The links and addresses in this article may be out of date.
Please refer to Finnish
SF-FAQ
.

A SHORT LOOK AT FINNISH FANDOM

Ben Roimola

Whatsitallabout?

This article is supposed to give you some kind of an overall picture on
the shape of fandom in Finland. I have done my best to get all the facts
right and to be as objective as possible, but you know how it is: ask someone
else and you’ll get a different story.

Fandom in Finland is pretty much like fandom anywhere else, and also
pretty different. Like anywhere else, we have cons, clubs, zines, awards,
and all the other bits and pieces that come together to make this thing
we call fandom. But Finnish fandom has a couple of oddities which make
it very different from fandom in other countries.

One thing about Finnish fandom you probably should keep in mind while
reading this article is that although most of the clubs are called [Insert
a name of a Finnish town here] Science Fiction Society, they nevertheless
are science fiction and fantasy -clubs. The same fact applies to the zines
as well. There are of course exceptions, but these should be easy enough
to spot by their names.

History

Finnish fandom is a relatively young creature. The first con was organised
by the Students Union at Turku University in 1969, but fandom as we know
it wasn’t born until the Turku Science Fiction Society was founded in the
town of Turku in 1976. The first fanzine was born when this club started
to publish its zine Spin in 1977.

From then on progress has been steady and relentless. Presently there
are 15 clubs or societies or whatever you want to call them spread around
the country and 14 more or less regularly published zines. And no, this
does not include all the small (but sometimes loud-voiced) more unofficial
clubs (e.g. The Zombie Club, The Circle of the Singing Blade or The Barrow-downs)
nor the numerous role-playing -clubs and -zines. (And th ere’s also a society
dedicated to horror, the Dark Fantasy Society… -ed.)

Cons and Other Happenings

The Finnish cons are more or less like any other
sf-cons with one great difference: most of them have no entrance fee!

Since Finncon 89, one of the main principles of the Finnish national
con, Finncon, has been that there is no entry-fee to the con. This way
any passer-by can just pop in to see what’s going on and with any luck
find the con interesting and so a new sf-fan is born.

The sf-club in Jyväskylä has arranged annual cons in co-operation
with the local cultural happening Jyväskylän Kesä (Jyväskylä
Arts Festival). These cons have been free from the beginning. (Even though
Ben calls the Jyväskylän Kesä happenings “cons”, I’d put
them in the category “Other Important Happenings” myself… -ed.)

Year 1995 was the first time that Finncon was arranged outside Helsinki.
Finncon 95 was held in Jyväskylä with Storm Constantine, Vonda
McIntyre, Bruce Sterling, Alan Jones, and Gregory Day as GoHs. Finncons
tend to be great, and the cons in Jyväskylä, if possible, even
greater, so combining the two should result in something magnificient!

Apart from cons there are, of course, other more or less frequent happenings
like masquerades, X-mas parties, video-evenings and so on. In the following
I’ll shortly list and explain the most important.

In most of the towns with sf-clubs there are also monthly (or even bi-monthly)
gatherings. These gatherings (or mafias as some, especially the fans in
Helsinki, like to call them) take place in a particular restaurant or caf
on the day of a gathering, you know exactly where to find other fans. The
gatherings are free and open to everyone. There might be some kind of short
programme-items or not, but there definitely will be other fans whom you
can talk and play sf-related games or to whom you can sell your latest
fanzine or whatever. You got the picture? This is usually the best place
to get to know the local fandom if you have just moved to town.

The annual must for everyone is the Roadside Picnic. This is an sf-picnic
to Viikinsaari (an island in the immediate vicinity of the city of Tampere).
The picnic has been arranged by the Tampere SF Society since 1983. This
is the happening that gathers fans from all over Finland around one happy
campfire to barbecue and generally to have a good time. This is also where
the Turku fans traditionally beat the Helsinki fans (or fans from the rest
of Finland [not true! -www-ed.]) in football or some other sport.

A more official meeting between the SF societies in Finland is held
at the end of each year by one of the clubs. This is a meeting where representatives
from all the societies recount the passed year and tell about their plans
for the coming year. This way Finnish fandom at least tries to avoid booking
a lot of happenings on the same date and tries to keep up contact between
all the different clubs.

