong with Finnish cuisine, but nothing with the food they serve at Figaro. Palate City!, says Jo-Bob Briggs.
We walked HH back to his hotel, said farewell's and departed for the night. In the morning, I had the pleasure of repeating a dining-experience with HH, when we ate a hearthy breakfast at Milton. Mine was heartier, since HH for some reason was feeling a bit woozy.... After that, it was unfortunately time to say goodbye's, as I was due to Helsinki and Finnish Western Society's annual Pukkujuhlat. I hope people were able to attend the Sunday picnic with HH in Jyväskylä. He is a class act, one of the Old Ones, which seem to be a dissapearing breed, soon wholly gone.