liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
[personal profile] liv
That was not the Worldcon I would have liked; I'd hoped to do as several of my friends did, and travel overland and explore some of the region. Or at least to really get immersed in the con itself. And I'd have liked a proper holiday with my partners and their children, which hasn't really happened this year though we've had a few short breaks.

In reality I was only able to go for the long weekend. I spent an eye-watering amount of money on a trip that didn't quite work for me, between flights, accommodation, Worldcon membership (when I actually only ended up attending for half a day), and just general living expenses in a not very well planned trip to an expensive city. It feels churlish to complain about being in a position to spend a bit too much on a less than perfect trip, and in many ways it was good, just not quite what I'd hoped for.

I took the day off work Friday, leaving at lunchtime and arriving late Friday night. Lovely [personal profile] jack met me at the airport, which always makes travelling vastly more pleasant.

Saturday we all went to the zoo. Which gave me a much needed chance to spend time with everybody, in a fairly relaxed context. It's not the greatest zoo ever but looking at animals is always fun. They make a big deal of being one of the few zoos on an island, which made me think, hey, where I come from everything is on an island! But it was lovely getting a ferry across the water and looking at the archipelago and the ice-breaker boats. Just as we were coming to the end of our visit, there was a huge and dramatic thunderstorm. So we all got soaked, but it was exciting watching purple forked lightning. We ended the day getting pizza in a chain [personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait had identified, where they do reindeer pizza for the carnivores and felafel pizza for the veggies.

Then Sunday I dipped in to the tail end of the con. I did wish I could have spent more time there; from what I saw it seemed like a good con. Very large, though, and the dealers' room was not as exciting as [personal profile] fjm's set-up in London. I was impressed how well the concom coped when loads of new members turned up at the last minute; apparently the first day was chaos, but they managed to open up some bigger rooms and sorted out a queuing system and were generally really flexible and got huge crowds of people flowing smoothly. Including access considerations such as making sure people who couldn't stand for ages in a queue, or mobilized with wheelchairs or scooters were accommodated. But even well organized, the panels I went to just felt too huge; there were too many people in the room to get a good discussion going, and no serendipitous conversations afterwards sparked off by the panel, because everybody rushed off to get their prime queuing slot for the next panel.

I went to three panels, one on orientalism and how to avoid it, which felt like a distillation of online fandom consensus since RaceFail. Which is not a bad thing, but I didn't learn as much as I'd hoped. One on cool new physics for SF, which I appreciated because it didn't insist that only scientifically rigorous hard SF counts for anything, the panellists were all interested in speculating about what could be done with a mixture of physics ideas and narrative licence. They felt that mystical interpretations of the many worlds model of quantum, and wormholes as a means of FTL travel that just act like magic doors, were overdone, and thought about using the small dimensions postulated by string theory, or the technological possibilities of metamaterials, or directed gravity. And one on the use of religion in SF, which managed to stay properly on topic and didn't just drift off into listing books that include religion. It had John Clute being very incisive, thinking about the idea that mystical or transcendant experience by definition can't be described in words, and the changes in SF religion as historical attitudes to religion and atheism have changed, and the idea of the skeptical protagonist becoming a god as a reflection of the Loki archetype. And Naomi Libicki expressed exactly what I feel about the Chalion books, which is that it's deeply weird to have an alt-history version of Mediaeval Spain where Queen Isabella is the hero and there are no Jews.

I also managed to chat to [personal profile] seekingferret just as he was leaving, and got 10 minutes with [ profile] owlfish and family, and we ran into [personal profile] pseudomonas just as the con was winding down and had a very pleasant catch-up over tea and cardamom buns. Dipping in to the last few hours of a five day con was never going to be really satisfying; I wish I'd had a chance to really become part of the temporary community that forms, and to see more of my non-local friends. From what I could tell though there was a really good atmosphere. I didn't feel awkward about not presenting sufficiently geek; it seemed like a really nice friendly mixture of more or less serious cosplayers and goths, people wearing geek t-shirts, and people like me who would blend into any mundane context. And lots of the usual retired lifelong congoers, but also lots of people my age and younger and a great many kids, who seemed to be very well included into the con. I liked that they had posters up saying This is an ask first con; that was one of several small discreet things that made me feel generally safe and included, without being massively legalistic. I haven't read of any huge scandals or Fails since I came home, but that might be because social media is so disconnected these days that this stuff hasn't crossed my radar.

After the con wound down and OSOs had headed off for the next stage of their adventure, [personal profile] jack and I had a little time exploring the city Sunday evening and Monday. I'd not spent more than a few hours in Helsinki before, and I really liked this taste of it, again, wishing I'd had more time to explore properly. But it's very walkable and with great public transport, lots of open spaces both parks and water interwoven with the city, some very fun architecture and public art including a lot of Art Deco and elaborate buildings. And the bits of it that are Swedish (signage is bilingual everywhere except where it has English and Russian versions as well, and lots of the same foods and chains and stuff) made me really nostalgic for Sweden.

Monday we went to the open air museum Seurasaari, where they have traditional buildings from different regions of Finland relocated to a lovely wooded island in Helsinki. I never properly visited Skansen as a museum when I was in Sweden, though I did attend a few events there and just generally walked around. Anyway it made for a really pleasant afternoon, with perfect weather and views across the archipelago and not very crowded (but unlike many of the other city museums, open) on a Monday.

And we just about made it home to Cambridge by midnight, after a smooth and easy journey.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-08-23 08:44 pm (UTC)
owlfish: (Default)
From: [personal profile] owlfish
It was wonderful to see you! If briefly.


Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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