The World SF Blog

Speculative Fiction from Around the World

Johanna Sinisalo sells new novel

Via Sinisalo’s agent:

We are thrilled to announce that the World English rights to Johanna Sinisalo‘s award-winning novel The Blood of Angels (Enkelten verta, Teos 2011) have been sold to Sinisalo’s UK publisher Peter Owen. The French rights of The Blood of Angels are sold to Actes Sud for publication in 2013.

Johanna Sinisalo’s first novel, Not Before Sundown (Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi,Tammi 2000), was awarded the Finlandia Prize for literature and the James Tiptree JrAward in 2004. Rights have been sold in over 10 territories thus far. Birdbrain(Linnunaivot, Teos 2008) was published in English by Peter Owen, in Norwegian by Vega and in French by Actes Sud to brilliant reviews. The Guardian newspaper and Publisher’s Weekly both lifted it to their recommendations lists, while in France the book was nominated for the Prix Escapades 2012.

All in all, Johanna Sinisalo’s works have been translated into 14 languages, including English, German, Albanian, Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, French, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Slovak, Slovenian and Swedish.

Johanna Sinisalo is also one of the screenwriters of the comic science fiction action film Iron Sky (Energia Productions, 2012).

February 11, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Comments Off on Johanna Sinisalo sells new novel

Cheryl Morgan interviews Finnish writer and editor Anne Leinonen

Over at International SF, Cheryl Morgan interviews Anne Leinonen, a Finnish writer and editor:

Cheryl: Anne, I know you mainly as a writer of excellent short stories, and also as a tireless promoter of your fellow Finnish writers through the Usva International magazine, but I gather now that you are starting to do very well with your novels.

Anne: I have been writing novels for ten years with my writing partner, Eija Lappalainen. We now have eight books published. We started with mainstream fiction, which is perhaps why you haven’t heard about my novels before. But we have been gradually introducing fantastical elements to the stories. For example, one book is set in Iceland, and has Icelandic elves in it.

Cheryl: Have you had any luck selling the books outside of Finland?

Anne: We’ve been with the same publisher all of the time, and they have been trying from the start to sell our books elsewhere in Europe, but until recently they haven’t had much money to invest in foreign rights sales. Now they have money and things are going much better.

Cheryl: Also you have been a finalist for a very major award, which must help. Tell me a bit about the book.

Anne: We had been adding more and more speculative elements to the books, and finally we came up with an idea for a science fiction trilogy, which we were able to sell to our publishers. The first book is called Routasisarukset, which means Frost Children. The book is set in Eurania, that‘s Europe 300 years in the future. There has been a golden age of machines, with humanity even traveling to the stars. But something went wrong. No one now knows what happened, but people are getting along as best they can in the ruins of civilization, trying to survive. – continue reading.

August 14, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Comments Off on Cheryl Morgan interviews Finnish writer and editor Anne Leinonen

Introducing World Comics

World Comics is a Finnish NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation)  working around the world, organising comics workshops, lectures and exhibitions.

The concept of grassroots comics

A low-tech communication tool for activists – Community activists can use grassroots comics as an inexpensive communication tool to put forward their views.

Activists, who have very little or no experience from drawing, can in a few days learn how to produce grassroots comics.

It is the story, its drama and how it is presented, which is central, not the drawing skill. The activists’ passion and engagement in the issue at hand are evident in the stories they produce.

The main format is the wallposter comic, which is made by joining two ordinary-sized photocopies. The activists, who normally have no or little access to mainstream media, can make the grassroots comics their own medium.

The grassroots comics are cheap and quick to produce: only pens, paper and photocopying are needed. And, of course, a good story!

The distribution is important. The wallposters can be pasted up in places such as hotels, bus stops, clinics, schools, road-side food stalls, beauty parlors, barber shops, etc.

Grassroots comics have been used by organisations to focus on different issues, such as racism, sexual harassment, girl child rights, school drop-outs, hiv/aids, sanitation, and right to education. These are just a few examples. Any issue, on which one can make a story, can be expressed through grassroots comics.

There is also a selection of samples of local work from around the world on this page.

