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Interviews: East of the Sun Con - Hans Persson





Jun 16th, 1995




Stockholm, SE


East of the Sun


Hans Persson




  • 1

    Thomas Wreiner

    There we go, I left out the two last paragraphs which had nothing to do with Robert Jordan other than the last comment about he thought a small convention like this should probably have asked someone not as famous as Jordan to come, since he became surrounded by fans all the time. Not that I know how that would be any different at a large convention though. :)

    I've made a few notations with "*" that are at the bottom of the text, either about translation or just a comment of what he wrote. Not a whole lot of interesting stuff in the post itself, I thought the guy's take on the whole thing was amusing though. :)

    Lysator, where he posted this in the first place, is a computer society in Linköping University (where I am at actually). Pretty geeky/weird community, and I think it shows a bit. :) I am not a member of Lysator. :)

  • 2

    Hans Persson

    "Östan om sol"—East of the Sun

    In spite of not going to ConFuse in 1995, I still went to some conventions. The first of them was "Östan om sol" that was held the same weekend as ConFuse would have been. It became a trip to Stockholm instead, to attend what called itself Sweden's first fantasy convention and that "tempted" with Robert Jordan, one of the biggest names in contemporary fantasy right now. Furthermore he doesn't seem to content himself with writing trilogies like every other fantasy author but extends his The Wheel of Time in seven-eight parts that on top of it all are nearly a thousand pages thick—each.

  • 3

    Hans Persson

    In connection with "Östan om sol" I got an opportunity to attend a bookmeeting á la SFSF. Because I was able to get my job to send me on a business trip to Stockholm for four days right before "Östan om sol" was about to begin, I happened to be in place for when SFSF would discuss Michael Swanwick's The Iron Dragon's Daughter. That I hadn't read the book bothered me little, it happens as we know fairly often at LSFF's bookmeetings that not everyone has read the current book. Unsuspectingly I followed Anders Holmström down into a shady basement where a distinct aura of cigarette smoke already had appeared. When it was decided no more would show up, it turned out I was the only one who hadn't read the book. Slightly amazed by this I still threw myself happily into the debate—to have not read the book shouldn't as we know be a bar to having an opinion. After about an hour we concluded that the discussion was coming to an end and everyone suddenly started to rise and move to the door. Not really the same as in Linköping where the book could be discussed in about 15 minutes in a five hour meeting.
  • 4

    Hans Persson

    Anyway—a few days after this shocking experience it was time for the real convention. Now I knew at least where I was going and even though the locale was weirdly constructed it was not a smoky basement. When I get to the reception, I don't recognize anyone except Carolina Gomez. Although it wasn't a lot of people there I thought, I take my schedule and check what's going on right this moment. It turnes out an interview is just about to start with Stephen Grundy, the other guest of honor aside from Robert Jordan. Because I think interviews can be pretty interesting, no matter the author, and partly because I have nothing else to do, I go there. When I arrive I find about 50 people in the audience. After scanning the audience I find out I know only a few of them. There doesn't seem to be one person in there that I know the name of. Also, it seems like the audience average age is far lower than is usual on science fiction conventions. The only one I really recognize is Johan Anglemark that is holding the interview. Stephen Grundy proved to be a fairly short guy with long light hair and looks like an ordinary Swedish guy. Although he is an American who is at the moment writing his doctoral thesis on Odin at Uppsala University [Swedish university, translator's remarks]. A large part of the interview is also going to be about Nordic Myths. Partly, he uses them in his novel Rhinegold and also he's active in a society that devote themselves to practicing old Nordic religion. Among other things he described the society's problem in making the world know they are not because of that Neo-Nazi skinheads.

    At the end of the interview Lars-Olov Strandberg snuck in and immortalised the whole with his camera, and I drew a sigh of relief. Maybe this convention would shape up, after all. A Swedish science fiction convention without Lars-Olov Strandberg can hardly be imagined.

  • 5

    Hans Persson

    After this, the only thing left that seemed interesting and that was "The uses of myth in fantasy" that was a conversation between Stephen Grundy and Robert Jordan.

    Robert Jordan

    Stephen Grundy bases his novel on the legend of Sigrid. Robert Jordan said that he instead took all the myths he could get his hands on, read what he could find, put it all in a large pot and stir and see what floats up to the surface. I have to admit I got a little jealous when he said he read about 300 books per year. At the same time he apparently seems to be able to write a whole lot too. The subsequent debate started with the authors arguing a bit for their respective views on how to use mythology in novels. Stephen Grundy thought that you should keep yourself to one example and keep more or less true to that one. While Robert Jordan thought it was OK to borrow material from loads of different myths. "If you find something you like, you should use it," he said; "if you then don't like the rest of the myth, just throw it away. You could either borrow something more fitting from other sources or just write in the holes yourself."


  • 6

    Hans Persson

    After this there was an interview with the editor Harriet McDougal (married to Robert Jordan). I think it was mostly related to the publishing business but it was rather boring so I left them fairly soon. After a walk through the different rooms I finally went home to my bed at the other end of the city.


  • 7

    Hans Persson

    In the midmorning on Saturday there was nothing interesting scheduled so I took that time to eat and look through the Science Fiction bookstores assortment. When I understood that there actually was an interview taking place I came in just as an interview with Robert Jordan was ending. Of the little I heard it was mostly about his own works which it seemed to me everyone there except me had read so it didn't bother me much that I had missed most of it. That I was alone in not having read all of Jordan's books became apparent before his speech. While I checked out the different booths (a half dozen or so) the queue started to line up for the booksigning. It stood probably 30 people there at the most, which is a large part of all the attending the convention. I don't know exactly how many attendants the convention had but it felt like it couldn't have been more than just over a hundred. [Talks about the convention hall and how it'd difficult to get a good overview of all the convention, translator's remarks]. When I went a little closer to the queue to see what was actually going on it seemed to be a booksigning of a slightly different character than is usually going on at ConFuse. At ConFuse people often have one or a few books with them, often bought on site after recommendation by the guest of honor. Here one after the other they came with large bags with the whole Wheel of Time series in well read copies; amazingly many had the copies in hardcover.

    Robert Jordan

    Jordan told how he used to draw the American bookstores' irritation at booksignings over there. Now and again people came up to him and asked him to sign the latest hardcover installment of the series (part six or so) while telling him they hadn't read the earlier parts yet but had heard this book was supposed to be very good. He [Jordan] then recommended to them to put the large expensive hardcover back and instead go get the cheaper paperback of the first part of his series and let him sign that one instead.