Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction
Acquired: ARC via Netgalley
Published: 12 May 2015 by Tachyon Publications
Genre: Speculative Fiction
I really enjoyed this short story collection. There is something sublime, poetic and playful about how Rajaniemi blends mythology and technology in near 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 fulfills her dream to go to space when she is much older. 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 of 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.