Tag Archives: Helsinki

Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse in Helsinki?

I’ve been helping out at the info tables for the Helsinki in 2017 bid for Worldcon a lot this summer, and this means I’ve heard some very interesting questions posed!  After visiting Helsinki several times in the past two years, I feel more prepared to answer questions than some volunteers.  I have to admit, though, I don’t know it all.  The question that stumped me the most this month was … “What happens if there’s a zombie attack in Helsinki during the Worldcon?”

R from Warm Bodies

This zombie might eat your heart out …

That seems more likely to happen then than at any other time, honestly, and I have to admit, after reading several Seanan McGuire books, I can’t say I’m not afraid of a ‪‎zombie‬ attack … particularly after seeing photographic proof of a Mika Loponen zombie in the Helsinki‬ area

So! Research time! Here are some resources I’ve found for if there’s a zombie attack in Helsinki during Worldcon!

Here are some reasons why it’d be relatively easy to weather a zombie attack in Helsinki.

It’s very important to figure out if it’s a real zombie. Safely, if possible, determine whether it might be someone alive participating in a zombie walk, like this nice individual.

You might want to make sure it’s not a practical joke, (whether or not it’s April 1st) …

Be particularly cautious if you might be dealing with a zombie Viking‬ (they might just be participating in a LARP) …

And our Canadian friends have been teaching Zombie Survival Camp for a few years now, apparently!

I didn’t actually find much in the way of a plan from the city of Helsinki in the case of a zombie attack. Anyone care to add info (or write something up), so we can build it into the next iteration of our FAQ? We can’t possibly be prepared for all potential issues we might face at Worldcon if we win … but this one seems too fun a question to let slide by!

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Näin äänestät Worldconin Helsinkiin (How to Vote for Helsinki Worldcon, in Finnish!)

We’ve been translating voting instructions and information about Worldcon into a number of different languages, after my post a few weeks ago.  Here’s the version in Finnish, courtesy of Sarianna  Silvonen!

Image of voting ballot

Vote early, vote once!

Edellytyksenä Worldcon-jäsenyys

Aivan ensimmäiseksi sinun on liityttävä sen vuoden Worldconin jäseneksi, joka pidetään kaksi vuotta ennen sitä vuotta, jota haluat äänestää. Worldconiin voi liittyä tukijäseneksi (supporting membership), jos ei pääse itse tapahtumaan, tai varsinaiseksi jäseneksi (attending membership). Jonkinlainen voimassaoleva jäsenyys kuitenkin tarvitaan, jotta voi äänestää. On erityisen tärkeää varmistaa, että liityt nimenomaan kahta vuotta aiemman Worldconin jäseneksi. Jos sinulla on tämän vuoden Loncon3-jäsenyys, et valitettavasti vielä saa äänestää Worldconia Helsinkiin vuodeksi 2017, koska nyt on vasta vuosi 2014. (Tänä vuonna saa kuitenkin äänestää vuoden 2016 Worldconin  pitopaikaksi joko Kansas Cityä tai Beijingiä.)

Worldconin jäseneksi voi liittyä usealla eri tavalla, mutta jos olet ensimmäistä kertaa asialla, jäsenmaksu kannattaa maksaa netissä. Jäsenyyksien hinnat nousevat tapahtuman lähestyessä, joten jos olet päättänyt liittyä jäseneksi, ei kannata odotella. Jos satut käymään jossain conissa, jossa Worldconin edustajat ovat paikalla, jäsenmaksun voi yleensä myös maksaa suoraan heille. Joskus conissa ostetusta jäsenyydestä saa alennusta, joskus ei. Netissä kuitenkin Worldconin sivuilla pitäisi olla kohta nimeltä ”Membership” tai ”Registration”, josta pääset maksamaan jäsenmaksun.

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So, You Want to Vote on Worldcon Location? Yay!

Worldcon is historically kinda bad at getting the vote out on site selection (aka “voting on where Worldcon will be in the future”).  Last year, there were 6130 total members of LoneStarCon3.  Of these, 1348 members voted on site selection, or not quite 22% of the membership.  And that was a highly contested race!

I don’t think low voter turnout is the intended outcome, but I do think Worldcon voting isn’t the easiest system to understand.  Worldcon is a big endeavor, and big things are unwieldy, and site selection voting hasn’t often made it to the top of the list of things to make sure the public is knowledgeable about.  Plus, according to the Sasquan report I read last month, the previous five Worldcon races were uncontested.  Maybe it’s pretty understandable that it wasn’t a huge focus in the past.  I think I was on Worldcon staff for at least two years before I knew we could vote on Worldcon location.

