Aminoff, Iwan T

Tagged: Author

(1868-1928) Swedish noble, army officer and author. Aminoff's ancestors were Russian, but from the early seventeenth century the family lived in Finland, at that time a part of Sweden. His grandfather Johan Fredrik Aminoff (1756-1842) attained the rank of Major General and in 1808 was raised to the Swedish nobility; in 1819 he was also created a count by the Tsar, as Finland in 1809 had become the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland. Aminoff himself initially chose an army career, attaining the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, but was more interested in writing, publishing his first book as early as 1899, and from around 1910 becoming extremely prolific, publishing some 70 volumes in all. Many of his books were published as by "Radscha", an extremely open secret; on most covers, both the pseudonym and his own name were printed.

Most of Aminoff's writing can be classified as action entertainments. After early accounts of his travels in French Africa and Turkey he published a historical novel about the Swedish field-marshal Magnus Stenbock and wrote his first sf novels – three not entirely dissimilar scenarios of near Future War in northern Europe. The first was När krigsguden talar. För hem och härd. Romantiserad skildring af vårt kommande krig ["When the War God Speaks. For Home and Hearth. Romantic Account of Our War to Come"] (1903), where Sweden is threatened with Invasion by a powerful neighbouring state (not named, but clearly Russia); war ensues, the enemy occupies parts of the Stockholm archipelago along with large tracts of northern Sweden, but in the end the brave Swedes retake their country. Aminoff's purpose is not just to entertain but to put forth a military agenda: what enables the Swedes to win the war, the book stresses, is primarily that before the outbreak of hostilities, Sweden had reorganized and strengthened its military forces. In fact "The war had cleansed the air, wafting away much of [the population's] earlier egoism and pettiness." Aminoff returned to future war between Sweden and (again unnamed) Russia in Striden om Östersjön: framtidsroman ["The Battle of the Baltic: a Novel of the Future"] (1907), the conflict revolving over the strategically important Baltic, which the enemy wants to dominate. In the third of these tales, Kriget Norge-Ryssland. Följder af olycksåret 1905 ["The War Between Norway and Russia. The Effects of the Disastrous Year of 1905"] (1906-1907 2vols), Russians fight Norwegians, a scenario which threatens to engulf Sweden. Slightly farther afield, Finns try to throw off their Russian rulers in Söner af ett folk som blödt. Romantiserad skildring från Finlands frihetskamp i början af 20:e seklet ["Sons of a Blooded People. Romantic Account of Finland's Struggle for Freedom in the Early 20th Century"] (1906). The most famous of his Future War novels is Invasionen ["Invasion"] (1912 as by "Vox"; vt Det eröfrade landet ["The Conquered Land"] 1914 as by Aminoff; cut 1914 again as by Aminoff). Here the story is set in an already conquered Sweden, and although in the end the Swedes again prevail, Aminoff's call to strengthen the army is more urgent than ever, and is combined with exhortations to cast off those modern banes of western culture which Aminoff disdained: individualism, liberalism, materialism and egoism.

When World War One began, Aminoff discarded his future war scenarios and instead began writing a series of novels that his publisher claimed would give "an in-depth understanding of the ongoing world war". In fact, however, Aminoff blames the war primarily on the decadent, materialistic and liberal British, while blameless Germany has been forced to combat the secret aggressive plans of France and Belgium – views by no means unusual in Sweden at the time, where the conservatives, the upper class and the military were markedly pro-German. Over a period of some 18 months, Aminoff produced an amazing 30 volumes in this series, called Radscha's War Novels; perhaps due to the turn of the war or to diminishing sales, Aminoff produced no further fiction about the war. He spent his remaining years writing detective novels, adventure novels and juveniles. Of marginal sf interest are his three juvenile Prehistoric SF novels, the most interesting being the first, an early try at portraying the age of Dinosaurs: Gools äventyr. En skildring från skräcködlornas tid ["The Adventures of Gool: A Story from the Age of Dinosaurs"] (1913). [J-HH]

Iwan Tönnes Edvard Aminoff

born Stockholm, Sweden: May 8 1868

died Gävle, Sweden: April 6 1928

works (sf only)

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