Finncon is an annual Finnish SF&F convention in July that hosts a number of interesting discussion panels, SF&F related shows (this year there was heavy metal played on an electric kantele; we’re in Finland, alright). Finncon usually has several authors as Guests of Honour, as well as an artists’ alley, a second-hand book market and stands by SF&F publishers in the con bazaar. Admittance is free and all areas are accessible with a wheelchair. If you wish to support the con, you can do so by either volunteering as a gopher, or by buying con merchandise. More details on the official website.
Like I said to Wil, who attended with me and graciously tolerated my less-than-optimally-rested self, it felt so good to be among my own kind again! It’s been a few years since the last time Finncon was organised in Helsinki and I’ve missed the experience very, very much. We’ve got plans to attend next year’s con, too, which will be held in Jyväskylä. It’ll be my ten-year-anniversary with Finncon – and in the same city to boot!
After having read reports of women being harrassed at SF&F and gaming conventions in the States, I’m especially glad that Finncon always has a great atmosphere: relaxed and open to everyone regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. I was fourteen when I first attended, in a strange city and terribly nervous, but I felt welcome immediately upon entering the main area. Today it was more like… I don’t know, like coming home to people baking cookies shaped like the Star Trek emblem while they chat about writing fantasy fiction and the best video games this year.
Too Many Panels, Too Little Time
In a way, Finncon is like a music festival: you want to go see everything but many events overlap, so you need to decide whether you want to attend some panels for their entire duration or catch the beginning of one and the end of another (and a girl’s gotta eat, besides, but munching on an apple while someone else is talking is terribly impolite).
The official theme this year was ‘opposing forces’, which had been interpreted creatively but well! There were several panels on LGBT characters in fiction (such as mutantism in the X-Men comics being a metaphor for being homosexual), what e-books mean for the publishing industry, and how reading affects our minds and vice versa. I didn’t make it to as many panels as I wanted to – mainly because I’d masterfully organised my own house-warming party for Friday and slept very late on Saturday as a result – but the ones I did attend were fascinating and made me think, which is how I usually evaluate a panel discussion at a con.
Most zombie flicks I’ve seen are American, and most zombies I’ve seen are the result of a virus of some sort that’s more or less accidentally released amidst the general population. Usually the infection makes everyone ravenous for human flesh and gives them unnatural strength
and the eyes of a serious caffeine junkie in withdrawal. Well, nothing wrong with that, I say! To each their own. Personally I prefer my zombies undead, merrily groaning and shambling head-first into the same stretch of the garden fence over and over again.1
WARNING: spoilers ahead.
To be honest, I didn’t even remember that the 28 films are set in London before Jim (Cillian Murphy) stumbles out of a hospital and (metaphorically) runs smack-dab into a red telephone box. This is a recurring theme throughout both films, the camera focusing on iconic British landscapes and goods to make sure that the audience doesn’t forget where they are.
Once the largely unsurprising trek to discover Jim’s dead parents is over, Selene (Naomi Harris) exhibits common sense and apparent emotional coldness when she kills Mark (Noah Huntley; a brief role but well played) without hesitation after he gets bit. While badass in the beginning, the only female character in the film2 veers into the realm of stereotypes later when Selene tells Jim that he was right and the trek through the Infected world is better with company than alone, revealing that what do you know, she does care after all! Yawn.
In fact, as far as gender is concerned, the film doesn’t treat either female or male characters very well. The soldiers at the Manchester base all turn into mindless, rutting beasts when the cat is out of the bag after their chillingly pragmatic leader (Christopher Eccleston) confesses to Jim that he could only maintain the spirits of his men by promising them women. Soon after, there is a dire life-and-death situation going on as zombies storm the base, and all everyone can think of is catching a little nookie before they get eaten (and not the fun way, either). Never mind that their potential partners are A) not willing, B) a kid, C) all of the above, and that you’d expect soldiers to be able to prioritize.