March 8, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Comments Off on Introducing World Comics

Original Content: An Interview with Hannu Rajaniemi

Algorithms Alight

An Interview with Hannu Rajaniemi

By Preston Grassmann


PG: From the beginning of The Quantum Thief, it’s clear that the reader is in the deep end of the SF pool, where the concepts and inventions are initially free of context. The reader, not unlike the detective in the novel, must use inference to figure out how the various parts fit together. For me, this was part of the pleasure of reading the TQT. Was this estrangement of context intentional on your part?

HR: At least in part, yes. As you say, I wanted to avoid infodumps and give the reader the opportunity to gradually piece the various concepts together. With the wisdom of hindsight, the opening of the novel is not particularly gentle in this respect — some readers seem to find it off-putting — but quite a few people seem to be willing to play the game. Many readers have said that the critical mass of understanding is achieved around page 100…

PG: There’s a high level of complexity here, in terms of plot-lines and the conceptual framework. One imagines it must’ve taken a lot of planning and preparation. What was the process of creation? Did you start with pages of notes?

HR: I do make a lot of notes and I find it necessary to spend quite a long time thinking before actually writing anything. One of my literary heroes, the Finnish writer Mika Waltari, once said that one should keep thinking until one cannot hold the story in any longer, until it forces itself out: that is certainly true for me. I wrote the bulk of the actual text of TQT in about two months, but it took about two years of thinking and daydreaming to get to that point.

So, planning is good and necessary, but the *real* story only emerges through writing, and what works in my imagination does not necessarily work on paper. And being surprised by your characters and the story is a large part of the joy of doing it, of course.

PG: You invite a variety of readings – radical SF, a cat-and-mouse mystery, a play on consensual reality and history. Who do you see as your ideal reader?

HR: One guiding principle behind TQT was to write a book I wanted to read myself… but having said that, I’ve had very nice feedback from both hardcore SF fans and people who have never picked up a science fiction novel in their lives. So I’d say anyone who enjoys mysteries and adventure, is willing to suspend their disbelief and go along for the ride.

PG: One of the most brilliant conceits of The Quantum Thief is how you’re able to advance a classic a mystery story in a world of ubiquitous information technology. Was it a challenge to work this out in post-singularity world?

HR: That was the challenge or the contradiction (always good for any creative process) that drove both the story and the worldbuilding. At first I had a vague idea about wanting to write a story about a gentleman thief in a post-singularity setting. That immediately begged the question of what is actually worthwhile stealing in a world without material scarcity, where everything can be copied. The answer to that turned out to be quantum information. A gentleman thief also needs an adversary, a detective: but being a detective in a world with ubiquitous computing and sensing where everything is recorded would be meaningless. So that led to the idea of the Oubliette, a society where privacy and control of personal information is the most fundamental value of all.

PG: You introduce a variety of original high-concept SF ideas, such as q-dots, weaponized Bose-Einstein condensates, and non-sequential dorsal streams. Has your background in the sciences (Ph.d in mathematics) played an important role in your writing?

HR: To some extent, although I shamelessly handwave or bluff a lot of things that aren’t mathematics or physics (and a lot of things that are). TQT is often described as hard SF, but I’m not really trying to write hard SF in the vein of Egan or Benford: I don’t work out the equations as I go. For me, the more important consequence of having a scientific background is a degree of speculative rigour: trying hard to work out the consequences of the assumptions one begins with.

PG: Among the many original concepts introduced in your novel, you have a technology called gevulot, which is a computer governed veil used for privacy control. It becomes an integral part of the plot, as the story develops. Did such ideas occur to you in the writing process, or were they worked out in advance?

HR: Gevulot was always meant to be a key plot element, but how the characters ended up using it and how it all played out very much emerged during the writing. At least for me, it’s hard to “see” how it all fits together until you put yourself inside the characters’ heads and really immerse yourself in what is going on.

PG: Can you tell us about your writing process?

HR: It’s sort of organic. I start with little post-it notes: one idea per post-it. I accumulate them for a while (sometimes weeks or months) and then cluster them on sheets of paper or notebooks, trying to see patterns. This can include ideas for scenes, characters, little background details, worldbuilding elements and so on. After a while, story shapes emerge and the sticky clusters are distilled into slightly more concrete notes, mind maps and diagrams. With the TQT sequel I’m working on at the moment, I’ve used 6”x4” index cards and covered my living room floor in them for a couple of weeks at one point.

