Collected Fiction — Hannu Rajaniemi

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There’s just something about Scandinavia, I guess.

Tachyon published a collection Finnish Author Hannu Rajaniemi’s short stories last year, and while (I believe) it is sold out everywhere, it’s well worth finding a used copy so that you can experience what it might’ve been like if Knausgaard wrote science fiction.

While Rajaniemi isn’t quite as good as Knausgaard (is anyone?) he is extraordinarily good, and often employs similar style in his short fiction.

Most of the pieces in the collection approach scifi from dystopian angles, and while they are occasionally superficial in a way — the end-game effects of data-hungry social media, for instance-they are nonetheless effective. Raja noemi builds worlds both believable and un-, equally compelling in their frightening proximity to things as they are now and in their far-flung and wild postulations.

Rajaniemi has a way of describing even the most spectacular visions with eloquent simplicity, such that his fantasies begin to seem concrete and plausible. A daughter of a death-god trapping a man in his vacation home after a rousing bit of fun in a sauna? Why not! A conscious city, filled with sapphire-eyed pigeons that communicate with the buildings, all of which have been assimilated by a single, powerful consciousness? Sure!

Rajaniemi makes it all digestible and necessary, because what owns the core of the reading experience is emotion and character. That daughter of death is a vehicle for the character to feel, and the sapient city turns out to be the son of the protagonist, who had given up technology to live in the wilds and write poetry.

They are stories of love, of learning, of challenge. Ultimately, they are stories of the human condition, set against a backdrop of extremes.

The stories are all magnificently written, and you should absolutely seek out a copy for yourself. You won’t regret it.

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