Fan publishing has a long history in sf fandom. There are no commercial sf magazines in Finland, but here too many sf clubs publish their own zine. Some (most notably the Helsinki sf societyâ€™s TÃ¤htivaeltaja (meaning â€œStar Roverâ€ or “Stellar Wanderer”—for some strange reason my suggestion for the translation, “Star Trekker,” wasn’t received with very much enthusiasm) and the Tampere sf societyâ€™s Portti (â€œGatewayâ€) could be classified as semiprozines instead of fanzines: they are large (100 pages or more) and printed on glossy paper in color, and their print runs are in the four figure ballpark. The rest are smaller, in page count as well as in distribution, but many have their own distinct identities and therefore are of interest also outside of just the members of the club that publishes the fanzine.
TÃ¤htivaeltaja is, in my opinion, the premier sf zine in Finland (and I’ve heard it called “The best sf zine in the world I can’t understand a word of” by many visitors from abroad). It’s devotedly and expertly edited by Toni Jerrman since the early 1980s, four issues per year, over 100 issues to date. TÃ¤htivaeltaja is always on top of current trends in science fiction, and usually telling the rest of us about the next ones too. Its main emphasis is science fiction, but horror, comics, rock music, and other subcultures have also been strongly represented. The contents of TÃ¤htivaeltaja are many: in-depth author interviews and articles, comics reviews, books and comics news, short stories, extensive movie reviews and articles, comics, humor pieces, and the best sf book reviews you’ll find in any zine here, all put together with uncompromising punk attitude.
Portti is the biggest (and one of the oldest, founded also in the early 1980s) of the Finnish sf zines, about 130 pages per issue, four issues per year. Its circulation is also the largest, so by numbers, that would make it the most succesful fanzine in Finland. Portti hosts an annual short story competition (with cash prizes up to 2000 euros for the winner), and the majority of the zine’s contents are short stories from the competition. It has also published a Finnish translation of the year’s Hugo-winning short story for many years. The rest of the issue is reserved for articles and book and movie reviews. Portti published an English-language special issue in 2003. It’s not available online, but can be ordered from the publisher.
Usva (“Mist”) is a newcomer in the Finnish fanzine scene, published since 2005. It differs from the rest of the pack in that it’s published on the web as PDFs instead of on paper. It’s published regularly as quarterly issues that are clearly made for printing out and reading on paper instead of on screen, so I’m counting it as equal among the fanzines here. Usva is not published by a club but by an individual editor, Anne Leinonen. This shows in Usva having a distinct personality among the Finnish zines. It publishes mainly Finnish short fiction (with just the occasional article among them), and does this really well. Anne is a good editor who works with her writers, and this shows in the finished product: the stories in Usva are usually more polished, more finished than in the rest of the Finnish zines. Anne also chooses interesting short stories that often are only marginally sf, and thus Usva explores and expands the boundaries of Finnish genre fiction. Usva has published two English Usva International issues, in 2006 and 2007. These showcase Finnish sf written by, among others, Pasi Ilmari JÃ¤Ã¤skelÃ¤inen, Juha-Pekka Koskinen, Anne Leinonen, Tiina Raevaara, M.G. Soikkeli, Sari Peltoniemi, Petri Laine, and Hannu Rajaniemi. Both issues can be downloaded from the zine’s web site.
Spin is the oldest Finnish fanzine (founded in 1977), and many of the dinosaurs of Finnish fandom wrote for it in the early days. Spin is published by the Turku Science Fiction Society, and unlike TÃ¤htivaeltaja and Portti, it has always been more a club zine than a product of a single editor. The zine has had several editors (I was one of them for a few years in the mid-1990s), and it contains club news and information sections and more reports from fandom events than most of the other fanzines in addition to the “standard” articles, interviews, short stories, and book reviews (one factor in this may well be that the Turku society has a lot of other activity too, where the Helsinki and Tampere societies nowadays mainly exist to publish their zines). Spin went through many years of serious difficulties in keeping its schedule (if I remember correctly, last year they only published one of the year’s issues), but has managed to pick up the slack this year; all of last year’s remaining issues plus three (of four) of this year’s have come out on schedule. Spin is much smaller than the big two, and more amateurish in content (but there is enthusiasm and fandom spirit in doing it), but is quite nice-looking, with color covers and a stylish layout.