When the story wants to get out, I write a first draft of each chapter (longhand), type it up and edit it to death with a red pen. Analog tools work well for me because they are sort of calming and eliminate distractions; in the necessarily digital rewriting stage I find it necessary to turn to a little Mac app called Freedom, which shuts off your Internet connection for a prescribed amount of time…

PG: Who are some of the writers that you think that people should be paying attention to in the field? Who are your greatest influences?

HR: I’m not necessarily up to speed on who the rising stars of the genre are at the moment, but smy guess would be that (for example) Jetse de Vries’s lovely anthology *Shine* contains quite a few names to watch.

Well-known writers I admire include Ian McDonald, Roger Zelazny, Michael Chabon and Kelly Link. In terms of influences, I’ve probably been shaped more by my interaction with the members of my writers’ group Writers’ Bloc than anyone else.

PG: Can you tell us anything about current projects?

HR: I’m working on the still-unnamed sequel to The Quantum Thief. It’s a bit early to say too much about it, but it will reveal more about the Sobornost (a sinister totalitarian upload collective), Jean and Mieli’s past and various other secrets.

In terms of structure, I’m trying to do something a little bit different than with the first book, but we’ll see how it turns out…


First published in Bull Spec Magazine.

November 16, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Campbell and Sturgeon Award Nominees

Some international representation on the Campbell and Sturgeon Awards shortlists:

The Campbell (for best novel): The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi (Finland) and Aurorama by Jean-Christophe Valtat (France).

The Sturgeon (for best short story): The Night Train by Lavie Tidhar.

June 10, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Finnish SF/F Links Round-Up

Jeff Vandermeer has concluded his week-long posting on science fiction and fantasy from Finland – go here for a full link summary!

Yes, finally it had to end—the Finnish SF/F coverage on this blog and elsewhere generated by our visit to Finland in April (sponsored by a FILI grant and by gawd one of the best SF/F communities we’ve ever been privileged enough to encounter). A warm and heartfelt thank you to all of our hosts.

Aaaaand, we go out on a high note, with my wife Ann’s Weird Tales blog post about “The Watcher and the Weird,” detailing an unexpected and lovely result from one of our workshops, and what I would call The Return of the King–a splendid long interview on SF Signal with Toni Jerrman, editor-in-chief of the Finnish magazine Tähtivaeltaja.

In addition, the Amazon book blog, Omnivoracious, was kind enough to host my two-part feature on Finnish SF/F, featuring a video interview with this year’s Eurocon guest of honor and Finnish New Weird? antho editor Jukka Halme. The second half of that feature went live yesterdayand you can also read part one here. The features cover a wide variety of Finnish SF/F from authors known to English-language readers, and those who are not…yet. – continue reading.

May 16, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Comments Off on Finnish SF/F Links Round-Up

Jeff VanderMeer on Finnish SF and Fantasy: An Established Community, a Surge of Talent

Over at the Omnivoracious blog, Jeff VanderMeer continues his coverage of Finnish SF and Fantasy, including a video of Jukka Halme. Here’s an excerpt:

While influence is a two-way exchange, issues of translation are definitely unequal. Many Finns read in English, but most Americans can’t read Finnish. Saara Henriksson’s Moby Doll might have the kind of concept that lends itself to immediate rapport with an English-language reader in a synopsis, but many novels can’t be reduced down to a concept in a meaningful way: they must be experienced in their totality, from page one to the end.

Intriguing titles we couldn’t sample include Anne Leinonen’s latest novel Routasisarukset (The Frost Children)—a collaboration with Eija Lappalainen—which was just published in Finland. It is a dystopic exploration of “individual liberties, constricting power structures, and the possibilities of biotechnology” as seen through the eyes of Utu, a young woman who has “a strange ability to understand ancient abandoned machines.” Over tar ice cream before an event at the Writer’s House in the city of Jyväskylä, Leinonen also told us about another, Kafkaesque novel of hers that sounded even more delicious than what we were eating.

