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.