DIARY 2005















Mon, Dec 19

<02:54 EEST> There's a lot more to be said about the novel Kolmas aikakirja. First of all, there is an interesting tendency in Finnish science fiction to be somehow poetic and contemplative in style, even when there's intense action. It may be a reflection of a more general European-American division, in which the conqueror nature of young societies shows as increased assertiveness. This is not something limited to literature.

One somewhat disappointing feature of Finnish SF, in my experience, is that novels are quite short. This observation is often disguised if you read foreign paperbacks and Finnish hardbacks. For example, I've read the paperback edition The Anubis Gates, and its Finnish hardcover translation is split into two hardcovers of about the same size as the single original. This combined with the 'slow' style of Finnish SF may not seem like a good thing content-wise, but the catch is probably that Finns say a lot in fewer words, something that is easy to testify whenever we are conversing with foreigners.

About the Chronicles, I'd like to stress that the Biblical plot setting is not the SF essence of the story. It could have been a number of different things, but I guess famous historical events made the whole a lot more effective. Besides, the core idea has a lot to do with faith and free will, so it makes some nice additional connections, though I dislike the slight innuendo of equating general faith/spirituality with Christianity. On the other hand, the book also questions the basis of Christianity quite heavily, as I suppose pretty much every Biblical SF/Fantasy does.

Which brings me to the point of having bits of fantasy in there, and the other book of the subgenre I've referred to. One thing that must be said is that Asunta's book is not hard SF, even though there are lots of carefully researched details there. Heinlein, on the other hand, is often considered one of the epitomes of hard SF, but his Job, A Comedy of Justice leans even more on the fantasy side than this book. I guess it has something to do with these ideas:

On the other hand, there is some hard Biblical SF, for instance Messias by Kari Nenonen, though it's not directly concerned with Biblical events. So I'm not sure where this all leads and I better conclude with something half-sensible... At least there's a lot to ponder upon in Biblical SF. Yet it's not the most fascinating element of the novel ;-j

Sun, Dec 18

<00:03 EEST> As a part of my holiday reading binge, I found a nice piece of Xmas-ish SF at the local library: Kolmas aikakirja (Book III of Chronicles) by Anssi Asunta. Starting from the title it shows that some Biblical knowledge helps to enjoy the book. The story was a kind of SF explanation of the core events of the Christian holy book. The style was very carefully balanced between serious science fiction and a hint of parody, which I found quite enjoyable.

Forgetting the Biblical aspect for a moment, this is one of those great books that show how proper science fiction is concerned with big things temporal and spatial. It starts off as a mystery adventure, not unlike Clarke and Lee's Cradle in spirit, but proceeds into rather different realms with a hint of fantasy sprinkled here and there -- an element which seems essential to good Biblical SF, though I only recall one comparison, namely Heinlein's Job, a Comedy of Justice.

The book is a little short for its grand premises, though fortunately Asunta doesn't attempt to explain the entire Bible. The plot is slightly too predictable at times, but it's probably intentional in the sense of making the reader feel smart from solving the puzzle and knowing the obscure references :-j For a grand adventure with a parody element, I expected a big punchy surprise ending; the ending is indeed a major surprise, but more in a contemplative, down to Earth way.

There is a lot of good to say about this book. IMHO it is on par with Risto Isomäki's works as the best Finnish SF novels.

Fri, Dec 16

<03:10 EEST> Paskakaparee is getting better each time, and we celebrated its progress after Wednesday's show with a little party at Ilokivi that lasted until about 5:30 am :) With such good time, I'm increasingly pissed off by Teemu Salohalme's reviews of both PK and Murtumia in this week's Suur-Jyväskylän lehti. I'm not a big fan of his anyway, but this time he really hit the bottom. The main points I got from his review were:

I'm too pissed off to even begin the counterarguments, but I'm sure the problems are obvious.

Tue, Dec 6

<17:42 EEST> Shit Breaks!

Well, boys and girls, this is it. Paskakaparee premiered last night and it was a real piece of turd, just the way we wanted :-j In fact the performance was hurried and a little flaky due to the scarcity of rehearsal time, but it was a good solid blast of comedy overall. The tongue-in-cheek JYT mantra "Enskari on kenraali" ("The premiere is the dress rehearsal") became a self-fulfilling prophecy and I'm expecting the cabaret to improve a lot in the next few shows.

BTW, in case you didn't notice, there's a soundtrack available once again, though it only contains the main instrumental pieces and a few danceable remixes. It would be great to have a CD with all the songs as well, but I haven't done it due to the copyright complexities of several writers and singers.

Thu, Dec 1

<01:13 EEST> Gabber gabber gabber gabber gabber gabber gabber gabber gabber gabber gabber gabber hardcore hardcore!

Last week I turned one of the instrumental pieces from Paskakaparee (our upcoming play) into a house track, and I looked up the definition of house to see if the tempo and other factors meet the qualifications. Silly me ;) It's house if I feel that way, and in the end the genre does not matter. The song turned out surprisingly good for the "handbag transform" of simply changing the drum track, and not much more. I was reminded of the idea that a rhythmically strong piece should have the groove there even without the percussions, and you can't really housify a dull piece of music. I'm increasingly satisfied with the light jazzy original.

While reading Wikipedia I naturally came across articles on many other electronic music genres, and gabber caught my attention. I was actually somewhat familiar with it, but I'd never been particularly excited about it -- it felt too simple, loud, stupid and even fascist to my tastes. Though I recall feeling a kind of distant, secret admiration for the scene.

This time, the Fourier view on things got me interested. What happens with the bassdrum sound when distorted is much more fun than cranking up volume and BPM. I did some experiments running the drum track of the aforementioned house piece through my guitar amplifier, and it was pretty fun. I was ready to record the new piece in realtime, thanks to the Triton Le's multiple output channels and multiple soundcards, when I discovered the synth's own effect section. Thus I could complete the piece entirely within the Korg.

Now I've been binge listening to real gabber for a couple of days (e.g. this net radio), and it's nice when taken from a more general point of view of fascinating noises, instead of the dumb BPM/clipping pissing match it may sound like. It goes well with my other experiences of expanding musical taste, for example composing a tango and a lullaby-like music box melody for the theatre.

I'm also wondering how the gabber surge relates to the high stress I'm under from the two plays coupled with physics studies. I'm quite far from my usual meditative self. Things are changing hopefully now that I've practically finished the sound and music work, and only work on the play at rehearsals, which is quite relaxing and socially enjoyable.

Risto A. Paju