I have lots of books and films and whatnot to write about, but my brain has turned to mush, thanks to Åcon crud. Though in the interests of full disclosure I think patient zero in this case was either my mom or Jukka, so I most probably would have had this plague even without awesome Åcon. Also apologies for other suffering people for spreading the germ.
I have little - well, a lot - to add about this con to Jukka's report. I love the concept to bits, and have never had a bad or even mediocre Åcon. As noted in earlier reports Åland as a location rules, weather was was sunny if not warm, and the trip was pleasant and well organised (thank you again Hanna!). On the minus side hotel and bar were exceptionally sloppy with us this year. I kind of like the little dilapidated 1980s thing the place has going on, but room assigments were not done as per request which lead to all kinds of difficulties. I can also understand that the bar was overwhelmed with both ice hockey WC and us, but again, if you charge good price for the high end stuff then it would be nice if you could make sure you have the stuff to sell. It is not like this was the first time Åcon was in Adlon.
As for the content, our Guest of Honor Catherynne M. Valente was funny, smart, engaged, enthusiastic and our kind of people. So that was kind of nice. Also, she is an excellent writer. For me, the absolutely best thing about her work is that (maybe because of her backround as a poet?) that she engages in trying to transmit how things feel, what it is like to touch. As one of those people who do not see stories in their minds eye, that approach is extremely satisfying.
Programming, well, um. OK, the thing is I don't much care for panel programs. I like to listen to a well argued paper or clear lecture, or take part in group discussions. But panels, not really my thing. Thus my normal Åcon consists of catching few programming Items, doing my own stuff and spending the rest of the time in the bar or at the patio with friends. This time, the programming was on time, there were no real breaks and obviously the programming was interesting enough that people spent most of their time watching it. Silly things. Also the stupid awning was down all the time so it was cold on the patio, and thus the hanging out part of the con was a bit truncated.
I saw Never Mind the Bus, Aldrin, absolutely mad props to Ben for saving the day, well done. Cat's reading was also very good, both the story and her reading of it Nene, as I knew from Eurocon, is an excellent interviewer and she and Cat seemed to find each other well in the author interview. Loponen's Sapir Whorf paper was good stuff, mapping as it did, the ways SF-writers use Sapir Whorf on top of how the position of the hypothesis has changed in linguistics. Mekku does pretty complicated literary philosopy, that relies on very specific vocabulary, and heavily engages with work of others in the field. And twenty minutes is not enough time to open that up for people not familiar with it. But at least it was exactly what was ordered :-)
What else: the panel on postmodern fantasy. Look, obviously the panelists all had slightly different views on what constitutes postmodernism, and that is fine (as it is actually one of the hallmarks of postmodern thought to constantly question the nature of everything), let postmodernism defy all efforts to pin it down, let it float and sting, flollop and vollue around us. But if the panelists do not have a working definition for modernism when they talk about postmodernism, confusion ensues. Now I was left with a feeling everybody understood modernism a bit differently and then tried to discuss postmodernism through their own understanding of modernism which lead to people talking past each other.
Actually, I would really love to read a paper on modernism in fantasy. It seems to me that early genre fantasy (Tolkien, Dunsany etc.) and modernism were born both as hugely different reactions to realism and naturalism. Modernism reacting to and developing from naturalism, going from outside world to inside of human mind, and developing stylistical tecqhniques to break down and reshape narrative, and Fantasy marrying the novel form to old medieval romance. So if that is the case (and even if it isn't) where is modernistic fantasy? Where are Proust, Joyce, Woolf or Faulkner of fantasy?
In the mornings we again took dogs and Jeeves and went around the island. Eckerö post and customs office does look incredible all on its lonesome, and both Martti and Mogens got lovely long walks on the rocky beaches. I did take part on organised excursion to Järsö island at the southern tip of the main islands where there is a lovely café and handcraft store Stickstugan. It sells both yarn and stuff you can make from it. The yarn is lovely, hand-coloured and spinned from the wool of Åland sheep. It is a bit tricky to knit as hand spinned yarns often are, but end result is gorgeous. Next time I need a proper budget.
Next Åcon is 9.-12.5.2013, GoH Tricia Sullivan. Sign up, you won't regret it!