Suomi-Finland, here I come…

After a tiring trip thru Montreal and Munchen, I finally arrived in Helsinki, Finland–first time in a Scandinavian country, and so far, all’s good! Lufthansa neither broke nor lost my luggage, I collected my Helsinki Card, obtained a Saunalahti SIM Card with Unlimited Talk, Text, Data for one month (5.9 Euro SIM, 24.95 Euro plan–can’t get that in Canada, no sirrah, you can’t!) and met a new baby friend, a five month old, on the bus from the airport to the city.

So, why suddenly write into this blog, after neglecting it for mumble mumble years? Well, it’s a funny story. Last year the website got infected, webhosting company temporarily suspended it, I cleaned up the infection, re-scanned it myself, and told them it was good, but apparently I was supposed to ask for THEM to re-scan it before they would un-suspend it, unbenownst to myself. Not that I updated the blog all that frequently, as in, almost never, but you’ve gotta start somewhere and since TravelPod closed up shop, I guess this becomes the default go-to for blogs travelogue as well as blogs science fictional. Or at least that’s my story and I am sticking to it!

Finland is comfortably cool–a nice 21 degrees Celcius compared to the furnace I left back in Ottawa. My AirBnB hostess was waiting for me when I arrived with germanic precision of 1 minute before she said she would meet me there, and I like the place–small, cosy but very well situated in the city–it’s walking distance to a travel nexus of busses, trams and metro trains, as well as grocery stores, bars, fast food and possibly other things I have not yet seen because did I mention I am tired from running thru multiple airports?

I am also trying a new thing–after the recent security bans on laptops, tablets etc., this is the first overseas trip to a convention I am making without a laptop. This blog and any other communications from is coming to you the courtesy of an Android smartphone and a bluetooth Thinkpad keyboard with Trackpoint–and working much better than I expected. The next time, however, I might want to invest in a ChromeCast device or some kind of USB-to-HDMI hub/cable/connection since all hotels and most AirBnB locations I have been lately have large screens with HDMI/USB inputs begging to be utilized.

I am going to spend the rest of the night planning for touristing tomorrow and at one point will have to post my WorldCon schedule, but so far, things are looking positive–yes, I said positive, and no, no aliens have kidnapped me and replaced me with a pod person–I am allowed to be positive once in a blue moon, after all…

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WorldCon Final Schedule

Only one more sleep, and I am headed for London, England for the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, Loncon 3

I am looking forward to meeting old friends and making new ones–I started my WorldCon streak in the British Isles, so it is great to be back. I am moderating one panel on Thursday, and am on another one on Monday, neatly ensuring I stay at the Convention for the whole duration–as if I was not going to do that anyways! I also have a shift at Registration on Thursday, so if you are headed to the WorldCon, drop by and say hi.

My final schedule for Loncon 3 is:

Hard Right

Thursday 20:00 – 21:00, Capital Suite 13 (ExCeL)

Hard science fiction is at its core dependent not on science, but on a world with inviolate rules. These rules can manifest as scientific realities or social constructs, but either way, these kinds of stories are often predicated on solving problems, or not, in the face of tradition. Science fiction critic Paul Kincaid has argued (here) this idea is very similar to the worldview of conservative ideologies. While hard sf is not the domain of right wing authors, is there a link between the two? Is that link historical or fundamental?

Neyir Cenk Gokce (M), Charles E. Gannon, Alison Sinclair, Jaine Fenn, Jack William Bell

Pew Pew! Where Have the Lasers Gone?

Monday 10:00 – 11:00

When was the last time you read a science fiction novel with lasers? Everything is flachettes and high explosive rounds. Do we blame William Gibson or has the technology of laser guns been debunked to the point that GI Joe and Cobra’s inability to actually kill one another has finally been explained? Is there still a place in science fiction for the obviously impossible and/or impractical?

Tom Becker (M), Gillian Clinton, Rachel Erickson, Neyir Cenk Gokce, Ann Leckie

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Beep, beep, bebeep, twentieth century calling…

Sputnik I left Earth in 1957–the first Space Shuttle, Columbia (STS-1) had its first orbital test flight in 1981.

Twenty-four years. That sound like amazingly fast progress, from a polished metal sphere 58 cm (23 in) diameter, massing 83 kgs, to the first re-usable orbital launcher weighing over 2030 tons, and standing 56.1 m (184.2 ft) tall.

Sounds amazing is exactly right. What is more amazing is how much the same duration of time changed in the computing field. Twenty-four years.

Twenty-four years ago, my alma-mater, METU, connected their IBM ES3090/180S, running the VM/XA operating system to EARN-BITNET, which meant I got access to the internet, although that was not exactly what we called it at the time. The ES3090/180S was a uniprocessor machine with a whopping 128 MBs of memory and boasted an incredible 22.5 GBs of disk storage, and we accessed it from one of 135 green-and-black dumb terminals in the terminal room at the Mechanical Engineering, Department. The water-cooled mainframe was housed in a huge, climate-controlled raised floor environment specifically built for it.

I am writing this blog on a four year old notebook computer with dual-core CPUs, 4GBs of memory and a modest, 240 GB SSD drive for disk storage, and it fits on my lap. As the joke goes, if space travel technology matched the speed of advances in computing, we’d be commuting to the Moon for work and taking vacations on Mars by now. Truth, as they say, is stranger than fiction–having youtube videos in your handset to endlessly distract yourself seems to have triumphed over the needs of the minority of us who are yearning for new frontiers to explore. C’est la vie–that’s why we continue to read, and write science fiction, I suppose.

Back in the twentieth century, we had to slug through plain html, connecting to the internets via dial-up modems whistling 2400 baud, and at that time, I used to have a webpage, hosted on http://www.panix.com/ an internet service provider offering the rare command line access to your account even though I had to fax my credit card number all the way from Turkey to New York and then call them long distance at a considerable cost for them to verify before I got my account. But somehow I managed, and maintained my website all the way until 1998, when I moved to Canada. Paradoxically, after that, my web presence faltered, updates ceased even when I got my very own domain name–life, as they say, intervened.

That was the twentieth century me. Now it is time for the twenty-first century me to resurrect my web presence à la the phoenix, and join the rest of mankind in the blogging world.

Hello, World!

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