Saturday, June 23, 2007

On reviews

No! I discover that Scalpel Magazine is dead, before it even really started to get interesting. I had high expectations, I like the idea of collecting interesting criticism, and to encourage well written reviews and discussions of literature.

There are other places, of course. I found that the Infinity Plus feature review of the Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist finally is online! I read this review every year, and always find it interesting. Normally it's written by Adam Roberts, but since he was among the nominated he could not do it this year -- instead Abigail Nussbaum did it. It doesn't matter that it's kind of late this year, I'm very interested anyway.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cosplay now and then

Today I saw two girls who were probably on their way to a costume party. They were wearing some kind of colourful pirate costumes, very well made, and just passed the cash machine at the town square. The funny thing was that some japanese tourists stopped them and wanted their picture taken together with these tall pirate girls. My first reaction was that they surely have cosplayers at home, and don't need to go to Sweden to take their picture with a pirate. But then again, why not?

This makes me think of this piece by Forrest Ackerman were he tells us, among other things, about the origins of costuming at science fiction conventions. I'm not especially enthusiastic about costuming, but I always admire people who make things (like the Steampunk Workshop). And I remember a photo I've seen in an old Swedish fanzine, with a young Sam J. Lundwall dressed as a Martian. It can be kind of fun and good for the atmosphere at a convention, in small doses. (Never more costumes than interesting literary discussions!)

This old photo in turn makes me think of things I started. Now maybe I'll have time to take up my old fanhistory project. A couple of years ago I put together an anthology of Swedish convention reports, from the 50's until now (then). I want to continue this project, and make as much as possible of it available on the web. And maybe write an article about the joys of working with a fanzine archive... there's so much I want to do!

Saturday, June 16, 2007


So. I still cannot formally call myself doctor of philosophy, but only paperwork (hrm... and a small written exam) remains. I successfully defended my Thesis yesterday. So I guess I'm sort of free to do other things now. Like blogging and other writing. And I think my husband and daugther will be happy to see a bit more of me than they have the last weeks.

It feels strange. I did it!

And here's the thesis.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The owls are not what they seem

Just outside the Ångström lab, where my department is, there is a small patch of forest called Kronparken. It actually continues on the other side of the big road, but i seldom go there. Between the lab and the road they keep sheep in the summer, and there are lots of song birds. There is also wild blueberries and rasberries in late summer, and wood anemones and other flowers in spring. I take a short walk there almost every day.

I just went out for some fresh air. (Yes, I'm working on Saturday night. Because I took the morning off.) We have had hot and sunny weather for a week, and the evenings are wonderful.

Now in a small tree close to the path I saw four owls! They looked very calm, and one of them scratched itself in a way that made it look a little like a monkey. I think they were tawny owls, they are the most common owls in Sweden. Wow! It must be ten years since I was so close to an owl the last time!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Conventional Wokka

At my first Eastercon, ReConvene in Liverpool 1999, i tried to explain my nick name to a dutch man. Åka is not so easy for non-scandinavians (its pronounced almost like "orca"). He tried to spell it, and wrote it like "wokka". I found it cute, and started using that spelling online.

I like conventions -- no surprise for those who read this blog (if anyone does, I haven't dared to install a counter).

Today is the first day of Convergence 2, this year's Australian National Science Fiction Convention. If I had won the GUFF race I would be there now. I'm not sorry for that, but I'm sorry that we didn't have time to finish the Scandinavian GUFF-losers fanzine in time for the convention. Well, it comes RSN...

Next weekend I will miss the yearly Swedish Swecon, this time called Conviction, with Richard Morgan and John Ajvide Lindqvist (a Swedish horror author) as guests of honour. I cannot go, because I need to defend my thesis (and then there is a family gathering on the Saturday).

And I missed Åcon (I recommend these comments by one of the organizers!).

So. I'm convention-starved! I want to go to a science fiction convention! At least there was our monthly sf pub meeting this week (always the first tuesday of the month).

Thursday, June 7, 2007

What is fandom anyway?

I wanted to post at least something here every day, but I haven't really made it. I also notice that my English is better some days, and when I'm busy with other things the text that comes up here is probably a bit strange. Exams! (But next weekend it will all be over, I hope.)

Well, Anactoria asked me what this fandom thing I'm talking about all the time is all about. Fans of what? Short answer: science fiction in the broad sense, including all varieties of fantastic literature (fantasy, horror and related stuff) and perhaps also film, tv and comics.

But fandom is not defined as all people interested in the fantastic. Fandom is a network of people, with its own culture and history. Some care a lot about fandom itself, some don't. I do. Some days I'm much more a science fiction fan interested in physics than a physicist interested in science fiction.

For a nice introduction to the history and culture of this particular fandom variety (since it's the oldest kind under this label its usually called just "fandom" and nothing more), take a look at Information for Those New to Fandom at this site for Canadian SF/F.

I'm still interested in getting in touch with more fans in Canada, by the way.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Gender bending

I like the kind of situations that feel like the pictures where you stare at seemingly random dots and suddenly a 3D image appears. It happens in real life when you make some assumptions or guesses which turn out to be wrong, and in a sudden shift of vision it all looks very different. It always reminds me that the world is more complex than it may seem, and that I actually have preconceptions and hidden assumptions. I also like to see it from the other side, for example when I'm asked for ID in a bar and the bartender suddenly sees that I'm ten years older than he thought. (I think it's because I'm so short. Unconciously people tend to judge age after size also in the case of adults.)

So. Recently I realised that on the Internet I might as well be a man. Why not? As long as it's only about exchanging links and ideas, sex shouldn't matter at all. I like it.

It also makes me think about gender, but I don't know if I have any conclusions other than that of course it is more likely to meet a physicist and science fiction fan who is a man than one who is a woman. I often think that I live in a world with about 10 percent women.

Anyway, here is a picture of me that I wanted to post just to show that I've been to a Worldcon:

This is me at Interaction, the world science fiction convention in Glasgow 2005 (photo from this page, published here with permission). The picture was taken at the Swedish room party, where I'm giving people some "punch" in plastic cups (a Swedish liqueur based on arrak and lemon, very sweet). I didn't drink any myself, because I was seven months pregnant (it's not so visible on the picture, but with some imagination you can see it).