Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Swahn, Sven Christer

(1933-    ) Swedish author and critic. A prolific and versatile author of poetry, drama, short stories, novels, criticism and essays, he is without doubt the foremost living Swedish sf/fantasy author. Only two of his over 50 books have been translated into English. In fantasy, Swahn has written Jag lovar dig ["I Promise You"] (1979), a burlesque fantasy detailing a visit to a sunken city where a mythical Book of Black Magic has found its resting place. Biskop Hattos torn ["The Tower of Bishop Hatto"] (1960), a mythical story set in the 10th century, is based on the legend of the Rhine Rat Tower. Stenjätten ["The Stone Giant"] (1965) is an apocalyptic story centred on the Statue of the giant Finn in Lund Cathedral; since Finn is probably the world's smallest giant, the entire story is humorously rendered as a miniature. Jakten på Stora Sjörmen ["The Hunt for the Great Sea Snake"] (1974) is a fantasy version of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851), with the whale swapped for a traditional Sea Monster; it is a psychologically complex and endlessly fascinating depiction of obsession and fate. Havsporten (1975; trans as The Island Through the Gate) tells of young Mikael's visit to the unknown Island of Oberour, off Brittany, where he spends a magical, rapturous and fearful summer. Skymningsgästerna (1977; trans as The Twilight Visitors 1980) is a chillingly effective Doppelgänger story. Stenbrottet ["The Quarry"] (1987) is a quiet, wishful novel of love, set in the last few months before WWII, when Klas meets Lisa, who has the gift of Magic and can reach what she believes to be another world, but which Klas suspects is the realm of the dead. Finally, Späket på Myntgatan ["The Coin Street Ghost"] (1992) is a ghost story set in 1710 and full of brilliantly realized and often hilarious historical detail.

Apart from these novels, SCS's major fantastic radio play Kaspar Hauses fjärde dröm ["The Fourth Dream of Kaspar Hauser"] should be mentioned. In addition, SCS has written a number of fantasy short stories, particularly Ghost Stories, and some of his poetry is clearly of fantastic interest. He has dealt also with fantasy both as a critic and a translator. [J-HH]

other works (selective): Indianresan ["The Red Indian Trip"] (1957), juvenile; Tretton historier om spöken och annat ["Thirteen Stories of Ghosts and Other Things"] (coll 1958); Mina kära döda ["My Dear Dead Ones"] (coll 1977); Stanna alla klockor ["Stop All Clocks"] (coll 1991). [J-HH]

Sven Christer Swahn


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.