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Sinisalo, Johanna

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author, Editor.

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(1958-    ) Finnish author who studied literature and drama at the University of Tampere, then worked in advertising while writing short stories, virtually all sf or fantasy; in 1997, she turned to full-time writing. Her first published stories, "Kilometripylväät" ["Kilometre Signs"] and "Jäinen kaupunki" ["Glacier Town"], appeared together in the Finnish Original Anthology Vuosirengas 74 (anth 1974 ed anon). She has since published more than 40 stories, seven times winning the Finnish Atorox award for the year's best short sf; her first story in English, "Baby Doll" (written 2002; trans in The SFWA European Hall of Fame, anth 2007, ed James Morrow and Kathryn Morrow), was nominated for the Nebula and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. She has also written many Comics and Graphic Novel scripts, including for a period the Moomin comic, and many Television dramas. She wrote the storyline for the Finnish satiric sf film Iron Sky (2012).

Sinsalo's first novel, Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi (2000; trans Herbert Lomas as Not Before Sundown 2003; vt Troll: A Love Story 2004), won the Finlandia Prize for best Finnish novel, Finland's highest annual literary Award; and in translation the James Tiptree Jr Award in 2004. In Finland, her writing has received considerable attention and many further awards. Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi is based in the premise that trolls are in fact not mythological, but almost extinct beasts of prey, an assumption used both to sketch a Parallel World (the book is told mosaically, via short narrative chapters interspersed with a large number of sometimes actual, mostly pastiche extracts from web pages, news reports, religious tracts, folk tales and well-known authors, all concerned with trolls) and to discuss the issues of otherness, alienation, attraction, sexuality and Gender which recur continually in Sinisalo's work. Lasisilmä ["The Glass Eye"] (2006) is a psychological thriller featuring disturbing parallels between television shows and reality (see Media Landscape; Virtual Reality), raising issues of the boundaries between real and unreal, observers and observed. In Enkelten verta (2011; trans Lola M Rogers as The Blood of Angels 2014), bees mysteriously begin vanishing all over the world, apparently as a direct consequence of Colony Collapse Disorder, though they are in fact navigating themselves into an Alternate World safe from Homo sapiens, causing worldwide agricultural chaos; the blindness and irresponsibility of humans is shown in the conflict between a beekeeper and his animal-rights activist son. Auringon ydin ["The Core of the Sun"] (2013; trans Lola Rogers as The Core of the Sun 2016) is set in a present-day Alternate History Eusistocratic Republic of Finland, where social stability and national health are viewed as society's primary values, and where consequently practically everything pleasurable or addictive is banned, save for Sex – distributed via a new human subspecies, formerly called women but now bred by the state and always willing – and gambling. Though the novel satirizes current Finnish political and social trends as well as the "male empowerment" movement, its underlying discussion of the conflicts between repression, social engineering, self-empowerment and individual liberty is universal.

In both Linnunaivot (2008; trans David Hackston as Birdbrain 2010) and Salattuja voimia: Opas valoisille ja pimeille polulille ["Hidden Powers: A Guide to Hiking Trails both Dark and Bright"] (coll 2012), nature and self are explored through hiking – a favourite pastime of Sinisalo herself – though in the novel, about a Finnish couple hiking in Australia, western longing for the primitive is also shown up for an insatiable lust to conquer and control (see Imperialism), and their ultimate fate is a good demonstration of what has come to be known as Tasmanian Gothic. Here, the speculative elements play a minor part, though they are present in all of Sinisalo's work. [J-HH]

see also: Finland.

Aila Johanna Sinisalo

born Sodankylä, Finland: 22 June 1958


  • Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi (Helsinki, Finland: Tammi, 2000) [hb/Jyrki Loukkaanhuhta]
    • Not Before Sundown (London: Peter Owen, 2003) [trans by Herbert Lomas of the above: pb/uncredited]
      • Troll: A Love Story (New York: Grove Press, 2004) [vt of the above trans: with some edits short of actual revision: pb/Honi Werner]
  • Sankarit ["Heroes"] (Helsinki, Finland: Tammi, 2003) [hb/Markko Taina, Markku Laakso]
  • Lasisilmä ["The Glass Eye"] (Helsinki, Finland: Teos, 2006) [hb/Hanna Lahti, Hannu Mänttäri]
  • Linnunaivot (Helsinki, Finland: Teos, 2008) [hb/Miika Immonen, Hannu Mänttäri]
    • Birdbrain (London: Peter Owen, 2010) [trans by David Hackston of the above: pb/Hannu Mänttäri]
  • Möbiuksen maa ["The Land of Möbius"] (Helsinki, Finland: Teos, 2010) [juvenile: hb/]
  • Enkelten verta (Helsinki, Finland: Teos, 2011) [hb/]
    • The Blood of Angels (London: Peter Owen, 2014) [trans by Lola M Rogers of the above: pb/Hannu Mänttäri]
  • Auringon ydin ["The Core of the Sun"] (Helsinki, Finland: Teos, 2013) [hb/]
    • The Core of the Sun (New York: Grove Atlantic/Black Cat, 2016) [trans by Lola Rogers of the above: pb/Gretchen Mergenthaler]


works as editor


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