But this is how we decide where Worldcon will be!  Which has a huge impact on the con in the long term (more on that later)!  And it’s the least expensive option for getting a membership to Worldcon!  So I’m going to attempt to explain it.

Only You Can Bring Worldcon to Helsinki

After losing Worldcon 2015 by only 35 votes, I truly believe that only YOU can bring Worldcon to Helsinki! You, and many others voting with us …

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Filed under Budget Impact, Fandom, Helsinki, Hugo Awards, Worldcon

Reading Now (or Soon), and Psyched For It

On the one hand, telling people what I’m reading or about to be reading is a sure way to start a conversation.  On the other hand, telling the internet what I’m reading when I converse with so many authors is a little worrisome.  If you read this list, and if you’re an author, and if you’re not on this list, please assume it’s because I didn’t remember to list that amazing book you’ve written?  (Always attribute to stupidity before attributing to intention …)

That said, here’s what I’m reading or about to read:

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson.  Someone I’ve met through Readercon, Alaya’s always seemed very nice in person.  Her book is what I’m actively reading *right this second*.  It’s really, really good so far.  This book is nominated for the new YA Award at Detcon, and I’m a sucker for YA.  Aside from that, though, it’s a novel about future Brazil and technology and a society ruled by centuries-old women.  What’s not to love?

The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson.  Tove Jansson is a famous Finn for her Moomin Family characters, and I love those adventures too, but Jansson apparently wrote several adult novels.  This one was only translated into English this past year, so I decided to grab a copy (and bought several extras to give away at events for Helsinki in 2017).

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor.  This book is officially not yet available in the US, but it’s already out in the UK, so I was determined to get my copy.  Nigeria and alien encounters — how could I miss this?  I *loved* Who Fears Death (despite the book alternatively scaring the shit out of me and making me cry).  I had the privilege to listen to Nnedi read from that novel when she won the Carl Brandon Award for it in 2010 or 2011.  Basically, after that, I had to read everything obtainable written by Nnedi.

Systems Fail by Hiromi Goto and N.K. Jemisin.  These two amazing women were the guests of honor at Wiscon 38 this spring, and they both had amazing guest of honor speeches.  If you haven’t read them yet, do so now:  Nora Jemisin’s speech here and Hiromi Goto’s speech here.  You can now understand why a book of fiction, essays, and interviews by these two women is high on my list of things to be read.

My Real Children by Jo Walton.  I love imagining the road not taken.  A book about two roads possible, colliding into one reality?  I love this concept.  Can’t wait to read this book.

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine.  I am embarrassed to admit that the only words of Valentine’s that I’ve read are her blog and twitter posts.  I am very much looking forward to this book, a story of twelve sisters, dancing, and fairy tales.

Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal.  I’ve been tearing through this series like there’s no tomorrow.  And perhaps there isn’t a tomorrow!  What will happen next to the “glamorous” Vincents?  What new scientific/magical discovery will save the day?  These books are addictive.  Fourth book in the series.  I think I read the first three over the course of four days.

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord.  Karen was the Guest of Honor at Acon 7  this spring, and I spent several amazing hours conversing with her about Worldcon, science fiction, the universe, and everything.  I am psyched to read her book, and hope it’ll be even half as great as talking with her in person was.  The reading she did at Acon was amazing.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.  I know Scott through Readercon and Worldcon, but I’ve been hearing about his books forever.  It’s time to take the plunge!  I look forward to this adventure, and hope Scott isn’t reading this, because then he’ll know that I haven’t yet read his books.  I look forward to having an informed opinion by the time I see him next!

Indexing by Seanan McGuire.  I *think* I’ve read everything else that Seanan has written.  Maybe.  She’s so damn prolific!  It’s hard to be sure if I’ve caught it all.  This book is a new urban fantasy which turns fairy tales into reality.  Totally my cup of tea.  🙂

Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond, edited by Bill Campbell and Edward Austin Hall.  I met Bill Campbell while at Wiscon 38, and we got to talking about Afrofuturism.  I actually don’t know the second thing about Afrofuturism, it turns out, and since my friend Pablo is running the Afrofuturism track at Detcon, it behooves me to read this book very quickly.  So I can hopefully not be an idiot in the future.

