speculative fiction

Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction

Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction

Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction

Acquired: ARC via Netgalley

Published: 12 May 2015 by Tachyon Publications

Genre: Speculative Fiction/Science Fiction

Blurb:

Inside the firewall the city is alive. Buildings breathe, cars attack, angels patrol, and hyper-intelligent pets rebel.

With unbridled invention and breakneck adventure, Hannu Rajaniemi is on the cutting-edge of science fiction. His post-apocalyptic, post-cyberpunk, and post-human tales are full of exhilarating energy and unpredictable optimism.

How will human nature react when the only limit to desire is creativity? When the distinction between humans and gods is as small as nanomachines—or as large as the universe? Whether the next big step in technology is 3D printing, genetic alteration, or unlimited space travel, Rajaniemi writes about what happens after.

Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this short story collection. There is something sublime, poetic and playful about how Rajaniemi blends mythology and technology in near (and far) future scenarios. I was reminded of Ray Bradbury’s advice to write what you enjoy and what excites you:

“[If] you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer. It means you are so busy keeping your eye on the commercial market, or one ear peeled for the avant-garde coterie, that you are not being yourself. You don’t even know yourself. For the first thing a writer should be is — excited.” Ray Bradbury.

The first short story that won me over was ‘The Server and the Dragon.’ It follows a wandering space creature who is offered the chance to experience life as a dragon. I enjoyed the intergalactic twist on a classic mythological tale.

My second favourite was ‘The Haunting of Apollo A7LB’ which reminded me of Ursula K. Le Guin’s essay ‘Space Crones’ – an essay which calls for older women with life experience to be recognised as suitable space explorers.

‘The Haunting of Apollo A7LB’ follows a woman who helped sew the first space suits in her youth and how she later finds her way to space. I just loved how that story confronts the changing social norms and prejudices around gender, race and work over time.

I also really enjoyed the imaginary trip across ‘Invisible Planets’ as inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. The god-like power dynamics of ‘Deus Ex Homine’ was interesting (it played out almost like a Greek myth if Zeus had nanites) but I side-eyed the protagonist’s dismissal over any responsibility concerning his abilities to alter fertility. (The protagonist was ignorant of this ability at first but I thought he could have acknowledged that he still held some responsibility for his actions.) Overall, I enjoyed the diversity of the stories and will definitely check out more of the writer’s work in the future.

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7 thoughts on “Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction

      1. Not sure if this is true with his short fiction, but be warned that in The Quantum Thief books, he introduces concept with little or no explanation, counting on the reader to pick it up through context. I found that this made his prose pretty dense at times. Still, the universe he paints was compelling enough for me to fight through it.

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      2. Thanks for the heads up! The short stories tend to take that approach but the majority are easier to follow because they’re only juggling one/two specific ideas. One of the final stories (Snow White is Dead) starts with an introduction which outlines the concept because it’s also linked to an online reading experiment called neurofiction: http://neurofiction.net/

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  1. This sounds like a really interesting collection, Glazia- I really like the way it sounds empowering, especially with the Haunting of Apollo A7LB. That sounds pretty fantastic, and if I ever see this book floating around, I’ll pick it up just to read that story. You definitely have me interested!
    Collections of stories don’t tend to work for me, as a rule. I end up only liking a handful of the content, less than half in general, and only one or two of them will be really fantastic.And the ones I dislike, I tend to dislike intently, which makes it more difficult. But sometimes it can be really wonderful. I’d recommend you read this really great collection of stories from Australian and Indian writers- from women, about women. It was so good, overall. Drink the Sky, Eat the Ocean. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No problem! I’m the same with short story collections – I always find that only a few really stick to me but I enjoy discovering those gems. I like collections with a strong theme but sometimes, I read the stories out of order if I’m not hooked in by one. Ahh I really want to read Drink the Sky, Eat the Ocean. I’m waiting for my library to pick up a copy but who knows, it might appear in one of my random shopping trips.

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