North America!

Well, Keflavik airport on Iceland, at least. 12° C and overcast, a drastic change to Sweden the last month or so, and decidedly different from what I’ll experience in North America, too. Perhaps I will break my personal heat record in Texas? I’ve never been anywhere where it’s been more than 40° C (104 F) – in Rome and Budapest, respectively. We’ll see.

Everything’s been great so far, comfortable seat, Heinlein book quite readable (and it contains ink stains, or maybe mimeo ink stains? I wonder who the previous owner was). Several SF movies in the inflight entertainment, among them Moon. I didn’t watch any, but as I’m on the moon right now in the Heinlein book, it made me think about how much SF there is everywhere today. And what Heinlein would have said if he had known that we haven’t been back to the moon since he died.

OK, chicken sandwich eaten. Time to find the gate for the flight to Toronto. Next post, I’ll be in Canada.

D minus 1

One day to takeoff. I think I have bought everything I’m going to need, and I have basically finished packing. I had one night still in my itinerary without somewhere to sleep, the very last night of them all, the wing night after Worldcon. I had assumed that if need be I could stay an extra night at the Fairmont hotel, the main con hotel where the con generously is comping me to five nights, but I had forgot that they are a five star hotel in a very busy area, and no, I cannot justify spending $664.19 on a hotel night, regardless of whether it’s my own money or TAFF’s. But Lucy Huntzinger tipped me off about a centrally located, very basic but clean and comfortable 2.5 star hotel, at 1/5 of that price, so I’m all set now.

I have figured out how to transfer my photos wirelessly to my iPad and made sure they will be uploaded from there to the cloud. I have looked at the weather forecast, and while it’s certainly going to be warm, neither Toronto nor Minneapolis look like they will beat the 31° C (88 F) we have here in Uppsala at the moment. How much and which clothes to pack was not easy to decide, but it will mostly be long trousers, shorts and t-shirts. I will need to laundry once or twice, depending on how warm it gets.

I am bringing Have spacesuit, will travel and Children of time with me on the flight. Both can be discarded afterwards if needed, as they are in print. I’m caffeinating myself right now. I suppose I can get proper coffee on the flight to Toronto since I’m flying Iceandair, but who knows when I next will get a proper cuppa?

In Toronto, I’m looking forward to visiting Niagara Falls with Murray Moore, seeing the Merril collection and meeting all kinds of Toronto fen. My first time in Canada! I used to dream of Canada as a small kid, because my cousins lived there between 1965 and 1971; they were always “the cousins in Canada”. They moved back to Sweden (from the US) in 1977, but I still think of them as my overseas cousins. They lived in Montreal, not in Toronto, and one of them moved back as an adult and lives in Vancouver now since thirty years.

In Minneapolis, I look forward to travelling down the Mississippi, meeting my wife’s second cousin Cathy with family, and seeing some Minneapolis fans I have met before at cons.

Next update will probably be from Toronto, or maybe from Reykjavík. Time will tell.

D minus 13 — off to Finncon

Of course, I cannot wait until Armadillocon to attend another convention, so this evening I’m off to Stockholm to catch the overnight cruise ship to Turku, the host city for this year’s Finncon. It’s just a two-day event this year, which suits me fine as TAFF will eat most of my holidays. For climate reasons, I am going there by ship. A small step; I am flying back because, as I wrote, TAFF eats all my holidays. Next year I hope to take the cruise ship in both directions.

finncon-2018.jpg

I will be sharing a cabin with Mårten Svantesson, and I would be extremely surprised if we don’t try a beer or two, or three, before we go to bed. When we get up tomorrow we will probably have to show our national ID cards or passports to leave the ship. As an extra-ordinary measure, Finland has introduced an ID documents requirement to get into Finland the next five days, on account on the Trump–Putin summit in Helsinki. Otherwise, Finland and Sweden are in a passport union and no documents are required to travel between the two countries.

Turku is a nice city, I’ve attended Finncons there twice before in 2003 (my first Finncon) and in 2011. There are only three things that I have firm plans for doing this time, as I escaped being asked to conduct any interviews or moderate any panels:

  • I will be the narrator in Vilgot Strömsholm’s weird pantomime of Lucian‘s “A true story”. To quote the director: “Swords will be replaced with cucumbers, oars with leeks.” Attend at your peril.
  • I will buy Maria Turtschaninoff’s new novel Breven från Maresi, which will be pre-released just for Finncon. This is a real treat, I learned only yesterday that it will be for sale at the con, otherwise having an August release date.
  • I will buy the new Moomin mug, sold exclusively in Finland. We have a few of these (fifty-something) and usually buy every new one that they sell.

