Nonfiction 2011

I recently completed a series of non-fiction samples as part of an initiative by the Finnish Literature Exchange FILI. See the FILI brochure about the project here.

From the brochure:

In Finland, over 3,000 non-fiction book titles are released by publishers each year, of which around 2,000 come under the category of general non-fiction. The total number of works published in Finland in 2009 that were designated as non-fiction books – a category which includes items as diverse as annual company reports and scientific publications – was around 8,000. The spectrum of non-fiction books is so broad because the category includes everything that is not classed as fiction. This is a very substantial quantity for a country with such a small number of people who speak its national languages. … The emphasis in non-fiction publishing is on domestic topics, but of course there are books written in Finland whose style and subject matter make them eminently suitable for translation into other languages. The brochure you are currently reading contains a selection of eight high-quality, very well-written general-interest non-fiction books that have been published in Finland in the last couple of years.

Here are short descriptions of the work I did for the project:

Vertiginous Heels: The Dangerous Allure of Luxury Shoes by Mirja Tervo

Vertiginous Heels: The Dangerous Allure of Luxury Shoes by Mirja Tervo

Atena Publishing

An anthropological investigation of the New York world of luxury high heels through the eyes of a Finnish scholar and shoe seller. Funny, touching, shocking. Why would anyone do that to her (or his) feet?


Who Owns Russia? The Dynamics of Ownership and Power in Russia by Arto Luukkanen

Who Owns Russia? The Dynamics of Ownership and Power in Russia by Arto Luukkanen

WSOY Publishing

The name says it all. Scholar Arto Luukkanen studies the central role of private property rights and corporate ownership in the control currently exercised by the securocratic regime of Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev in Russia, including the historical development of ownership rights.


Don't You Know Who I Am? The History of Arrogance by Ari Turunen

Don’t You Know Who I Am? The History of Arrogance by Ari Turunen

Atena Publishing

How do jerks end up with all the power and why can’t they ever seem to hold on to it? Simple: arrogance. If it isn’t killing your father and marrying your mother, it’s invading Russia late in the year.


Faberge's Finnish Masters by Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm

Faberge’s Finnish Masters by Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm

Tammi Publishing

Long-time expert on the Faberge phenomenon, author Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm reveals the role played by skilled Finnish artisans in the creation of the Faberge legend. “But my dear lady, without these jewels you will by like a cow without her bell!” Now there’s some true Savo wit for you.


Wolf Mass: The Civil War of the 1590's in Finland and Sweden by Mirkka Lappalainen

Wolf Mass: The Civil War of the 1590’s in Finland and Sweden by Mirkka Lappalainen

Siltala Publishing

Yeah, Finns have never been very good at being ruled or invaded by other nations. They tend to get a bit rowdy.

 

You Can’t Tell About It / Siitä ei voi kertoa

Atena, 2003 by Tiina Pihlajamäki

It doesn’t matter where the war happened, who the opposing forces were, or what justifications were given. After the dust settles, after the dead are removed, the work of survival continues for the living. The world seeks justice, but at the cost of retraumatizing the innocent.

Tiina Pihlajamäki’s You Can’t Tell About It explores the aftermath of a fictional eastern European conflict reminiscent of the Bosnian War in the mind of a young girl, Mirjana, who remained relatively unscathed by the atrocities experienced by so many others. Or did she? How can even the victim know when memories are the new enemy and what you can remember you can’t recount.

Although fictional, You Can’t Tell About It tackles the difficult and generally overlooked subject of the effects of conflict on children in the same spirit as The Diary of Anne Frank and Zlata’s Diary.

You Can’t Tell About It isn’t light reading, but in its weightiness it offers a lot to think about. It speaks to and touches the reader. After reading it, your own small, every-day problems take on a new scale.”

-Amira Al Bayaty,15.10.2003 Kiiltomato

Full English translation available soon. English language rights available.

 

Muistiin punottua = Woven into Memory

Atena Kustannus OY. 2006. 119 pages.

Dual-language book about contemporary Finnish weaving and fiber art by Minna Koskinen, Anelma Savolainen, and Anna-Maria Väätäinen. I translated the Finnish portions into English. The pictures are stunning!

Listing at Suomalainen.com

Sport in Antiquity / Antiikin urheilu

Atena 2004.

Sport in Antiquity: From the fields of Olympia to the arenas of Rome
Antiikin urheilu: Olympian kentiltä Rooman areenoille

From Sami Koski, Mika Rissanen & Juha Tahvanainen. Winner of the most prestigious prize for nonfiction in Finland, the Tieto-Finlandia Award (2005).

This gave me a rare chance to use my undergraduate minor in Latin! This is a generously illustrated, general audience description of sporting in the ancient world, including detailed descriptions of individual events in addition to discussion of the cultural and religious significance of physical contests.

Sport in Antiquity Sample (PDF)

Nimbus / Nimbus ja tähdet

Atena Publishing 2004. 389 pages.
Written by Tero Niemi and Anne Salminen

Classic sci-fi with lyrical, wistful feel reminiscent of Bradbury mixed with the hard science edge familiar from Arthur C. Clark and Kim Stanley Robinson (space is big, and no, lasers don’t make any sound). This episodic novel follows the travels and travails of Nimbus, a young female star traveler and her AI companion, Talamus. Nimbus herself departs her body, both to be reconstituted in new bodies grown by Talamus and populated with recordings of her memories and in more mystical ways as well. Dominant themes include the nature of identity for those who frequently cross cultures, wanderlust, and the nature of the soul. This is a must-publish book.

