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Jakobson, Lars

Entry updated 26 October 2021. Tagged: Author.

(1959-    ) Swedish librarian and author. An sf enthusiast since childhood, Lars Jakobson wrote his examination thesis at the Swedish Librarian college on sf published in Sweden 1953-1976. His work is founded on a wide reading and deep affection for classical sf, but at the same time also in his fascination with modernist literary techniques (see Modernism in SF) and in transhumanist philosophy. His first novel, Vinterkvarter ["Winter Quarters"] (1985) is mainstream realism, but with the exception of Pumpan ["The Pumpkin"] (1991), a documentary novel on the McCarthy hearings and the Hiss trial, virtually all of his later work is to some extent – and in several cases entirely – speculative. Menageri: berättelser ["Menagerie: Stories"] (coll 1989) presents some 60 individual portraits in short narratives; Jakobson here mixes real persons with both fictionalized portraits of historical characters (for instance Lee Harvey Oswald and Huey Long) and entirely fictional creations. Hemsökelsen ["The Haunting"] (1994) is a fictionalized autobiographical novel, combining Jakobson's childhood with drastic Climate Change. His major sf novels are Kanalbyggarnas barn ["Children of the Canal Builders"] (1997) and its pendant – possibly set in the same alternate history, with partly similar concerns – I den Röda damens slott: en martiansk biografi ["In the Castle of the Red Queen: A Martian Biography"] (2000): these alternate between a counterfactual Alternate History of the latter part of the twentieth century, where manned expeditions to Mars began as early as the early 1950s, and of the attempts to interpret and understand the remnants (including an enormous Library) left by a long-extinct Martian civilization. Elegiac in tone, with a complex structure incorporating both narrative passages, extracts from fictional scientific and historical documents, literary references and correspondence, Jakobson's exploration of his fictional century and Martian adventure is also the story of a son's relationship to his father, and of man's relationship to reality. Vid den stora floden ["By the Great River"] (2005) in two parallel narratives – one printed on the top halves of the pages, the other on the bottom halves – makes an attempt to both understand and find words to describe the evil in two parallel events: the 9/11 terrorist attack and the following US conquest of Iraq and, symbolically in the novel, the Tower of Babel by the Eufrat or Euphrates, the title's great river. The sf element in this work is slight, mainly consisting of the Iraqui narrative being pushed into a Near Future; however, in Vännerna ["Friends"] (2010), his so far most ambitious and longest novel, Jakobson gives a clear-cut if Satirical image of a near future Sweden with a slightly but importantly different Alternate History where artificial intelligence (see AI) plays an important part.

Lars Jakobson has noted his literary debt to, among others, Jorge Louis Borges, Samuel R Delany, and Sven Christer Swahn. He is viewed as one of Sweden's most influential and important contemporary authors; his literary awards are numerous. [J-HH]

Lars Jakobson

born Lund, Sweden, 1959


  • Vinterkvarteret ["Winter Quarters"] (Stockholm, Sweden: Bonnier, 1985) [hb/]
  • Vetten ["The Gnome"] (Stockholm, Sweden: Bonnier, 1986) [hb/]
  • Pumpan ["The Pumpkin"] (Stockholm, Sweden: Bonnier, 1991) [hb/]
  • Hemsökelsen ["The Haunting"] (Stockholm, Sweden: Bonnier, 1994) [hb/]
  • Kanalbyggarnas barn ["Children of the Canal Builders"] (Stockholm, Sweden: Bonnier, 1997) [hb/]
  • I den Röda damens slott: en martiansk biografi ["In the Castle of the Red Queen: A Martian Biography"] (Stockholm, Sweden: Bonnier, 2000) [hb/]
  • Vid den stora floden ["By the Great River"] (Stockholm, Sweden: Bonnier, 2005) [hb/]
  • Vännerna ["Friends"] (Stockholm, Sweden: Bonnier, 2010) [hb/]
  • John & Denise ["John & Denise"] (Stockholm, Sweden: Bonnier, 2013) [hb/]
  • De odödliga ["The Immortals"] (Stockholm, Sweden: Bonniers, 2015) [hb/nonpictorial]



  • Stjärnfall: om sf ["Starfall: On Sf"] (Stockholm, Sweden: Bonnier, 2004) with Ola Larsmo and Steve Sem-Sandberg [nonfiction: coll: essays: hb/]
  • Effekter ["Effects"; collection of] (Stockholm, Sweden: Bonnier, 2011) [nonfiction: coll: essays, lectures and some stories: edited by Jakobson as Joan Bravais: hb/]


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