But there are countless other examples of enticement. For example, we love the work of Jyrki Vainonen that we’ve read, including “The Pearl.” His work has a streak of the surreal and the dark that we find irresistible, but the majority of his work remains elusive to English-language readers. Other writers recommended to us include Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen, M.G. Soikkeli, J. Pekka Makela, Essi Kummu, Siri Kolu, Miina Supinen, Jukka Laajarinne, Katja Salminen, Maarit Verronen, and Marko Hautala, so clearly we have more literary investigations to undertake.

May 12, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Comments Off on Jeff VanderMeer on Finnish SF and Fantasy: An Established Community, a Surge of Talent

Finnish Science Fiction and Fantasy: Johanna Sinisalo, Hannu Rajaniemi, and Moomins

Over at Amazon’s Omnivoracious blog, Jeff VanderMeer profiles Johanna Sinisalo, Hannu Rajaniemi, and interviews Jukka Halme. Here’s an excerpt:

Supported by that community, a number of unique Finnish writers are appearing on the scene—several of whom have been or will soon be translated into English. Two of the most prominent for readers in English this year are Johanna Sinisalo and Hannu Rajaniemi, both of whom, Halme notes, just happen to hail from the same village in Finland.

Sinisalo, whose Birdbrain was published this April in the U.S., is a well-known figure in Finland, where she’s written teleplays, screenplays, and been involved in a stunning number of different creative projects. Including Birdbrain on my top 10 fantasy novels list for Locus Online, I wrote, “This slow-burn of a novel relates the story of Finns Jyrki and Heidi as they hike through the wilderness of Tasmania and New Zealand. Sinisalo immerses the reader in the physicality of the trek, and the increasing isolation of the hikers…the atmosphere created is exciting and the trip fascinating to watch play out. When the fantastical element finally enters the story it’s all the more effective because of the careful way in which Sinisalo has brought the reader to that point.”

Rajaniemi is a new writer whose first novel The Quantum Thief has taken the United Kingdom by storm. Described as “a crazy joyride through the solar system several centuries hence,” the novel is published this month by Tor, amid excited buzz. Halme told me that the novel has been just as popular in Finland as in the U.K., and gained a lot of legitimacy for science fiction in his country. Indeed, Rajaniemi wrote his novel in English, meaning it had to be translated into Finnish for publication in his home country. Although not many Finnish authors do self-translate, most do read in English, as it is a widely used language.

May 5, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Comments Off on Finnish Science Fiction and Fantasy: Johanna Sinisalo, Hannu Rajaniemi, and Moomins

Hannu Rajaniemi interviewed by the Guardian

The Guardian has posted a new interview with Finnish writer Hannu Rajaniemi, with a particular focus on writing in English versus Finnish  – fascinating!

It seemed natural to start writing in English, Rajaniemi continues, because it was the language he was speaking in his daily life. There was also no question of getting feedback from the others in the writing group if he was writing in Finnish. But he soon discovered that he had a different personality when he was writing in English – a personality he liked.

“It’s probably a bit of a cliche, but I’m a bit more outgoing in English, whereas in Finnish I tend to be quieter, more reserved,” he says. “It’s maybe because, for me, Finnish is very much a personal language – it’s the language I speak with my very, very close friends and my parents – whereas pretty much my whole professional career, my scientific career and my writing career has been in English, so it’s outward facing.”

Rajaniemi describes Finnish as a language of poetry and song, with great facility for shaping words and making compounds. His English writing style is simpler, a little more pared-down. Reading some of the first few chapters from the Finnish translation, which he says he’d love to have done himself but hasn’t got the time, was a “strange experience … It felt like they had been written by some Finnish evil twin. It was very good Finnish, but not the Finnish I would have written had I done it myself.” – read the full interview.

December 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Comments Off on Hannu Rajaniemi interviewed by the Guardian

Short Story Club Discusses Singh; Rajaniemi

Over at Torque Control, they’ve just run their second Short Story Club, discussing, among others, stories by Vandana Singh – Somadeva: A Sky River Sutra (read the story online at Strange Horizons) – and Hannu RajaniemiElegy for a Young Elk (read the story online at Subterranean Online). Check out the discussion on each!

November 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Comments Off on Short Story Club Discusses Singh; Rajaniemi

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