31.3.2017

No stopping now

Year 2017 marks the one hundredth year for Finland as an independent state. Coinciding with the centennial, Finnish SFF fans celebrate the arrival of Worldcon of Fantasy and Science Fiction in Finland.

It's the perfect year for telling stories about Finnish storytelling.

This list of one book for every year of Finland's independence is a satisfying peek into a century of Finnish writing. It's exciting to realise just how many books they were choosing from to compile the list! That may seem a silly thing to be excited about, but I keep thinking what literature has meant to the history of this nation, starting from just being encouraged to write and read publications in your native tongue, a fact that wasn't always as self-evident to Finns as it seems to be for many of them today.

Of course people in Finland have been writing for many centuries, as evidenced by Codices Fennici, a recently opened free-to-use digital collection of manuscripts written in Finland (for the pleasure of all you history geeks out there). But Finnish literature... that's a relatively new invention. In the early years of Finnish self-governance, it served as a tool for the emergent Finnish identity.

By the by, it's always tickled me that the word Finns use for the written form of Finnish is kirjakieli, meaning "the language of books". It makes me think that when we write, we're speaking with books. We give shape to our thoughts like we're weaving a spell.

Maybe we are. I think we are.

Spoken Finnish is much much older than its written form, and like languages tend to do, it boasts myriad dialects and vernacular variants. Finnish literature today builds upon an oral tradition that reaches back centuries. As I think of it, I imagine the campfires of the ancient tribes, the settlers who probably came from the east. Here under the dark skies their tongues would spill poetry upon the snow, spin magic into the northern lights. They would sing, they would craft wonders with words -- they would tell stories.

Finnish fiction writers continue this storytelling tradition.

In compiling the famous Kalevala, Elias Lönnrot may have been the first to put the legends of our ancestors into print, but he was not the last to make literature out of folklore. Fiction writers in Finland have been drawing inspiration from Finnish mythology for as long as fiction writing has existed, and many fantasy and science fiction writers build their own worlds and visions upon imagery and lore that's been passed down countless generations.

Naturally not all Finnish writers build on Finnish mythology. Many -- most? -- reach far away and farther to distant shores, even past the stars. Finnish speculative writing, dubbed suomikumma or Finnish Weird, explores every avenue and every angle, from unknown galaxies to the innermost depths of the human psyche. I often feel sad that I am not able to share all this wonderful stuff with my friends in other countries.

It is for that reason that Never Stop -- Finnish Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories excites me. The anthology is a collection of stories selected by Emmi Itäranta and made available in English for the first time. I'm featured as the author of the titular story, a cyberpunk tale set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia, and I'm also involved also as an editor, which means I get to be among the first to see the whole thing come together.

It has been and continues to be a privilege and a pleasure to join the continuum of Finnish storytelling in this way.

Never Stop - Finnish Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories
Cover art by Anu Korpinen.

The tone and style of the stories varies from steampunk to science fiction and from high fantasy to horror and suspense. For example, Anne Leinonen's gripping work Maid of Tuonela (Lautturin tytär) digs into Finnish mythology and offers a fascinating view into the life of those responsible for ferrying souls across the river of Tuonela, while Magdalena Hai's The Beautiful Boy (Kaunis Ululian) takes us on board hoverships in a whole new world -- with tension galore, just take a look at the teaser!


Of course, Never Stop is not alone in bringing more Finnish fiction within grasp of international audiences. For example, we have the newly launched Finnish Weird publication, a collaborative effort to bring more Finnish speculative fiction out there in English (and for free, to boot). And, let's not forget that there is a (growing?) number of writers in Finland writing in English. For example, take a look at the epic science fiction series Final Fall of Man by Andrew Hindle.

There are many others I could mention, a treasure trove of fiction for the true Finnlore explorers to discover. Bravely does Finnish storytelling venture forth towards its next century. I believe it shall, heh, never stop.

4.3.2017

Kirja, jonka kissakin lukisi

Monilla meistä on yksi tai useampi lapsuuden Eläin -- lemmikki tai joskus jopa villieläin; jokin elävä olento, jonka kanssa muodostamme ikimuistoisen suhteen. Yleensä opimme lapsuuden Eläimiltä jotakin tai ne tarjoavat meille lohtua ja ovat luonamme silloin, kun eniten tarvitsemme ymmärtäjää. Nykyaikana ne lienevät myös yhä useammin ensikosketuksemme suurempaan maailmaan tietokoneen ruutujen ja betonilaatikoiden tuolla puolen.

Minun lapsuuteni Eläimiin kuului kissa, joka tapasi kietoutua äitini niskaan lämmittämään hänen katsellessaan televisiota. Muistan hänet itsenäisenä ja rohkeana olentona. Salaperäisenä ja sulokkaana.

Hänen jälkeensä en ole asunut kissataloudessa, jollei lukuun oteta Tikruperhettä, valkoisten tiikerien (näemmä hiljakseen kasvavaa) laumaa. Kissat ovat silti aina kuuluneet elämääni. Minulle kissat ovat tarinoita, jännittäviä ja hämmästyttäviä.

Muistan isoäidin kertomukset kotitilansa villikkokissasta, joka toi talon emännälle kalan keittiöön. Muistan monia fiktiivisia hahmoja -- ja tietenkin kerron itsekin mielelläni tarinoita kissoista ja nautin kissojen piirtämisestä, mikä ei yllättäne ketään, joka on nähnyt nettisarjakuvani Good Cat / Bad Cat Protocol.