Other than that? Having a generally good time with my Finnish friends, who are some of the best fans beer can buy.

Countdown: D minus 16

So, just under sixteen days until I’m Orff.

I have a packing list. It contains esoteric items such as “Christina Lake’s Eastercon GoH collection fanzine for John”; “the ‘Specially Hand Made Propeller Beanie Fashioned by the Elder Ghoddess’ that Doris Beetam made for all members of Slanapa in the 1970s,” complete with a letter of provenance from Lisa Tuttle; as well as more down-to earth items like “Remember to shave before going!” and “tea bags just in case”. The beanie is intended for the TAFF auction in San Jose. It came with Lisa over to Europe when she relocated here all those years ago, and will be going home to the States now to find a new owner.

Slan-APA beanie

My first stop on the trip is Toronto and Toronto fandom. I will stay with Catherine Crockett and Colin Hinz, and Murray Moore has promised to take me to the Niagara Falls, which has to be considered as something that is on anyone’s bucket list, whether they realised it or not. I’m not sure I realised it before the offer, but never in my life would I turn that down!

I’m also going to see the famous Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, which I find it difficult to say how much I am looking forward to.

Merril Collection logo

And, needless to say, I hope to meet as many Toronto fans as possible.

Itinerary

25-JUL   Dep Stockholm Arlanda 13:40 on FI309
         Arr Reykjavik Keflavik 14:55
         Dep Reykjavik Keflavik 17:00 on FI603
         Arr Toronto Pearson 18:55
 26-JUL  Staying with Catherine Crockett & Colin Hinz
 27-JUL  Staying with Catherine Crockett & Colin Hinz
 28-JUL  Staying with Catherine Crockett & Colin Hinz
 29-JUL  Dep Toronto Pearson 14:45 on AC7733
         Arr St Paul Intl 15:54
 30-JUL  Staying with Joyce S.
 31-JUL  Staying with Joyce S.
 1-AUG   Staying with Joyce S.
 2-AUG   Dep St Paul Intl 14:10 on UA6325
         Arr Houston George Bush Intl. 16:59
 3-AUG   Staying with John & Valerie P.
 4-AUG   Armadillocon, Austin
 5-AUG   Armadillocon, Austin
 6-AUG   Staying with John & Valerie P.
 7-AUG   Staying with John & Valerie P.
 8-AUG   Dep Houston George Bush Intl. 16:36 on UA1792
         Arr Seattle Tacoma Intl 19:20
 9-AUG   Staying in Vonda M's guest apartment
 10-AUG  Staying in Vonda M's guest apartment
 11-AUG  Staying in Vonda M's guest apartment
 12-AUG  Dep Seattle Tacoma Intl 13:55 on AS330
         Arr San Jose Municipal 16:07
 13-AUG  Staying with Sten and Evangeline T.
 14-AUG  Staying with Sten and Evangeline T.
 15-AUG  Staying with Sten and Evangeline T.
 16-AUG  Worldcon 76, San Jose
 17-AUG  Worldcon 76, San Jose
 18-AUG  Worldcon 76, San Jose
 19-AUG  Worldcon 76, San Jose
 20-AUG  Worldcon 76, San Jose
 21-AUG  Staying at the Convention Center Inn and Suites
 22-AUG  Dep Oakland Intl. 18:10 on DY7068
 23-AUG  Arr Stockholm Arlanda 13:15

Background

The Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund, often known as TAFF, was created in 1953 for the purpose of collecting money to bring well-known science fiction fans familiar to other fans on both sides of the ocean, across the Atlantic. A very early crowd-funding effort, in other words. Since that time TAFF has regularly brought North American science fiction fans to European science fiction conventions and European SF fans to North American conventions. The candidates are voted on by all SF fans who are interested in TAFF, all over the world, and each vote is accompanied by a monetary donation. See Dave Langford’s TAFF site for more information about TAFF.

TAFF logo westbound

After being persuaded by several friends*, I decided to enter the 2018 race, which is from Europe to the World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose, California, in August. I had two formidable competitors, Fia Karlsson and Helena McCallum (and let me say here and now that getting acquainted with Helena was one of the first really good things about this race. Fia I knew from before, of course). It was a tight race, but I ended up winning. So on July 25th I will be flying out from Arlanda Airport to Toronto, Canada, by way of Reykjavík, to begin a month-long tour of North America that, in addition to Toronto and San Jose, will take me to Minnesota, Texas, and Washington State, staying with and meeting fans every step of the trip.

Afterwards, I have promised to write up a report of it all, an old tradition for TAFF delegates. And here on this blog I will note down tidbits of my preparations, thoughts about the trip, and experiences during the trip.

*You know who you are, Wolf, Fia, Ulrika & Claire!