An important happening is the Finnish National Book Fair held in Turku
every second year. The Turku SF Society has managed to get a booth for
the sf-clubs at the fair and has also arranged sf-related programme during
the fair. This is a great way to make sf known outside of fandom.

For the more fantasy-oriented, there is the Fantasy Feast arranged by
the Turku SF Society every couple of years. A weekend of dressing up in
medieavalish costume, sitting by the campfire, testing your wit and strength
in something not resembling a tournament, listening and dancing to folk
music, and having a good time.

 

 

Awards and Competitions

I suppose every fandom has its own awards, its own versions of the Hugos
and Nebulas and whatnots. Well, Finnish fandom is no exception.

The Atorox
award
is presented to the best Finnish science fiction or fantasy short
story published the previous year. The winner is decided by a vote of all
the Finnish sf-clubs. The award is usually presented at Finncon or some
other major happening (e.g. the National Book Fair). The Atorox has been
presented annually by the Turku SF Society since 1983. I don’t suppose
there is any point in listing all the winners here, you probably haven’t
heard of any of the writers nor read any of the winning short stories.
But let me assure you that these stories at their best are on par with
any you’ve ever read and it’s really a shame that none of them has reached
a wider non-Finnish audience. Any editors or publishers out there looking
foor good foreign material? Look no further!

The Tähtivaeltaja award (Star Rover award) is the other main sf
award in Finland. This award is presented annually to the best sf book
(novel or short-story collection) published in Finland the previous year.
The book doesn’t have to be an original Finnish work, it could also be
a translation (which it usually is) (Actually, thus far the award has always
been given to a translation. -ed.). The winner of the Tähtivaeltaja
award is decided by a jury and the award is presented by the Helsinki SF
Societ first Tähtivaeltaja award was given in 1986.

Smaller awards (i.e. they don’t get that much attention outside fandom)
are the Kosmoskynä (Cosmos Pen) and the Kosmoskumi (Cosmos Eraser)
awards, both presented by The Finnish SF Writers Association. The former
is a recognition of excellence in the field of sf in Finland and the latter
is given for a text published in the SF-writers’ zine that has led to healthy
debate about some sf/fandom-related issue. Both awards are given irregularly.

The Portti award (Gateway award) is given annually in a score of different
categories (best domestic short story, best domestic book, best translated
book, best article). The winners are decided by a vote and all readers
of the Tampere SF Society’s zine Portti are eligible to vote.

Another award with a multitude of different categories is the Lumimies
award (Yeti award) presented by the Oulu SF Society. This is the most fannish
of all the mentioned awards with different categories each year. (Such
as “Humanoid of the Year”, “Chauvinist SF Act of the Year” and “Disappearance
of the Year”. -ed.)

The Tampere SF Society arranges an annual sf-short story competition
with big cash-prizes. This year the winner gets 10,000 FIM (about 1330)
and another 10,000 FIM is split between the runners-up. The competition
has been arranged since 1986 and the prizes have become bigger and bigger.
Last year over 400 short stories were sent to the competition.

Clubs & Zines

There isn’t a single commercial sf-magazine published in Finland. There
have been many attempts to publish commercial sf-magazines in Finland during
the years of fandom and even before, but each attempt has failed. Each
magazine has died either before a single published issue or after a couple
of issues.

But we have our share of fanzines. The Finnish fanzines are one of those
things that make Finnish fandom so different from fandom in other countries.
Finnish fanzines are generally very professional-looking magazines with
good short stories (both domestic and translated), interesting articles,
fantastic artwork, great comics, and all the rest you would expect to find
in any professional sf-mag. But these are all fanzines! And yes, I am exaggerating
a bit on how good the contents are, but the truth i the typical Finnish
fanzine is very slick and the best of our fanzines are probably better
than most professional sf-mags anywhere. The biggest zines (Aikakone, Legolas,
Portti, Spin and Tähtivaeltaja) are for sale at bookstores and Portti
can even be found at newsagents.

