Review: “Collected Fiction” by Hannu Rajaniemi


Thumbs up for Collected Fiction by Hannu Rajaniemi. Science fiction and fantasy short stories.

It’s rare that I read a book from the library and it’s so good that before I’ve even finished it, I’ve ordered a hardback because I need my own copy. This is even more astonishing when you consider that I generally dislike short stories and avoid short story collections like the plague. But Rajaniemi’s writing is just that good. The number of authors who can manage an idea, a character, a sense of humor, a plot with a beginning, middle, and end, and then wrap it all up in prose so lovely you want to read it out loud…well, it’s not a long list. Now, I will say these stories are not for the amateur reader of speculative fiction. The language is concrete but frequently metaphorical; the underlying realities are often not explained outright but must be sussed out, puzzle-like, by the reader. It’s that quality, executed so perfectly, that to me makes these stories so engaging to read. It is that same quality that may make them impenetrable to someone who has not had a lot of practice. But to say that all art should be accessible to amateurs means that those of us who’ve been wallowing in this business for decades would miss out on some of our finest pleasures. Rajaniemi’s writing is one of my finest pleasures.

As gods go, I wasn’t one of the holier-than-thou, dying-for-your-sins variety. I was a full-blown transhuman dirty with a liquid metal body, an external brain, clouds of self-replicating utility fog to do my bidding and a recursively self-improving AI slaved to my volition. I could do anything I wanted. I wasn’t Jesus, I was Superman: an evil Bizarro Superman.

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