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The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo
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The Core of the Sun (2013)

by Johanna Sinisalo

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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191792,193 (3.81)4
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» See also 4 mentions

English (6)  Finnish (1)  All languages (7)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
So this is "Finnish weird," huh? I like it and I want more, especially from Johanna Sinisalo.

This book is... well, it's a suspenseful mystery set in a horrifying and plausible dystopian now with some magical realism woven between it all.

Vanna is an addict. A chile addict. In Finland in 2016 chiles, along with other dangerous and addictive substances like alcohol and drugs, are banned. Vanna is also a "morlock"--a woman who doesn't meet societal standards and isn't allowed to breed--except Vanna is also an "eloi," or at least she was raised pretending to be one. Her sister, Manna, is an eloi, the type of "femiwoman" Finland has been selectively breeding for for generations. Vanna is also Vera, and Manna is Mira, because soft elois can't have hard Rs in their names. Rs and other special things--like independence and nearly Stepford-like wives--are saved for mascos.

This story is told with letters Vanna/Vera writes to Manna/Mira, which tells their life stories from the beginning when their parents died and they moved to Finland to live with their only relative to the end where Vanna finds out what happend to her missing sister; in excerpts from fictional (and occasionally real!) books and articles about the history of Finland, which explain the history and realities of modern Finland; and through Vanna (and occasionally her masco friend Jare's) present-day actions from Vanna's chile highs and confused grief to Jare's future plans and their shared chile-dealing business with a bit of capsaicin-spirituality over and above it all.

I loved this book. I was shocked by Vanna, I pitied her, her sister, and everyone trapped as they were, I was frightened by the very plausible history of Finnish society the author created, and I was always, always entertained. Also, I really want some spicy peppers now, but Vanna can keep the core of the sun for herself.

[I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.] ( )
  tldegray | Sep 21, 2018 |
What a weird, fantastic book! The author has a great style, and although a kind of dystopian fantasy, this novel has a lot to say about contemporary politics and societal norms. Absolutely recommended reading. ( )
  essjay1 | Jan 11, 2017 |
"Masco: I am eternally grateful that I got caught and the Health Authority rehabilitated me. I'm also grateful that the awful, nasty stuff is illegal now. Capsaicin addiction is forever -- you can't ever get away from it -- but now I have a life worth living. (Meaningful pause) In clean pants..."

The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo, is unlike any book I've ever read. Set in an alternate, Finnish, dystopian future (actually most of the journal entries/letters are set in 2016), Vanna is looking for her sister. She's a woman forced to pretend she's a socially acceptable, useless woman (Eloi) hiding in a world of dignified, infertile ignorants (Morlocks) while dealing with a chili pepper addiction that's a major offense against the Eusistocratic Republic of Finland.

Through flashbacks, journal entries and letters to Vanna's sister, Manna, in a world fashioned from H. G. Wells' Time Machine along with eugenics, (a word I learned from Wayward Pines). Women are either Eloi, who are considered ignorant but capable of being molded into perfect, domesticated companions, who will have babies, serve up meals and take care of home or Morlocks- the ones who are infertile, too smart for their own good and rebel-rousers! Vanna is the latter...

* For the full review: http://bit.ly/2bbHSAb
**Book is from my personal library, for an honest review. ( )
  AReneeHunt | Aug 22, 2016 |
solid B+ sci fi dystopia handmaid's-tale-inspired story about a future Finland in which women are either "elois" who get married or "morlocks" who do the dirty work, and one woman who tries to rebel against the system. I enjoyed it, I read it quickly and I'd recommend it as a literary beach book. ( )
  bostonbibliophile | Jun 19, 2016 |
In a parallel Finland, in the near future, the society is split into almost casts - women are bred to be feminine and submissive; men to be powerful and manly. Unfortunately Vanna is not born to be submissive but thanks to her little sister manages to hide it. (A little sidetrack here - I have a younger sister. I would have done anything to stay with her in similar circumstances - so that part really rang true). And even though she is classified as eloi (the feminine women), she grows up as an independent woman - she learns to read, to think, to feel.

Women have no rights - they are the property of their husbands after they are married; their only goal in life is to marry and bring correct children in the world.

At the same time, the government is forbidding substances and anything that may make people think. Or feel. Including hot peppers. And that is what a cult is started around - finding the hottest pepper that can be bred.

It is a frustrating novel - I loved the depiction of the society and the subtle (and not so subtle) changes that made the society so different from ours. It is scary and relevant and so well done. And at the same time, there is the story of the cult and the chase of the hot pepper. And that one simply did not work for me -- and the end of the novel ties that story line. I am not a huge fan of weird stories - I prefer the straight SF. And Sinisalo had always been on the fringes - weird is her thing. But I am still happy that I read the novel - her anti-utopian society is one of the best depicted ones I had read lately. ( )
1 vote AnnieMod | Mar 25, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Johanna Sinisaloprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rogers, LolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Teach me, chile, and I shall Learn.
Take me, chile, and I shall Escape.
Focus my eyes, chile, and I shall See.
Consume more chiles.
I feel no pain, for the chile is my teacher.
I feel no pain, for the chile takes me beyond myself.
I feel no pain, for the chile gives me sight.


Transcendental Capsaicinophilic Society,
"Litany Against Pain"
My boat is light and swift.
--Chukchi shaman Ukwun
Dedication
Dedicated to the Freedom Trust Conglomerate
(you know who you are)
First words
I lift my skirt, pull aside the waistband of my underwear, and push my index finger in to test the sample.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Set in an alternative historical present, in a "eusistocracy"--An extreme welfare state -- that holds public health and social stability above all else, it follows a young woman whose growing addiction to illegal chili peppers leads her on an adventure into a world where love, sex, and free will are all controlled by the state.… (more)

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