Jun 30, 2016

SpeckLit News

Just a quick heads-up: SpeckLit accepted more of my drabbles for their next quadrant (Yay!), so you'll be seeing more of my stuff over on their site.

You can read the rest here.

Jun 29, 2016

The Proust Project: Round Four

Yep, started reading Sodom and Gomorrah, and I'm back in that special sweet spot between frustration and exhilaration. I want to like the book, I really do, but Proust doesn't make it easy. Between the tedious simile about the bees and flowers that goes on and on, the impregnable walls of text (Dude, have you ever heard of paragraph breaks?),  dialogue hidden inside long paragraphs, and pages-long sentences, I just want to throw the book at the wall and never pick it up again.

But then this happens:

"Although it was after nine o'clock, it was still the daylight that was giving the Luxor obelisk on the Place de la Concorde the appearance of pink nougat. Then it diluted the tint and changed the surface to a metallic substance, so that the obelisk not only became more precious but seemed more slender and almost flexible. One felt that one might have been able to twist this jewel, that one had perhaps already slightly bent it. The moon was now in the sky like a segment of an orange delicately peeled although nibbled at. But a few hours later it was to be fashioned of the most enduring gold. Nestling alone behind it, a poor little star was to serve as sole companion to the lonely moon, while the latter, keeping its friend protected but striding ahead more boldly, would brandish like an irresistible weapon, like an oriental symbol, its broad, magnificent golden crescent."
- Sodom and Gomorrah by Marcel Proust 

Wow. Just, wow. That's some gorgeous description.

Guess I'll shut up and keep reading then.

Jun 28, 2016

Writing Milestones

I started writing in 2014, and I've always gotten the Clarkesworld form rejection up to now, so I was really happy when one of my stories actually made the second round. (If you've googled their stats, that's pretty rare.)

They held the story for about a month, and then I got the "close, but not quite" rejection, so I'm not that bummed; actually, it's encouraging. Shows that I'm on the right track.

 I think I'll give the story a once-over and then resubmit. Hopefully it'll find a home somewhere else.

Jun 27, 2016

2016 Locus Award Winners Announced

If you haven't seen the results yet, check them out here.

Uprooted got best fantasy novel, and Gaiman's Trigger Warning won the collection category.  Both are awesome reads, if you're looking for a book to keep you company on the plane or by the pool. I found The Grace of Kings heavy going (a matter of personal preference), but I am planning to kick back with Liu's short story collection, The Paper Menagerie, as soon as I have the time. Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice is still waiting on my kindle. Seems like an interesting series, and I hope to read at least the first book this summer... So many books, so little time!

Trawling for Stories


Most writers say that the problem isn't coming up with story ideas, it's having too many, but I don't think that's the whole truth. In the beginning of your writing career, it can be hard to come up with ideas, or at least to come up with original ones.

So what can you do to jumpstart your brain?

For me, it's important to make time for stuff that inspires me. I try to schedule "inspiration dates" at least once a month, when I visit a museum, see a play, or do something I wouldn't normally do. I also think that reading a variety of good nonfiction books helps, in addition to fiction, of course. Travel's great if you can afford it, but even traveling locally helps to give you a change of scenery. Or you can play tourist in your own hometown: you never know what you'll find.

That's all fine and dandy,  you say, if you can go at your own pace, but what if you're on a deadline? Or you want to write something for an anthology and you don't have a story idea ready?

I did Chuck Wendig's Terribleminds challenges quite regularly for a couple of years, and they helped me realise I can pretty much write about anything if I put my mind to it. Some of the tricks I picked up from him are exploring random images on Flickr, using the random title generator, and the x meets y challenge, which is great for blending genres. I also do google image searches for weird stuff, and follow the websites of artists whose work inspires me.

One exercise that's a lot of fun is doing a bare-bones story outline and at every point asking yourself what would be the worst/most bizarre/most unexpected thing that could happen. Brainstorming stories isn't quite as much fun as writing them, but you can explore completely bonkers stuff at this stage and it won't cost you pages and pages of story if you decide that no, maybe the pink ferret with the Cherry Tree of Doom growing from his left ear isn't the way to go here. And you know what, sometimes you can come up with something no one else has ever thought of.

