Why I Will Not Return to Arisia

Ahem Ahem!, This Is Important, Thumbs Down

Content note: references to rape, trauma, sexism, gaslighting, harassment, intimidation, and stalking. Also note: an f-bomb or two.

TL;DR – I’ve been to Arisia before, and enjoyed it. In fact, it was my first U.S. con. I was looking forward going back after a break. However, due to failures in following and enforcing their own Code of Conduct, which had the practical effect of protecting a stalker, I will not return to Arisia in the future.

My Worldcon 75 Highlights

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A random assortment of memorable moments, thoughts, views, and quotes from our time at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki.

From the panel: Always Connected, It’s Mandatory with Effie Seiberg, Fred C. Moulton, Jo Lindsay Walton, Kristina K., and Tommi Helenius

  • I missed who said it and whether there were further details, but one panelist mentioned a study with the finding that merely having a cell phone on your desk, even if it’s off, lowers your ability to concentrate by about 20 percent.

The tidbit certainly gives food for thought. If true, it gives an added bonus my decision to keep my phone out the way on a small side table. Phone out of direct line of sight: +2 to concentration roll!


From the panel: Pronouns, Who Needs Gender Pronouns with Cenk Gokce, Johanna Sinisalo, Catherine Lundoff, Kelvin Jackson, and John Chu

  • Johanna Sinisalo shared a story from producing the freebie anthology given to congoers, Giants at the End of the World. The translator for a story she was editing asked the gender of a very minor character that passes by in the background in order to use the correct pronoun, so she passed the question on to the author. Their reply was: “Who knows?”
  • John Chu continued on the effect that grammatical details like that have on thinking: in English you have to specify, whereas in languages that have different pronoun systems, speakers may specify the gender of their characters.
  • There was an audience comment on the 3rd person singular pronoun it used of people (in reference to a panelist who remarked that that’s possible in some dialectal uses in some languages). In the commenter’s view, people want to contain multitudes, and using it of people would be taking something away.

Clearly, defining characters’ gender matters greatly to some people and not so much to others (like the “Who knows?” Finnish author). Of course, not all writing nor all works of fiction are or should be the same, or created for the same purpose. For example, when the mood takes me, I’m delighted to read fluffy comfort lit that at other times would drive me to distraction. I think the variety that exists is fantastic, and limiting our expressions—especially in speculative fiction—is, well, limiting. We as a species do indeed contain multitudes.

Instagram Lada ladule_b W75 Fandom Is Family


Autographs: I got my copy of Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff signed.

Maresi w Author Autograph


From the panel: Editor’s Dream with Thoraiya Dyer, Masumi Washington, Katrina Archer, and Robert S. Malan

  • Katrina Archer, a Canadian copyeditor who works with both Canadian and American writers, mentioned that she creates a style sheet for each individual story. She includes, among others, notes on word selections (in consultation with the authors) and the dictionary and spellings used.

Self-evident, when you think about the pragmatics of editing. I’m going to steal that idea to apply for my various projects.


From the panel: Reviewing 101 with Juan Sanmiguel, Markku Soikkeli, John Clute, and Fred Lerner

  • Fred Lerner, by his own description “a recovering librarian” (yay librarians!), quoted Sturgeon’s Law (to the effect of: 90% of everything is crap) and noted that it therefore follows 10% is of use, so if a reviewer cannot find that 10% maybe they should do something different.

I’ll have to try and remember this. Not that I review things that often, but to vet other reviewers. (Also, note to self, a related critique panel mentioned Mary Robinette’s method which I believe is the one she tweets about here.)


In the exhibits hall: On guest of honor Nalo Hopkinson’s table, a puzzle featuring her book covers had been set out for passersby to work on. Irresistible! And a really inventive, unintrusive promo method.

Patreon Nalo Hopkinson W75 Book Cover Puzzle


Made it: There’s photographic proof I was at Worldcon!

Instagram Baron Dave Romm W75 Art of the Snapshot


From the panel: Jack of All Trades, Master of Several with Carl, Roseanne Rabinowitz, and Jani Saxell

  • Carl remarked that “external brains” (=tech) can help us branch out because looking up information is very easy.
  • Jani Saxell noted that as SF operates at the edges of the new and strange, you cannot prepare for everything; there should be a place for generalists in SFnal stories.

As a Jill of Many Trades myself, I found the topic fascinating. I’d note that finding information may have gotten much easier, but a lot still depends on an individual’s ability to sift the useful from useless and absorbing the appropriate bits.


Seen in person: We’ve streamed it a few times before, so we knew the routine, but it was surprisingly exciting to be able to attend the Hugo Awards ceremony.

