#Worldcon75, Helsinki and everything

Life, universe… I mean Worldcon, Helsinki and everything is here! I’ll update this post regularly as the con continues, so watch out for more news and pictures!

Helsinki's City Hall is beautiful, and they held a very nice reception for us. Thank you!
Helsinki’s City Hall is beautiful, and they held a very nice reception for us. Thank you!

Day 0

We arrived to Helsinki and enjoyed the nice reception the city held for many of the program participants in the City Hall. We met a German author Claudia Rapp there, and since she recommended us a “prohibition bar” called Trillby & Chadwick, which was just around the corner, we all went there. I can recommend the place: very small and stylish, with a variety of interesting cocktails. I had the Flower of Mare (meaning sea, not horse…), which was full, slightly salty and in overall very good. I’d love to share some pictures, but I don’t have any – it’s forbidden to photograph in there. You’ll just have to go try it personally!

Day 1

Both cathedrals were beautiful. The wood-lined chapel near Kampen is a very nice quiet place within otherwise very busy surroundings - well, and the coffee doesn't need any further comments.
Both cathedrals were beautiful. The wood-lined chapel near Kampen is a very nice quiet place within otherwise very busy surroundings – well, and the coffee doesn’t need any further comments.

We spent the morning playing tourist and saw the Sibelius Monument, walked a while along the sea and tried the water (surprisingly warm), sampled local coffee roasts, visited the beautiful evangelical cathedral and the nearby orthodox cathedral, had salmon soup and cloudberries at the local market and more good coffee at Johan & Nyström. I’ll add more pictures once I’m home; the photojoiner I typically use works awfully on mobile devices.

Then I headed to the convention center – five kilometers from the market, all in all a nice walk, although very exposed to the sun for approximately the final third of the way. Met friends from the Eurocons and elsewhere; visited the Exhibition and Trade Halls; supported the Worldcon in Dublin; managed to get to the opening ceremony, which went very nicely; didn’t manage to get to two other program items; got to the panel on creating effective dialogue solely because I made a mistake and arrived an hour early. Even then, the room was half full, and at 17:30 – half an hour before the start – it got full.

Jolly Finnish songs. This is the kind of Christmas spirit I like.

The capacity of the rooms seems rather unfortunate. I experienced the same problem at the Worldcon in London three years ago, but to much less extent than here – and it’s still been the first day, before many of the attendees arrived. I fear it’s only going to get worse, unless something changes substantially. If it doesn’t, I’ll likely focus on meeting people and ditch the program apart from the items I’m on (at least there, I can be sure I’ll get into the room). A few notes for future organizers: If your fire regulations prohibit having more people than seats in the room, stop letting people in when you fill the seats (and ideally let both the staff and attendees know). I got to the Economics in Worldbuilding panel, spent almost ten minutes inside the room, standing because the seats were occupied, and only then the organizers kicked us out. I hope such mistakes won’t occur later on. They leave a bad palate and make me long for the nice, cozy, lovely Eurocons. It’s also worth pointing out that the Eurocon in Barcelona capped memberships when it reached the venue’s capacity. It easily prevents the caveats we’re having here, it has drawbacks too. The most serious one is that people who can’t be sure whether they’ll be able to attend many months ahead won’t get in. That seriously limits the options for people with unflexible work, children, illnesses or money problems. There seems to be no easy solution (apart from having a venue with a large and flexible capacity and increasing the number of program items or seats as the membership number grows, but that can be difficult or expensive, or both… so not really easy). I hope the organizers, which otherwise made a great job – everything else is running smoothly and the welcome was very nice – and deserve our thanks, will be able to solve it at least partly. I wish them good luck.

After I called it a day, we met again with a friend and by accident discovered an Irish pub affiliated with the convention and serving, among other meals, smoked reindeer pizza. I couldn’t resist! It was good, as well as the lambic I had for a drink.

Tomorrow, I’ll have my signing at 11:00, and then I’m going to visit the Chinese fandom’s place in the Exhibition Hall, and also meet many people whom I’ve only known online so far. Looking forward to it!

Day 2

What a full, amazing day! I got seven people at my signing in the morning, which might be a good result for a foreign author who only published short fiction in English. There I met Eric Choi, with whom I share the May/June 2017 issue of Analog SF (his story is “Decrypted”, mine “To See The Elephant”). Afterwards, I went to the literary agents’ panel to make sure to finally publish a novel in English! Most of the advice was common sense, but some things – such as it may take more than two years to collaborate with an agent on revisions, and then dissolve the partnership before the contract (aka “writer’s marriage”) – were new to me, or rather more pronounced than I’d expected.

After a lunch with XB-1’s foreign rights editor and my friend Martin Šust, we met the VanderMeers. It was amazing to finally meet Ann in person after we worked together on bringing Hanuš Seiner’s “Hexagrammaton” to English-speaking readers at Tor.com. I’m pleased to announce that another story of his, “Under The Spinodal Curve”, should appear there in March next year! The meeting was lovely, both Ann and Jeff are very nice and fun. We discussed fantasy worldwide, the movie adaptation of Jeff’s Annihilation, the upcoming Czech translation of Borne and more.

Then I headed to the Chinese booths in the Trade and Exhibition Hall. Geng Hui sent me a copy of ZUI Found with his translation of my story “The Ship Whisperer”. It’s wonderful to see my story in Chinese! I also couldn’t resist a temporary tattoo of a Chinese translation of my favorite William Gibson quote: “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.” I met several authors whose stories I’d read in Clarkesworld, and met with Zhang Feng from the FAA (Future Affairs Administration) to talk about the planned Asian-Pacific SF Convention, Chinese and world SFF, translations… I had a wonderful time, and I must thank the FAA for the beautiful presents I received! I’ll attach a picture once there’s a less busy time at the con – I’m actually writing this from a panel!

So, panels – I attended the ones on publishing translation and European SFF. Both were very interesting, and I also got in easily despite being there at the last minute.

Day 3

In short: three panels and an amazing dinner! More details soon…

Day 4

Insofar one panel as a participant, several as a listener, and my talk on exoplanets! It’s been a busy – and amazing – day so far. I’m relaxing at the future shock panel now. At five, I have my final panel as an active participant: Genre Fiction in Translation.

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