Gaming: No Man’s Sky

Crashed ship
A crashed fighter in the mould of Battlestar Galactica

Rewind to the 80’s

In the last 15 years or so, I haven’t really had the time and will to game as much as I’d like to. Just as is the case with quality TV series nowadays, there are more great games coming out than there is time to actually play them when you also have full time employment to take care of. Maybe I’m just lazy, but for me gaming is also more intensive and time-consuming than watching a movie or an episode of a TV show.

Elite poster
Elite poster at the Gaming museum in Tampere, Finland

I’m also a bit of a genre player – my preferred games have always been time consuming adventures, and role-playing games. And, maybe you could add a third genre as well: space trading simulator games. One of the first games I saw being played in the mid-80’s on my friend Antti’s dad’s Commodore 64 was Elite. [telegraph.co.uk] The game looked complex and hard, and had a manual longer than most games and required a keyboard map layout as well because there were so many functions.
“I’ll never learn to play that”, I thought.
Well, a couple of years later Antti and I not only completed Leisure Suit Larry [retrogames.cz] on his dad’s PC, but we also played Elite at my place all night long on my first computer, a Commodore 64 (thanks, mum!).

The freedom of piloting your own starship across a vast galaxy (or several), trading goods, fighting pirates and generally just exploring was just unbeatable. In a way, the game was really simple and repetitive but you kind of made up your own story along the road as you grinded for more money, status and new ships. So, grinding was an addictive formula back then already, Elite might actually be one of the first grinding games.

After Elite, no space simulator really offered the same thrills – there were many attempts like Federation of Free Traders or the actual Elite-sequel Frontier, but they were either too ambitious for the computers of their time or just didn’t work. There were some smaller great space adventures that focused more on the story though in the 80’s-90’s; some of the the ones I loved were Warhead [lemonamiga.com] on the Amiga and Star Control 2 [wikpedia.com] on PC, one of the best space adventure games ever in an semi-open world, which emphasized the importance of great visuals and music as well.

The casual thrills of exploring unknown planets

Tourist photo of wildlife
Some alien life on an arid planet

Fast-forward to 2017, a year after No Man’s Sky was released and had caught my radar. The game had a rocky launch and it seemed like yet another failed “Elite-killer” (as the Finnish gaming press used to title all games seeking to become the next Elite, always in vain), but significant updates had supposedly improved things and it was on sale on Steam, so I thought: “What the hell, looks good, let’s give this a go”.

Turns out the game offers the same thrills as Elite did in the 80’s. The basic idea is the same but there is just more of everything. Also, you can land on planets and explore them; the first time you repair your ship and head out into space and land on the next planet or moon in the solar system is magical.

Flyby
Ships flying over my head
Jump drive
Jumping to a planet

Besides the freedom of a huge sandbox a lot of the appeal of the game lies in the excellent, colorful graphics and the phenomenal soundtrack by 65daysofstatic. Even people who find the game boring have said good things about the soundtrack, and I bought the soundtrack after short while; the music really is great and adds to the game in so many ways.

Yeah, the game has some adventure in form of a story as well, but it isn’t very deep although there are some good points. Just like the retro-art graphics, the story is more Star Trek or 70’s psychedelic sci-fi than some Star Wars-style epic space opera. This is fitting, and anyhow, the story is mostly just an extended tutorial; exploring and grinding for money and new ships and building your own bases on several worlds is the core of the game. No Man’s Sky is also pleasingly non-violent; you can pretty much avoid combat if you want to, and gaining money by scanning flora and fauna instead of killing them pleases my former biologist self.

Nada and Polo
Nada and Polo, some of the only recurring characters in the game
Exotic ship and my 48-slot cargo vessel
My ugly but large freighter and an exotic “Angry Birds”-ship (those are more rare)

So, another grinding & building game at heart, I still find No Man’s Sky addictive after 200+ hours because you can simply play it a bit at a time, casually. Come home from work, drop into the cockpit of your spaceship, explore an unknown world, go to the next solar system, send your frigates on missions to collect money and stop playing after an hour in order to make dinner. It does become repetitive during the endgame when you can see the patterns of how everything goes, despite being a huge sandbox there is not enough real variation on the worlds in order to surprise you very much. That, and the lackluster trading aspect still leave lots of room for improvement.

