Tag: fantasy

In search of an identity

Issue 3/1999 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

‘You will be sorry, at least by the time you reach the gates of the Underworld, if you do not read this book,’ threatened the critic of the science-fiction and fantasy magazine Tähtivaeltaja (‘Star-traveller’) in his review of Maarit Verronen’s novel Pimeä maa (‘Out of the Land of Darkness’) in 1995. Verronen’s writing lies somewhere on the borderland between fantasy and science-fiction, the events of Pimeä maa are set in an unrecognisable primal time, in some unrecognisable and barren tundra landscape. More…


Issue 3/1999 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

A short story from Löytöretkeilijä ja muita eksyneitä (‘The explorer and other lost people’, Tammi, 1999). Introduction by Soila Lehtonen

The stranger met Delina at a development organisation’s work camp, but Delina was not a volunteer. Delina lived in the country permanently.

The stranger did not spend very much time in Delina’s company. His evenings were spent with fellow-volunteers in the village cafe, where Delina’s parents did not allow her to go. During the day, both of them worked in their separate ways: Delina at home and the stranger in the work camp’s fields.

The stranger did, however, get to know the girl well enough to hear that she was in love with a soldier called Zmiri from the nearest garrison. This soldier was arrested once when he and his comrades drunkenly molested volunteers – but Delina knew nothing of the case. More…

The son of the chimera

30 September 1999 | Fiction, Prose

A short story from Pereat mundus. Romaani, eräänlainen  (‘Pereat mundus. A novel, sort of’, WSOY, 1998)

I was born, but not because anyone wanted it to happen. No one even knew it was possible, for my mother was a human being, my father a chimera. He was one of the first multi-species hybrids.

Only one picture of my father survives. It is not a photograph, but a water-colour, painted by my mother. My father is sitting in an armchair, book in hand, one cloven hoof placed delicately on top of the other. According to my mother, he liked to leaf through illustrated books, although he never learned to read. He is wearing an elegant, muted blue suit jacket, but no trousers at all. Thick grey fur covers his strong legs, right down to his hoofs. Small horns curve gracefully over his convex forehead. Striking in his face are his round, yellow eyes, his extraordinarily wide mouth, his tiny chin and his surprisingly large but flat nose. More…

A passion for darkness

Issue 4/1997 | Archives online, Authors, Essays

In the fourth part of an occasional series on writers and their inspirations, the essayist and short-story writer Leena Krohn considers the poet Uuno Kailas (1901–1933)

I’m far from claiming that Uuno Kailas has ever been my favourite author. But I definitely had a close affinity to him in an early phase of my life.

There were a lot of his volumes on the shelves in my childhood home. I leafed through them at a very early age – in my sixth, seventh and eighth years. There were times when, as a child, I was very afraid of the dark. I might lie awake at night, stiff with fear, hardly daring to breathe. Presumably that’s why I was drawn to his poem ‘On the edge’:

I’m afraid in my room,
I’m afraid of the window.
And the shadows
of people the window shows
as reptiles – lizards crawling
across my wall.
I’m afraid to look at the door,
it opens on dark.
The doorknob gleams:
it could turn
and they’d be there
the ones I’ve no name for,
the ones I see in my dreams. More…

Formal logic

Issue 4/1995 | Archives online, Authors, Interviews, Reviews

Maarit Verronen’s novel, Pimeästä maasta (‘Out of the Land of Darkness’), inhabits the borderland between science fiction and fantasy. It is also a classic story of the demands of integrity in a harsh and prescriptive world. It is set daringly on the far side of time and place: the name of its main character is Ulthyraja Tharabereghist, from which one can already deduce that the novel does not deal with the real world. Pimeästä maasta is a cleverly constructed novel which surprises its reader in many different ways. The first surprise is that Verronen does not define her main character’s gender. The structure of the Finnish language, in which the personal pronoun does not reveal the gender of the person to whom it refers, makes this possible. More…

Punishment and delight

Issue 4/1995 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from Pimeästä maasta (‘Out of the Land of Darkness’, Kirjayhtymä, 1995). Interview by Jukka Petäjä

‘A being far more powerful and wiser than ourselves made the mould at the beginning of time and set it up for us as a model in order that we might shape ourselves correctly,’ the teachers said. ‘The Prime Mover’s form, actions and thoughts we are unable to understand. The Prime Mover gave us the mould in order that we should not remain formless. To this extent it has made itself known to us, although we do not deserve anything from it. It did not make the mould of bog-iron, which would soon have rusted in the cellar, but of a much better material of which we know nothing, and need to know nothing. Our duty is to aspire to fill the perfect mould given to us perfectly. Most of us will never be able to do so, for we are worthless, formless, unclean messes who deserve, many times over, all the pain of fitting the mould.’

