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Remes, Ilkka

Pseudonym of Petri Pykälä (1962-    ), an author working largely in the Technothriller mode, and the best-selling novelist in his native Finland for much of the first two decades of the twenty-first century. Several of his works step over the line into sf, beginning with his debut novel Pääkallokehrääjä ["Death's-Head Moth"] (1997), an Alternate History set in 1986, 42 years after a Soviet conquest of Finland in World War Two. The story is conspicuously evocative of Fatherland (1992) by Robert Harris, but carries within it a sense of restoration – that the status quo of the reader's own world is time's true and manifest destiny, and that the events of the book narrate the correction of a wrong-turn in history.

Much of Remes' work is deeply invested in the Cold War stand-off between Finland and Russia, with a specificity that has bought him immense local success at the expense of wider foreign attention. Some of his detective novels, not listed here, gained traction into German and Estonian, but in an overseas adult publishing market already steeped in Tom Clancy and Frederick Forsyth, he first found a niche with his young adult Aaro Korpi series, beginning with Piraatit ["Pirates"] (2003; trans as Operation Ocean Emerald 2010). This has led to a complex linguistic knot of alternate versions, since Aaro's adventures are interlaced with those of his father Antti in several untranslated adult thrillers, beginning with Ikiyö ["The Perpetual Night"] (2003), although largely not listed here. In English, the teenage Finnish protagonist was renamed Luke Baron, retaining his international jet-set lifestyle, but losing his origins and some storylines set in his creator's home country.

Remes' historical thrillers unsurprisingly incorporate real figures. Pedon syleilu ["Embrace of the Beast"] (1999), for example, depicts a wartime plot initially to assassinate the Finnish leader CGE Mannerheim, then Adolf Hitler. However, in the twenty-first century he exported this mode to his contemporary works, flirting with reportage and realism as far as the undisguised inclusion of real-world politicians, particularly since Pahan perimä ["Inheritance of Evil"] (2007), which not only featured the incumbent Finnish prime minister in a supporting role, but included endnotes detailing the real-world inspirations for the plot. Starting with Horna ["Inferno"] (2014), Remes courted controversy in the mode of Red Storm Rising (1986) by Tom Clancy and Larry Bond, escalating Political tensions from relatively minor beginnings to winter power cuts after a Russian energy embargo in Jäätyvä helvetti ["Frozen Hell"] (2015), to a refugee crisis and the brink of Future War in Vapauden Risti ["Cross of Liberty"] (2017). At times, his speculations cleave so closely to the headlines of the day that they risk being parsed not as possible futures, but as fake news.

The Robert Forsten series, beginning with Perikato ["Destruction"] (2018), introduces an American-Finnish leading man presumably as a sop to potential translation deals, and continues to embark upon thought experiments in likely points of political contention, including immigration and Russian subterfuge. Remes' work possesses a studied sense of the inflammatory, posing difficult questions about the Near Future, particularly as regarding its roots in the turbulent Finnish past. [JonC]

Petri Pykälä

born Luumäki, Finland: 13 December 1962

died

works (selected)

series

Aaro Korpi/Luke Baron

Horna

Robert Forsten

individual titles

links

Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls and Graham Sleight.
Accessed 20:35 pm on 28 September 2020.
<http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/remes_ilkka>