Currently I’m just searching for the perfect planet to build my final base on, as I already have pretty much everything the game offers in terms of spaceships etc. But just spending an hour listening to the soundtrack and enjoying the scenery after warping to the next solar system is a soothing experience.

Interestingly enough, the game is still being developed and this summer a new major update comes along adding multiplayer and Virtual Reality (VR) -headset support, so the game is certainly one of the best supported games ever considering all the updates are free.

Finally, just listen to two of the achingly beautiful pieces found in the game and you’ll perhaps get something interesting out of the game even if you never play it yourself…

Travel report: Barcelona (Part 3: The Big City)

Driving in Barcelona

In recent years there has been some backlash against the growing number of tourists, and Barcelona is one of those places [The Guardian]. Partly it has to do with new game-changing services like Airbnb that provide authentic housing opportunities for visitors but also cause surprising negative effects like raising the rent in cities for the locals, and I can sort of understand that if your neighbourhood turns into a party place where you can scarcely afford to live, you might feel just a bit pissed off… But, traveling seems to be mandatory nowadays as flights are still cheap and people tend to flock to the same destinations.

Especially women seem to love traveling (an observation based on my scientifically sound method of er… browsing Tinder profiles). Myself, I don’t like “unnecessary” travelling – I can travel inside my head and enjoy the local beach just fine and be satisfied with that. But if there is an opportunity to go someplace exotic and share the experience with friends – like with this trip – I’ll bite.

Back to the rootsWe experienced no tourist rage as people were very friendly and the mid-May vibe in Barcelona city was lush and relaxed.  We made only this one day trip to the city, so of course this was only scraping the surface but my personal to-do list was fittingly very simple: 1) see the La Sagrada Familia, 2) enjoy tapas and red wine at some nice place and 3) get a feeling for the pulse of the city.

As you can see, I set the bar for life goals quite low.

First stop: Camp Nou

Barcelona is of course home to the world-famous football club FC Barcelona (the name is a clue) with some of the world’s greatest soccer stars. As many of my friends’ kids play football, we started our visit to the city with a stop at the home stadium of Barca: Camp Nou.

Camp Nou -selfie

Lots of people, esp. children, noise, FCB-merchandise to buy, a tour of the facilities for 25€… a small-scale Disneyland for soccer-players, that is. Initially we were going to take the tour so we could see the stadium itself, but ended up just hanging around and my friends got some gear for their kids.

Seeing a real game of football at this kind of venue would be great, but we have to leave something for the future…

Second stop: La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia

It’s famous. It’s big. It’s a church. And it is still partly unfinished. Architect Antoni Gaudi’s  masterpiece is a must-see, of course, The new and old textures don’t mesh that well (yet, needs some air pollution) and I can’t decide if it’s ugly or beautiful but La Sagrada Familia didn’t fail to invoke emotion. I got the feeling that this definitely is some pop-culture version of classical cathedral architecture, the Ed Hardy or Desigual version of religious symbolism. Brash and playful, with a breathtaking number of details, this is no ordinary building. It is a money making machine for Barcelona, no doubt.

La Sagrada Familia, details

Military police were hanging around nearby streets blocking access to the tourist-filled site with concrete blocks, no doubt as a preventive measure against lorries and trucks manned by crazy (or life-depraved and brainwashed more likely) terrorists.  We didn’t go inside the LSF, but walked around and admired the building from all sides. Even the unfinished side.

