Monthly Archives: December 2013

Free Public Transit at a Helsinki Worldcon

Should the Helsinki in 2017 bid win, the city of Helsinki will be providing all attending members of the Helsinki Worldcon with free public transit during the convention, thanks to one of the grant programs we are eligible for (this one from the city’s tourism bureau).  Fans typically spend $30 or so on local transit during a Worldcon, so this is a savings that will directly help attendees of a Helsinki Worldcon run around being tourists while visiting Finland.

Should you decide to do some tourism, the options are very convenient from our convention centre, Messukeskus.  The Pasila local train station is immediately adjacent to Messukeskus and it’s one stop (3 to 5 minutes’ transit) from the central train station of Helsinki. There are currently between 10 and 35 trains each hour in both directions, depending on the time of day or night. Three tram lines also have a stop right in front of the site, and it’s well served by other bus and tram connections.  Travel to and from the centre of the city is very simple, in other words, should you decide to have adventures elsewhere in Helsinki.

Concerned about accessibility?  All buses and metros, as well as most trams and trains, are low-floor and wheelchair-accessible. Mobility scooters are allowed on low-floor trains, and wheelchairs are usable everywhere.

I’m not saying that you’ll need to go anywhere on public transit.  Messukeskus shares doors with the main hotel we’ve contracted with (a Holiday Inn).  You won’t have to go outside to get to the con if you’re in the main hotel, and there are several other hotels within a couple of blocks, so you wouldn’t need transit in Helsinki if you didn’t want to utilize it.  However, I personally find public transit in Helsinki to be clean, pleasant, and speedy.  It’s very efficient, and it gets to me to exciting places nearby, like the nearby amusement park, Linnanmaki, the sea fortress, Suomenlinna, and the contemporary art museum, Kiasma.  The last of those completely deserves its own blog entry, since I was just there this week, and it was fabulous.  🙂

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Filed under Budget Impact, Helsinki, Worldcon

2013 Scifi and Fantasy Novel Reading

What have I read this year that was published this year, in the scifi and fantasy genres?  Seems like it’s about time to start keeping track, in order to be able to nominate for Hugos in a few months…

2013 Books I’ve Read:

Parasite by Mira Grant

Chimes at Midnight and Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire

The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Cat Valente

You by Austin Grossman

Madd Addam by Margaret Atwood

Bread and Wine: An Erotic Tale of New York by Samuel R. Delany

 

Still to read, but clearly on the list of things to read:

The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen

Sculptor’s Daughter: A Childhood Memoir by Tove Jansson (which my copy says was published for the first time in English in 2013; I’m confused by Amazon saying 2014)

Okay, that’s not nearly enough reading.  Time to catch up!  What else should I have read in 2013?

Sadly, The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin, The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi, and Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor were published prior to 2013.  They were really fantastic books, though!  I’m sad to have missed them when first they were published.

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Filed under Hugo Awards

Watering Worldcon

(A major concern people expressed about the Helsinki in 2015 bid was that it would be too expensive to have a Worldcon in Helsinki, so I thought I’d highlight some of the things that would be objectively more affordable about our bid for the 2017 Worldcon race.)

Helsinki is known for having impressively good tap water, free for the drinking.  I’m told that Helsinki’s tap water is judged better than Evian bottled water in a blind taste test.  It’s certainly been judged more pure than bottled water.  I can personally verify that it’s very tasty!

One of the surprising savings of having Worldcon in Helsinki in 2017 would be water.  Not the biggest savings available to us, over all, but the potential math surprised me on this, so I thought I’d post a note about it.

See, for a Worldcon, buying water in bottles can be very costly.  Even buying it in huge bottles, multiple gallons apiece, is expensive.  Four thousand people average 10,000 gallons of drinking water over the course of five days.  Not all of that liquid would be provided by the convention, of course, but a large portion of it traditionally is supplied by Hospitality or Member Services at Worldcon.  The facilities contract for Sasquan, in fact, requires that all food and beverages, including water, be purchased through the Spokane Convention Centre at their prices.  I called the facility, and was given a verbal estimate of $28 (including tax and fees) per 5 gallon water barrel.

This cost is, luckily, something that a Worldcon in Helsinki could avoid.  Drinking water that’s free would be a boon to any Worldcon, if possible, and Helsinki has this savings in the bank, amongst several others.