Jim, Selene and Hannah escape once all the other characters have been brutally slaughtered – because family symbolism is important! – and at the end of 28 Days Later, they are staying in an abandoned house in what I can only assume passes as iconic country-side for the British. At the sound of a distant aircraf, they rush to spread out a giant HELLO-message, sewn together from clothes and sheets and what other fabrics they’ve managed to scrounge up, and presumably are rescued though we never hear from them again.3
What never, ever fails to crack me up is the very last line of the film, spoken by the pilot of the aircraft. Someone, for some reason, decided that the pilot should be Finnish and when he asks HQ to send some helicopters to pick up the survivors, he sounds so wonderfully blasé about it that I can’t help but laugh. (Plus that suddenly hearing “Lähetätkö helikopterit (could you send the choppers)?” is a bit of a shock to the system after all that Britishness because just, what.)
Whereas 28 Days Later was a beautifully shot and tragic depiction of a society that has collapsed during a catastrophe and has no real happy ending in sight, 28 Weeks Later is… stupid. The characters make irrational decisions for no good reason, act like they’ve been dropped to the middle of a filming set from the local coffee shop with the smell of caffe latte still lingering in their nostrils, and eventually refuse to die despite being worthy of an (undead, shambling) Darwin Award.
Eräänä aurinkoisena syyskuun päivänä armon vuotta 2013 saapasteli nuori neitonen Helsingin keskustassa Sokoksen kupeessa sijaitsevaan alkomahoolia myyvään liikkeeseen, aikeenaan prokuroida syysillan lämmikkeeksi luonteikasta punaviiniä. Aikansa viinien määrää taivasteltuaan neidon pelasti vaalea ja viisas nuori mies, joka kohteliaasti tarjosi apuaan.
“Tua noin,” epäröi neitokainen. “Jottai punaviint tarttis.”
“Jaaha, jaaha. Minkäslaista?”
“Nooo… Jottai ryhdikäst seurusteluu
ko tuo ukko o tommane velttoilija. Vähä tua Vina Alpali tyyppist, ko mää tykkää tost Kran Reservast.”
“Selvä. Pysytäänkö me täällä Espanjan puolella vai saako olla muualtakin?”
“Tjaa, kai sillä nii väliks ol ko muumaalast o joka tapaukses.”
Nuorukaisen terävä katse selasi hetken kiiltävien lasipullojen rivistöjä kunnes se pysähtyi erääseen italialaiseen taidonnäytteeseen. Nuorukainen esitteli viinin neidolle sutjakkaasti, mainiten sen olevan jos ei kirjaimellista niin vähintäänkin periaatteellista sukua neidon mieliviinille, ja hymyili odottavasti.
“Juu jaa,” kommentoi neitokainen.
“Sitten jos mennään tänne uuden maailman puolelle, meillä olisi tällainen kiinalainen punaviini.” Nuorukainen viittelöi energisesti kohti pulloa, jonka punainen etiketti toi mieleen amerikkalaiset öljypohatat. “Meille ei paljon näitä kiinalaisia tulekaan, koska kulutus on siellä niin suurta.”
“Nii sää meinaat ettei net kerkiä tän ast?” arvasi neito. “Tua noin,” jatkoi hän huultaan purien. “Nonnii… No jos… No mikä ettei, sai’ ylipuhutuks, mää katton jos tää kävis lämmikkeest,” päätti hän lopulta ja kiitti nuorukaista avusta.
Juu ei mittän, kovast vua kiitoksii Jarnol.
Kiinalaiset viinit eivät aiemmin olleet käyneet mielessä ollenkaan, mutta Dynastyn Jinwangchao on penteleen hyvä punaviini: sopivan tamminen ja hitusen karpaloinen kitalaesta kadotessaan. Hapokas se on muttei liian paljon tämän neitokaisen makunystyröille. Kuvittelisin syöväni rypäleitä brien kera, tai jopa jonkin sortin lihaisaa risottoa, kun tämä viini on pöydässä.
Eikä muute yhtää paskemp Led Zeppelini kans.
(Apparently I’m Ranty McPants today because I’ll be facing the parental unit tomorrow. This, instead of what a friend of mine once suggested, is not because our relationship is bad but because it takes energy to maintain the illusion that it is good.) (And it is, to a point; more accurately, the point where they don’t ask and even if they do, I won’t tell.)
So I ran into this, which is basically an article about why extroverts are awesome. Good on you, extroverts! I know you are awesome, keep being awesome because the world needs all sorts. But. Could you perhaps be awesome without making us introverts look less than?
Let me illustrate. Here are some of the points Caity Weaver makes:
2. You interact with other humans in orthodox ways and sometimes it’s fun and sometimes it’s not and mostly it’s whatever.