Unfinished business

Third Stop: Vantage point

View over Barcelona

Waiting for the restaurants to open (about 19 –>), we visited a nearby park on top of a hill. There are several and yeah, I can’t be sure of the name now or bother to check Google Maps more closely, but it’s the place were the cable cars go from the seaside, so maybe near Montjuic? We didn’t go all the way to the top, there was this vantage point with a small kiosk that we strolled around and took photos.

The view over the city was good, and certainly whetted our appetites for the next – muy importante! – stop.

Fourth stop: The Restaurant

La Tasqueta de Blai

The most important thing to do when visiting a new place, country or galactic civilization is enjoying the local food. Checking TripAdvisor for places that had good reviews, our car passed close to a small place called La Tasqueta de Blai that fit the bill. It had just opened its doors, so it was just as well we were early as seats for seven people would otherwise have been hard to find.

The service was friendly and the tapas selection looked incredible – there were too many varieties to try them all in one setting. Even the 100+ kg buffet gorillas among us couldn’t manage that. The drill was simple: the small pinchos cost either 1 € or 1,80 € and you just went to the counter and filled your plate with whatever selection you wanted. Then you ate those and just kept the sticks that held the small culinary artworks in place initially. Then you went for more. And ate. And refilled your plate with some more choices. And ate. You know the drill by now…

Out of focus, pinchos...

Finally, when you couldn’t eat any more, you counted your sticks and paid according to those (the more expensive options had red-tipped sticks). Very smart and casual system. Barcelona is of course full of places like this, but we were very satisfied with the one we visited. Once again, eating was one of the highlights of the trip and after the Formula One meal disaster we didn’t take any chances this time.

Highly recommended place!

Fifth stop: The Beach

(some music to get in the mood first below)

Before leaving the city, we hit the beach and enjoyed the passing evening breeze. Just like in the town, it was pretty relaxed and quiet but there were people of course playing beach volley, lying on the sand and even swimming although it was probably a cold day for them as it was +20. For us Finns, it was perfect summer weather.

Looking at the sea and dipping the feet in the Mediterranean felt great, there is magic in the oceans.

Then it was back to Argentona and our villa for the rest of the trip, and eventually home where new adventures awaited. I could tell you about the embarrassing hangover I had on the trip back, when for once I was seated next to a single, Brazilian hot woman but better skip that story for another time…

BCN  <3

Food: Excellent – and surprisingly cheap compared to Helsinki.

Things to do: All of the things above and more. Yep, I do get it why Barcelona is so popular already from this brief encounter. But running around the city trying to see everything at once is always a chore, so just relax and enjoy the vibe – and drop in for some tapas and wine to get the real feeling for the place.

Verdict: Highly recommended.

 

Travel report: Barcelona (Part 2: Formula One GP)

Grosjean crash

Now, I’m not a huge fan of Formula One, but just as with Rally Finland it is something legendary that has always loomed on the cultural horizon of Finland  – therefore arguably worth experiencing at least once in your lifetime, just as I argued with the rally previously.  There being two Finns driving (Valtteri Bottas & Kimi Räikkönen) for the two top stables makes this evil sport promoting reckless driving and environmental destruction especially worth visiting this season.

Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

Track panorama

The race track is located north of Barcelona, almost at a halfway point between our base in Argentona and the city. You can check out the layout and basic facts on Wikipedia. We arrived there by car, which is not advisable – but completely manageable, if you come early and leave early before the race is finished. Most people don’t, and get stuck in the traffic jam. After all, the track has a spectator capacity of 140.000 people – and was supposedly sold out when we where there – so there are quite a few number of cars there…

The security checks were quite lax, but alcohol is totally forbidden so we didn’t even try to smuggle that with us. The track area exceeded my low expectations in how well it was managed – the crowds were surprisingly manageable, and we navigated on paved roads through the overpriced merchandise stores, fan areas and boringly similar hot dog stands towards the first vantage point. Like a walk in the park.

Track staff

After enjoying the GP3-start (the starts are the best, see at least one close to the starting line) we decided to search for the main spot at the lawn on some part of the track with good visibility. And then eat something, although we had read online that this GP supposedly had the “worst food in all of Europe”.