Ulthyraja Tharabereghist did not dare ask anything, but there was something she would have liked to know. How the Prime Mover had made the mould, at least, and where it had found the materials, and what the Mover had gone on to do and where it had gone when the mould was ready and in the possession of the villagers. Even illicit thoughts were said to damage one’s shape: to be visible in it, if one knew how to look, and, of course, to be felt in the pains of fitting the mould… More…

Adieu, Paris!

Issue 4/1994 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

One day an Indian physicist discovers that Paris has disappeared – or, in the words of the French government, has been relocated: ‘it now exists not merely in one place, but in many, perhaps not precisely here or there, but to some extent everywhere’. Extracts from the novel Kadonnut Pariisi (‘Paris lost’, Otava, 1994)

The news of the disappearance of Paris was, at first, an item in the remotest corners of the foreign news pages of the newspapers and in the light feature at the end of the television news – those absurd little stories: an elephant’s escape from the zoo, the mother of four who beat the world record for toothbrush-swallowing or the suicide of a news reporter in the middle of a television broadcast.

Professor Ansari, an Indian physicist, had developed a method for the extremely accurate measurement of the mass of the Earth. His conclusion was that the Earth weighed too little. And, by an extraordinary coincidence, the missing mass was approximately the same as the estimated mass of Paris. The physicist was foolish enough to make his result public and to utter the fateful words: ‘Well, of course the simplest explanation would be that Paris is missing. That it doesn’t exist any more.’ A news item on the subject in the ‘Crazy World’ column concluded with the remark: ‘Professor Ansari is continuing the development of his theory in the government mental asylum in Delhi.’ More…


Issue 1/1993 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

From Matemaattisia olioita tai jaettuja unia (‘Mathematical creatures, or shared dreams’, WSOY, 1992). Introduction by Soila Lehtonen

The egg of the gorgonoid is, of course, not smooth. Unlike a hen’s egg, its surface texture is noticeably uneven. Under its reddish, leather skin bulge what look like thick cords, distantly reminiscent of fingers. Flexible, multiply jointed fingers, entwined – or, rather, squeezed into a fist.

But what can those ‘fingers’ be?

None other than embryo of the gorgonoid itself.

For the gorgonoid is made up of two ‘cables’. One forms itself into a ring; the other wraps round it in a spiral, as if combining with itself. Young gorgonoids that have just broken out of their shells are pale and striped with red. Their colouring is like the peppermint candies you can buy at any city kiosk. More…

Invisible cities

Issue 4/1992 | Archives online, Essays

Extracts from Leena Krohn’s collection of essays, Rapina ja muita papereita (‘Rustle, and other papers’, WSOY, 1989).

Past me hurries a man in a rustling anorak. He pushes a card into a crack in the wall. There is a whirring noise, a door opens and, shoulder first, he pushes his way into a cramped room. At eye-level is a black screen, and under it a group of buttons. On the buttons is printed: Cash. Statement. Balance. On an empty button someone has written: Holdup. A question appears on the screen, and deserves our undivided attention: Do you wish to continue with another transaction?

We do! We certainly do. The mild warmth that suffuses the automatic bank pleases me, too. Why shouldn’t it? The warmth of the machine, the heat of money, is itself one of the forms of human energy secreted by the city, however stunted and primitive it may seem as it oozes from the depths of the metal cabinet. More…

The Paradox Archive

Issue 3/1991 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Umbra (WSOY, 1990). Introduction by Soila Lehtonen

The Paradox Archive

Umbra was a man of order. His profession alone made him that, for sickness was a disorder, and death chaos.

But life demands disorder, since it calls for energy, for warmth – which is disorder. Abnormal effort did perhaps enhance order within a small and carefully defined area, but it squandered considerable energy, and ultimately the disorder in the environment was only intensified.

Umbra saw that apparent order concealed latent chaos and collapse, but he knew too that apparent chaos contained its own order. More…

Late summer in Tulavall

Issue 3/1990 | Archives online, Children's books, Fiction

 An extract from Mattan från Kars (‘The rug from Kars’). Introduction by Tuva Korsström

Mother Limberg and Apelman’s Anna Lina were sitting together on the steps up to Mother Limberg’s cabin in Mickelgård Street in Tulavall. They were mourning. They were grieving for the old army captain, Alexander Grunnstedt, who had fought in the Caucasus in his youth, had lived alone in the Limberg’s gable room in his old age and then had lost his way in the forest, had a heart attack and been carried off in his coffin by his daughter-in-law.

