Posted by jukkahoo
What a weekend(ish)! Everything started at Thusday when Mike (that's shorthand for M. John Harrison) was picked from the airport and escorted to Helsinki. A jolly nice evening session with LIKE people (Iida & Hannu & Eliza), checking out the LIKE Headquarters, heading then to Kolme Kruunua where we had something to eat and after that to pub Patrick for some bheer. Lots to talk about and of SF, but also of Finnish tango and politics. Early night though, since we had Tähtivaeltaja award to give next morning and LOADS of other things do. Like checking the email. Which wasn't possible, since my computer had a meltdown. Or something. The hard drive is apparently broken. That suxxs! Big time. (You want to reach me, call me.)
Friday morning came far too early, but I managed to pick Mike up from his residence and head to Ateneum Café, where we (as in Helsinki SF Association) gave to him and LIKE the Tähtivaeltaja award for Valo (Light) as the best SF-book released in Finnish for the year 2004. A brilliant book that has deserved all the recognition it has thusfar received. A very nice occasion, with loads of reporters (Helsingin Sanomat, Aamulehti, STT) and at least three photographers! A number of questions and a couple of interviews later we headed to Meze (a newish Greek restaurant at Aikatalo) with Mike and Kimmo, where Kimmo conducted an interesting interview for Parnasso with Mike. And the meze's weren't half bad!
After I had dropped Mike off to LIKE Headquarters for some autographing and photo-opportunities, I headed to Espoo and ESCON. The first ever Espoo SF-con looked nice, had a tremendous site, great organisation, good/great programming, Brilliant Guests (Mike, Johanna Sinisalo, Jyrki J. J. Kasvi); and no audience. After our panel, that is...
I don't think that our "You've read Harry Potter, Now What?" -discussion with Vesa, Teemu and Sini was THAT bad, quite the opposite methinks. But as feared, the aim of getting high school students to come and listen to (even interesting) panels and interviews, only managed to gather around 60+ youngsters for the very first program part, after which they quickly slithered away to drink some pussikaljaa (probably).
But dispite the low attendace, the con itself was very good. Interviews were very good, Jyrki & MikaP Double-Act on Books-to-Films-to-Games (or the other way round) was brilliant (good script, guys!) and Petri was funny and profussional as always with his illustrated fairytale a la Kylli-täti. Gruesome stuff...
And then it was over and we had 18 minutes of Dead Dog left at the Sello. Slippery sofa's and more beer than people. After which we headed to very crowded William K, which was nice. The stay there, not the crowdedness. I think that other that those three kids, every single one of us participants were at William K.
And then it was Saturday and time for Tähtivaeltaja Day.
I managed to sleep lateish and find my way to center in order to locate Mike and Catherine, who had earlier mentioned that they'd be checking out the Market Square in the morning and have a decent breakfast at some cosy caféteria. I managed to track them down (after I had waited a mere 10 minutes at the wrong place, about 30 meters away on the other side of the crowd milling to see Frau President opening the Tanzania taksvärkki. Anyway, we managed to find Dubrovnik well before we were supposed to do the interview. I asked few questions from various members of the audience and surprisingly it seemed, that far too many people haven't read Mike previously, so I decided to go through his books a bit more methodically than I had originally planed for. Which was actually a good thing as people seemed to like this approach as well as making several interesting questions/comments also. I managed to confront Mike about the Gabriel King -books (he's Mr. King, whereas Jane Johnson is Gabriel) and I also got the very first signature he's ever done as "Gabriel King". Usually he settles with the "King"-part as he reckons that his letter K is fabulous. And it is! We also managed to talk a bit abour reviewing (or in Mike's case about criticising) and the how's and why's of the publishing industry. And about the Sequel. ("Sequel to what?", asks Alter. "The Sequel, dimwit! Of Light, be it Heavy or Dark That Sequel!", answers the crowd.) It'll be a lot smaller slice of a larger pie that was the Light. Looking forward to that one.
And then it was over and I was drenched. Couldn't at first fathom why it was so, since I had never done anything as inspiring and easy on stage before, but after Mike complained about being dead-tired also, we realised it was the lights which had more or less made the stage a nightmarishly hot and sweaty place.