For rights inquiries, contact Owen.

English samples available upon request.

Authors’ Synopsis (Sample Available)
(Spoiler Alert!)

Nimbus

Humanity splintered as it colonized space. Isolated by vast distances and a lack of communications, every colony is left on its own, developing in a distinct direction. Journeys between the stars last centuries, and the technology used to make those journeys is unreliable and expensive.

Still, she can’t help but go.

Nimbus is a story about love, the love of Nimbus, a millenia-old young woman, for space. Even though technology has made her body nearly immortal, her mind remains human, eternally inquisitive. As a companion and friend, she has Talamus, a sentient information system, a digital polymath, who travels with Nimbus wherever she goes.

Synopsis

Part I

And God Wove Rugs of Her Own Hair [LFT 200, Earth] (PDF Sample)

Nimbus and Talamus arrive again at a planet where they visited nearly two thousand years ago. After their departure, the “Great Maelstrom” destroyed most of the population, leaving only one family behind: a mother, two daughters, and one son. The entire contemporary population of the planet are descendants of this family, whom they believe to be gods. The arrival of Nimbus gives rise to unexpected difficulties when it comes out that she met the gods on her previous visit. After being kidnapped, escaping, and inadvertently performing a miracle, Nimbus meets a historian and donates to him a picture of their god and the rugs she wove out of her own hair.

Like Humans Do [HD 20280, Kandahar] (Sample Available)

On the planet of Kandahar, Nimbus and Talamus travel to see the unexplained ancient structures located in the deserts and the enigmatic beings called Staubers. As a result of an accident, Nimbus and one of the Staubers are thrust into a situation where they have to work together to survive. The two intelligences, so foreign to each other, form a fleeting connection, but the mystery of the Staubers remains unsolved.

Still Dark

A young man wakes up in an unfamiliar place, lacking senses or body. A being named Talamus has awakened him. It turns out that he is a copy, a computer simulation of a man who no longer exists. The world he remembers has disappeared long ago, but he is now presented with the opportunity to travel to the stars.

Journey to Reforma [Tau-3 Eridani, 5] (Sample Available)

Nimbus is driving across an airless plain, traveling toward the outpost of Reforma. After her vehicle breaks down, Nimbus receives help from a miner family living nearby. While her repairs are being done, Nimbus becomes acquainted with the day-to-day life of a family living in the harsh planetary  environment. The stories of the wife, Tamadhur, also teach her of their joys.

The First Winter

A story about Nimbus adjusting to life in a world where there is no Talamus, no ship to reach the stars, and no assurance that all she has experienced was nothing but an illusion.

A Short Trip to the End of the Universe [EGM 635, Khalida]

EGM 635 is a red dwarf, eons old. The people inhabiting the planet and space station orbiting it have disappeared. While investigating their inexplicable disappearance on the surface of the planet, Nimbus dies. She awakens in a disintegrating body and continues on her way, trying to return to her ship. Eventually understanding that she should relinquish her withering body, Nimbus finally finds the missing people, and learns of their fate.

The Eye of God [GL 95, Pleias, Alcyone]

An unemployed Nimbus is spending her time on an old space dock, where she has become acquainted with two space trash collectors. Even though she doesn’t realize it, Nimbus has developed feelings for the younger man, Markus.

The trash collectors receive an urgent assignment and need Nimbus’ help. During the job, Markus dies. Crushed with sorrow, Nimbus travels to Markus’ home asteroid to report what happened. Nimbus is accepted as part of the clan, as Markus’ wife, and Nimbus stays to live with them.

Part II

The Owner Returns [Kappa Fornacis, Neu Holiday Land]

Nimbus, newly resurrected after living out a full life in the asteroids, arrives in a system she had previously visited, intending to liquidate a company she founded on one of the planets. Nimbus and Talamus had created another sentient information system and left him in charge of the company. Leading the now gigantic corporation by using alternating false names, he has utilized the resources of the company to expand himself into space. Nimbus and Talamus persuade the system to shut himself off, and then seize control of the company. Nimbus now owns an entire state and its million and a half residents.

For Love of Space [Kappa Fornacis, Sarawak]

Nimbus goes to get acquainted with Avalon, the corporate state she now owns. A world where even people are marketable goods is foreign to her, and the role of owner does not suit the space traveler. Nimbus meets a man with whom she gradually begins to fall in love, and the experience is new and confusing.

It turns out that Avalon’s main area of expertise is biotechnology. One of their research topics is life extension technology. Because there aren’t any animals on the planet, tests are carried out on humans grown in tanks, on children. To put a stop to this, Nimbus orders all of the cultured bodies destroyed and hands over the technology contained in her own ship that allows her own body to be replaced.

A neighboring state initiates a military takeover. In order to save everyone from the war, Nimbus sells her company to Sterndeuter, the strongest company in the star system. It turns out that the owner of Sterndeuter is the same sentient information system that Nimbus and Talamus thought had died. Through a network of megacorporations, he has grown into a power that directs the life of the entire star system. With the acquisition of immortality technology, he has achieved his final wish, and Nimbus and Talamus realize that their previous actions had more serious consequences than they had suspected.

Construction is begun on a new interstellar ship for Nimbus. Although Nimbus would have the opportunity for happiness and love if she were to stay, she still has to leave. Space and the stars are her home, and her love.