Highlights from WorldCon 75 in Helsinki

Last week Helsinki played host to WorldCon, the world’s largest annual sci-fi convention that attracts the great and the good of the science fiction and fantasy worlds, and the place where authors, fans and editors come together to celebrate and discuss themes and issues across the genre. We caught up with our authors at their various respective events over the five-day convention and wanted to share some of the highlights with you here. Enjoy!

Our author and WorldCon Guest of Honour, Johanna Sinisalo received the Prometheus Award for Best Novel for her acclaimed novel, The Core of the Sun, giving an interview to renowned American novelist Jeff VanderMeer, before launching into a busy schedule, which included meeting her legions of literary fans – and film fans of Iron Sky – and talking about her upcoming novel Renate’s Storyto be published simultaneously with the release of Iron Sky: The Coming Race film in early 2018.

Snow White trilogy and Sisterland author, Salla Simukka talked to fans about fairy tale retellings, together with Navah Wolfe, Kim Wilkins and Karen Lord: What makes them so persistent and appealing to successive generation? From Once Upon a Time in TV to cyberpunk fairytale retellings by Marissa Meyer.

Later, Salla discussed Finnish literature in export, specifically the Finnish Weird genre, with authors Marko Hautala and author Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen.

More disturbing topics awaited with a discussion about Finnish horror. Hailed as Finland’s equivalent to Stephen King, our horror writer Marko Hautalatalked with Magdalena Hai and others about his most recent novel The Black Tongue (aka Granny Hatchet)– and the question of what makes horror specifically Finnish, and are the Finns easier to scare than others?

Meanwhile, Emmi Itäranta appeared on a panel in discussion with authors Aliette De Bodard, Ken Liu and Jakob Drud about writing as a multilingual author; Emmi herself having written her international success Memory of Water and The Weaver  in Finnish and in English. Later, Emmi did a well-attended book signing for her fans!

Contributing the Finnish Weird thread, authors Maria Turtschaninoff and Johanna Sinisalo discussed the genre, which Johanna Sinisalo invented, in the context of their own respective works, Maresi and The Core of the Sun.

Maria Turtschaninoff also participated in a scary panel discussion, Trolls in Nordic Science Fiction and Fantasy, with Carolina Gomez Lagerlöf, Kristina Hård and Emil Hjörvar Petersen, talking about our love for trolls in Nordic SFF and differences in troll characteristics between the Nordic countries. Later, Maria talked about invented religions – on the difficulties of creating a religion and the merits of using a fictional one.

Bookwitch/Witchbook author Anne Leinonen took to the stage in a panel discussion on the rise of Finnish Fandom to global recognition.

Last, but not least, a personal highlight was seeing the marvellous George R.R. Martin on Emma Newman’s ’Live Tea and Jeopardy’ event, which went on to win the Hugo Award for Best Fancast!

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