Instagram writer_aki Aki Parhamaa W75 Hugo Awards


Seen in person: I also had several nice random meetings with both old friends (some of whom I haven’t seen in over 15 years) and new-to-me people. For example, on Friday we saw a Finnish journalist and fan Jussi Ahlroth on morning tv talking about the con and later that day actually met him. Cool. 🙂


Speaking of cool: Did you know that John Howe (yes, THAT John Howe!) was at Worldcon?!?

Instagram writer_aki Aki Parhamaa W75 John Howe


From the panel: Older Women in Genre Fiction with Catherine Lundoff, Delia Sherman, Liisa Rantalaiho, and Helena McCallum

  • The panel noted among other things that women’s bodily needs aren’t usually present in stories. Older women don’t have to deal with e.g. menstruation, but they do have physical ailments due to age. Elizabeth Moon was mentioned as someone who is great at describing the difficulty of getting going in the morning, for example. The panelists also talked about how, just like in real life, older women in stories are often hiding in plain sight (i.e., ignored).
  • Liisa Rantalaiho noted: Older women have sex.

Another fascinating panel through and through. Elizabeth Moon’s name came up in other panels, too; clearly I need to look her up.


Seen in person: Speaking of looking people up, I found a few other new-to-me authors and artists to try. I often do that if I like what someone’s said at a panel or program item.


The end is nigh: At some point during the con, signs for marking the end of the line (when queueing into program rooms) appeared for people to hold up and pass on. Of course it would’ve been nicer if long lines hadn’t happened at all, but it was a practical and humorous solution to an annoying facilities problem.

Instragram Tiina Vastamaa tiinatupuna W75 End of Line Please Queue Here


From the panel: Gender and “Realistic History” with Cheryl Morgan, Thomas Årnfelt, Gillian Pollack, Jo Walton, and Scott Lynch

  • Jo Walton said that women are left out when canons get formed; if you go looking for women in extant documents, they are there.
  • Thomas Årnfelt mentioned a few examples of women’s occupations gleaned from 12th c. Parisian tax documents: various positions in food and textile industries, barber, goldsmith, locksmith, and night guard, among others.
  • Cheryl Morgan talked about how people have been constructing gender(s) in many various ways in history / around the world. E.g. beer brewing and tavern keeping are now seen as male professions, when in fact they were purely women’s work at one point. Another example she gave is that a man couldn’t work in Nelson’s army (or Napoleon’s?? can’t make out my handwriting) if he didn’t know how to sew.

Lively discussion and many, many examples. I kept missing references writing down others. I wish this panel had been videotaped!


Seen in person: A live astronaut. All three presentations / panels with Kjell Lindgren were fascinating! Here’s the video of The Kjell & Jenny Show: A NASA Astronaut and his PAO where Kjell talks about the astronaut selection and preparation process.

The Kjell & Jenny Show: A NASA Astronaut and his PAO by Worldcon 75


Once upon a time on a lunch break: I ate at the Messukeskus Hesburger fast food joint (also fondly known as Hese) purely out of nostalgia. And was proud of myself, both as a Finn and an introvert, for sharing a table and a conversation with a total stranger. I don’t typically do that. At the same place my top half was also, memorably but unfortunately, splattered with hot chocolate. Oh well. Accidents happen, and I wasn’t scalded.


From the panel: Pullantuoksuinen – Writing While Multilingual with Nina Niskanen, Aliette de Bodard, Emmi Itäranta, Ken Liu, and Jakob Drud

  • Emmi Itäranta commented that juggling two languages simultaneously is sometimes a hindrance (if you find a fantastic phrase in one language but not the other), but it also makes you a better writer because it forces you to be more specific in your meaning.
  • Ken Liu noted that it’s perhaps more important to explain a cultural concept for yourself than the audience.

I have a bad habit of code-switching out of pure sloth with Husband since he knows Finnish so well. Perhaps I ought to try and stick to one language at a time. Apart from making puns; that I won’t give up. 🙂


From the panel: On the Care and Feeding of Secondary Characters with Fiona Moore, Carrie Patel, Mur Lafferty, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, and Diana ben-Aaron

  • “Knowing why characters exist tends to make them flat. Try not to know that.”

Really great quote. If you know who said it, please let me know! (Jo Walton???)


“I liked the way everyone was pleasant and polite. Panelists seemed to get along well with each other, even when they disagreed. Audiences seemed appreciative. The whole thing was good, low-tension fun. I sometimes think the discussions on the Internet leave people with a really wrong idea of what the experience of attending a convention is like. Problems are few, attitudes are positive, and people laugh and smile a lot.”

