Joel Jans

Joel Jans (earlier also used the pseudonym J. J. Metsavana, born 19 VII 1982) is a science fiction writer.

Jans was born in Võru. He completed Rõngu secondary school in 2002 and in 2002–2004 studied information technology at Tartu Vocational Education Centre, becoming a system administrator. He is a board member of the Estonian Science Fiction Association, founder and long-time chief editor of the science fiction magazine Reaktor. He is a member of the Estonian Writers’ Union since 2017.

Jans has published short stories in science fiction magazines Täheaeg and Reaktor and in collections since 2011. He has published four novels, a novella and more than 50 stories. He has often written in cooperation with other authors like Maniakkide Tänav and Veiko Belials. He has been a prolific author in several subgenres of science fiction.

Among other genres, Jans has been fascinated by cyberpunk, which he has applied in the Estonian context. For example, in the science fiction stories Hallvanake ja Ussikuningas (‘Grey Old Man and King of Snakes’) in the collection Ülestõusjad ja kodukäijad (‘Resurrectors and Revenant Ghosts’, 2020) and Tarkmees taskus (‘A Wiseman in the Pocket’) in the collection of horror stories Vinguv jalaluu (‘Howling Legbone’, 2018), the protagonists act in a game located in virtual reality constructed on the basis of Fr. Kreutzwald’s Eesti rahva ennemuistsed jutud (‘Ancient Tales of the Estonian People’).

The 2019 novel Kosmose pikk vari (‘The Long Shadow of Outer Space’) can be read as a humorously crazy science fiction adventure. Nonetheless, this book by Jans and Maniakkide Tänav deals with serious topics: irresponsible waste of resources until their exhaustion, destructive results of mindless greed, the wealth of a few big corporations and the accompanying power which proves greater than that of states. An essential place belongs to love, friendship and loyalty.

Jans’ fourth novel Tondilatern (‘Ghost Lantern’) achieved the second place at the novel competition of the Estonian Writers’ Union. This can be defined as science fiction for young people where two school students from the small Estonian town Elva fight with invaders from a high-tech parallel universe; finally, the Estonian Defence League and NATO have to intervene.

Joel Jans has won the Stalker award of the Estonian Science Fiction Association for seven times. In 2013–2020, Jans and his colleagues compiled five volumes of Tuumahiid (‘Nuclear Giant’) – collections of works by the authors who have gathered around the Reaktor magazine. Jans and Jüri Kallas also compiled the science fiction anthology Läbi valu ja vaeva (‘Through Pain and Toil’, 2020).

L. P. (Translated by I. A.)


Books in Estonian

Maniakkide Tänav, J. J. Metsavana, Saladuslik tsaar. 3. Kettmõõgaga mõõdetud Maa. Tartu: Fantaasia, 2015, 249 lk.
Maniakkide Tänav, J. J. Metsavana, Saladuslik tsaar. 4. Kui rumalad surid. Tartu: Fantaasia, 2016, 240 lk.
Maniakkide Tänav, Joel Jans, Kosmose pikk vari. Tartu: Lummur, 2019, 221 lk.
Tondilatern. Tartu: Lummur, 2019, 258 lk.

Ajudraiver. Tartu: Lummur, 2022, 288 lk.