Boy, was that statement right – I was cautious and just ordered a pretty average sandwich and drinkable coffee but those of us who ordered the “mixed grill plates” were thoroughly disappointed. In 2018 it should not be possible to con people anymore with pictures that depicted something completely different than what you got (all the menus were just conveniently in spanish). What looked like a huge platter of sausages, beef and tomatoes on a picture turned out to be an incredibly sinewy piece of meat and half a fried potato. Oh, and if you’re really thirsty for a beer, for some inexplicable reason a pint of non-alcoholic Heineken could be had for a mere 11 (!) euros. Non-alcoholic beer! For 11 €! Does not compute…

So, “bring your own food” is definitely a key ingredient of a successful Spanish GP track day.

The Race

Finnish Formula 1 fansWe only had the cheapest tickets for the race day (Sunday) bought in advance for approx. 90€ , but with those you can roam around the track and see different parts of it. The crowds weren’t too large and sitting on the lawn at corners of the eastern end of the track turned out to be a surprisingly good vantage point. Rain had been pouring heavily during the night and there was still some drizzle and rain clouds in the morning but somehow, the sun broke out during the day and it turned out to be just a nice, sunny spectating experience after all.

Also, in Spain the race day contains not only the F1 Grand Prix; this included the F3, F2 and Porsche Cup classes as well. So coming in the morning to see all the events not only lets you skip the worst traffic, you get to enjoy the day more too.

Porsche Cup winner 2018 Barcelona

And the Formula One Grad Prix itself? Well, it didn’t feel quite as surreal seeing it in real life as I had thought it would be even if it was a bit strange seeing Hamilton, Vettel, Bottas, Räikkönen and the guys driving for real just a few metres away…  As is the case with motorsports, you get a better view of the race on TV than in real life because you only see a small part of the track at once so you cannot really compare live F1 with televised F1.

The start is usually the most eventful part, and so it was here too with a dramatic crash in the bend just before us taking out three cars. After that it became a bit boring since Lewis Hamilton was so much faster than everyone else. Kimi’s car failed him at some point but Valtteri Bottas made it to 2nd place so an OK result for the Finns even though we had hoped for a 1-2 victory!

Towed away

So, would I visit Formula One again? I mean, I don’t follow it or any other sports on TV. But, yes I would totally do it again *if* the following criteria are met: I get to see the race from the VIP area, visit the pits and hang out with the mechanics, eat caviar and drink champagne from the navels of supermodels and party at a luxury yacht on the sea afterwards. Then I’ll go again.

But hey – I will actually take you there now: here’s some exclusive video I shot so you can see and listen to what it was like!

Food: Shit catering – avoid at all costs, at least the expensive “menus” with misleading pictures of what you’ll get. Bring your own snacks and drinks. Alcohol is banned on the track area, but that’s OK since you’re not here for the drinking. Yes, even my fellow countrymen, please try to attend a sporting event without drinking sometime, it may actually improve the experience 😉

Things to do: Watch all the races (GP3, GP2 and the Porsche Cup). Imbibe the atmosphere. Enjoy the sun lying on the grass. Listen to engines roaring. Leave early from the main race when the result looks clear.

Verdict: If you want to experience a Formula One GP, then yes, this is a good place since the track is easy to access and the facilities work to the standards of western civilization – plus you’ll get to enjoy Barcelona as well. The engine sounds of the F1 cars are currently just not very good, so that might disappoint you.

Next up: Part 3 – The Big City of Barcelona itself »»

Travel report: Barcelona (Part 1: Argentona)

La Sagrada Familia -selfie

The end of 2017 was an exciting time in Catalonia, with cries for independence and turmoil on the streets of Barcelona. So of course I went there in the spring of 2018 with the Real Motorsport Men of Finland to see what all the fuzz was about – and check out the Formula One GP while we were at it.