Often the first thing you come up with is kind of tired or too simple. Sometimes it's good to smoosh together two or more ideas, see how they work together, or maybe give that first idea a twist. It can also help to plot the story from the antagonist's point of view. Remember how in scene structure  the scene always ends with a disaster for your protag? Well, that means things always go the antagonist's way, right up until the end. He can be lucky, his plans can go like clockwork, and he can be smart and figure out what the protag is doing. Why not? It all adds conflict to the protag's story.

Writing books always tell you to study people, and that's good advice. I like to play Sherlock Holmes and find those telling details to use in creating characters.  See how that girl fiddles with the top button of her jacket? It's all shiny, so she must do it a lot. Is she nervous? What's that lip colour she's wearing? Bright pink. Must be a brave person. A wallflower wouldn't be caught dead in that shade. And her dye job's grown out a bit. Those highlights look professional. Wonder why she hasn't been to the hairdresser? That's an expensive purse, so probably not a money issue.  Oh, a pink unicorn reflector hangs from the bag. Must have a sense of humour. . . You can go as far as you want, even make up an imaginary past for the person. Maybe that'll spark a story in you. The great thing is that you can do this anywhere.  If there isn't anyone in the room, do the same thing with setting. Use different mood and character filters, like if you were a nervous elderly lady or a pissed-off ninja-pirate, what would you notice? As a writer, you'll never be bored again.

And the most important thing? Never, ever leave the house without your pocket-sized writer's notebook. You need to write this stuff down or you'll never remember it when you need to.

That's all I got. What about you guys? Any tips?

Jun 26, 2016



                                                 This Midsummer I watched a bonfire


                                                                     Ate wild strawberries.


                                                                              and waffles


Found some of my dad's old toys. (Civilians were apparently sold in packages of 48. It looks like it hasn't been opened. Didn't find any toy soldiers, though.)


                                                Read some Proust. Up to book four now. 


                                                   Admired Grandpa's taste is corkscrews.


                     Played Monty Python Fluxx, Ticket to Ride, and Besserwisser. Lost spectacularly. 


                                                               Blew soap bubbles

                                              Got up at five thirty and wrote for three hours.      


                                                  Hope you had a good Midsummer too!

Jun 24, 2016

Happy Midsummer!

"We must not look at goblin men, 
We must not buy their fruits: 
Who knows upon what soil they fed 
Their hungry thirsty roots?” 

- Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti-

Jun 22, 2016

Etymology Expeditions: Strange Shapes

I thought I knew geometry, but here are a few shapes I've never heard of.

First up: gyrobifastigium. It's a Johnson solid consisting of two prisms. What, still confused? Johnson solids are convex (having a curved surface like the exterior of a sphere) polyhedra (solid figures with many plane faces) having regular faces and equal edge lengths. A prism is a solid geometric figure  whose two edges are similar, equal, and parallel rectilinear figures, and whose sides are parallelograms (a four-sided plane rectilinear figure with opposite sides parallel).

That's it right there. The word comes from Latin,  gyro "turn, wheel around" + bi "two"+ fastigium "peak, tip." Prism is also interesting, it comes from Greek prisma "something sawed," from  prizein "to saw."

I bet you'll recognise the next one, even if you didn't know the fancypants word for it. A lemniscate is the twisty thingy we know as the infinity symbol. 

                                  Lemniscate of Gerono.svg

We get the word from Late Latin lemniscus, "a hanging ribbon," from Greek lemniskos "woollen ribbon."

Here's another familiar one. A truncated icosahedron. Yep, the one that looks like a football.

                                  Comparison of truncated icosahedron and soccer ball.png

Truncated is from Latin truncatus "cut off," and icosahedron, from Greek eikosahedron, is just eikosi "twenty" + hedra "seat, base, face of a geometric solid" from PIE root sed-, "to sit."It has twenty hexagonal (six-sided)faces and twelve pentagonal (five-sided) faces. Apparently this is what you get if you take a icosahedron (a solid geometric shape with 20 equilateral triangular faces) and cut off the tips of all 12 vertices so that the stumps are regular pentagons and the  triangular faces become hexagons.


