Not Before Sundown by Johanna Sinisalo (2003)

Not Before Sundown cover
Another Tiptree Award winner (this time tied with Haldeman’s Camouflage), but a dramatic contrast to Sarah Hall’s book: Not Before Sundown (aka Troll: A Love Story) is a witty, playful exploration of Finnish contemporary life, gender, and sexuality. Gene Melzack’s review explores how the science-fictionalisation of the troll as a natural creature enables the novel’s success:

These two aspects of the novel, the folklore mythos and the exploration of sexual identity, are all rolled together in the symbolic figure of the troll. The troll is a wild creature. It is untamed. It is this wildness that humans make into mythologies, telling tales to convince ourselves that nature is predictable and comprehensible. Folk stories are a way of taming the natural world by naming it, structuring it, shaping and defining it with language and narrative. Similarly, our sexual desires are often thought to represent our base natural instincts, and the construction of sexual identities is also about naming those desires, taming them with stories about how human sexualities work. The troll is the wildness of nature and sexuality embodied. He has stepped out of the wilderness into the constructed world of urban Finland, and the only way he can be dealt with and understood is by taming him as story.

Please email me with your top ten science fiction novels by women from the last ten years (2001-2010). All votes must be received by 23.59 on Sunday 5 December. Your own definition of science fiction applies.

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