(Kom på att jag borde tillägga ett avsnitt med slutsatser till min
Swecon-rapport. Så nedan en ny version. Jag har gjort småredigeringar i redan
existerande text också, men inget större. Det helt nya är sista avsnittet. Det
slog mig ju faktiskt att Lars-Olov's diabildshow inte fanns någonstans... --AE)
The Con That Rained Forever
And I don't mean a drizzle. It rained moon cats and space dogs! Luckily we
In a diesel engine workshop.
A workshop converted to a cultural centre in one of Stockholm's newlly built,
modernistic suburbs a short bit to the southeast, with the new tram line
reaching *almost* all the way. It was Fantastika 2016, this year's Swecon. I
had rehearsed my speech and booked a table, to sell some books and inform the
fannish populous about the SKRIVA writers' E-mail list. About 360 people had
gathered, in the final tally with day members and walk-ins; of these perhaps 25
foreigners, half of them Finns but also people from Norway, UK, Denmark,
Germany and Poland.
I only sold two books, but that's not the point. It was nice to have a book
table (there were ca 20 dealers in the dealers' room). You unfolded your
laptop, connected to the WiFi and you could sit there, checking your E-mail and
Twitter, take it easy and people would come to you - instead of you having to
run around. The Green Room where I could get some coffee was nearby. I was a
lot at my table, when I didn't attend some program item.
My first one was by me. Friday evening I lectured about Harry Martinson
(Nobel laureate and author of the "Aniara" space poetry epic) and his contacts
with the first Swedish sf club, Atomic Noah. It was founded in 1945 by a group
of engineers who toyed with the idea of constructing giant spaceships to save
humanity from an atomic war. 15-20 in the audience (GoH interview with
Finland-Swedish writer Maria Turtschaninoff was at the same time) and I think
it went rather well. (Ask me for my notes and slides from the speech, if you're
Went back to my table after this, but remembered I should hear the "The
Feminac Fight" panel so I went there to hear its second half. That was about a
feminist group almost 40 years ago and I was sort of involved in the "fight",
or rather the mimeoed newsletter Vheckans Ävfentyr was (forefather of
@SFJournalen, now on Twitter). Thiis fuss is too long to recapitulate, but I
must have thrown slightly fewer punches since I contributed material to the
Feminac zine, incl some of my best cartoons!
Throughout the con I kept my tweets running. I spread a little news and
commented the program. You can find them here, in English (dates 17-19th of
June) https://twitter.com/sfjournalen. In one of the first tweets I mention
meeting John Ågren, which I haven't seen in at least 30 years, together with
Ulf Westblom author of the sf novel Porten mot Evigheten ("Gate to Eternity").
I got some news about Ulf's vineyard in the US and we talked about a number of
fans working at the Royal Technical Institute that he also knew.
It rained. On Saturday too. In fact, the rain would last well into the Sunday
I listened a little to "When Journalists Meet Fans". There hadn't been much
media buzz around Fantastika. OK, one week ahead there were two pages in the
morning paper DN with con chair Carolina Gomez Lagerlöfand a map of "fantasy
places" in Stockholm, and on Saturday Swedish TV was there - but only the
Finnish language department, who made short interviews regarding that Helsinki
has next year's Worldcon.That was about it. (When I was press officer of the
2000 Swecon I counted to over 50 articles and other mentions in media.)
There was a con newsletter, done by Karl Johan Norén, which I thought could
have been better. The editor tried to make jokes rather than gather news and
he'd compile lists of computer games mentioned in a panel. Gaming *isn't
fandom*, I'd like to point out!
Through the con I made little hand written posters about SKRIVA, our short
story competition and @SFJournalen, and put them here and there. Some had
terribly funny jokes on them and of course my patented beanied fan man.
Listened to Fan-GoH Caroline Mullan. She talked about eg her earliest
experiences with cons. As she's originally from Northern Ireland I managed to
squeeze in a question about if there was any legacy left from the legendary
Irish Fadom, ie Walt Willis, Bob Shaw, James White and the guys,from the 1950's
and early 1960's. She knew about them but had to confess that most people had
by now forgotten about the Big Wheels of IF and Hyphen and Ghoodminton.
"Could Sweden Take a Lead in the New Space Race" was the boosting subject of
another panel. As an old activist in The Swedish Space Movement I had to go. A
couple of news pieces is that the Swedish government is investigating launching
small polar orbit satellites from the ESA space base Esrange near Kiruna in the
north. It could happen in 2019 and would be the first satellites launched from
European soil outside Russia. Also, a Swedish project of making heat resistant
chips were mentioned, CPUs and stuff that would work on the surface of Venus.
(A fan is involved in that project, Carl-Mikael Zetterling, former editor of
the SFSF newsletter.)