Here's a visual aid. Imagine grabbing the blue marble and cutting around it so you get the five-sided black shape on the football. There you go. 

Can you handle one more? Okay, this is a fun one: a triskele or triskelion is a motif consisting of three rotating spirals or human legs extending from the centre of the symbol. 

I put the one with the legs in, because it illustrates the etymology nicely: triskelion is Greek, from tri "three"+ skelos "leg."

Does you brain hurt yet? Okay, okay, I'll stop now. 


Images from wikimedia commons

Jun 21, 2016

Loot Crate: Dystopia


Loot Crate time again! The theme this month was dystopia, and this little guy sure looks ready to handle just about any kind of apocalypse. (He's from Fallout, in case the box didn't tip you off.)


                                                             Then we got a Matrix puzzle. 

                                                                     And a Robocop T-shirt. 


This is my favourite item: a BioShock Infinite blank key. Apparently you can actually cut it to open something, but I'm using it as a keychain for now. 


                          Then there was this T2 metal thingy. Don't quite know what to make of it.


                                                         The pin was pretty cool, though. 

Jun 20, 2016

Science Fiction Classics: Ringworld by Larry Niven

Image from wikipedia.org

Ringworld is probably Larry Niven's most famous work. It's a mix of adventure story and hard science fiction novel, with interesting aliens and some really cool concepts. The book was published in 1970, and it won the Nebula award that year, and the Hugo and Locus the next.

I enjoyed parts of the novel, but it didn't suck me in, like my favourites do. The Ringworld is a very interesting idea, and I did like the explanation of the Dyson sphere, but the technobabble went on a bit too long for my liking. A lot of the book is just Our Heroes exploring Ringworld and getting in trouble. Mostly it didn't feel that urgent, and I didn't get the feeling they were actually in trouble or stranded until the end. There's a line after the crash about the ship not needing to fly for them to get off Ringworld, and that kind of zapped the excitement for me.

The characters are mostly fun, like the Pierson's Puppeteer Nessus, who's a coward (all Puppeteers are), but is introduced acting extremely reckless and pissing off two kzin, nasty catlike beings with predator ancestors. When he falls back into his normal behaviour, the contrast is hilarious. We find out that he's been suffering from a state of temporary insanity. Apparently any Puppeteer that leaves the safety of their world is considered crazy. Imagine, that other beings only ever meet the insane members of a race. That's an interesting idea.

Nessus recruits the others for the trip to Ringworld. The main character, Louis Wu, is a 200-year-old man, bored with his boosterspice-elongated existence. He's the intelligent adventurer, the person whose eyes we see through. The kzin, Speaker-to-Animals (yeah, that means us), is a lot of fun, and never feels like a trope. The ship names are also hilarious, like the Lying Bastard.

But then we get to the problem: the female characters. The book is over forty years old, so I'll give it some leeway, but this bothered me enough that it interfered with the reading experience. The only woman among the Ringworld explorers, Teela Brown, is naive and stupid, picked because she's lucky. Because she's so lucky, she's never been hurt, and that is used to explain why she is the way she is, almost a child in a woman's body. But then the idea is put forth that she doesn't even have free will, because her luck makes her choices for her. Breeding for luck is an interesting concept, but the execution bothered me. The only other woman is a ship's whore they encounter on Ringworld. Nessus conditions her to fall in line with the tasp, a weapon that stimulates the pleasure centres of the brain. The tasp as a weapon is a cool idea, but, again, this bothered me. And the characters joke many times about Teela being there to sleep with the main character. Add to that a few sentences about every woman possessing a tasp of her own, a rape joke, and the info that the kzin females (and the puppeteer breeders?)  aren't sentient, and I started to feel a bit icky.

So, all in all, neat ideas, but I won't be reading this again. Have any of you read Niven's other novels? Should I try something more recent?

Science fiction classics read: 40/193.

Jun 18, 2016

The Great Moscow State Circus

                  "Emotions" Great Moscow State Circus with Zapashny Brothers
Guess what I did this weekend!

