Photo: Soppakanuuna (Hannu Rajaniemi), (Kate Elliott), Beth Gwinn (Nancy Kress)
In his Collected Fiction of nearly twenty stories ranging from the micro style of Twitter fiction to a more traditional length, Hannu Rajaniemi displays a generally hopeful, but cautionary, view of humanity’s future and the rapid onslaught of technology. Of primary importance is the need to recognize the value of others amid the increasing electronic noise in which we all seem to live. Rajaniemi is a physicist with the heart of a poet (and vice-versa) who takes data packets, social networks, saunas, and the sea, and weaves them all together into completely unique experiences.
Rajaniemi’s inclusion of saunas, certain social cues and behaviors, names and occasional interjections of Finnish words help to ground these stories in specific places and cultural experiences which I haven’t seen represented often (if ever) in science fiction. It’s a very welcome change from Anglo/U.S.-centric plots and characters. If you’re new to Rajaniemi’s work, I highly recommend beginning with his Collected Fiction.
These tales showcase the willpower of heroines from different walks of life. Warriors, servants, mothers and/or daughters with their own sharp experiences, minds and abilities. They often stand by their own choices in the midst of unexpected and difficult circumstances to go forward in life.
I am drawn to heroines who develop an inner sense of strength/fortitude. I enjoyed many of the stories in this collection due to that realistic portrayal of diverse character strengths and opportunities for growth.
Every reader and writer of SFF needs to read the intro and the outro of this collection. Brilliant and accessible Feminist essays which also support the spirit of this fantastic short story collection.
The best way to describe Nancy Kress’s writing is that she writes emotionally engaging sci-fi, like extended versions of Twilight Zone episodes that would make really cool movies, except you know Hollywood would really mess them up.
The compelling story is helped along by clear scientific explanations with sudden bursts of emotion and action. What it lacks in character development is easily forgiven; it’s a novella to be consumed, not analyzed. At several points along the way – and I read in one sitting, a rarity for me – I paused not to consider the story but to try and imagine my reaction to the various situations. Would I participate in a mysterious program in an alien ship? If chosen, would I take trip across the universe with aliens whose societal structure feels almost hippie cult-ish? Would I really want to live on a post-alien Earth with people gearing up to fight each other after having their worldview turned upside down?
For more info on HANNU RAJANIEMI: COLLECTED FICTION, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Lius Lasahido
Design by Elizabeth Story
For more info on THE VERY BEST OF KATE ELLIOTT, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Julie Dillon
Design by Elizabeth Story
For more info on YESTERDAY’S KIN, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Thomas Canty