Monday, August 14, 2006

Usva: Free Finnish Fiction

A woman in a translucent dress standing in front of curtainsTo celebrate Finncon Anne Leinonen has put out a special issue of her webzine Usva, full of Finnish fantastic fiction in English. Usva International is a sister issue of Usva 2/2006 and most of its contents are English translations of stories that appeared in that issue, with some additions.

Usva International has short stories by Sari Peltoniemi, J.K. Miettinen, Jenny Kangasvuo, Petri Laine, Irma Hirsjärvi, Natalia Laurila, Juha-Pekka Koskinen and Petri Salin. In addition there is a brilliant poem “The Last Eurovision Song Contest” by Hannu Rajaniemi, all post-singularity grandeur (yes, I used the s-word; sue me), heroistic bombast, and Guinness:
No one remembered
who won the last time
so we decided
to have it in Ireland
just in case

One by one
we rode
on Aibo horses
(Boom Bang-a-Bang
said their hooves)
from the far corners of the Earth
to the glass mountains
called Dublin
Don’t be fooled by the cover that’s a bit drab (to my tastes anyway)—Usva has consistently produced interesting and fresh fiction from contemporary writers, and although I can’t say I’ve been that fond of even close to all of Anne’s choices for publication, I like it very much that she is doing a zine that has such variety and isn’t afraid to experiment (more on that below). I haven’t had a chance to read this issue yet, but based on the previous ones, I can heartily recommend it to anybody who’s interested in what Finnish sf has to offer. Go on and take a look; Usva International is available as a free pdf download!

And speaking of liking what Usva is doing: for over a year now, Usva has been proudly presenting Finnish fiction, skillfully edited to bring out the best the writer has to offer, with emphasis on low-key fantasy but ranging all the way to full-on science fiction. I meant to write about this on a separate post about Atorox, but since time doesn’t seem to permit that, I’m putting it here instead: as I was reading the nominees for this year’s Atorox award I noticed that on my personal top 5 list, four out of five short stories were published in Usva. It has brought new life into Finnish sf, and therefore I’ve decided to give Anne Leinonen the first ever Partial Recall recognition award for advancing science fiction with Usva, always exploring and pushing the boundaries of the genre. The award doesn’t come with a lot of bells and whistles (nor a big cheque), I’m afraid, but I think bying a beer for Anne at Finncon is in order. Congratulations!

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