Musings on genre

September 6, 2012 at 7:00 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

Earlier, whenever I’d hear a techno song or a hiphop song, my initial thoughts used to be along the lines: “But these all sound exactly the same.” Many otherwise sensible people have the same reaction to metal music. I’ve come to think this is the same as saying: “I’m not familiar with this type of music.” (So I’m trying to stop saying it.)

Now, if we can agree to that, does the same apply for genre literature, as well? Quite often you hear people complaining the fantasy novels are all the same. You know, good guys, bad guys, dragons, knights, swords, elves, wizards etc etc. On one hand, it’s true, many of them use the same elements. On the other hand, if you don’t have any of them, it just doesn’t feel like fantasy anymore. One can use these elements in a cliched manner or in a new, original way, so it’s not the elements themselves that proclaim a work cliched or not. So, when someone not that much into fantasy complains that all fantasy books are the same, what they mean is “I’m not familiar with this type of literature.”

The same goes for detective novels, sci-fi, romance novels, and pretty much any genre out there. So we should stop complaining how “These books are all the same.”


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Nordic Larp Talks and State of Play

April 11, 2012 at 8:48 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

If you’re interested in what’s going on in the fields of participation, interaction or roleplaying, I recommend spending this evening at Club PRKL in Helsinki or online following the webcast. It’s the publishing of the new Solmukohta journal States of Play followed by Nordic Larp Talks.

The doors open at 6pm, the excellent book States of Play is published at 7, and Nordic Larp Talks hosted by Johanna Koljonen starts at 8!

States of Play is edited by Juhana Pettersson and has dozens of really interesting articles on the design, theory, documentation and results of the cutting edge Nordic tradition of live roleplaying. My article Folk Fantasy deals with Täällä Kirjokannen alla and what I think might be the dawn of a new era in the fantasy genre. The book is also published as a free PDF.

Now, here’s some info on Nordic Larp Talks:

We are proud to welcome you to Nordic Larp Talks Helsinki 2012 – an evening of entertaining, thought-provoking and mind-boggling lectures about projects and ideas from the Nordic tradition of live action roleplaying games.

The talks are presented by writer, radio & television host as well as winner of the innovator category of this year’s The Swedish Grand Journalism Prize award, Johanna Koljonen.

You can follow the talks live streamed on Wednesday April 11th 8pm EEST or at the PRKL club in central Helsinki, Kaisaniemenkatu 4.

Mike Pohjola – How to become a god
Johanna Macdonald – From stage to larp
JP Kaljonen – The interplay between player and man in the street
Jesper Bruun – Experimental Larp Design
Lizzie Stark – Playing in Graveyards: Terror collides with larp in New York City

My presentation, How To Become A God, deals with the history of drama from Dionysian rituals to reality television, and beyond, and how all of this relates to roleplaying. While doing that, I’ll also answer a puzzling point in Aristotle’s Poetics that’s been bugging theatre scholars for three thousand years.

See you there!

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Infernal Musical will soon premiere…

January 11, 2011 at 11:38 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

A short trailer for 1827 – Infernal Musical, the heavy metal musical that will open in a week and a half. There’s still some tickets left, but don’t waste any time if you want to pick your seats. The show only runs from Jan 21 to Feb 5, 2010.

Many people are confused by what a heavy metal musical exactly is. Will it only have songs  or is there a story or what? In form and function it’s much like West Side Story or Producers — a stage play where the story is sometimes told through songs instead of dialogue. In style it will be quite different, combining period action with the classics of heavy metal. The show will mostly feature known songs like Paranoid, Carry On, or Hunting High And Low. There will also be one of our own songs (lyrics by me, music by our band leader Joona Lukala), and one brand new song by Lordi, Devil’s Crashing the Party. So in traditional terms, “the book” is by me, and the lyrics are by Dio and whoever. But yes, there’s one hell of a story there!

If you’re in the UK, I recommend listening to BBC Radio 3’s program Music Matters, and their report on Turku and Tallinn, the European Capitals of Culture. They interview me about 1827, and play some of our songs.

Also, for Finns, Ajankohtainen kakkonen is going to do a big piece on Turku this week, and will feature both the musical and yours truly. (Also check out VR’s paper Matkaan, January issue.)

Rock on!

Lordi with two of our burned ladies, and the single release of Devil's Crashing the Party.

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The Hand of Gulliver the Man-Mountain

September 20, 2010 at 7:02 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

I took part in the Game Chef 2010 contest for designing roleplaying games upon a given theme and a list of ingredients. (Like the Iron Chef, I assume.) The theme was Journey, and the ingredients (of which you’re supposed to use three) were Desert, City, Edge and Skin.

I thought, what roleplaying on some level isn’t about a journey on the edge between the desert and the city? But skin? That’s something interesting.

My submission is The Hand of Gulliver the Man-Mountain. It’s a roleplaying game where Lilliputians explore the hand of Gulliver who just washed ashore. Your finger represents your Lilliputian character, and the Game Master’s hand is the Hand of Gulliver the Man-Mountain.

It’s the world’s first manual-digital-tactile roleplaying game. Check it out!

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The Pohjola Wedding 8/22/2009

August 27, 2009 at 6:17 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

I got married this Saturday to my bride Elina Lindroos, and made her my wife Elina Pohjola. In a couple of hours we’ll be on our honeymoon in Denmark and Greenland, and can’t be reached via e-mail until September 10th.

Our wedding had a Kalevala theme, and was appropriately called The Pohjola Wedding. The color was purple. The amount (and quality) of congratulatory speeches surprised all the guests, not to mention ourselves. The ceremony itself happened on top of a hillfort by a judge and a shaman. We are really happy 🙂

Here’s a couple of photos (by Claus Raasted and Saara Malmila), more through these links:







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A literary prize for Kadonneet kyyneleet

June 18, 2009 at 8:53 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

About a week ago I visited the city of Varkaus in Eastern Finland. As part of their week-long children’s culture festival, they awarded the prize for year’s best young people’s book to my novel Kadonneet kyyneleet.

The winner was chosen by a jury consisting of six 10 to 12-year-olds. They read seven children’s and young adults books, and chose their favorite. Many adults had called Kadonneet kyyneleet too difficult or too dark for young people, but kids proved them wrong!

Grown up literature is divided into entertainment like detective stories and romances on one hand, and quality literature on the other. But many seem to think that bulk literature is enough for kids. Fantasy series and horse books. Kadonneet kyyneleet strives to be quality literature for young people, and it’s simply fantastic that it’s recognized as such. This is the only award in Finland given to a young people’s book by the readers themselves.

The event was touching: an eight-year-old sang accompanied by a piano, a speech from representatives of the local cultural board and the sponsoring paper factory, then the child jury got on stage, and revealed the winner. Then I got up, and was given a fruit basket and said a few words myself.

The money (3500e) will come in handy since I try to combine the lives of an artist, an enterpreneur and a student, three venues not known for their great wages…

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