Posted by Sari
I have always had a great time at Åcon. That should not come as a great surprise, as I have been among the more vocal complainers about the way fandom aspect has been lost into the carnival of Finncon-Animecon, and so clearly have been on the market for a smaller fannish con experience. This year, I think I had my best Åcon ever, everything just gelled beautifully.This year other enterprising people took care of getting the GoH (the wonderful Geoff Ryman) safely to Turku for the ferry, so I Jukka and Kexy packed Jeeves (our black Nissan Note) with necessary stuff such as laminating machine, plush toys, knitting needles and yarn and Viivi the dog, and started driving towards Turku at the unholy hour of 5 a.m on Thursday morning. Despite Kexy’s efforts to navigate back towards Helsinki, we got on the boat without a hitch, and out of it early enough to avoid the check in queue at the hotel. We also bagged an excellent room from the top floor with a view across the harbour.
What made this con a bit different was that my mom was along for the ride. She spent many a summer at Åland on archaeological digs when she was young and wanted to visit her old haunts. She is also a horror and media SF fan, and heroically listened without complaint when I and my sister read the whole of Lord of the Rings aloud to her when we were fourteen and twelve respectively. Next time I am planning to get her to listen to programming also. Anyway, because I had an expert guide and we had a car in our disposal, we spent the mornings driving around Åland looking at historical sites: all four big medieval churches, a Bronze Age burial mound, a stone age dwelling and ruins of Bomarsund fortress. There was something wonderfully surreal about sitting, hung over, next to the oldest known Stone Age dwelling on Åland and debating the mechanisms of cultural exchange. With one's mom.
The afternoons and evenings were spent socialising at the bar and catching program items. Geoff showed us interesting excerpts from silent era movie extravaganzas from Cabiria to Fritz Lang’s Niebelungen. Geography came into play when it was obvious that the film most familiar to this audience was the one Geoff’s audiences usually do not recognize: Aelita. We also saw first half of Lang’s Frau im Mond which was surprisingly captivating: even though the chairs were hard and we had to crane our necks to see the film the audience would have wanted to see what happened after the mad professor Calculus look-alike went off cavorting on the moon with his dowsing rod.
Marianna handled the GoH interview with aplomb, and kept the conversation nicely going through Geoff’s oeuvre, and our GoH was also an excellent reader and entertained us with readings from his forthcoming book. As far as other programming went, I watched “One hit wonders” panel which bogged down a bit when everybody started just naming names and arguing if they fitted the definition. I have to give special thanks to the poor souls roped to Jukka’s Nevermind the Buzzaldrins quiz. As I am usually the test audience for his questions and my stock answer is ‘well, I don’t know’, I was glad to see that the questions proved to be tricky for other people too. I thought the lovely Candy deserved her surprise win.
If you put Hanna and Johan J. in a same hotel room, that room automatically becomes party central. Also Hello Kitty central. For some totally contrary reason the fact that I had to get up in the mornings to do the touristy bits helped me to stay up long enough to enjoy the record breaking cigar club meeting (was it ten or eleven participants?), commemorate the fall of Martti Miettunen’s minority government May 15th 1977, help to transform Pasinen into the golden boy, to have a taste of absolutely foul spirits called “Girl” (lychee fruit, raspberry, cognac and vodka), and figure out some unorthodox uses for Hello Kitty ping-pong rackets.
So, I had just about a perfect con, and now my Åcon love knows no bounds. Next year there will be no Åcon because of scheduling problems, but next year I am sure it will be even more epic than ever before.