Science Fiction, Swedish-style; New Collection Offers Scandinavian Twist to Speculative Fiction

There’s far more to Swedish literature than Pippi Longstocking and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That’s the message my guests on the latest episode of New Books in Science Fiction and Fantasy, Anna Jakobsson Lund and Oskar Källner, are trying to send the English-speaking world through their contributions to Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep (Affront Publishing, 2015), a collection of short stories by Swedish authors.

Until recently, the world of science fiction in Sweden was so small that it was possible to keep up with everything that was published. But no more. The genre, thanks in part to self-publishing, is “blooming,” Lund says.

The few big Swedish publishers are starting to catch up. “The big publishing houses think [science fiction and fantasy] is something that stops with young adults… and there’s not any status for a writer to be writing science fiction or fantasy,” Lund says.

But Källner says, “Game of Thrones is beginning to change that.”

Lund says writing a story in English provided a chance to use more ornate language. “As a Swedish writer … you do things a bit minimalistic.” But English allowed her a fresh take. “I [could] use a bit more adjectives than I usually allow myself.”

In one sign of the difference between the United States and Sweden, Källner says he has had some of his most successful book signings in grocery stores. “I usually stand somewhere between the bananas and loaves of bread and smile,” he says.

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