What are some of the other savings?  Coming up soon, I should at least post about

  • Free Public Transit to All Worldcon Attendees,
  • Cheapest Hotel Rates In Recent Memory,
  • Eligibility for Grant Monies, and
  • No Fees for Decorator and Tech Setup (unlike all American Worldcons).

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Filed under Budget Impact, Helsinki, Uncategorized, Worldcon

Helsinki’s Secret Green Rulers

As an American, I have to confess that I do my share crossing the street when the “don’t walk” sign clearly indicates I shouldn’t.

Finns don’t do that, it turns out.  When walking around with someone Finnish, I can now testify that it’s nearly impossible to get them to cross the street unless the green person in the traffic light says you can.

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Finns are honestly obsessively obedient to traffic signs and walk signs.

During my last visit, though, I also noticed that signs of green men also indicate exits from buildings and tunnels.  There is clearly a larger mechanism at work, here!ImageThe truth must out!  Little green people must rule Helsinki.  They’re everywhere, telling you when you can go someplace.

I gotta say, there are many compelling reasons to vote for Helsinki in 2017 for Worldcon, but this adds to the list!

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Filed under Helsinki, Whimsical

Worldcon Locations and Finland in the Future

Worldcon as a convention began in 1939.  A break in continuity occurred during World War Two, such that we celebrated the 71st Worldcon this summer at San Antonio.  Next year, Worldcon will be located in London, UK, as was decided by the voting membership of Worldcon in 2012 (voting two years ahead on where Worldcon will be located in the future). In the 71 years we have held Worldcons thus far, there have been 18 of them outside the United States.

  1. 1948, Toronto (CA)
  2. 1957, London (UK)
  3. 1965, London (UK)
  4. 1970, Heidelberg (DE)
  5. 1973, Toronto (CA)
  6. 1975, Melbourne (AU)
  7. 1979, Brighton (UK)
  8. 1985, Melbourne (AU)
  9. 1987, Brighton (UK)
  10. 1990, The Hague (NL)
  11. 1994, Winnipeg (CA)
  12. 1995, Glasgow (UK)
  13. 1999, Melbourne (AU)
  14. 2003, Toronto (CA)
  15. 2005, Glasgow (UK)
  16. 2007, Yokohama (JP)
  17. 2009, Montreal (CA)
  18. 2010, Melbourne (AU)

I take this list as a direct excerpt of  The Long List of World Science Fiction Conventions.

Of the above list (the 18 times the Worldcon has been outside the US), five of those Worldcons were in Canada, still in North America.  Of the above list (again, the 18 times the Worldcon has been outside the US), seven of them were in the UK.  Four were in Australia.

We’ve had the World Science Fiction Convention on American soil 53 times.    It’s been in North America 58 times, and outside of North America for only 13 Worldcons.  This is something I’m personally concerned about.  Only 25% of Worldcons have actually been non-American.

When Eemeli Aro announced at Chicago in 2012 that the Finns wanted to have a Worldcon in Helsinki in 2015, everyone thought he was a little nuts.  The deck was stacked rather against the Helsinki bid.  When declaring a Worldcon bid, most do so with more than a year’s warning, and most people have a bid committee and parties planned, and they have already-made flyers and all sorts of other paraphernalia.  In addition, Helsinki is in Finland, and the official languages of Finland are Finnish and Swedish.  Although all Finns are taught English by the time they get to elementary school, it’s not their first language.  Worldcons have almost always been in English-dominated countries.  Of the above list, which is a list of international locations where a Worldcon has been held, only four of them were held in cities NOT predominantly or entirely English-speaking.  That very small list is: Heidelberg (German), The Hague (Dutch), Yokohama (Japanese), and Montreal (French).

To skip a bit to the end, the Helsinki in 2015 bid was not quite successful in winning the vote for Worldcon in 2015.  Helsinki came really close, though — we lost by 35 votes in the third round of voting.  When the vote results were known, many people came up to us to congratulate us on a good race, to sympathise that we had so nearly won, and to express reasons why they thought more people didn’t vote for Helsinki in 2015.  But that’s a topic for another post.

This post?  This post is about how I want to see Worldcon do better, and actually BE an international convention on science fiction and fantasy, encompassing fans from all over the world (and maybe even fans from outer space!  and other timelines or dimensions!).   God help me, but I care about this project, which is why I have signed on to help the Helsinki in 2017 team.   The Finns decided to run again, and I am totally supportive of that decision.  The Finns would create a fantastic Worldcon.

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Filed under Fandom, Helsinki, Worldcon