– Greg Hullender commenting at File 770

There were problems, and I witnessed some true clueless behavior first hand, but on the whole I agree with Greg. I saw so many examples of people greeting each other, sharing small moments of connection, helping each other out in general, troubleshooting tech issues, sharing tips and smiles, and giving up their seats to those who needed it or who might enjoy a panel more. Fandom definitely is my family. ❤


From the panel: Book Blogs with Cora Buhlert, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Shaun Duke, and Thomas Wagner

  • Shaun Duke of The Skiffy and Fanty Show (I think—please correct me if I’m attributing this to the wrong person) said some authors don’t seem to understand how the Internet works. Apparently he’s chosen not to review some people because he’s seen how they’ve treated other fans and reviewers online.

Yup. Rep gets around.



Images: Fandom Is Family by Lada (ladule_b) via Instagram. Maresi by Eppu Jensen. Nalo Hopkinson puzzle by Nalo Hopkinson via Patreon. Art of the Snapshot panel audience by Baron Dave Romm (david_e_romm) via Instagram. Hugo Awards ceremony collage by Aki Parhamaa (writer_aki) via Instagram. John Howe by Aki Parhamaa (writer_aki) via Instagram. End of Line by Tiina Vastamaa (tiinatupuna) via Instragram. Dingy bird via MTV.

Cross-posted from Co-Geeking.

My Worldcon 75 Thank You Tweets

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Since the Twitter search function officially stinks, I’m collecting my Worldcon 75 commentary in a blog format for better archiving.

First, I wrote a series of initial tweets thanking just some of the people building…

…and/or working at the con.

…and/or putting together wonderful panels.

Last but certainly not the least:

Back on U.S. Soil

Behind the Scenes, My Spaces

We’ve returned from a great trip to Finland and Worldcon 75.

Suitcase w Fin Flag Luggage Tag

I’m not only jetlagged, I’m exhausted from meeting so many people – to borrow a word from Finnish, I’m rag tired, meaning ‘limp-as-a-wrung-rag tired’ (rättiväsynyt). I suppose the closest equivalent in English is bone tired, but it feels like I don’t have the bones left for that!

I confess the only way for me to get through the last days of the con was to fake it in a grand way:

Catching Fire Eyes Bright Chins up Smiles on

Screencap from the movie Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

“Eyes bright. Chins up. Smiles on.”

I’m not an extreme introvert for nothing! 🙂 I loved the trip nevertheless. 😀

Now it’s nice to be home. After settling back to my routines, I’m looking forward to getting back to work!

I’ll open my shop again on Monday (August 21). See you then!

Etsy Shop on Break: Off to Worldcon 75!

Ahem Ahem!, Geek out!

Since contributing to the Helsinki in 2017 campaign to get Worldcon to Finland, I haven’t spoken much about Worldcon 75 here; my W75 Kermit-flailing has taken place at my hobby blog.

Well, the time has come. We’re about to set off to Helsinki!

My August 2017 Desk Calendar W75

The Playfully Grownup Home Etsy shop is in vacation mode. I will make it available again on Monday, August 21, 2017.

I’m very, very excited! Not only do I get to visit friends and relations, I get to hang out with my geeky friends and hopefully make new ones.

In the meanwhile, hope to see you in Helsinki – but if not, I hope you enjoy your August!

Blast from the Past: Souvenir from the First Ropecon

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Souvenir from the very first Ropecon, the largest Finnish role-playing con:

Signed Card Game Card as Bookmark

I wasn’t there myself, but friends kindly brought for me this card signed by the guest of honor, Steve Jackson. It’s a blank card for the card game Hacker that I made into a bookmark.

I have been to many of the early cons, but the later ones (after year 2000) only on and off. (Kinda difficult when you live an ocean away.) It’s really nice to know that it’s still going, though. I suppose it makes Ropecon into a nostalgic event for me. 🙂


Geek out!

Last Saturday at Sasquan (Worldcon 73), members voted on their preference for the location of the Worldcon in 2017, and overwhelmingly chose Helsinki!

To say I’m overjoyed is an understatement!

Worldcon 75 Initial Reaction

Worldcon 75 co-chairs Crystal, Jukka and Saija.

Tero Ykspetäjä, writing in his blog Partial Recall, puts it nicely:

“Worldcon is a wonderful event that always brings hundreds of authors and thousands of other sf fen together, and I’m glad many new people get to experience it in a couple of years. And when the opportunity rises (as it will), participate—Worldcon is a group effort. It’s not a trade show to sell stuff to consumers, it’s what we all together make it to be. Worldcon is a convention for sf fen, organized and paid for by its members, so don’t miss this opportunity to take part in something unique!”

I already tweeted my personal thanks to Crystal Huff, who coordinated the Helsinki in 2017 bid effort here in the States, but I’m going to say it here, too: Thank you, Crystal. Your efforts were instrumental in the success of the bid. Suurkiitos! And best of luck to you, Jukka and Saija on co-chairing Worldcon 75!

P.S. Did I say I’m OVERJOYED! 😀

Last Hurrah for Helsinki in 2017

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The in-person site selection voting for Worldcon 2017 ends tonight at this year’s Worldcon, Sasquan, at 6 p.m. PDT.