At present there are 14 fanzines published more or less regularily and
15 clubs/associations/societies/whatever you want to call them. I’ll end
this report with a list on all the major clubs and zines with my personal
opinions on them. The list is arranged alphabetically by the Finnish name.
Unless otherwise stated the zines publish short stories (both domestic
and translated), news, reviews, articles, illos, comics etc., and are published
with four issues a year. (For purposes of the preceding paragraph read
“fanzine” as “non-commercial sf zine”. Since the Finnish concept of an
sf zine is so different from the American/British one, terminology is a
bit shaky in this area… -ed.)

Oh yes, if you like to surf the Internet, you’ll be happy to know that
most Finnish clubs have their own WWW-pages. Your happiness might be reduced
by the fact that the pages are mainly in Finnish, but if you want to take
a look anyway a good place to start is the home-page of the Turku SF Society.
You can find it at the URL https://www.utu.fi/org/yhd/tsfs/.


And now on to the list:

  • Aikakone-yhdistys
  • (The Time Machine Society)

     

     

    Zine published:
    Aikakone (Time Machine); professional-looking, printed on glossy paper,
    cover occasionally in colour, about 70 pages, published since 1981.
    Subscribers: About 1000 (this is just a wild guess as I didn’t get any
    confirmation from the editor-in-chief).
    Address: c/o Leena Peltonen

    Sammonkatu 18 B 37

    FIN-33540 Tampere

    Finland.

    Other: Aikakone would probably be the best Finnish sf-zine if it wasn’t
    for the problems with the publication schedule. The zine does in theory
    publish four issues a year, but during the last two years it has had problems
    with getting the issues out on time (there were only two issues published
    in 1993 and none in 1994). Well, things are looking better and one issue
    for 1995 is already out now, in April.

     

     

    The people behind Aikakone are also generally active in Finnish fandom
    (they arranged the Aikacon in 1994 and are co-arrangers on this years Finncon).

  • FinnZine
  •  

     

     

     

    Zine published:
    FinnZine; semiprofessional-looking, b/w only, about 30 pages, published
    since 1991 or something like that.
    Subscribers: about 50 (again just a wild guess).
    Address: c/o Pekka Sirkiä

    Rasinkatu 13 E 43

    FIN-01360 Vantaa

    Finland.

    Email: skn@hut.fi (Seppo Niiranen, one of the editors).
    Other: Finnzine tries desperately to be the newszine in Finland. The editors
    have definitely a nose for news, but a newszine that is published only
    four times a year suffers from being dated.
  • Helsingin Science Fiction
    Seura
  • (The Helsinki SF Society)

     

     

    Zine published:
    Tähtivaeltaja
    (Star Rover); professional-looking, printed on glossy paper, cover in colour,
    about 90 pages, published since 1982.
    Members/Subscribers: about 700 members; circulation of the zine about 1500.
    Address: c/o Toni Jerrman

    Junailijankuja 1 B 29

    FIN-00520 Helsinki

    Finland.

    Email: leban@clinet.fi (Kimmo Lehtonen, president of the society).
    Other: The Helsinki SF Society is one of the main forces behind the Finncons
    and the presenter of the Tähtivaeltaja award. They also know how to
    party.

     

     

    Tähtivaeltaja could be the best Finnish sf-zine if it wasn’t for
    the editor-in-chief’s affection for every sub-culture that includes black
    leather, studs, and gothic rock.

    Tähtivaeltaja at its best is a zine that hits right on the spot
    with good articles, excellent comics and great short stories.

    Tähtivaeltaja at its worst is a zine that is more like a suicidal
    gothic teenager’s wet dream than an sf-zine.

  • Helsingin Yliopiston Science
    Fiction Klubi
  • (The Helsinki University SF Club)

     

     

    Zine published:
    Marvin -the Lehti
    (Marvin -the Zine); xeroxed-looking, b/w only, about 30 pages, published
    since 1987.
    Members/Subscribers: about 350 members; circulation of the zine about 250.
    Address: Mannerheimintie 5 B 5. krs

    FIN-00100 Helsinki

    Finland.

    Email: Jukka.Rasanen@helsinki.fi (Jukka Räsänen, president of
    the Club).
    Other: The Helsinki University SF Club is one of the main forces behind
    the Finncons. They throw a lot of parties and publish a really weird zine.

     

     

    Marvin started out as an unusually (for Finland that is) fannish zine
    and from there slowly progressed to being a zine that each time is done
    by a different group of people, so you never know what to expect. Recent
    issues have covered pornography, religion, swords, turkeys, and now – for
    something completely different – this.

