[ExI] SF Fandom in Sweden

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Tue Dec 16 21:32:03 UTC 2014

John Grigg <possiblepaths2050 at gmail.com> , 15/12/2014 9:31 PM:

I love fandom, and I am especially interested in its various foreign incarnations...  Anders, I hope if you have the time, that you can expound a bit about your own memories of growing up as a science fiction loving Swede.  

Haha! What a fun question (or just excuse to expound).

When I grew up, there was a local library about 45 degrees below my room. Quite literally, since it was about 50 meters away from the foot of the building, and I lived on the 11th floor. I spent a lot of time there, going through the science fiction bookshelf. One very notable line of volumes was "Det Hände Imorgon" ("It Happened Tomorrow"), a series of antologies of translated short stories - both some real classics and more experimental stuff. Gradually I began to notice the editor, Sam J. Lundwall. He was also the editor of the Jules Verne Magazine, a sf periodical. It was in the back pages of that were I encountered strange references to something called fandom. I never got it. I was never much of a joiner. But I loved sf. As I read through the entire shelf (and began going through the counterpart at the local main library) I also noticed the brightly yellow volumes from the published Delta. Again, translations of real classics - Clarke, Asimov, Blish, the Strugatskis, but also weird unknowns and Swedish authors. And it turned out that Lundwall was the editor for Delta too. He *was* Swedish science fiction. He wrote some novels too (the proto-cyberpunk King Kong Blues was a fun satire). At some point in the 90s he got tired of it, and I think Swedish fandom never recovered.

Science fiction was not seen as particularly "good" literature, so much I understood. But I never cared. I just found it the perfect escape from the bland square reality of 70s Sweden. At some point I also wanted to make it real, and set out to draw a generation spacecraft. Halfway through the meticulous blueprint I realized that I had no clue if it could work. *How* do you figure out something like that? I guessed it had to do with math and physics, and I began to read more of it to make the sf real. I still do. 

One novel that really inspired me was P.C. Jersild's "En Levande Själ" ("A Living Soul"). It was the diary of "Upsilon", a brain in a vat living in a somewhat sinister, somewhat chaotic research lab. Upsilon spent its days plotting to seduce one of the nurses and devising ever more elaborate escape plans. It got me interested in the possibility of radically different modes of existence. 

So I may never have been part of the fandom per se, but I have always been in the neighbouring cultures - young scientist associations, the local BBS and hacker culture, the transhumanists. I am glad to say that some of the current Swedish transhumanists are writers. 

Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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