This free e-book features two short stories from Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep, as well as one bonus story exclusive to the sampler.
Contents: ”Punch Card Horses” – Jonas Larsson ”Vegatropolis – City of the Beautiful” – Ingrid Remvall Bonus story: ”The White Ones” – Boel Bermann
Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep
Forget about cheap furniture, meatballs and crime fiction. Sweden has so much more to offer. Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep contains twenty-six stories from the new generation of Swedish writers of science fiction and the fantastic. Stories ranging from space horror and post-apocalyptic nightmares to tender dramas. Stories with steampunk horses, android uprisings and cheeky goblins. Stories that are action-packed, wise, silly, beautiful, surreal and horrifying.
Note: I received a paperback copy of this book by the editor in exchange for an honest review.
I absolutely enjoyed all the stories in this book (for individual ratings see below.) This book is so much more than just an anthology. It was an experience. So many different stories, so many unique concepts and such amazing writing styles - this book has everything to be a brilliant read.
There were some stories that literally made me feel dreadful thinking about what might have happened (Lost And Found) and there were stories that made me smile (To Preserve Humankind.) There were stories that really worked me out in anticipation (Outpost Eleven) and stories that I thought were funny (Jump To The Left, Jump To The Right.) Never have I ever enjoyed a single book so much.
I'm going to be looking out for more works from the authors I enjoyed the most. I'm really happy that I am lucky enough to have read this book. I'll recommend this book not only to Sci-Fi fans but to anyone and everyone who wants to read some beautifully crafted stories.
I really hope that they decide to release this book internationally, so that everyone in the world can read this book.
Following are the individual ratings for all the stories:
Melody Of The Yellow Bard: 5/5 The Rats: 5/5 Getting To The End: 5/5 Vegatropolis - City Of The Beautiful: 4/5 Jump To The Left, Jump To The Right: 5/5 The Order Of Things: 5/5 To Preserve Humankind: 5/5 The Thirteenth Tower: 4/5 Punchcard Horses: 3/5 The Philosopher's Stone: 5/5 A Sense Of Foul Play: 5/5 Waste Of Time: 5/5 The Damien Factor: 5/5 Wishmaster: 5/5 Quadrillennium: 3/5 Mission Accomplished: 5/5 The Road: 4/5 Lost And Found: 5/5 The Publisher's Reader: 3/5 Stories From The Box: 4/5 The Membranes In The Centering Horn: 5/5 One Last Kiss Goodbye: 5/5 The Mirror Talks: 5/5 Keep Fighting Until The Machines Fall Asleep: 5/5 Outpost Eleven: 5/5 Messiah: 3/5
Lots of ups and downs in this collection of 26 short stories. I've been at it a quite long time and won't be able to even mention all the stories. There are a few that sticks out for me (more about them below), but the overall rating is definitely brought down by some that I did not care for at all. The common problems include; too much resemblance to known works, grand ideas that fall flat due to being cut way short in this format, way too improbable constructs and the very common unhappy ending, where we leave the protagonist(s) that we struggled to understand in their worlds that we also tried hard to understand for a (often way too) few pages to their certain death...
The ones I bring with me are:
Getting to the end - Erik Odeldahl. Not so much for the story (which is good) but that it's so very well written - a real pleasure!
Jump To The Left, Jump To The Right - Love Kölle. Wonderful dystopia/post-civilization/alien world which sticks out here by being 1 out of 26 that contains some humor.
The Damien Factor - Johannes Pinter. In the future, technology enables scientists to enter and explore patients/victims minds to read the conscious as well as subconscious mind, but who knows what dwells there?
Wishmaster - Andrea Grave-Müller. Goblins and genies as part of everyday life. Delightful and very good writing.
Lost and Found - Maria Haskins. Shipwrecked on an alien planet, but with enough originality to make it a very good read.
The Membranes in The Centering Horn - KG Johansson. Owing heavily to the club of Stephen King's "The Breathing method" and "The man who would not shake hands" (which in turn loans from other works with this kind of settings of course) - but I'm a sucker for these stories! Least amount of "sci-fi" of the lot.
Summary: A number of brilliant stories, well worth reading. A bit diluted by some of less interest, but don't let that stop you.
In an effort to expand my reading horizions (until the last decade or so, my reading habits were pretty insular), I've been consciously trying to find and read more non-fiction books, as well as fiction from various cultures from around the world, and I've been richly rewarded by that decision.
Thus, I've been privileged to read some extraordinary anthologies over the last few years, and this book (along with the "Lairs of the Hidden Gods" horror quartet) has certainly catapulted itself to the top-tier of them! (It has also definitely made it's way onto my "I need to grab a physcial copy for my bookshelves" list! [Which is impressive since I've been largely moving to digital books over the last few years.])
The stories in this book are top-notch, and run the gamut in evoking varied emotions from the reader; I'd highly recommend this, not just to genre-fiction fans, but to anyone who enjoys world culture, or just plain well-crafted short fiction!
Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep is an impressive and well-edited anthology of new Swedish science fiction stories. I was pleasantly surprised by this anthology, because it contained quality stories.
Swedish authors have already proven themselves capable of writing thrilling crime fiction. Now they prove themselves capable of writing intriguing science fiction that has both style and originality. This fascinating anthology gives speculative fiction readers a good glimpse into Swedish science fiction.
It's nice that Scandinavian speculative fiction is on the rise, because it brings much-needed freshness to the genre. As most readers are aware of, this genre is mostly dominated by established and well-known authors whose books can be found in most bookshops around the world. Fortunately, there are independent publishers like Affront Publishing that offer readers quality fiction which differs from mainstream science fiction in terms of style, quality and originality.