Niinpä olin luonnollisesti innoissani, kun minulle tarjoutui tilaisuus tehdä kansi Osuuskumman kissateemaiselle novelliantologialle Varjoisilta kujilta. Antologia on nyt julkaistu, ja Tikruperhe lukee jo innoissaan!

Lukevat tiikerit.

Mainittakoon, että kansikuvakissan mallina toimi Maailman Julmin Kissa eli Miisu, jonka uskollisena residenssinhaltijana häärii kirjailija Nupponen. Tarkastaja Miisander on Miisun alter ego, ja hänen seikkailunsa voit lukea antologian sivuilta!

1.3.2017

Rakkaudelle.

Tänään on juhlapäivä. Tasa-arvoinen avioliittolaki astui voimaan. Nyt on jokaisella suomalaisella oikeus solmia lainvoimainen rakkauden liitto sukupuoleen katsomatta. Onnittelut kaikille heille, jotka tänään ja tulevaisuudessa sellaisen solmivat!

Tätä on odotettu.
Kuva © M. A. Tyrskyluoto

1.2.2017

A Stranger's Town

The other day, I was searching through the photos I've stored but haven't had the time to post. I found myself taking a stroll through a strange city, one covered with snow, lost in mist, and painted by light. I started to smile.

See, here in this town...

You may find a huge snowball, the size of a child,
sitting under a streetlight for no apparent reason.
Photo © M. A. Tyrskyluoto

You may walk among sculptures made from light and mist.
Photo © M. A. Tyrskyluoto

You may take pause at campsites
that lie forgotten and frozen over.
Photo © M. A. Tyrskyluoto

You may see someone ride a bicycle across the frozen lake.
Photo © M. A. Tyrskyluoto

This town, it's given me many smiles, many stories.

+ + +

I don't feel I've ever had a hometown. Maybe a part of it is a kind of looseness in how I grew up, with my immediate family split between a few cities. Fixtures like buildings don't hold permanence for me; I assume that it's because I've never lived in a place that I own or one that my family owns.

I never felt that any of this was a negative thing, mind. Big cities, small towns, cars and trains and new streets to remember -- it's all done worlds of good to expand my thinking. It's probably played no small part in how I constantly look at places like I'm seeing them for the first time.

On the worst days, I feel like a stranger everywhere I go. The best days, though, I feel like an explorer. And in this strange city? Well... let's just say that it's clearly my kind of town.

Where we paint the sundown on the windows.
Photo © M. A. Tyrskyluoto

11.1.2017

Sininen hetki

Lumen alla jäätyneen järven kansi. Usva syö taivaanrantaa. Paljaat oksat kurottavat, hamuavat otetta valkeasta tyhjyydestä.

Siinä tyhjyydessä minäkin, odottaen, vaan en tiedä mitä. Uskonko jään kestävän, astunko valkealle peitolle, pelkäänkö alla vellovaa mustaa vettä?

Ehkä, ehkä. Tänä yönä sisälläni on hiljaista.

Kuva lumen peittämästä jäätyneestä järvestä, jonka yllä leijuu usva
Sininen hetki.
Kuva © M. A. Tyrskyluoto

31.12.2016

Effervescent Brain

It's that time of the year. You can drop your friends a giggly "see you next year!" when you know you won't meet them again until tomorrow. You'll probably be summing up your year and, more often than not, end up hoping for a better one to come. Perhaps you make a couple of promises, you know, nothing serious, yeah? Just something small. And why not? It's always a good idea to make plans.

I made but a few for 2016. I started the year with... well, quite frankly, not a whole lot of expectations. I end it with mixed feelings. Not because my plans didn't pan out -- more because some of them did, many in unexpected ways. Do they make up for all the sad and stressful things that have happened in my life this year? I'm not sure.

So, at the end of the year, here's where we are:

Photo of a glass jar surrounded by lush green and gold vines and labelled Effervescent Brain, Cures Headaches in a classic font
Effervescent Brain.
Photo © M. A. Tyrskyluoto

effervescent adj. 1. Emitting a profusion of small bubbles or gas; bubbling. [. . .] 3. High-spirited; ebullient; vivacious.
from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
This repurposed glass jar was one of the few crafts projects I had time to complete this year. It's been one hell of a ride on the work front. After a busy summer, I started as the lead editor in a rewarding but challenging project in my day job, and on the creative side, I've been spending a fair bit of my spare time punching out a respectable stretch of short prose. (Some of it very successful, I'm pleased to say, but more about that in another post, at another time.)

It's been words, words, words, with an occasional jaunt across the pages of my sketchbook here and there. I had to put my cat comic on a hiatus to make room for more ambitious prospects. I've been stoking the flames of many an interesting endeavor, and there are yet many more to follow next year.

Year 2017 has some good things in store for me. Exciting, even. And then some things that, well, I just don't know, it could go either way. But that's what life's all about, isn't it? You never really know how it turns out.

So. Here's to an effervescent brain. It cures headaches, they say.

29.11.2016

Kissajainen

Kissajainen. Unten uumenissa asustava painajaisten tappaja. Tässä se seisoo saaliinsa äärellä.

Tänä iltana piti vähän verrytellä piirustuskättä. Käytin ajatuksenvirtatekniikkaa, eli annoin käden piirtää mitä mieleen juolahtaa. Ei yllätä, että kynästä putosi hirviö ja kissa.

Digitussityö.

Kissajainen.
© M. A. Tyrskyluoto