Invisible Planets

By Hannu Rajaniemi

Rating: 4 stars

I first became aware of Hannu Rajaniemi through The Quantum Thief and its sequels. I knew that he could have some dazzling ideas very well implemented in the long form, but didn’t know how he was at the short. This collection shows that he’s very assured there as well. This collection contains a mix of big idea space opera, Finnish mythology and micro-fiction. The first looks at the after-effects of being a god and the second is full-blown giant-scale space opera. It’s with the third, that we come right back down to the human scale with the story of a girl on her own on the moon.

I loved His Master’s Voice, a story about uplifted animals trying to find their lost master. Other highlights are The Jugaad Cathedral about what happens when we lose control of our computing devices, and the inventive ways people will find around it, if it’s important enough; and Paris, In Love is a delightful little tale about what happens when a city falls in love with a Finn. My favourite story in the collection is probably Skywalker of Earth, a loving pastiche of E. E. Doc Smith’s Skylark stories, updated for the 21st century but I was also intrigued by the idea behind Snow White is Dead, an interactive fiction designed to work with an EEG headset. The collection is rounded off with a number of micro-stories that Rajaniemi had written on Twitter which were fun enough to make me start following him.

I was less keen on some of the more down to earth stories, which often fell back on Finnish mythology as their backdrop. This is probably because I’m unfamiliar with the original myths, so am probably missing some layers and entry points into the stories.

So a good collection from someone with a great, and well-deserved, reputation as a rising star in the genre.

Book details

ISBN: 9781473210233
Publisher: Gollancz
Year of publication: 2010

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