Argentona – in the shadow of the crime lord

ArgentonaAs we were seven grown men and no Snow White in sight, renting a villa outside the city of Barcelona was the most cost-effective and comfortable option. Our villa was situated in the clean and quiet small town of Argentona. Not the cheapest place to live in as the houses were in the 400.000-500.000 € region, we noticed when walking by a real estate firm.

Villa of Spanish Drug Lord

The villa was quite cheap to rent for a few days, had its own swimming pool and a great view over the town… in fact, the view made us feel like some important person had lived here, someone with plenty of money but not very good taste. The balcony had those same flower pots on it that got shot to pieces when Eddie Murphy ducked gunfire in the climax of Beverly Hills Cop.

Opium field (OK, maybe just poppy...)Thick bushes and trees firmly obstructed the view to neighboring properties and on the way to the iron front gate there was a red field of poppies. This field of red was the deciding clue – poppies, probably of the variety that yields opium (I have taken some courses in botany, you know).

Not the James Bond you were looking forOf *course*, we all realized in a facepalm moment – this simply had to be the residence of some local drug selling crime lord who had been convicted and currently served his sentence in some infamous Spanish prison!

Drinking a cold, shitty dry martini (I can’t make ’em right) on the balcony really got a new “Tony Montana”-dimension after that – the only thing missing was a fine Italian suit, a submachine gun and a mountain of coke.

Living in the cursed villa of a condemned crimeboss did, however, in the end save our collective asses. As we noticed the Catalonian flag was hanging from windows and balconies everywhere we went, we thought it was the local custom to whip out your insignia so we decided to hang our Finnish flag from the balcony for everyone to see as well. And since our villa overlooked the city on a premium spot well…  our flag was sort of pretty visible.

Casa Finlandia

This almost resulted in an international dispute and the local townsfolk were already lighting their torches and brandishing their agricultural pointy tools but as they saw what villa the flag was hanging from they thought the better of it.

We were under protection of the Drug Lord himself. True story…

Argentona after rain

Anyway, Argentona was pretty nice and sweet, and has everything you need from a town including a water jug museum, so it is indeed a good, quiet spot to live in if you rent a car and drive to Barcelona (or a train/metro stop nearby). At our advanced age, drinking cold Estrella beer and having a poolside barbecue is more tempting than the nightlife of the big city…

Food: We cooked our own & bought local delicacies from the small supermarket – the restaurant we visited on the last night was pretty average

Things to do: Chill

Verdict: Recommended

Next up: Part 2 – The Formula One GP »»

Report: Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, Part 3

The final installment of this three part report on Worldcon 75 no-one is ever going to read is here! But what a whopper of a story it is – after a contemplative, spiritual first part and the pure adrenaline rush of the sequel, this conclusion to the trilogy delivers everything you could ever expect and then some. So dive right in…

Friday: The Hugos are awarded and some  partying ensues

Worldcon 75 Hugo awards

Busy day at work so I missed a lot of good stuff during the day – again. But at 17:00 I fitted into a room with a panel about self-publishing that was pretty nifty for aspiring writers and also a good follow-up to the slushpile-talk the night before.

The self-published authors all had different degrees of success; some made a living just by writing (five or even seven figure numbers, I was a bit amazed actually) while others did other jobs besides but they all seemed to love what they were doing. And it all seems to be possible because of two things: 1) e-books and 2) Amazon. Those factors have made the self-publishing market a viable alternative, and of course I’ve been reading the blog of Wool-author and self-publishing/Amazon-afficiando Hugh Howey so this was familiar territory. But it was interesting to hear about the pitfalls and rewards that this type of authorship comes with.

Some great tips were also given, the most helpful ones being that when your book is ready two important things should always be done at a (small) cost: 1) pay for an editor to rip through your darling, and 2) pay for the cover art – commission it from a good artist! It wasn’t even that expensive as figures on both sides of 1.000 $ were thrown around for this work combined, which isn’t like the 10.000 $ I was expecting. Otherwise self-publishing is pretty much Benjaminless for the author.