I missed the author-GoH interiew with Carolyn Ives Gilman, since I instead
favoured the rather interesting panel about the history of Jules Verne
Magasinet/Veckans Äventyr (the 1940-47 pulp, in 1969 revived by Bertil Falk,
then taken over by Sam J Lundwall). I have actually met and interviewed JVM's
last editor, one Rolf Ahlgren. A highlight was Maths Claesson reading the
sulphur oozing frontal attack on this trash and gutter literature, made in 1941
in a school magazine by one headmaster Oscar Cronholm. And then the committee
member Tomas Cronholm release his bomb! The writer was - his grandaddy! Tomas
who has become one of the leading fans (active since the late 1950's) had a
granddad who hated skiffy. Interesting.
When the audience was let in I mentioned why JVM/VÄ folded in 1947: paper
rationing, in force 1947-49, due to that paper-rich Sweden wanted to reserve it
for export. In 1947 62 Swedish writers also launched another vicious attack on
this "trash literature" which may have contributed to JVM/VÄ's demise. Bertil
Falk has written a piece about it (in Swedish, but Google Translate may help:
In the evening it was decided and voted upon (but there was only one bid)
that next year's Swecon is Kontur, in Uppsala, 26-28 of May with GoHs Ann
Leckie, Kaeron Hurley, Sladin Ahmed and Siri Pettersen. The main fan award, the
Alvar Appeltofft Memorial Award, was announced: Fia Karlsson won, against Håkan
Wester. Fia is active in the new Malmöfandom and Håkan has been reviving
Västeråsfandom. (Later i gave Håkan a short summary of the old Västeråsfandom,
the Bernander brothers and Michael Svensson who later became active in the
Stockholm SF Bookstore.)
Went to the Fandom Panel. One drawback with panels is that panelists tend to
talk too long. This one let the audience questions in when the program's 45
minutes were officially over. Panels need to be snappier! There should be a
chess clock or something, limiting talk to 1 minute. It is as if when someone
starts to talk, he/she is afraid never to get the chance again so the talking
lingers on and even starts to repeat itself.
As said, I also spent time in the book room. It was nice to see Tora Greve,
known from the SKRIVA list, author and known for her space inspired textiles.
My neighbouring table was run by one Steven Riddarlans, a nice man of
Italian-American descent who has written the novel I ondskans klor ("In the
Claws of Evil") and I talked a lot with him. His book (which I hav begun to
read) suffered from a very strange error: semicolons have been sprinkled at
random points in the text! He didn't put them there, so it must been a software
error, from transforming his original word processor file to a format for
printing. Steven shall also have huge thanks for taking photos I can use since
my own mobile had some sort of battery problem.
Another one who came by my table was Stellan L, formerly active in the
Swedish Space Movement. We exchanged our sad stories about that certified
lunatic Mr H Starlife... I took many rounds in the dealers' room, speaking to
the Small Press Publishers, of which I know many, eg promoting the Fantastic
Short Story Competition (deadline 4th of September info in Swedish
http://www.skriva.bravewriting.com). We had eg Cecilia W there, buddy from the
the Short Story Masters (Novellmästarna) society and publisher with Wela
förlag. We have Alf Yngve who was active in fandom in the 80's and I could
mention Lisa Rodebrand, Fantasiförlaget (who I mailed my latest longer story),
Eva Holmquist from Ordspira, Elin Holmerin with Undrentide and many more.
There's a multitude of new Swedish Small Press Publishers doing sf, fantasy or
horror. They pick up the genre interest that the big pulishers miss. (See my
list at https://www.freelists.org/post/skriva/Smfrlag-inom-sffh-ny-version ).
I missed all GoH interviews, also the one with sf-PhD Jerry Määttä. But I
really appreciated that during the con (but only then!) a PDF of his PhD
thesis and book Raketsommar ("Rocket Summer") was made downloadable. It's an
excellent study analysing how this "new" thing called "science fiction" - or
possibly teknovision :-) - was received over here. And in it was that Magnus
Gerne drawing of the Aniara spaceship I've been looking for. Jerry has BTW
received a grant to write a study about Swedish sf fanzines (I have mailed him
some info; he'll begin working on it this autumn).
My last program thing Saturday was the filking session, lead by Karl Johan
Norén (who runs a Swedish filksong archive at
and with participation by Wolf von Witting, Per Lindberg and...Yours Truly
I've been slighly involved in this stuff - having appeared in the
Salingsåsfandom filk cassettes and writing some filk texts - and contributed to
the session with this extremely advanced composition:
Ghod save our gracious spleen
Long live our noble spleen
Ghod save the spleen
Send it victorious
Happy and glorious
Long to reign over us
Ghod save the spleen
If you ask who wrote it, blame it on one Comet Johan Bensin jr. Otherwise, I
like Wolf's modernistic sf author choir canon, but he took too ghodamn long
time to make it work.
