The Cinematic Life: A Novel by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen

Harjukaupungin salakäytävät by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen

The Cinematic Life: A Novel
[Harjukaupungin salakäytävät]
by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen

Ateena, 2010

Speculative fiction author Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen takes a plunge into magical realism, with cinematic results. More on this book (soon) as the project progresses. Pasi is being represented by the Kontext Agency.

An English sample and synopsis are available.



Jääskeläinen (…) offers international quality”

Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen, a schoolteacher in Jyväskylä, has a third surprise in store for the Finnish reading public. His first novel, Lumikko and Nine Others (2006), and his short-story collection, The Zoo that Fell from the Sky (2008) caused critics to compare him to JK Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter.

The recently released Harjukaupungin salakäytävät (literally “The Secret Passages of the Hill City”) accelerates the pace. In it, urban development, Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, the cinematization of one’s own life, dreams, childhood memories, and a touch of mysticism all intermingle.

Publisher Olli Suominen is living a steady life with his family until he connects with his childhood sweetheart Kerttu Kara through Facebook. She has become a best-selling author, and Olli manages to land her next book for his own publishing house. But when Kerttu comes to Jyväskylä to refresh her childhood memories for the book she’s writing, will Olli be able to focus on his own family life anymore?

Jääskeläinen creates an engaging package, the puzzles within which the reader desperately wants to solve. As in his debut novel, Jääskeläinen again plays with different options, offering his reader an original world where everyday reality sometimes takes on a dreamlike quality — until you thump back solidly on the ground. Harjukaupungin salakäytävät is a smooth-reading, layered novel that entices the reader along.

In the new Finnish literature, Jääskeläinen stands out refreshingly, to his credit. As a writer he has a touch that seems light but contains depth and offers international quality.

Salla Brunou

Etelä-saimaa (28.12.2010)


See you at Finncon!

This year I’ll be running a seminar for translators interested in speculative fiction and comic translation in conjunction with Finncon, organized and funded by the Turku Burning Bridge Literary Agency project and FILI.

On Saturday as part of the Finncon program, there will be a special panel discussion on Finnish speculative fiction abroad featuring myself, Irma Hirsjärvi, Maria Säntti, Toni Jerrman, and Cheryl Morgan. The time of the panel is a little uncertain. Check announcements at the con.

If you’re attending Finncon this year, drop me a line so we can meet up!

The Sands of Sarasvati / Sarasvatin hiekkaa

The Sands of Sarasvati by Risto Isomäki, 2005
Risto Isomäki

I grabbed The Sands of Sarasvati off the shelf as soon as I saw it in 2005, immediately devoured it, and then went looking for more from the author. It was a great pleasure to do the finishing work on the graphic novel version, and I’m thrilled now to be working on the full novel. Look for more info and a sample in fall 2011!

From the Stilton Agency:

The Sands of Sarasvati is an eco-thriller about man-made environmental catastrophe. This visionary work of literature reflects on the significance of giant tsunamis in the history of mankind. The novel had already been sent to the publisher before the tsunami hit the coastal regions of Asia in 2004.

The events take place in the near future. They encompass Finland, the continental ice sheet of Greenland, and the Indian Ocean. The Russian researcher Sergey is trying to investigate the mystery of a sunken city in the Gulf of Cambay. He works together with his colleague Amrita, and with an Indian research body. At the same time, Finnish researcher Kari Ahola tries to solve the problem of melting ice sheets. He cooperates with a research unit in Greenland, run by the Filipino recluse Susan Chang, which also studies the ice sheets. These two lines of research line up surprisingly well, resulting in the discovery that the ice sheets are in imminent danger of melting. This would result in a catastrophic tsunami and flood. The researchers also begin to find answers to questions posed thousands of years ago.

In the book’s climax, although scientists have been able to predict the birth of the tsunami, there is no time to prevent it.

In addition to the plot, the selling point of this novel is the expertise of the author at making complex science accessible. Isomäki creates suspense through the research paths of the novel’s heroes. The reader is given an extensive view of world history, its natural phenomenon, the birth and development of civilisations, the structure of space, and the mystery of Atlantis. Isomäki is at his most impressive when describing the polar ice sheets: the unpredictability of snow, ice, air and water; their movement and shapes. He captivates the reader with his unique insight into the complexities of water.

