Thursday, March 17, 2005

Leena Krohn

Leena Krohn (b. 1947) is a fascinating Finnish writer whose works combining science fiction, fantasy, philosophical, metaphysical and ethical issues could well be compared with those of Jorge Luis Borges or Philip K. Dick. She has written both for grown-up readers and children. And indeed, many of her stories have the mood of a melancholic fairytale, where unexplainable and sad things happen with a surreal dream logic. Krohn often reflects on current culture with an essayist's mind, even with a satirical bite and ever-surprising flashes of irreverent humour, and deals with such "on-the-edge" issues as artificial intelligence, cryogenics, transhumanism, apocalypticism and so on. My favourite Finnish writer, hands down.

The novel Tainaron ("Tainaron - Mail from another city", 1985) consists of a series of letters sent beyond the sea from a city of insects. Umbra (1990) has as its protagonist a doctor who accepts perfectly ordinary and thoroughly unusual patients into his Burnt-out Aid Clinic while compiling a burgeoning archive of paradoxes. The Finlandia Prize-winning Matemaattisia olioita ("Mathematical beings", 1992) creates a new genre, the essay novel, an intensive investigation of human identity and the basis of choice. Krohn's collection of essays Kynä ja kone ("The pen and the machine", 1996) is a meditation on age-old issues -- art, philosophy, physics, morals -- and their chances and application in an increasingly technological world. Pereat mundus (1999) is a 'novel' constructed of miniature prose pieces devoted to the philosophy and fear of ending: the end of the world, the millennium, humanity, nature, employment, literature, play, love... In Unelmakuolema ("A Dream Death", 2004) the writer puts forward people's paradoxical desire to live forever and die for good. The idea of eternity as a consciousness with neither beginning nor end is comforting -- the dead are still among us -- but it is also terrifying.

You can read here her Tainaron in English.

Also:
The Son of the Chimera from Pereat Mundus.

The writer introduction in English

An interview in English

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