Here's some info from the event page:

The Great Moscow State Circus, lead by the Zapashni Brothers, has been voted world's best circus at many international festivals. The Zapashni family has been in the circus business for 90 years and their shows are the world-famous; they've even made the Guiness book of records with some of their stunts. The Emotions tour combines modern and traditional circus into an amazing show that included acrobats, jugglers, magicians, and clowns. This is their first performance in Finland.

I love the circus. My favourite performance in recent years was Cirque Dracula, a Dracula-themed performance in an antique spiegeltent.  It was cozy, atmospheric, and Victorian, with some amazing acts. The Great Moscow State Circus was a different animal; big, flashy, and breathtaking. If you compare it to Cirque du Soleil, it's less surreal and more pure fun.  I think kids would enjoy this more.

My favourite part were the acrobats. They had an amazing act with the teeterboard, which culminated in one of them doing a jump on stilts, and then just one stilt. The wheel of death/wheel of steel act also blew me away. When the performer started jumping rope on the rotating wheel and tripped, I was sure he'd break his neck. The apparatus is called the "Wheel of Death" for a reason!

If you get a chance see them perform, definitely go. This is a world-class show.

Jun 17, 2016

There's a Storm Coming

It's super creepy outside right now. The light's a weird, sickly kind of yellow, and the air feels heavy and thick. 


                                                           That looks even more ominous. 


                      This is probably what the world feels like just before the apocalypse. *shudder*

The Genreblender Writing Competition

In Finnish only, I'm afraid. Here's the info:

Genreblender-kirjoituskilpailu (dl 31.10.2016)

Turun yliopiston tieteiskulttuurikabinetti ry. ja Turun Science Fiction Seura ry. julistavat kaikille avoimen scifi- ja fantasianovellien kirjoituskilpailun otsikolla “Genreblender”. Kilpailussa haetaan tekstejä, jotka yhdistävät kahta erilaista populaarikirjallisuuden lajityyppiä uudeksi ja omaperäiseksi kokonaisuudeksi.

Valittavia lajityyppejä voivat olla esimerkiksi länkkäri, rintama- tai sotakuvaus, romanttinen kirjallisuus, dekkari, vanhanaikainen salapoliisitarina, agenttijännäri, suomalainen tai englantilainen kartanoromantiikka, rillumarei, muu historiallinen fiktio, vampyyritarina, Lovecraft-tyyppinen tai muu yliluonnollinen kauhu, kova scifi, avaruusooppera, aikamatkailu- tai rinnakkaistodellisuustarina, korkea tai matala fantasia, steampunk, kyberpunk tai mikä tahansa muu tunnistettava lajityyppi.

Valittuja genrejä voi olla enemmänkin kuin kaksi, mutta on syytä muistaa että kokonaisuuden tulisi olla luettava ja ymmärrettävä. Myös kirjallisten kunnianosoitusten tekeminen esimerkiksi elokuvan lajityypeille on sallittua, ottaen kuitenkin huomioon tekijänoikeuksien asettamat rajoitukset. Tunnistettava ja suora fanfiction on siis rajattu kisan ulkopuolelle.

Oleellista on, että kahden genren yhdistelmänä syntyy jotain uutta ja omaperäistä, mutta myös se, että lajityypit muodostavat luontevan kokonaisuuden. Mitä odottamattomampi, riemastuttavampi ja raikkaampi yhdistelmä on, sen parempi. Riippumatta valituista genreistä tekstien tulisi sisältää tarinaan loogisesti kytkeytyvä spekulatiivinen elementti, eli sen tulisi olla laskettavissa scifiksi tai fantasiaksi.

Tekstien enimmäispituus on 20 liuskaa (välilyönteineen noin 45 000 merkkiä) ja ne on kirjoitettava suomeksi. Tekstien on oltava tallennettu rtf-muodossa (noin 30 riviä arkilla, riviväli 1,5, fonttikoko 12 pt, marginaalit noin 2 cm). Töiden tulee olla alkuperäisiä ja ennen julkaisemattomia koskien sekä paperi- että verkkojulkaisuja.

Kilpailuun otetaan osaa nimimerkillä. Nimimerkin avulla tekijöiden henkilöllisyys pysyy salassa tuomareilta. Tekijöiden aiemmat ansiot eivät näin pääse vaikuttamaan töiden arvosteluun ja kilpailijat ovat samanarvoisessa asemassa. Kisaan saa osallistua useammalla kuin yhdellä novellilla, mutta kunkin novellin kanssa tulee käyttää eri nimimerkkiä.