4. People like you.
6. You communicate emotions, fears, and desires to relevant parties in a clear way.
7. You don’t ruin camping trips, birthday parties, Christmas parties, office parties, [...] concerts, and road trips simply by being yourself.
13. You speak at a volume perceivable by humans.
Apparently nobody likes introverts who always ruin the party, are shy and have difficulties communicating with other people – and this is a Bad Thing. But here’s a secret: it’s not that “the entire population suddenly deluded itself into thinking that ‘introverted’ is a noble thing to be”, it’s that somebody noticed that not everyone is loud and out-going and has no problem socializing 24/7, and they pointed it out. That’s all.
Sure, there are always people who tag on to the latest quirky personality craze that surfaces, but that doesn’t mean that the real thing – a godawful term but what can you do – doesn’t exist. There are people who prefer solitary activities, who feel drained after prolonged social contact, who are less than skilled in expressing themselves in verbally. We’re not intentionally trying to make it difficult for you extroverts; it’s exhausting enough as it is. (Not that being an extrovert isn’t. I have a friend who is one and who never spends the evening at home if she can help it, always off to find a new hobby or travelling somewhere – and she loves it. I won’t ever understand how she manages it but that’s cool.)
We’re the shy, the bookworms, the wallflowers, the friend who doesn’t appreciate your ex tempore visit, the mystery guest at your party, because socializing for us isn’t as easy as it is for you. For the most part – unless we are lucky to befriend someone who either understands what we need or is an introvert themselves – looking at you, Wil – that gets us excluded from things. Things like parties (“Oh damn, someone noticed me slipping out for five minutes to breathe, arrrrgh, why are you talking to me when I clearly want to spend a minute alone”), cheerleading teams (“Oh HELL no I’m jumping in front of two hundred people in a mini-skirt and being the centre of their attention”), weddings (“Are they expecting me to give a speech? Oh dear God, guys, I love you and all, but”) and other activities.
Trust me; we know you threw that surprise party at our place in hopes of having a good time with us and making us happy. Unfortunately, we’re too busy wondering how on earth our sanctuary was invaded while we were having a stressful day at work, counting on the tub of ice cream to save the day, to appreciate your effort.
Despite being an introvert, I do like to socialize with people – my friends, for the most part, but sometimes even strangers! It’s just that I want to do it on my own terms, i.e. not have it sprung on me without any time to mentally prepare myself. That doesn’t mean that I’m intentionally making myself a different person while I’m hanging out with you, by the way. The transition between “nobody here to impress” and being in company is a little more rocky, is all, and I need to give myself a little pep talk.
I’m not saying that all the “X Signs That You Are An Introvert” articles are good, or that they don’t hate on extroverts while making their points. The Huffington Post article is pretty neutal and accurate, though, as is the introvert problems article on Buzzfeed.
Introverted people are different from extroverted people, not better or worse. Why is that so hard to understand? Or what do I know, maybe it is, so here’s
A Small Guide to Understanding Your Introverted Friend
#1: small talk. Chances are that they are not not talking to you because they don’t want to hang out with you, but because they simply have nothing to say at the moment so they are just enjoying your company.
#2: large parties. They love the intimacy of a smaller party, maybe six to ten people, so that they’ve got the time to talk to everyone about something that is not the weather, and that they can involve everyone in the discussion without having to split into smaller groups.
#3: surprise visits. For the love of God, do not drop in unannounced. Call at least an hour before and don’t push it if your friend says it’s not a good time. Don’t press them to give you a reason, any reason, because they know exactly how inadequate “I don’t want to socialize with people right now” will sound to you.
#4: audience participation. Nothing is worse than being the centre of other people’s attention, and I mean nothing. At a comedy/magic/impro theatre show, do not volunteer your introvert friend even if you think they should get out of their shell more. They’re an introvert, not an imbecile; if they want to participate, they will volunteer themselves.
#5: alone time. If your friend says that they’d love to come by for tea, or a movie, or whatever, but that they need some time to re-group after a week filled with socializing with people – believe them. It’s not intended as a slight to you. Imagine your least favourite relative visiting the city you live in and your having to babysit them for a couple of days, and then the absolute bliss of an empty flat once they leave. Abracadabra! You’ve just imagined an introvert’s week of being around people they don’t know that well.