Also, print-on-demand was an interesting phenomenon that I hadn’t really taken notice of before this, as it means that self-publishing doesn’t involve printing costs – those who want a paper book can buy it at no extra cost to the author! Damn, that has to be the future of textbooks at schools, for example…

The Hugo Awards

I went to check out where the Hugo awards were going to be held in advance, and a line (surprise, surprise) had already started to grow so I decided to join it in order to get a good seat.

Now, anyone who has ever read science-fiction in their lifetime has probably noticed that some of the novels sometimes have “Hugo Award winner” or “Hugo and Nebula award winner” printed on the cover. Seen that text? And that those novels usually tend to be of very high quality. Well, Worldcon is the place where the Hugo awards for different categories are awarded annually during a small ceremony – it most definitely can be likened to the Oscars of the sci-fi world (the Nebula is more like the Golden Globe then, if I’ve understood correctly).

When I buy books for the summer, I want to at least have some *really* good ones in the mix in case the ones I’m not so sure about turn out to be less than exciting. And the Hugo winners usually come in handy then.

So it was pretty exciting seeing history being made.

The ceremony wasn’t a big show like the Oscars, but it was similar in its “American award show”-style with award categories presented by different people in the industry – nice and suitably geeky yet festive. I can imagine what a feeling it must be winning and getting to accept your award at the podium, emotions were certainly surfacing that evening. And, it is probably quite a career boost too – even if you’re just nominated for the Hugo award.

The thing I hadn’t really understood about this con – and the con-culture in general, though, is the fandom concept but I might have now gotten some insight of that too. Fans are important in the entertainment industry, of course, but the kind of fandom at play here might be a bit deeper than what usually is meant when someone is a fan of, say, Taylor Swift (*those* fans might need deep pockets, but that’s another kind of deep). Here, fans and authors are more symbiotically entangled than in the movie or music business it seems like, as fans are also awarded and celebrated during Hugo awards. I had no idea who all those people winning the podcast,  fan art and such categories were, but it is a fun concept nonetheless.

Now, I’ve never idolized authors or rock-stars – only their books and music – and never thought of myself as a “fan”, but I do appreciate those who are… it’s basically two sides of a coin, really. And this occasion made me think about that, and perhaps cherish what good fandom might mean.

The awards for 2017 are listed here on the official awards site.

An unexpected party

After the Hugo awards I figured people would go out for drinks, and since the weekend had begun it was an option for me too. Thinking that the real authors and longtime worldconners probably had their own private parties I just went to the conference centre lobby bar.

The lobby was pretty packed, and I bought a beer and sat down in one vacant table on the sides where I could observe the surroundings like Aragorn in the animated Lord of the Rings movie. Sipping the cold, dark Krusovice  I thought this was just like when we played AD&D with my friends back in the day, all our adventures usually began by going to a bar for drinks and listen to rumours for quests…

Lo and behold, soon a party of darkly dressed fans from Joensuu in eastern  Finland came to the table and asked if they could sit down. “Of course”, I replied.  Soon it became clear that we all spoke finnish. They were just the 100% kind of stereotypical sci-fi & fantasy fans I had imagined to meet here,  and it was nice chatting with them about the scene in Finland and what they thought of Worldcon. Also, we talked about the Hugo awards and the controversies (read GRRM’s blog, for example) that had surrounded this happening for the last couple of years and I got some surprising info that the city of Kouvola in Finland was even somehow connected to this. That is quite a depressing city, from what I’ve heard, although I knew a hot girl from there that I slightly regret not banging when I had the chance (story of my life)… but, back on track:

The Joensuu-people soon left and people started leaving the lobby bar as it closed at 22:00. The only open bar in the Messukeskus was Terra Nova near the entrance, so I thought that I’d have one more there and then go home.