Työt on lähetettävä viimeistään 31.10.2016 keskiyöllä osoitteeseen genreblenderkilpailu@gmail.com. Laita sähköpostin otsikoksi nimimerkkisi ja tekstin nimi sekä viestin leipätekstiin yhteystietosi (nimi, osoite, puhelinnumero ja sähköpostiosoite) ja työ sähköpostin liitteeksi.

Kilpailun tuomareina toimivat kirjailija Anni Nupponen, kirjailija Jussi Katajala sekä Pasi Karppanen järjestäjäseurojen edustajana. Kilpailussa on esiraati, joka valikoi tekstit tuomaristolle. Esiraati tai tuomaristo saa hylätä ohjeiden vastaisesti kirjoitetun tekstin. Palkintosumma on 500 euroa, jonka tuomaristo jakaa parhaaksi katsomallaan tavalla.

Tavoitteena on koota voittajatöistä järjestäjätahojen julkaisema antologia. Mikäli töiden määrä ei anna mahdollisuuksia tähän, järjestäjät varaavat mahdollisuuden käyttää niitä Turun Science Fiction Seuran julkaisemassa Spin-lehdessä. Sijoittuneita tekstejä ei saa julkaista muualla ennen päätöstä niiden käytöstä kilpailun jälkeen.

Jun 15, 2016

Etymology Expeditions: Let's Go to the Circus

Up this week, circus-related words.

The word circus is from the late 14th century, a reference to the Roman circus, Latin for "circle, ring." The Romans used them for performances, contests, and horse-racing. The Latin word is preceded by the Greek kirkus. The meaning of "traveling show" is only from 1896. What about Piccadilly Circus? Well, that just means buildings arranged in a ring. This usage is from the early 18th century. Did you know there's also an adjective form, circensian?

Juggler comes from Old English geogelere "magician, conjurer," also from Anglo-French jogleour, where we also get jongleur. The word's origins are in the Latin ioculari "to joke, to jest." Apparently the connection between magic and juggling is dexterity.

The word acrobat is pretty young in English, only from 1825, but its roots also go back to the Greeks.  The English version comes from 14th century French acrobate, from Greek akrobates "rope dancer, gymnastic performer," which is related to akrobatos "going on tip-toe," from akros "topmost" + bainein "walk, go."

Okay, let's bring in the clowns. Clown is from the 1560s, meaning "rustic, boor, peasant." Origin is uncertain, but it might be from Scandinavia, maybe Icelandic klunni "clumsy, boorish fellow," Swedish kluns, Danish klunt"log, block," and North Frisian klönne. The meaning of "professional fool" is from around 1600.



Jun 14, 2016


Was saddened to wake up to news of yet another shooting on Monday. My heart goes out to the victims and their families and the LGBT community in Orlando.

If you haven't read Chuck Wendig's thought-provoking post on the subject, here's a link. He also posted info at the end about what you can do to help.

Jun 13, 2016

Amusements and Exposition in Tampere

Last weekend I attended a writing class in Tampere. The class was on Saturday, but because the train schedules wouldn't cooperate, I decided to go up on Friday. I  took the laptop, of course, and planned to get some writing done, but first I went for a walk and ended up at the Särkänniemi amusement park. 


          The sky's looking kind of ominous in this shot. About five minutes later it started hailing.


                                           They have a beautiful old carousel. 
                            It would be cool to ride this in full steampunk regalia. 


                                          My favourite traffic sign ever!


                      I had a very balanced and nutritious dinner that night. (Not.)


I stayed at the Lapland hotel Tampere, mainly because the location was convenient for the course. It turned out to be a very nice hotel. The golden antlers above the bed were kind of cool. 


                               You have to appreciate the attention to detail.

The writing course was fun, too. Met lots of interesting people and got valuable feedback on my story. We talked about exposition and did a writing exercise, where first we wrote description of our setting and then a scene that integrated description into action. It's surprisingly difficult to write something half-decent in a short time!

