Worldcon 75 Helsinki: Day Two

By The Literate Programmer, Fri 11 August 2017, modified Fri 18 August 2017, in category Worldcon '17

Finland, Helsinki, Worldcon

Open for Business

This time, I started my day at Worldcon by going to the Business Meeting, as I was quite curious how that worked. Of course, I was totally unprepared, as the meeting is one of few1 events that are recorded and available online. Still, it was quite interesting to see what business is handled and necessary to run an organisation like the WSFS and events like Worldcon.

I left it eventually to get to the Style of the Game Studios panel, and was pleasantly surprised to get in with minimal queueing and without being very early. I expected it to be an not-very-popular panel but hoped that it would be indicative of the queues being less of an issue in general.

The panel itself was quite interesting, as the panellists came from diverse studios: Obsidian Entertainment, Choice Of Games and a small Finnish studio. Particularly Choice Of Games was something I liked hearing about, as they produce text-only games that are almost novels and are especially popular amongst the hearing-impaired.

In general, the best thing about the panel was that it represented different types of game studios - not the ones that the programme description suggested, but a good spread nonetheless.

The last panel I went to before lunch was about the Kalevala, Finnland's epic saga. It was a hilarious panel, particularly thanks to Petri Hiltunen and his commentary on how the Kalevala's heroes are a) horny bastards and b) losers.

On that note, I went for lunch.

All the panels

The first panel I went to after my break was about the idea of the Golem, from the Jewish tales. Unfortunately it was a rather rambling talk, though it did touch on a lot of good starting points. It simply never developed any of them further! On the other hand it had a lot of cool pictures of golems and golem-related art.

The next topic I listened to was also a traditionally Jewish one, Writing from Home and Writing from Diaspora. Though there was one Israeli on the panel, this time it focused much more on an Asian diaspora, with three writers of Asian2 descent. It was interesting to hear how they experience diaspora and particularly how they have to deal with people making assumptions about how close they still are to their ancestors' homeland. Similarly, it was interesting to hear from the Israeli that they had no diaspora. There's obviously a Jewish diaspora, but not an Israeli one, really, as the country is still too young for that to have developed. It's a perfectly sensible thing, but I never though about it this way.

Also, Zen Cho seems like a lot of fun, and Ken Liu seems very thoughtful and I'm interested in their books even more, now.

As cool as this talk was, the highlights were yet to come. I went to a reading by Amal El-Mohtar and Annalee Newitz and, oh, that was amazing. Listening to them read from their stories was pretty cool, but the best came afterwards, when they basically just chatted for a while. It was obvious that they were having a good time and their mood was infectious and it was just... great. Lots of fun.

Oh, and I really like Amal's reading voice. Works wonderfully for her fairytale-inspired Seasons of Glass and Iron!

But it was a long day and I went to see a panel on European SFF, which was mostly interesting because I got to learn about authors I hadn't heard from previously and ended up in an interesting discussion with one of them and had a nice chat with the German-speaking one afterwards.

After that, I went to see a panel on Japanese adaptations of Western fantasy and had a blast as well. The moderator may not have known that he'd be moderating until he sat on the panel, but he did a fine job, I think3, and both Ada Palmer and Jonathan Clements were obviously very knowledgeable and extremely fun to listen to. It made me extra sorry I didn't like Too Like The Lightning, since she was such a nice person and totally deserves a Hugo4.

While there were several fun panels during the day, late in the evening, there are intentionally silly programme items. In my case, I went to "I'm Sorry, I haven't a Clue", the antidote to panel games.

SO. WORTH. IT. Seeing Emma Newman sing "I'm to sexy for my shirt" to the tune of Frère Jacques was utterly hilarious and there were a lot of great jokes apart from that, too.

I wanted to go to one of the parties afterwards, but I realised that I was too tired to do so and turned in, happy that indeed, today I had no problems at all with queuing and got to see all the amazing panels I had in my schedule5.

  1. But not the only! 

  2. Chinese mostly, by way of Malaysia in one case. 

  3. He could've given the word to Ada Palmer a bit more, but the other panellist didn't seem to talk over her, so maybe it was fine from her PoV. 

  4. As does Amal, whose writing I liked, but didn't rank at #1... 

  5. There were more, obviously, but I didn't put them on my schedule.