WorldCon in Helsinki – Day 1

Helsinki, so far, has proven to be a dream. The amusement park was fun, the zoo funner, and I’m just about fine with making my way around the bus and tram system. We arrived here on Sunday and WorldCon started yesterday (Wednesday).

I rolled up to Registration at about noon, having seen no-one I knew since a brief encounter on the flight the previous Sunday. Within a minute of me standing in line I was joined by Liz Gorinsky, Angela Slatter, Lisa L Hannet and Haralambi Markov.

I headed to the nearest café to grab a bite and a drink, and ended up with a vegan pulled-oat-and-avocado-on-sometypeofbread, and a juice, and it was delicious. Between me starting the sandwich and finishing it I was greeted by 8 or 9 friends from around the world, which was wonderful.

Over lunch I spoke with an American guy who told me that the panels are (already!) really hard to get into, as they were filling up quickly and the con staff are really hot on fire safety (no pun intended, but I’ll let it ride) so they don’t allow overcrowding and rooms have a very specific number of allowed audience members. I discovered this to be true, later. Cheryl Morgan has some information on why this is happening.

Mid afternoon I headed downtown to meet up with the Australian contingent, and we quietly too over the pub. I left them to head back to the con centre to have a light dinner with Marguerite Kenner and Alasdair Stuart. “Light” dinner because all of the eateries in the centre appeared to decide that dinner time is an appropriate time for cafés and restaurants to close, and the one we chose (“chose” in this instance meaning “headed to because it was the only one with the shutters still open) had a very small choice of food as they were also closing and weren’t cooking anything new.

A little prep time next, and then I headed to my first panel of the convention – “Ready, Steady, Flash!” – which I was hosting. Peter Newman was one of the panelists, and I got to meet N S Dolkart, Karin Tidbeck and the amazing Nalo Hopkinson for the first time.

It was full when I got there. In fact, it had been full for a while, and the staff were turning away audience members half an hour before the panel began! The table was set up for four (there were five of us) and no roaming mic (though I’d specified one was needed). Luckily, I was able to do without a seat, and I’m quite a loud chap when needed, so I was able to do without a mic, but I can imagine other panels suffering with this set-up. The panel went really well, and several audience members came over at the end to thank us, which is always nice.

It was only 10.00pm, so I decided to head back into town to my digs, but my bus was still half an hour away, so I stopped off at the bar on the way out and chatted with some friends for 15 minutes or so before heading out. Very early, I know, but it was only Day 1 of a 5 day con, os plenty of time for late nights to come…

Today will be a very busy day, with meetings, meetings, a few meetings, and one or two meetings, and tonight I’ll be hosting a version of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, which should be fun.

I didn’t take any photos yesterday, so here’s one of me, riding a tiger.

 

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