If you’re present at Sasquan, please vote. It takes a village to make any Worldcon happen, and it all starts with voting. Vote for your favorite, or if you’re open to suggestions, vote for Helsinki in 2017.

Helsinki in 2017 Logo

Helsinki in 2017.

Helsinki is a beautiful, safe city full of English-speaking people, with great connections to Europe, clean and efficient public transit and many attractions. The Finnish fandom is inviting and hardworking, and Finnish SF/F writers (e.g. Itäranta, Rajaniemi, Sinisalo, Krohn) are gaining more and more recognition internationally. And, Finns are just plain fun!

Results will be announced at the beginning of the World Science Fiction Society’s Site Selection Meeting at 10 a.m. PDT on Saturday. I know I will be keeping my fingers crossed and my thumbs up (which is the equivalent of crossing your fingers in Finland) all morning!

Let’s make Helsinki in 2017 happen! Kiitos!

P.S. Find relevant posts on this blog with the Helsinki in 2017 tag, or peek at my Helsinki in 2017 album in Flickr.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Sixth NotWork Bear Project

Arts & Crafts, Geek out!

The site voting period for the Worldcon in 2017 is almost up! Only ten days until the mail-in ballot deadline closes, and three weeks till the end of in-person voting at this year’s Worldcon, Sasquan.* My last contribution to the Helsinki in 2017 bid is a batch of coasters:

Bear Project Coaster w GlassI quite like them, even if I say so myself. 🙂 They were already put to use at Readercon 26:

Twitter Arisiacrystal Readercon26 Hki Breakfast

Readercon 26 breakfast sponsored by Helsinki in 2017. Crystal Huff / Helsinki in 2017 on Twitter.

My previous projects are hanging ornaments, rosemary sachets, book bags, bookmarks and small storage bins. (Find posts with the Helsinki in 2017 tag, or peek at my Helsinki in 2017 album in Flickr.)

Again, here’s the voting How-to:

Some info on Finnish SF/F, Finnish fandom or the Helsinki bid:

And a final collection of praise for Finnish cons:

“’It’s too far away.’

“Too far away from where? WorldCon hasn’t spent much time outside of North America (I’ll come back to that), but it has been held in Australia and Japan. They weren’t ‘too far away’. Helsinki has excellent global transport links.

“And hang on. Too far away? Really? I thought we were SF & fantasy fans. The whole point of these genres is that they take you far away. Here’s a chance to visit somewhere a little different, and quite special, with no spaceship or portal required. I promise you, once you come to Finland you’ll fall in love with the place.

“’Finland is too small for a big convention.’

“This one is easy because Finland has been hosting FinnCon for nearly 30 years. If you haven’t heard of it, this is one of the biggest European SF&F conventions, and is about the same size as a WorldCon. These guys have done this before. A lot.”

“The Finnish fans are second to none, and we had plenty of Swedes on hand as well, and a strong BWB contigent who taught them all how to party. It is events like this that remind me what fandom is all about — a celebration of science fiction and fantasy, of friendship and family.”

“[…]Finland has once again proven they know how to put on an amazing show. The organizers were friendly and efficient; everything worked; the atmosphere was cozy and intimate despite the fact that the con had 800 members. Helsinki in 2017 is the only way to go.”

“And I got the strongest sensation that these people, the people at the con, they are my people. For someone who’s never been to a con, I could liken it to a book fair: there are panels and interviews, some of them about literature, others about movies or comics or other SF/fantasy-related stuff. And there are vendors, and parties, just like at a book fair. Yet it is nothing like a book fair. Because there is no prestige. Everyone is on equal footing; we’re all fans. It’s not about selling stuff, It’s about celebrating stuff. And that makes all the difference.” [original emphasis]

“[…] holding a convention in conjunction with the [annual Sodankylä, Finland] Midnight Sun Film Festival. We’d have to persuade them to have an SF theme for the event, and get the Wachowskis as Guests of Honor, but it seems a suitably mad project. Finnish fandom can do anything, it seems.”

I voted for Helsinki in 2017, because I have every confidence that the team would put together a Finntastic con (pun so intended!) and because it’s high time to put more world into Worldcon.

*) The received-by deadline is Aug 10, 2015 for mail-in ballots. If you want to vote and are not attending Sasquan, now is the time!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Fifth NotWork Bear Project

Arts & Crafts, Geek out!

I prefer trying something different every time I make items to assist the Helsinki in 2017 Worldcon bid. Luckily I had just enough materials for two small storage bins:

Bear Cube Desk

My previous projects are hanging ornaments, rosemary sachets, book bags, and bookmarks. (Find posts with the Helsinki in 2017 tag, or peek at my Helsinki in 2017 album in Flickr.)

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.