The book was nominated for the Finlandia prize for literature. It was already awarded the Thank You for the Book medal, and the Star Wanderer (Tähtivaeltaja) prize for science fiction.


The Sands of Sarasvati is an eco-thriller of apocalyptic proportions, which culminates in a giant flood. The book is both topical, and frighteningly believable. It is a lesson in how our melting of the polar ice sheets may trigger a tsunami that threatens the entire globe. Isomäki’s thought provoking and captivating thriller is flooded with cultural and historical knowledge, and with old wisdom from the East.” Finlandia Prize judges panel

The Sands of Sarasvati is a cleverly written thriller which goes many levels deeper than just the prospect of an environmental catastrophe.” –Kansan Uutiset

The Sands of Sarasvati is a frightening thriller because its set-up is so very real. This book must be commended for the way that it handles a difficult subject, and explains the complex causative chain to the reader. At long last, we get to read a literary work that has a lot to say. The Sands of Sarasvati is a significant contribution to the ongoing dialogue about climate change.“ –Parnasso

“Thanks to its subject and the way it is written, The Sands of Sarasvati is one of the key books of this autumn. As a narrator of the movement of snow and ice, Isomäki is as captivating as Peter Hoeg was in his novel Smilla’s Sense of Snow.” –Aamulehti

Finland, Tammi (Bonnier)
Denmark, Turbine Forlaget
Germany, Lübbe
Spain, Booket (Planeta)
Poland, Kojro
Estonia, Kunst Publishers
Lithuania, Tyto Alba
Latvia, Dienas Gramata
Turkey, Bizim Kitaplar
Hungary, Nyitott Könyv


Towers / Tornit

Tammi, 2009.

by Jyrki Vainonen

From the Tammi/Elina Ahlbäck Agency Rights Guide:

A unique story of death, revenge and atonement from a true Master of Surprise. The Towers is a perceptive and psychologically charged story, mixed with the elements of fantasy, erotica and horror. Jyrki Vainonen’s works have previously been likened to those of Roald Dahl and Julio Cortàzar, and his world is found in the wild no-man’s-land between reality and fantasy.

Jyrki Vainonen — Towers — Sample Translation (PDF)

Strange Love / Outoa rakkautta

Turbator/Pelipeitto Oy, 2008

By Kirsti Ellilä

Read an excerpt.

From the Burning Bridge Agency project:

Romantic horror stories

Kirsti Ellilä’s (b. 1958) short stories will be a surprise to readers who expect routine romantic short prose: her stories are literally strange, stories about human relationships in which romance intersects with elements of crime, horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Ellilä has demonstrated herself to be an excellent short-story writer with a first-rate ability for describing human relationships, no matter what the genre.

Kirsti Ellilä is a generalist writer who lives in Turku and has published books for children, teens, and adults. Her work in various genres ranges from ironic relationship stories to psychological thrillers, fantasy, and horror. Ellilä has also written science fiction short stories and three plays. Ellilä’s protagonists are female: girls, teenagers, and young women. She describes her characters’ lives, their strengths and weaknesses, through the means of irony and sarcasm, with a feminist spin.

Ellilä’s most recent novel, Life Preservers (Pelastusrenkaita, Karisto 2010), touches on the discussion within the Lutheran about the rights of sexual minorities, female ordination, divorce, and love affairs between middle-aged women and young men. Life Preservers is an independent sequel to the novel Priest on Board (Pappia kyydissä, Karisto 2009). Ellilä’s next work, a fairytale novel written for teens named Reetta and the Prisoners of the Castle (Reetta ja linnan vangit), will appear in fall 2010.

What the critics are saying about Kirsti Ellilä:

“The characters are regular mortals, quiet and conscientious everyday types, whose extravagant passions and sexual desires, as well as their most powerful dreams and visions, are revealed as the narrative progresses. … Ellilä’s genius is precisely in this mode of narration, in which the internal and secret passions of the absolutely average, everyday person float to the surface.” – Hömpän helmet women’s literature blog

“Ellilä builds the action of the book with a light touch” –Salla Vrunou, Etelä-Saimaa newspaper

“I recommend this for everyone, both as entertainment and to spark ideas and conversation.” – book reviews

“Ellilä’s trump card, in addition to humor, is that she makes her protagonists multidimensional, interesting characters. She skillfully writes according to the conventions of the romance genre, yet at the same time modifying and turning those same conventions on their head.” – Sanojen aika, Helsinki City Library

Longing for Mars / Marsin ikävä

The incomparable debut collection from the Finnish science fiction guru.