I sat and translated some of the stuff sung for the Polish fan Marcin who for
some reason had joined us.
Sunday. The rain was lighter.
I attended two program items beside the closing ceremony. One was "Morality
of Robots" and the other "Sf/fantasy Stockholm". The first talked about the
Three Laws, military drones, self-driving cars and such. As you might know,
Stephen Hawking and other scientists have warned against a super-intelligent
Artificial lIntelligence taking over and deciding that humanity is unnecessary.
The panel didn't seem too afraid of that.
The other panel discussed places in the Swedish capital what have inspired
skiffy, fanty or horry works. We have for instance John Ajvide Lindqvist who
has written about vampires in the suburb Blackeberg, also made into two films
(one in English). Anders Fager is a horror writer who has found monsters
lurking below the streets of Stockholm. There have been modern legends spun
around the Stockholm underground/subway mysterious, unfinished Kymlinge
station. And we have of course Stieg Larsson. If his books are sf is a matter
of definition; that he was an sf fan isn't. Stieg has made Stockholm sceneries
known around the world. Myself, well I couldn't resist mentioning some famous
sf-related addresses at the end of the discussion: Tunnelgatan 3 where JVM/VÄ
had its office (BTW close to where Olof Palme was murdered!), Pontonjärgatan 45
where SFSF had a clubhouse and the SF Bookstore began and finally
Folkskolegatan 22 where Lars-Olov Strandberg lived and and throughout the
1960's treated fandom with tons of peanuts.
Lars-Olov, 86 years old, was BTW on the con, and seemed in good health.
After a successful knee operation he's more mobile now. The only fan alive who
also attended Sweden's first sf con, Luncon in 1956. (There will be an 60th
anniversary Luncon in Lund, 22-23 of October.) It was also nice to meet Barbara
who held a memorable little post-Loncon3 party, though I discovered her too
late to have much time to talk.
I talked a little with Jukka Halme, about if there were any sensational news
about Worldcon 75. There wasn't. They run their budget on an assumption of ca
3500 attendees. Many memberships came in early on, but it has now become
slower. However, it will all work out and he seems in very good spirits about
it. Saw Kristina Hård and congratulated her for winning 100 000 SEK (10 000+
euros) with the City of Gothenburg literature award. Took a stroll through the
Alvar foundation book room (which was separate from the dealers' place) but
I've gone through their boxes ten times already. The local library, next to
Fantastika, had a shelf of giveaway books, where I found a title by Dénis
Lindbohm I didn't have. Grabbed it. (Otherwise I have too many books already,
so I tend to not acquire many these days.)
Outside the Green Room, Anna Davour sat up a badge making station. You could
draw or write something and make it into a badge. I made one for the modern
mobile phone generation, with a beanie man saying "3G, 4G is nothing. Rockets
reach 10 G!" We talked a little about popular science journalism, me from the
perspective of old Teknikmagasinet
(http://www.bokborsen.se//Teknikmagasinet-1983-Nr-1/1798153) which also
published sf stories. Anna mentioned she liked an old article about humour that
I apparently had written, but can't remembe. She has read quite a lot in old
fanzines, since she was once responsible for cataloguing the Alvar Foundation
collection. It seems I had launched the daring idea that humour should be funny,
The closing ceremony was lead by a choir from the Stockholm Tolkien Society.
They sang nice and a capella without orch-estra.... Finally, the con-committee
thanked guests, gophers, each other and probably Roscoe too. Con chair Carolina
took out the bottle containing The Spirit of Swecon, opened it to catch the
spirit of Fantastika, closed the bottle and passed it to representatives from
The con was over. So was the rain.
A few endnotes. Fantastika/Swecon 2016 was very successful despite not reaching
all the way to the 4-500 the concom had hopes for. Maybe the rain made some
stay home, but more work with pestering the media might have helped. Apart from
the DN piece the week before, there was pratically nothing in the press or
other media. I checked the Finnish news on Swedish TV, and it seems they canned
the Worldcon 75 interviews from Swecon (google "Uutiset" for June 20th). The
program booklet was also too thin. It had nothing but the very basic info about
the program and the con. It would have been nice with material by the GoHs, an
article explaining fandom, and things like that.
The program was well-planned, in three "lines". But as said, panel
participants should be snappier. What I missed was more fannish program. There
were filksongs and Jukka's guiz, but that was about it. Panel discussions are
very Serious and Constructive, but people also need to be entertained. The
Great Peanut Race used to be one of the most popular events on the old
Nasacons. There are other Silly Games one can pick up. Stuff with jokes and
spontaneity makes people open up and would be especially fitting in the
evenings, after a long day of Serious Scientific Talk.
And BTW, it's 60 years now since the first Swedish sf convention. He has
documented all of the history with his camera. So where was Lars-Olov
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