Bookshots: 'Collected Fiction' by Hannu Rajaniemi

Bookshots: 'Collected Fiction' by Hannu Rajaniemi

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Collected Fiction

Who wrote it?

Hannu Rajaniemi, author of the critically acclaimed Jean le Flambeur trilogy.

Plot in a Box:

Overall the collection is a tantalizing taste of an amazing talent.

It’s a collection, so there are many, and there’s quite a bit of variety. The stories cover everything from surrealist cyberpunk dystopias to Finnish folk tales. There’s even some straight-up horror. Highlights include a lonely AI-piloted spaceship that births a new universe for company, a world torn apart by war with nanotech gods, and two intellectually uplifted pets that go on an interstellar quest to resurrect their beloved master with the power of music.

Invent a new title for this book:

The Stranger the Better

Read this if you like:

Neal Stephenson, Jeff Noon, William Gibson

Meet the Book’s Lead(s):

Too many to mention here, but my favorite was the villainous Dr. Soane, who returns after a half-century of exploring the universe to “correct” Earth.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

A hologram with the voice of Sam Elliot.

Setting: Would you want to live there?

Although beautiful, intricate and fascinating, most of Rajaniemi’s worlds sound like absolute nightmares. The people who do live there wish they didn’t.

What was your favorite sentence?

And all the world is white and empty, like the first page of a book.

The Verdict:

Collected Fiction delivers exactly what the cover promises. There is a diverse range of genres, subjects and styles on display in this book, although it skews slightly toward sci-fi. Probably because sci-fi is clearly Rajaniemi’s strength. I’d never read him before, and stories like “His Master’s Voice,” “Skywalker of Earth” and “The Jugaad Cathedral” made me want to pick up his novel The Quantum Thief. They are dense with ideas and sparse with prose. Rajaniemi doesn’t hold the reader’s hand, providing loaded sentences built from strange, evocative words before leaving your imagination to do the heavy lifting. Unfortunately, his obvious skill with sci-fi leaves the other stories to suffer by comparison. Folk tales like “The Oldest Game” are impenetrably dull, and the horror tales are nowhere near as scary as his technological nightmare visions. But they are few, and overall the collection is a tantalizing taste of an amazing talent.

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