Danny Bloom
I seek the truth wherever it lies.

‘The Moonday Letters’ by Finnish sci-fi writer Emmi Itaranta focuses on ‘big themes’

For today’s blog post, I will focus on three sci-fi writers, one in California (Kim Stanley Robinson) one in London (Emmi Itaranta) and one of Stillwater, Okalahoma, a 12-year-old Indian-American debut novelist named Abhi Sukhdial.

Let’s begin with Emmi Itaranta’s new sci-fi novel (in Finnish only so far, with an English translation in the works for a later release, according to the author.) As many readers here will know, Itäranta is one of the most internationally-successful Finnish authors today, and her first novel “Memory of Water” was published in 23 countries with a movie based on the novel for for release in 2021.

“The Moonday Letters” focuses on big themes and is dedicated to all those who have lost their homes. Itäranta worked the novel for three and a half years while the world went through increasing periods of turmoil. Since 2017, the climate crisis has grown more urgent, and thanks for Donald Trump and other rightwing leaders in Asia, Europe and South America, authoritarianism and populism have gained more ground in national politics.

Think Brazil, think Communist China, think Hong Kong, think Germany, think America,

While Itaranta’s new novel novel did not strive to directly reflect these issues, they could not help but filter into the fictional reality of the book, according to her publisher in Finland.

“Years ago my editor cleverly planted the idea in my mind that there were not many space operas by Finnish authors, and that it might be interesting to see some,” Itaranta says, explaining how her new book came to be. “The thought began to take root. In January 2017 the first image of the story emerged in my imagination: a woman is sitting in a coffee shop on the moon, watching Earth from there and thinking that she can never return to her home planet. The image spoke to me not only of a future world, but also of loss and longing for home. The book grew around these themes.”

“As I was putting the finishing touches on the book, the parallels with the current reality took even me by surprise,” Itäranta adds, noting that the novel portrays first and foremost the grief of losing Earth, the only home of the human species, as it was.

“I believe we are already living in the middle of this grief in relation to the loss of biodiversity and the climate crisis that we see all around us. I also believe it is possible and meaningful to process these feelings of loss through fiction,” she shares.

While “Memory of Water” was a cli-fi novel, “The Moonday Letters” is sci-fi,” Itaranta told this blogger in a recent note on Twitter. “The new novel is sci-fi but with  strong environmental theme once again, as in my earlier book. It’s less about just climate, and more about the [Anthrocene] this time. I wanted to consider what it is like when the Earth has become almost unlivable and life has shifted to other planets.”

To learn more about about Abhi Sukhdail in Oklahoma, a 7th grader in middle school there and his debut sci-fi novella “Three Days Before EOC” (End of Civilization). see this YouTube video here where he speaks with Anya Geist, 14.

Abhi won the 2019 Stone Soup Book Contest and for his efforts, he was lucky enough to see his novella published.

His mother, Anu Sukhdail, wrote me a letter telling me about her son’s new novel and asking for some help with publicity.

“I hope you and your family are safe and well during these challenging times, Mrs Sukhdial wrote.” My 12-year old son, Abhi, won an international book writing contest last year organized by Stone Soup magazine. His 70-page cli-fi novella was recently published by Stone Soup/Children’s Art Foundation and is currently available via Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the on-line Stone Soup store.”
“The publisher would like a get a copy of the book in your hands for review, and to see how we might able to work together to help more people become more aware of the book and its message of hope and optimism, especially for young people,” Mrs Sukhdial added.
Now to sci-fi legend and cli-fi novelist Kim Stanley Robinson in California, where he is preparing to start doing promotions and interviews for his new novel titled “The Ministry For the Future” which is set for an October release in English before getting translated into a host of foreign languages for readers worldwide.
By the way, many fans of KSR (as he is known by initials) have wondered how he got his name. ”Kim Stanley Robinson” was named Kim by his parents after the title character Kim the 1950s movie of the book ”Kim”  by Rudyard Kipling. Many American men were named Kim in 1952, according to sources. His family name was Robinson, of course, and his parents gave him the middle name of Stanley.
Robinson himself later slid into “Stan” and he’s been Stan to his friends ever since. He would have been publishing under the name of ”Stan Robinson” these past many years if not for the intervention of Damon Knight, the science fiction editor who gave KSR his start. Knight said: “Look, Stan, your name combines Kim from India, Stanley from Stanley and Livingstone the explorers in Africa, and Robinson for “Robinson Crusoe.” As a writer’s name ‘Kim Stanley Robinson” looked perfect on the cover of a book and now you know the rest of the story!
As with many of his recent novels, such as “New York 2140, “2312” and “Aurora,” his focus is firmly on the state of the Earth, and the effect that climate change has on human civilization. Think sci-fi, mixed with cli-fi and you get the hydrid novel that is Robinson’s literary triumph for 2020 and beyond.
How did “Stan” come up with his theme? “I’ve been working for a while on stories having to do with climate change, and I wanted to try to get all the latest about it into one story. In discussion with my editor Tim Holman, I developed this way of going at it,” he told a reporter a few months ago.
Robinson has said that the book is set in the very near future: about 30 years from now, and that humanity is dealing with ”a mass extinction event.”

 

 

About the Author
Dan Bloom curates The Cli-Fi Report at www.cli-fi.net. He graduated from Tufts University in Boston in 1971 with a major in Modern Literature. A newspaper editor and reporter since his days in Washington, D.C., Juneau, Alaska, Tokyo, Japan and Taipei, Taiwan, he has lived and worked 5 countries and speaks rudimentary French, Japanese and Chinese. He hopes to live for a few more years.
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