After that I bumped into people, chatted with out ot town fen, ate a shirmp toast (which was far too moist) and worried about my Huttu Juttu -show. Actually, I didn't worry about it, since I knew it'd be a great crowd-pleaser. It was that two years ago and this time I didn't have a lymphoma. Ha! Little did I know. The show was not a crowd-pleaser, it was a HOOT! All the participants were great; Toni with Johanna S., Petri and Hauta, and Johanna A with Ipa, Tero and Ben on the other. The Helsinki/Tampere team was winning with over 340 points difference (don't ask me how my beautiful assistant Keijo -mark II, the Tuomas-model - managed to count the score, especially as I hadn't told him to do that - or HOW?), when Petri uttered the fateful "Double or Nothing!" out of hismouth and managed to snatch the defeat from the jaws of Impending Victory! Team Ahma (also known as Turku/Jyväskylä team) won, although questions were raised of the impartiality of Keijo, who is the son-in-law of Ipa. Then again, I did try to give the win to Team Tähtivaeltaja, but somehow it was all to no avail.
I managed to get away from all the chores facing the tired group of organisers, an d headed toward Zetor, where I had arrainged a dinner for a group of people, including Mike, Cath, Otto, Toni, Hauta, Tero, Sari et al. A very enjoyable and satisfying meal it was too. The ambiance was just right and I think both Mike and Cath really liked the place. And who could in all seriousness resist their menu? Or reindeer ribs? Well, the latter I can now, as I have tried them. Reindeer meet, good. Ribs, good. Reindeer ribs, umh... edible (a seriously large portion).
We headed to Kirja, where we had the evening party and was it not the greatest ever? Seriously, it was jolly decent party, with all the right people and substances available. Kirja is a nice place, just about right-sized for his kind of a (around 80-100) group, where everyone can see each others and we, the fen, can control the music and programming.
I had set my mind for some beerdrinking and chatting with various people, but Madame Fortuna landed her sizable rear-end on my lap in a form of Vesa Sisättö. Vesa wasn't too keen on MC'ing the occasion and when he more or less indirectly hinted at that direction, I was more than happy to oblige and host the carnival. Vesa has been doing a LOT of work toward both this and yesterday's ESCON, not to mention October's Book Fair, and the man deserved a break. And i have to say this, I was on a roll. I loved to interview I did with Mike and Huttu Juttu was like Belsen, a gas.
I freaked Mike out with my announcement of his speech (my bad, I misunderstood), but like a trooper he is, he delivered a very nice Thank You for all the deserving people, though I think he was a bit rude to the poor MC... (you had to be there in order to appreciate that sentence). Vesa and Petri gave the long-awaited Jet-Ace Logan awards for Steven Spielberg and M. Night Shamalamadingdong, for The Most Stupidest Way of Conquering the Earth (in War of the Worlds) and the Most Stupid Way of Saving It (Signs). Thoroughly deserved recognitions. If only the rest of the world could see the reason for these awards. After this, we started with the Main Eventof the evening: Sell the Book! And what an event it was!
Hilarious, heart-felt, stunning, corgeous, wicked, sinful, honest, thruthful... All that and more. All the participants, all ten of them, had thought about their delivery, the message they wanted to convey. Some went for the grotesque, some for the cheap (and often very deserved) laughs, but all did it with gusto. Ilja Rautsi and Erkki Ahonen's Paikka nimeltä Plaston! Stunnorama! A winner, but only just. Teemu Naarajärvi with CHINESE version of The Unknown Soldier! Jan Hlinovsky with Rick Random from the Avaruuden Korkeajännitys! Hannu Blommila with Peter Watt's Starfish, now with Flaming Covers!!! And all the rest: jautero, J-P, Eemeli, Iida, Veikko - and the surprise Guest: Mike Harrison, who not only read Light, but had also written a review of it, while waiting for his turn! (Written by a man, of whom Iain M. Banks said: "Who?") This is how a GoH shows that he's enjoying the con and the evening party!
Naturally I had to disqualify him, since not only he didn't read from the beginning (as the Rules stipulate) he also went thrice over the allowed time limit of two minutes (Ilja managed to stop the clock at 1.59). Like a brillinat publishing house they are, LIKE had coughed up a grand package ("VALTAVIA KIMPALEITA!") of Good Reading for awards. Everybody seemed to be having a ball and I sure felt like a winner myself. This was a LOT of FUN! We HAVE to do this again, soon!
I like to thank all the people who made these few days a real treat. All the organisers, all the participants and all the fans that just were there. This is the reason I love you guys, this is the reason why I personally find that last drop of extra strength to carry on, day after day, year after year. These moments, these precious moments. (
Deleted due excessive sobbing and cry-babiness, not to mention cuddly-cutiness. This reall ought to stop here, man!)