  • Jyväskylän Science
    Fiction Seura 42
  • (The Jyväskylä SF Society 42)

     

     

    Zine Published:
    Alienisti (Alienist);
    Members/Subscribers: about 80 members; circulation of the zine about 200.
    Address: Cygnaeuksenkatu 7 E 46

    FIN-40100 Jyväskylä

    Finland.

    Email: Otto@jyu.fi (Otto Mäkelä, president of the society)
    Other: The Jyväskylä sf-club is one of the newcomers. They burst
    in to fandom at the beginning of the 1990s and have been hyperactive ever
    since. They have arranged a lot of great happenings and are the main organisers
    behind Finncon 95.

     

     

    The zine is OK-looking, but doesn’t really serve any bigger purpose
    other than being some kind of a con-booklet for the Jyväskylän
    Kesä sf-happenings. Oh yes, Alienisti is one of the few Finnish zines
    (if not the only one) to publish material in English.

  • Kuopion Science Fiction
    Seura
  • (The Kuopio SF Society)

     

     

    Zine published:
    Kalaksikukko (a pun best left untranslated); the only Finnish zine published
    only in electronic form; published since 1993 or something like that.
    Members/Subscribers: about 40; circulation of the zine unknown.
    Address: c/o Jarmo Ollikainen

    Metsurintie 21 F 57

    FIN-70150 Kuopio

    Finland.

    Email: jollikai@kopis3.pspt.fi (Jarmo Ollikainen).
    Other: This is one of the babies in Finnish fandom. Still struggling to
    stay alive.

     

     

    The Kuopio SF Society is working closely with the Kuopio University
    SF Club.

  • Kuopion yliopiston Scifi-kerho UNI
  • (The Kuopio University SF Club, Dream)

     

     

    Address: KYY

    Scifi-kerho/KSFS

    PL 1627

    FIN-70211 Kuopio

    Finland.

    Email: ppeltone@messi.uku.fi (Petri Peltonen). Members: about 40.
    Other: Exists in close co-operation with the Kuopio SF Society.
  • Polaris – Oulun SF
    Seura
  • (Polaris – The Oulu SF Society)

     

     

    Zine published:
    Mytago (Mythago); xeroxed-looking, b/w only, about 30 pages, published
    since 1992 or something like that.
    Members/Subscribers: about 50 (this is just a wild guess as I didn’t get
    any facts).
    Address: PL 28

    FIN-90101 Oulu

    Finland.

    Email: mplaurone@phoenix.oulu.fi (Mika-Petri Lauronen, president of the
    society).
    Other: Presenter of the Lumimies-award. Sometimes their activity spreads
    all the way to the south, but mostly they keep to themselves (or maybe
    it’s us southerners who keep to ourselves).
  • Spock’s HUT
  •  

     

     

     

    Zine published:
    Outpost; semiprofessional-looking, b/w only, about 20 pages, published
    since 1994.
    Members/Subscribers: about 200 members, circulation of the zine 500.
    Address: Spock s HUT / TKY

    PL 69

    FIN-02151 Espoo

    Finland.

    Email: shut@otax.tky.hut.fi
    Other: The club for all the Finnish Trekkers. It operates from the Helsinki
    University of Technology, but also has members outside the university.
  • Suomen Tieteiskirjoittajat
  • (Finnish Science Fiction Writers Association)

     

     

    Zine published:
    Kosmoskynä
    (Cosmos Pen); semiprofessional-looking, b/w only, about 20 pages, published
    since 1984
    Members/Subscribers: about 50.
    Address: c/o Eeva-Liisa Tenhunen

    Tuukkalantie 17 G 337

    FIN-00940 Helsinki

    Finland.

    Email: Tapani.Ronni@ktl.fi (Tapani Ronni).
    Other: The Finnish SF Writers Association presents the Kosmoskynä
    and the Kosmoskumi awards and organises courses for everyone interested
    in writing sf or fantasy.
  • Suomen Tolkien-seura
  • (The Finnish Tolkien Society)

     

     

    Zines published:
    Hobittilan Sanomat (Hobbiton Times) and Legolas;
    both zines are semiprofessional-looking and b/w only. Legolas has been
    published since 1991, publishes 2 issues per year and has about 50 pages.
    Hobittilan Sanomat has beenues per year and usually has 8 pages.
    Members/subscribers: about 300; circulation of the zines about 400.
    Address: PL 215

    FIN-00131 Helsinki

    Finland.