The Lascar’s Dagger by Glenda Larke.  I met Glenda while at Worldcon in Australia (I know! I got to go! It was awesome!).  She’s an Aussie author whose Watergiver series definitely hooked me that summer.  I’m psyched she has a book out in 2014, and had to obtain it as soon as I heard.

Ghost Train to New Orleans by Mur Lafferty.  Travel guides for the undead, and New Orleans.  I’m totally there.

Salsa Nocturna Stories by Daniel Jose Older.  I’ve had the privilege of listening to Daniel read stories at Readercon and at a party for Helsinki at Wiscon.  They are creepy, and honest, and completely engrossing.  I’m really looking forward to reading the printed work, although I may have to read it aloud to myself, now.  😉

Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone.  He writes interesting things online (his blog is a good read).  He attended Vericon this year and seemed cool.  Plus I offered to have tea with him on Twitter.  That deal probably only works after I’ve read his books.  Luckily for me, his books are about killing gods.  Sounds awesome to me!

Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard.  Here’s another person whose words I love online (and I talk with her on Twitter; she’s cool!).  I just have somehow not yet read her work in print.  This is going to change, and soon.  I obtained this book last week, and I am psyched to read about Aliette’s Aztec murder mysteries and gods walking the streets.  I just hope she’ll forgive me for not reading it before now!

New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear.  This book is from 2008, so I’m almost certainly the last person to be reading it, but I confess my sins and my intention to repent.  Well, inasmuch as reading this book could be considered at all the opposite of sin.  😉

Great People Decisions by Claudio Fernandez Araoz.  I bought this book for professional reasons, and put it aside for a while, but find that the more I work with volunteer teams, the more I’m thinking about what I read in it.  So I need to actually finish the book.  Nonfiction isn’t usually my cup of tea, but this is important stuff.

 

What else is in my library?  You can always look at my books on Librarything.com, although maybe that’s only accessible if you log in.  Anyway, I have updated the fiction section (tagged “entertainment room” for locating purposes) pretty recently.  The children’s lit section has a few more piles to be added, and the reference and nonfiction books are not really up-to-date at all.  Baby steps, I guess.

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Onboarding Processes that Work

In organizations (professional or volunteer), you hope that you’re gaining members to help add to the awesome efforts going into your goal, right?  This means that you need to have a way of adding people to your organization that gives them the basic info everyone needs to know, and preferably delivers some of it in a fun format that enables people to enjoy learning about the new people they’re working with and the efforts you’re coordinating together.  This is a process called “onboarding.”

According to Wikipedia,

“Research has demonstrated that these socialization [onboarding] techniques lead to positive outcomes for new employees such as higher job satisfaction, better job performance, greater organizational commitment, and reduction in stress and intent to quit.  These outcomes are particularly important to an organization looking to retain a competitive advantage in an increasingly mobile and globalized workforce.”

It is really easy to do this poorly.  It is (sadly) uncommon to do it well.

I want to give a quick shout-out to Runkeeper, however.  My partner is just joining their team, and he’s overjoyed to discover that their onboarding includes a map of the office with everyone’s desk labeled, and a scavenger hunt list of unique facts about each colleague.  By the end of his first week, he intends to know who has a dog named Yaz and who has a fondness for ice luge!

On the Helsinki in 2017 team, we are still ironing out this process, as I’m sure most organizations are.  Now I really want to write a scavenger hunt for our next larger staff meeting, though — particularly as we are such a geographically spread team, internationally.

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Filed under Helsinki, Organizational Health, Professional Life

Helsinki Diversity

While walking around on the streets of Helsinki during my most recent visit, I was surprised (and felt like an idiot for being surprised) that the streets were full of such diverse people. I heard the expected Finnish, Swedish, and English languages spoken. However, listening to those around me on the tram, I also heard Russian, German, some form of either Spanish or Portuguese, and a few other languages I couldn’t identify, possibly Mandarin (of which I know only two words) and a language or two I’m just too uneducated to even be able to guess.

I saw much more range of skin tones than I anticipated, once I opened my eyes. “If you want the American dream, go to Finland” is a topic that has been written about by several news outlets and bloggers. It seems many have taken Finland up on it, and are happily coexisting in at least Helsinki, from what I can personally confirm. It was pretty cool to behold.

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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

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.

Image

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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