Well, that was the plan until another group of fans joined the table I occupied and ordered some shots and I got one too so I ordered a round as well and then the next guy ordered a round and so on. Some of those fans had some polyamoric habits and one married guy headed off with two girls (of which one was his ex who was now married but still dating other women) for a threesome at some point, but the night continued with the rest of us until closing time at 04:00 when I take a cab home.

Nothing really happened but it was a much needed night out and it was good to hang out with some nice new people who shared your interests, like a young danish guy who was so optimistic about everything and worked with disabled people making very little money and just believing in kindness etc. I wish him the very best, hope to some day buy him a beer if I see him again. The best nights out are sometimes like small movies, or an TV-show episode at least, and perhaps I’m always searching for that American Graffiti -type vibe when I’m going out.

Saturday: Before they are hangover’d – Abercrombie. And a storm.

Worldcon 75 Joe Abercrombie (on the left) interview
Ouch… slight hangover, which resulted in me missing the earlier events – I especially regret missing the My First Novel -panel. But last night at the bar was just about worth it, so it balanced out this mishap.

The State of E-books -panel was perhaps not that informative after the nice self-publishing panel – it mostly covered the same problem with e-books that has existed since the beginning, which is the antiquated ways the publishing rights to books are sold according to territories. Which of course doesn’t make sense in today’s digital, no-boundaries-world anymore. Buying e-books is fortunately easier now than ten years ago, I personally use the Kobo store for my 2009 Sony e-reader, but it is kind of annoying not being able to buy from whichever site you want to because of from what country you are.

I was going to get a signature from Joe Abercrombie next, but somehow I didn’t have it in me to join the line to his signing so went to eat a second breakfast to the café instead. My inner Homer Simpson was going “mmmm…” for a jelly doughnut and some coffee.

So I just went to the Joe Abercrombie interview later on, and it was fairly entertaining too – this guy is like some charismatic ad-agency guy who says he just writes the kind of adventures he himself (and I) would like to read.  Anyone who appreciates Sergio Leone westerns knows what (s)he’s talking about, in my book. Joe is one of my go-to authors when I want some good fantasy that I can just read and enjoy, that is dark and humorous at the same time. You can read my reviews here.

Garden party

And that was it – there was a masquerade later on in the evening, but I had a friend’s 40th birthday party to attend to nearby at the Kumpula botanical gardens, so I went there in a really oppressing sort of hot weather. Soon after, an epic storm broke out in Helsinki causing all sorts of chaos (but no casualties fortunately) so I just stayed at the party having fun for the rest of the night with old biology student friends.

Sunday: All Good Things…

Worldcon 75 cool science of the future panel

The last day of any event always tends to have the least content and a sort of sad feeling lingering around it when things are about to end… *sniff*. It dawned on me now that this event was soon over, an event that for so many months and years had been in the making.

Still, I attended three more panels:

Tomorrows cool physics – which was maybe more about “what’s not cool anymore”, but still had a nice group of panelists including a very pragmatical missile engineer as opposed to the much more abstract string theorist. I’m sorry to say, but string theory seems day by day to seem more like some kind of abstract construction than anything real in my mind. That space engine was mentioned, the “Cannae Drive” which is a mystery still waiting to be sorted out, but the scientists believed it had to be some sort of measurement error.

It’s more complicated than that – a panel discussing the popularization of science which I went to see only because of Joe Haldeman, the legend behind Forever War.  An important theme widely discussed in Finland as well, since scientists aren’t as well regarded anymore in this age of simple truths and alternative facts. Still, I don’t remember much more than Joe Haldeman (yeah!).

Defamiliarising Europe – a talk, or lecture if you will, on something called “hypernormalisation”, definitely bringing the science fiction theme back towards reality with brexit and Trump and such dystopias of our age… perhaps this was more science from the Arts and Humanities -department than the Hard Sciences -department so I was a bit raising my eyebrows here but it was interesting being drawn back to Earth from the stars with this theme.

So, Worldcon 75 was a fun and inspirational event, but now I won’t dwell on that anymore for as you know – All Good Things…

Worldcon comes to an end