    Email: Ylva.Wahlstrom@helsinki.fi (Ylva Wahlstrm, secretary of the society).
    Other: The club for all the Finnish Tolkien-fans and for Finnish fantasy-fans
    in general. Has a lot of subdivisions called smials all over Finland. Lots
    of activities.

     

     

    Of the two zines, Hobittilan Sanomat is more of a club- and newszine,
    whereas Legolas has longer stuff like articles, short stories and all that.

  • Tampereen Science Fiction Seura
  • (The Tampere SF Society)

     

     

    Zine published:
    Portti (Gateway); professional-looking,
    printed on glossy paper, colour on the cover and even on the interior pages,
    about 160 pages, published since 1982.
    Members/Subscribers: The zine’s print-run is 3500 copies, the rest is just
    wild guessing: about 1000 members, circulation of the zine about 3000.
    Address: c/o Raimo Nikkonen

    Peltokatu 25-27 C 57

    33100 Tampere

    Finland.

    Email: Nikkonen@freenet.hut.fi or Portti@sci.fi (Raimo Nikkonen, editor-in-chief
    of the zine).
    Other: The Tampere SF Society arranges an annual sf/fantasy short story
    competition with big cash-prizes and acts as host for the Roadside Picnic.

     

     

    Portti could be the best sf-zine in Finland if it wasn’t so big. It
    sometimes seems like quantity is more important than quality and that almost
    any article, illo or short story gets published as long as the zine gets
    big enough. But the fact remains that Portti is the zine with the biggest
    circulation.

  • Tampereen Star Trek Seura
  • (The Tampere Star Trek Society)

     

     

    Address: c/o Henri Suuronen

    Opiskelijankatu 4 C 142

    FIN-33720 Tampere

    Finland

    Email: s151666@cc.tut.fi.
    Members/Subscribers: about 50
    Other: The latest Trek-addition to Finnish fandom.
  • Turun Science Fiction Seura
  • (The Turku SF Society)

     

     

    Zine published:
    Spin; semiprofessional-looking,
    b/w only, about 20 pages, six issues per year, published since 1977.
    Members/Subscribers: about 200 members; circulation of the zine about 400.
    Address: PL 538

    FIN-20101 Turku

    Finland.

    Email: tytpaana@utu.fi (Tytti Paananen, secretary of the society)
    Other: Founded in 1976, the Turku SF Society is the oldest of the Finnish
    sf-clubs and according to many the friendliest. They present the Atorox
    award, arrange the Fantasy Feast and the sf-coverage at the Finnish National
    Book-fair.

     

     

    The zine has developed from a role-model for the younger Finnish zines
    to a news-zine with the occasional short story or article. It doesn’t compete
    with the other zines in Finland, it doesn’t have to.

  • Turun yliopiston
    tieteiskulttuurikabinetti
  • (The Turku University SF Club)

     

     

    Address: c/o Hannu Pajunen

    Itäinen Pitkäkatu 9 B 28

    FIN-20520 Turku

    Finland

    Email: hannu@utu.fi (Hannu Pajunen).
    Members/Subscribers: about 10 (just a wild guess).
    Other: The second sf-club in Turku was founded in the beginning of 1995
    and has kept a very low profile (they are only warming their engines).
    As most (if not all) of the founders are also active in the Turku SF Society,
    I suppose this newcomer is going to work closely with its older relative.
  • United Federation of Planets
  •  

     

     

     

    Zine published:
    Captain’s Log; xeroxed-looking, b/w only (well they did have a xeroxed
    colour cover once), about 20 pages, published since 1993 or something like
    that.
    Members/Subscribers: 50 (just a wild guess).
    Address: c/o Tommi Paju

    Peipontie 23

    FIN-48220 Kotka

    Finland.

    Email: fdor@freenet.hut.fi
    Other: A group of Trekkers who don’t make too much noise about themselves.
    I don’t even know if this group exists any more.