The best part of these kinds of things is realising that you're not alone: other writers are struggling with the same issues. When we did introductions, a lot of the people there said they had started writing only a couple of years ago, as adults. The myth that to be a "real" writer you have to start writing as soon as you can hold a pen is quite pervasive, and it takes the pressure off to hear that you're not a freak if you get into writing in your thirties.

Even our writer guest Liliana Lento, whose first novel, Dionnen Tytöt, had just come out, didn't start writing as a kid. It was really interesting to hear about her journey from writer to author. She started with short stories, and one day she got a book-sized idea. That's also something that feels like a relief, because I was starting to think that people are destined to be either short story writers or novel writers, not both. A lot of the writers I've asked have said that they just naturally started doing one or the other. My approach has been to try to perfect my short story writing skills first (my definition: a sale to a pro mag) and only then attempt a novel-length work. Maybe it's an okay approach after all, and one day I'll get an idea that has enough meat on it for a novel, or one of the short stories will refuse to be a short story and grow into a novel, I dunno.

A very fun course. I hope I can attend the next one, too.

Oh, and I started reading Neil Gaiman's The View from the Cheap Seats, a collection of his nonfiction. It's great and thought-provoking, and I highly recommend it. I like to support local bookstores when I can, so I tried to get a physical copy, but unfortunately the book hadn't arrived yet, so Amazon got my hard-earned pennies once again. I love my kindle (you know, 'cause it's bigger on the inside, ha ha), but it's not the same thing. I suppose I could have waited, but they said it would take TWO WEEKS to arrive. Come on! That's too long to wait when what you want is just one click away.

Jun 10, 2016

The Aliens 30th Anniversary Loot Crate!



                               Opening it up . . .  Nothing's jumped out at me so far. What's that?


                                         A Bug Stomper T-shirt, from the drop-ship logo!

                                                                   Comics.Very nice!


                                                A cool mini-poster. Is that Japanese?


                                   And then we have this guy, a 6.5'' figure from Titan. 
                     Sure, he looks kind of dayglo now, but you should see him in the dark. 


                                   Aaand here's my favourite: glow-in-the-dark Alien eggs!


    These are just so cool. They have this weird glow, even in daylight, if you shade them a bit. 


Here's my attempt at shooting them in the dark. Yes, I actually locked myself in a dark bathroom  with the things to get these shots. You're welcome. 


                   Honestly, these don't do them justice. They're super creepy in real life. 


Yep, very happy with my Aliens loot. These are going in my dvd cabinet, behind glass doors, so they can't get out because it'll keep the dust off. Yeah. That's it.

Jun 9, 2016

Free Online Writing Course from The University of Iowa!

The University of Iowa is doing another free MOOC this year, open to everyone. Here's some info:
"On July 18, 2016, the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa will open the new MOOC Whitman's Civil War: Writing and Imaging Loss, Death, and Disaster. This free open online course will embark upon a journey through Walt Whitman's writings on the American Civil War. Through Whitman's lens, we will explore how writing and image can be used to examine war, conflict, trauma, and reconciliation - in Whitman's time and today. Join us!"

I did their last year's course, and it was amazing. Definitely signing up for this one, too.

If you want to join in, you can read more here.

Jun 8, 2016

Etymology Expeditions: The Biggest Word I Ever Heard

Here's a childhood favourite:


You probably know it's from the 1964 Disney movie version of "Mary Poppins," but did you know it was the subject of a lawsuit based on earlier song title "Supercalafajalistickexpialadojus"(1949)? Known as "The Super Song," it was recorded by Alan Holmes and his New Tones, lyrics by Patricia Smith (a Gloria Parker pen name. She was the one suing Disney.) 
 Disney won in the end, because they showed that variants of the word were in use well before 1949.

The word was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 1986. 

Some people have tried to break it into parts: 

super- "above", cali- "beauty", fragilistic- "delicate", expiali- "to atone", and -docious "educable"

but that doesn't make any sense, I think. 

Maybe it's best to just enjoy it for the wonderful nonsense it is?

Here's a link to the Disney version on Youtube. Go on, listen to it. It's the song equivalent of chugging a can of Red Bull.

