“That’s OK, we make new ones”

Way back in the 90’s a somewhat renowned Finnish sci-fi author and comics writer Johanna Sinisalo visited my local library as a guest for the local Friend’s of the Library Association. The visit was informal with around ten people present. She told us among other things about her career, telling us that she nearly graduated from something, missing only her thesis work and I remember thinking that that doesn’t count and I still agree…

She told also about her views on sci-fi and how she felt that it’s not supposed to foretell future, but to tell something about this day and age by projecting things somewhere else. She also said something I fehemently disagree with, if I remember correctly, that sci-fi’s role is not to entertain first but to ‘say something’. My memory faulters and that’s the clearest I can put it. In my mind the purpose of all art is first and foremost to entertain and if you disagree, I’m sorry you have such a narrow view of entertainment.

Johanna Sinisalo has wrote what I think is the best Finnish sci-fi short story called “Suklaalaput”. It is a story of a generational spaceship with a carefully crafted and balanced economy/production/economy system and how it crumbles when tokens for chocolate-rations are introduced (hence the name). Since not everybody enjoyes chocolate as much as everyone else, those tokens have value, and thus become the local currency. I didn’t have the guts to confess my admiration in that meeting, even though it was informal and quite intimate. Sometime around then a friend of mine described her looks saying “she looks like a feminist”. That should net him a few hundred years in the purgatory.

I had a second chance when she published her first novel and was giving an interview in an art festival. I didn’t have the guts then either. Her novel went on to win the most prestigious literary award in Finland, the Finlandia Prize. I could have bought the first edition and gotten a dedication for it too…

Johanna Sinisalo is one of the nominees for this years Nebula Award with her novelette “Baby Doll”.

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