KosmoskynÃ¤ (“The Cosmos Pen”) is the publication of the Finnish Science Fiction Writers Association (since the mid-1980s). It naturally concentrates on Finnish writers (with interviews and articles) and articles about writing. There’s usually a short story too, but these are not the zine’s focus. The main articles of KosmoskynÃ¤ are the yearly reviews of sf published in Finland, and the extensive reviews column that strives to review every piece of Finnish fantastic short fiction published. KosmoskynÃ¤ is currently also suffering the plight of keeping schedules: only one issue of 2008 has been published so far. KosmoskynÃ¤’s English special from 2006 can be downloaded from the zine’s web site.
Finnzine is published by Pekka Supinen. It has the usual contents of book and movie reviews and articles, assorted news, event reporting, and short stories, sometimes also in serialized form. It’s emphasis is on the feature articles on current sf movies, plus maybe on the eclectic mix of its contents in each issue. Finnzine seems to come out in batches of two or even three issues at the same time, approximately four a year in total.
Legolas is published by the Finnish Tolkien Society. It doesn’t restrict itself to only all matters Tolkien (although any Tolkien-related news and articles are naturally prominently featured), but has an emphasis on fantasy instead of a mix of science fiction and fantasy like most of the other fanzines. Legolas has had trouble finding an editor and seems to have pretty much dropped off the radar lately. Which is a shame because the zine has produced some excellent issues, with good fiction and well-written articles, in the past.
EnhÃ¶rningen (“Unicorn”) is the zine of Ben Roimola, described as “the only Swedish-language Finnish magazine of the fantastic in the world”. It has been around since 1987, but only 12 issues have come out so far. EnhÃ¶rning publishes fiction and articles, with emphasis on material from Finnish Swede (the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland) writers, and also material from other Nordic countries. EnhÃ¶rningen (and Ben) has played an important role in making the Finnish sf and fandom known in the other Nordic countries (and vice versa). Ben also does a valuable service to the Finnish writers by publishing Swedish translations of the Atorox (annual price for the best Finnish sf short story) winning short stories in his zine.
Other, smaller zines include Alienisti (published by the JyvÃ¤skylÃ¤ sf club 42, seems to come out mainly whenever there is a Finncon held in JyvÃ¤skylÃ¤), Marvin (the Helsinki University sf club fanzine which defies reality even in its issue numbering—the issues not only come out in different years they’re supposed to, but also in a different order than stated on the cover), and Escape (an occasional fanzine by the Espoo sf club, usually has something to do with big apes).
For some reason the tradition of publishing a personal fanzine (of the simple, photocopied variety) has never really caught on in Finland. There have been a few attempts along the years (Mundane in Helsinki ran the longest; it represented unashamed tabloid journalism in fandom, often making up stories if nothing interesting was happening to report). A couple of the fanzines mentioned above are published by individuals and not clubs, but they still have more of an official image than a very personal one. At the moment the only semi-regular personal zine is my Turu Mafia Zine which I distribute to people who come to the Turku pub meetings (so far 28 issues have come out in about four years). Nowadays many people blog about sf, which makes up a little for the lack of fanzines (but isnâ€™t the same thing of course).
The Finnish fanzine scene is—despite the occasional troubles keeping schedules—lively (some say too lively, but these persons erroneously imagine that if each club stopped doing its own zine, the resources would magically pool together to produce one great zine), but there’s always room for improvement. Personally, I’d like to see more small zines created by individuals, and also more of a discussion between the zines (and also their readers). But maybe in this age of electronic discussion forum, this is a dream of times past.