Jun 6, 2016

Unpopular Bookish Opinions

The "unpopular bookish opinions" tag has been making the rounds in all the Finnish writing blogs I read, and it sounded fun, so I thought I'd give it a shot. What the heck, I'm on vacation

1. A Popular Book or series that you didn't like.

Wuthering Heights. Just truly unpleasant. I wrote a whole blog post about this, so I won't go into more detail here.

2. A Popular Book or series that every one else seems to hate but you love. 

I'm a bit embarrassed about this one, but Scarlett, Alexandra Ripley's sequel to Mitchell's Gone With the Wind. I read it as a teen and it just stuck.

3. A Love Triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with (warn ppl for spoilers) OR an OTP that you don't like. 

Ron and Hermione. I still don't get it.

4. A popular book Genre that you hardly reach for. 

Medical thrillers/mysteries, like the Kay Scarpetta books. I just don't like reading about realistic violence, autopsies, and serial killers. And a lot of these start to feel very formulaic to me after a few volumes.

5. A popular or beloved character that you do not like.

Heathcliff. What a jerk.

6. A popular author that you can't seem to get into. 

Stephen Baxter. He writes hard science fiction, emphasis on the "hard." I struggled to finish Time, couldn't muster up the energy for Space. Interesting ideas, but too much of a science lecture masquerading as a novel.

7. A popular book trope that you're tired of seeing. (examples "lost princess", corrupt ruler, love triangles, etc.)

The Hero's Journey in its most basic form. You know, the whole "chosen one" thing. Okay for a video game, but as I get older I'm starting to prefer a main character who knows what she's doing and is already an interesting person instead of a blank slate.

8. A popular series that you have no interest in reading.

Fifty Shades of Grey. Not my thing.

9. The saying goes "The book is always better than the movie", but what movie or T.V. show adaptation do you prefer more than the book?

Hmm. That's a tough one. There's lots of movies that are worse than the book, but better? Even "as good" is a tall order, but Howl's Moving Castle and the LOTR trilogy come to mind. Okay, here's one: I actually enjoy Jeeves and Wooster more as a T.V. show. But I like the books too, so . . .

Anybody out there who hasn't done this one yet? Tag, you're it!

Jun 5, 2016

Bengtskär Lighthouse and The Rosala Viking Centre


First day of summer vacation, yay! Hubby and I celebrated with a day trip to Bengtskär Lighthouse. We booked this tour from Kasnäs.


The lighthouse has been open to the public since the nineties, and it's one of the few lighthouses where you get to see the lantern room. 


                                             The building is built of local stone. It's beautiful.


                                                     We climbed all the way to the top. 
                                   250 steps and two ladders, but the view is totally worth it. 


                              The antique lens is still there, but nowadays they use electric lights instead.

There were lots of these guys about ("sea duck" is the translation I found (haahka)?). They  blend in so well that I nearly stepped on a few even though I was looking out for them. 

                       People have carved their names into the stone. I wonder who they were?

Oh, and there was an abandoned  wartime bunker there, too. And I went in! Pretty creepy, but cool.  It looked like something out of a horror FPS. 

                               The tour also included a stopover at the Rosala Viking Centre. 


                       It was actually pretty cool, especially the jatulintarha, an ancient maze. 


We had lunch in the great hall. It would be an amazing place for a larp! They also do Viking feasts there, and the guests get to dress up. 


                                                       That's my vegetable soup and mead. 



The great thing about Rosala is that it's not a museum: you can actually touch stuff! This place would be really fun for kids. The guide actually said they do trips for school groups and summer camp type stuff, too.


These glasses at the gift shop were gorgeous, but as we were going on to Bengtskär, I didn't want to lug them around. I hope I'll find them at the Turku medieval fair in July. I definitely need a couple of these.


                                Yes, these are fake weapons. Yes, I played with them. Wouldn't you?

All in all, a great day out. If you're coming up for Worldcon next year and want to see a bit more of Finland while you're here, this is a fun option for a day trip. You can even stay overnight in the lighthouse. They've turned the lighthouse keepers' rooms into a hotel! Rosala also offers accommodation, Viking style.

Both would make great locations for a writers' retreat, too.