Excursions Into Almost-Human Territory

On Christmas Eve, Santa shows up in Swedish homes to hand out Christmas presents. Of course, what it really is is an older family member in red clothes and a beard. Sometimes they wear a plastic Santa mask. When I was little, my grandfather played Santa. He showed up in a Santa mask, and I was terrified. It sort of looked like Grandpa, but I wasn’t sure those were his eyes behind the mask. Something was terribly wrong. My mother tells me I was terrified and cried until Grandpa took the mask off, and became himself again.

I’ve always been fascinated by the almost-human, and often return to it. I’m far from alone in my obsession. Folklore is full of humanoids with a strange or ominous agenda. There are Swedish creatures like the huldra woman, who lives in the forest and whose back is a rotten log. Some Swedish trolls ...

My Love Affair With Ancient Aliens

< p class="frontmatter">In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to describe a specialty in their lives that has nothing (or very little) to do with writing. Join us as we discover what draws authors to their various hobbies, how they fit into their daily lives, and how and they inform the author’s literary identity! I have always loved the idea that the world is greater and more mysterious than we will ever understand; that there are strange things moving in the far corners of the world and in our own backyard. That what we call our reality, our history, is just a story among many others. It could be because I was reared on fairy tales, mythology, and stories of weird beings in the Swedish countryside. No matter the reason, there it is. There was a special moment when I walked over from the library’s children’s section into the adult ...

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A strange people have appeared out of nowhere. Their speech is impossible to understand for most human beings; their agenda, they say, is to colonize the “right place”. The interpreter Mika accompanies one of their ambassadors to the little moon Kiruna. Here, celestial bodies play havoc with sound, and reality may not be what it appears. (A sequel to SING)

Mika only visited Aino Korhonen ahead of time because he was in an upward swing. He had awoken with a longing to see people, talk to them, to be surrounded by life. All the interesting markets and people were up the spokes, so that’s where he went. Aino’s workshop lay in an artisan quarter on the third spoke, close to the hub. The little space was almost entirely occupied by a large table covered in patterns and scraps of cloth. Fat rolls of fabric jostled one another on ...