Leo Kunnas

Novels Leo Kunnas

About Leo Kunnas


Leo Kunnas (born 14. XI 1967) is a writer, publicist, reservist, and politician, who has become well-known for his cosmic scale science fiction novels.

Kunnas was born in Orava parish, Põlva county. He graduated from Vastseliina primary school. At 16, he tried to escape the Soviet Union, was caught, and sent to a juvenile penal colony. He received his secondary school education in Russia. After his internment, he joined the Soviet army. From 1989-1991, he studied at the Estonian Institute of Humanities, then history and philosophy at the University of Helsinki. He received his military education in the National Defence University of Finland from 1991-1994. He chose a career in military and by 2003, had become lieutenant colonel. From 2001-2007, he was Deputy Commander, Acting Commander and Commander of the Operations Department of the General Staff of the Defence Forces of the Republic of Estonia. In 2007, he left military service. Afterwards, he has been active in politics and is a member of the XIV convocation of Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia). As an opinion leader, he actively comments on the defense forces, politics, and society in media. He has been awarded several military honors and literary awards, including the Betti Alver Debut Prize and has been awarded the Estonian science fiction award Stalker several times. He is a member of Estonian Writers’ Union since 2009.

Kunnas debuted in Looming magazine with the autobiographical short story Kustumatu valguse maailm (‘The World of Undying Light’, 1990), which takes place in a violent youth colony. The novel Sõdurjumala teener (‘Servant to the Soldier God’, 2001) reflects Estonian boys’ resistance to the Soviet military service as a brutal system. It also paints a picture of the systematic shaping of soldier philosophy, which is formed by unwavering will, purposefulness and deliberateness.

The lengthy science fiction trilogy Gort Ashryn (I – 2008, II – 2009, III – 2010) takes place about a thousand years in the future and focuses on political and military action on the planet Gort Ashryn, where humankind has, after a long pause, again resorted to war, and the lines between human and artificial intelligence are somewhat blurred. The main character is captain Anton Irv the VIII, the eighth clone of the Estonian War of Independence hero, who, while acting in the imaginary future also travels back in time, tries to overturn the course of an increasingly desperate future war and restore peace in the cosmic civilization populated by humans.

Security themed speculations are offered in his voluminous pseudo-documentary novel Sõda 2023 (‘War 2023’, 2016), where he uses two different state defense scenarios – Taavet and Koljat – to describe war with Russia. With the imagination of a sci-fi author, he creates two versions of the outbreak of war, in which the professionally accurate detail-rich descriptions have a ruthlessly realistic effect. Kunnas is the screenwriter of the movie 1944 (2015, directed by Elmo Nüganen) and also compiled the book 1944: filmiraamat (‘1944: Film Book’, 2015), which describes the creation and historic background of the movie.

The documentary military book Viiv pikas sõjas (‘A Moment in a Long War’, 2006) offers thorough insight into the everyday life of Estonian soldiers in Iraq, reflecting the author’s own experience with a foreign military operation from 2005. The collection of articles Takerdunud rünnak (‘A Tangled Attack’, 2008) introduces the key problems of Estonian state defense to the reader and offers solutions. He continues weighing topical domestic and foreign policy topics in the article collection Ukraina häirekell. Takerdunud rünnak II (‘The Ukrainian Alarm Bell. A Tangled Attack II’, 2014).

A. O. (Translated by A. A.)


Books in Estonian

Kustumatu valguse maailm. Sõdurjumala teener
. Tallinn: Tuum, 2001, 332 lk. [2. trükk: Tallinn: Tuum, 2006, 333 lk.]
Gort Ashryn I. Enne viimast sõda. Tallinn: Eesti Päevaleht, 2008, 420 lk.
Gort Ashryn II. Sõda. Tallinn: Eesti Päevaleht, 2009, 530 lk.
Gort Ashryn III. Rahu. Tallinn: Eesti Päevaleht, 2010, 472 lk.
Sõda 2023. Taavet / Koljat. Tallinn: Küppar & Ko, 2016, 512 lk.

Essays and articles
Viiv pikas sõjas. Märkmed Iraagi sõjast
. Tallinn: Tänapäev, 2006, 239 lk.
Takerdunud rünnak. Tallinn: Eesti Päevaleht, 2008, 179 lk.
Ukraina häirekell. Takerdunud rünnak II. Tallinn: Hea Lugu, 2014, 262 lk.