M. G. Soikkeli belongs to the absolute top names in new Finnish science fiction literature. The most notable Finnish sci-fi prize, the Portti magazine competition, has already been won by Soikkeli on three occasions. Longing for Mars was also nominated for the Tähtivaeltaja Prize for best published Finnish science fiction book in 2008.

The stories in Longing for Mars, which expertly plumb the different trends in the genre, show that sci-fi is more than entertainment. Soikkeli’s sociological short stories are a splendid example of the possibilities for the science fiction short story as literature addressing even the most sensitive of topics. However, Soikkeli’s short stories also include excitement, subdued humor, and dizzying speculation both about the development of the sciences and of society. The short stories in Longing for Mars are passionate studies of the possibilities of being human in a world of increasing technological advancement.

Markku Soikkeli (pen name M. G. Soikkeli, b. 1963) is a Finnish science fiction author and student of literature. Soikkeli holds a PhD and works at the Tampere University Department of Literature and Arts. Previously Soikkeli has served as a lecturer in Finnish literature at the University of Turku and as a visiting professor. Soikkeli also works as a critic, reviewing both film and literature. Soikkeli was the host of the Kirja A&Ö (‘Book ?&?’) television show until 2000.

“Soikkeli’s short story collection demonstrates that in skillful hands science fiction is like a vitamin shot straight to the brain, stimulating thought and opening up new worlds.” -Vesa Sisättö, Helsingin Sanomat newspaper

“This bewitching short story collection masterfully traverses several styles of science fiction.” -Tähtivaeltaja Prize committee statement

“Translated into English these stories would be good enough for presentation in the top markets abroad.” – Toni Jerrman, Tähtivaeltaja sci-fi magazine

Cover picture: Jukka Murtosaari 2007

Read the title short story, “Longing for Mars,” in English

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!)


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.


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.

Moths of Hades / Tuonenkehrääjät

Tammi, 2010.

By Hannu Hirvonen.

From the Tammi/Elina Ahlbäck Agency 2010 Rights Guide

The cat raised its head and rubbed its cheek against Mii’s hand.
‘We can get out of here with the help of a cat. Maybe.’
‘How so?’ the boy asked.
‘I don’t know. But it may be the only way. Only a cat can walk on both sides.’

In the beginning everything seems like an exciting dream to Mii. She sees a beautiful little city rising out of nothing. She sets off to look at the investigate. There are people standing around in every alley and on every street corner. The feeling is like in a ship terminal—lots of people waiting to leave for a trip. Little by little everything new and exciting becomes somehow sad and oppressive. What has happened to Mii’s parents? What has happened to Mii herself? And who are the black figures everyone is avoiding? Then Mii notices a boy in the crowd with hair sticking out ridiculously in every direction and big headphones on his ears. As the moon goes down, Mii and the boy, who looks like a stray dog, decide to try to escape together from the strange city. But that’s easier said than done…

The Dark Line Series introduces nail-biting thrillers and horror stories for young people. We dare you to step up to the Dark Line!

Hannu Hirvonen — Moths of Hades — Translation Sample (PDF)

The Sands of Sarasvati / Sarasvatin hiekkaa

The Sands of Sarasvati by Risto Isomaki
Risto Isomäki

Tammi Publishers. 2008. 72 pages.

Collaborative translation with Lola Rogers. I handled the final translation and editing.

The original is a graphic novel based on the novel of the same name by Risto Isomäki (2005).

Review at forbiddenplanet, with images.

Another review. bookstore listing

The Sands of Sarasvati by Risto Isomäki (graphic novel)
The Sands of Sarasvati by Risto Isomäki (graphic novel)
The Sands of Sarasvati by Risto Isomäki (graphic novel)

Also by this author:

The Sands of Sarasvati (novel version)