It was late summer and sunny weather.

‘She could’ve had him buried here,’ said Mother Limberg.

‘She thought it too simple here,’ said Anna Lina. More…

On a magic carpet

Issue 3/1990 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

‘Tulavall is not large, but it is old and on the coast, just where the River Tatel runs into the sea.’ That is how the Finland-Swedish writer, Irmelin Sandman Lilius, starts her first book on the town of Tulavall, a place which has become her own universe in which she combines saga and realism with fantasy and history.

Tulavall and its inhabitants have become known and loved in ten languages. Last year, for instance the fourth edition of Bonadea, the book quoted above, was brought out in Spanish. The founder of Tulavall, King Tulle, can be read about in English, German, Danish, Finnish and, of course, Swedish. The three books about the magical Mistress Sola are to be published in Japanese.

Irmelin Sandman Lilius herself lives, just as do the girl Bonadea, King Tulle and Mistress Sola, in a small coastal town called Hangö [Hanko], where Irmelin and her husband Carl-Gustaf paint pictures and write books in a heavenly stone house by the sea. More…

Six letters

Issue 1/1986 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

From Tainaron (1985). Introduction by Soila Lehtonen

The whirr of the wheel
Letter II

I awoke in the night to sounds of rattling and tinkling from my kitchen alcove. Tainaron, as you probably know, lies within a volcanic zone. The experts say that we have now entered a period in which a great upheaval can be expected, one so devastating that it may destroy the city entirely.

But what of that? You need not imagine that it makes any difference to the Tainaronians’ way of living. The tremors during the night are forgotten, and in the dazzle of the morning, as I take my customary short cut across the market square, the open fruit-baskets glow with their honeyed haze, and the pavement underfoot is eternal again.

And in the evening I gaze at the huge Wheel of Earth, set on its hill and backed by thundercloud, with circumference, poles and axis pricked out in thousands of starry lights. The Wheel of Earth, the Wheel of Fortune… Sometimes its turning holds me fascinated, and even in my sleep I seem to hear the wheel’s unceasing hum, the voice of Tainaron itself. More…

Strange and familiar

Issue 1/1986 | Archives online, Authors

Leena Krohn. Photo:  Katri Lassila

Leena Krohn. Photo: Katri Lassila

Tainaron is the name of the rocky headland from which the road to Hades starts. Leena Krohn has borrowed her book’s title from Greek mythology: the city of Tainaron lies in the volcanic region, on the banks of Okeanos. On the title page of Tainaron is this epigraph: ‘You are not in a place; the place is in you.’ The book’s subtitle is ‘Letters from another town’. The narrator of the book writes letters to her friend back in our world.

The inhabitants of Tainaron are different from us – they have the bodies of insects. In the street the letter-writer encounters a character whose ‘antennae wave above his muzzle-like face’, the café waiter’s mouth ‘protrudes from his face like that of a dragonfly grub’ and when her friend and mentor, Longhorn Beetle, smiles, it is ‘a slow sideways extension of the jaws to the two sides of his head’. Among the dedicatees of Krohn’s book is the well-known entomologist Jean Henri Fabre. More…

The Storm • September

Issue 3/1982 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Bo Carpelan. Photo: Charlotta Boucht

Bo Carpelan. Photo: Charlotta Boucht

Extracts from Jag minns att jag drömde (‘I remember dreaming’, 1979)

The Storm

I remember dreaming about the great storm which one October evening over forty years ago shook our old schoolhouse by the park. My dream is filled with racing clouds and plaintive cries, of roaring echoes and strange meetings, a witch’s brew still bubbling and hissing in the memory of those great yellow clouds.

Our maths teacher – a small sinewy woman who seemed to have swallowed a question mark and was always wondering where the dot had gone, so she directed us in a low voice and with downcast eyes as if we didn’t exist – and yet her little black eyes saw everything that happened in the class, and weasel-like, were there if anyone disobeyed her – was writing the seven times table on the blackboard, when a peculiar light filled our classroom. We looked across at the window; the whole schoolhouse seemed to have been suddenly transformed into a railway station, shaking and trembling, a whistling sound penetrating the cold thick stone walls, and at raging speed, streaky clouds of smoke were sliding past the window, hurtling our classroom forward as if we were in an aeroplane. Our teacher stopped writing and raised her narrow dark head. Without a word, she went over to the window and stood looking out at the racing clouds. More…