This anthology contains the following stories:
- Melody of the Yellow Bard by Hans Olsson - The Rats by Boel Bermann - Getting to the End by Erik Odeldahl - Vegatropolis - City of the Beautiful by Ingrid Remvall - Jump to the Left, Jump to the Right by Love Kölle - The Order of Things by Lupina Ojala - To Presever Humankind by Christina Nordlander - The Thirteenth Tower by Pia Lindestrand - Punch Card Horses by Jonas Larsson - The Philosopher's Stone by Tora Greve - A Sense of Foul Play by Andrew Coulthard - Waste of Time by Alexandra Nero - The Damien Factor by Johannes Pinter - Wishmaster by Andrea Grave-Müller - Quadrillennium by AR Yngve - Mission Accomplished by My Bergström - The Road by Anders Blixt - Lost and Found by Maria Haskins - The Publisher's Reader by Patrik Centerwall - Stories from the Box by Björn Engström - The Membranes in the Centering Horn by KG Johansson - One Last Kiss Goodbye by Oskar Källner - The Mirror Talks by Sara Kopljar - Keep Fighting Until the Machines Fall Asleep by Eva Holmquist - Outpost Eleven by Markus Sköld - Messiah by Anna Jakobsson Lund
All of these stories are fascinating and they offer a good dose of well written science fiction for quality oriented readers who want to read new stories. They differ quite a lot from each other, but all of them are good and worth reading. They range from traditional science fiction to horror flavoured science fiction, and there's even a few fantasy elements in them.
There's a surprising amount of tenderness in some of the stories while others have plenty of brutality, darkness and roughness in them. That's why it's possibe to say that there's something for everyone in this versatile anthology.
Here's a bit more information about the stories and my thoughts about them:
Melody of the Yellow Bard by Hans Olsson: - A sci-fi horror story about a man who has done a thesis about controllable wormholes. A multinational company is interested in his invention and he is invited to an interview. - A well written and fascinating story with a perfect ending.
The Rats by Boel Bermann: - The protagonist of this story, a researcher, is infected with a virus that makes the infected emotional and weak. He has been asked to help figure out a solution to get rid of the rats that live in the cities. - An excellent story with a perfect ending.
Getting to the End by Erik Odeldahl: - A well written and interesting story about a man who's capable of finding things. He is asked to retrieve books from a house, which is in the Event Sector where things change and buildings move around. - This is one of the best stories in this anthology.
Vegatropolis - City of the Beautiful by Ingrid Remvall: - A fascinating story about a future society where beauty means a lot and where machines are alive. - This is one of the most interesting stories in this anthology.
Jump to the Left, Jump to the Right by Love Kölle: - A story about Norna who has to kill Beast to become Passed. - An interesting and a bit different kind of a rite of passage story.
The Order of Things by Lupina Ojala: - A well written story about a woman who has been left alone by her son in a community outside the City. - This is one of my favourite stories in this anthology.
To Preseve Humankind by Christina Nordlander: - An excellent story that has been written from an android's point of view. - The author writes well about the feelings of the android protagonist.
The Thirteenth Tower by Pia Lindestrand: - A beautifully written story about life after a great natural disaster. - An excellent and wonderfully poetic story.
Punch Card Horses by Jonas Larsson: - A story about a market in Skrivsjö and mechanical horses. - An intriguing steampunkish story.
The Philosopher's Stone by Tora Greve: - An especially intriguing alternate history story about alchemy and science in England. - The author writes fluently about the characters, which include Isaac Newton.
A Sense of Foul Play by Andrew Coulthard: - An interesting and a bit different kind of a story about Norsborg Gaming Club. - This story reminded me slightly of James Starling's Arteess in certain ways, but was totally different from it.
Waste of Time by Alexandra Nero: - An interesting and well written flash fiction story about timewaste. - A short, but surprisingly interesting story.
The Damien Factor by Johannes Pinter: - A well written story about sexual abuse and a new kind of technology that is used in crime investigation. - The author creates a good atmosphere in this story and ends the story in an excellent way.
Wishmaster by Andrea Grave-Müller: - An interesting story about a man who meets a goblin called Ella. In this story goblins live with humans. - This is one of the longest and most entertaining stories in this anthology.
Quadrillennium by AR Yngve: - An excellent story set in the far future. This is a story about a family gathering and the celebration of Winter Solstice and the Savior. - One of the best and most memorable stories in this anthology.
Mission Accomplished by My Bergström: - A story about Lt. Berger whose mind has been transferred into a semi-organic body. She doesn't remember anything of the mission she is supposed to do. - A well written story.
The Road by Anders Blixt: - An interesting story about a female marshal who works for the Road Council that is charged with keeping the lanes of the Road open to everyone all the time. She meets two friars and helps them. - The author writes well about the protagonist and her work.
Lost and Found by Maria Haskins: - A story about a woman who has survived a crash onto a planet and has learned to survive there. - A well written and interesting story that has a good ending.
The Publisher's Reader by Patrik Centerwall: - A story about Helga who works as an editor for The Publishing House that has strict guidelines concerning the contents of the books. - The author writes fluently about the editor's work.
Stories from the Box by Björn Engström: - An intriguing story about a man who is being kept a prisoner in a box where he has no room to walk and stand. - This is one of the most fascinating stories in this anthology. This story takes an interesting twist when the protagonist gets out of the box.
The Membranes in the Centering Horn by KG Johansson: - An intriguing story about a man who visits a club with his friend and begins to talk with a stranger who tells him a story. - This is a very good and well written story with adventure elements.
One Last Kiss Goodbye by Oskar Källner: - A sad and touching story about a woman who returns to her husband after being a way for many years. - A beautifully written and memorable story.
The Mirror Talks by Sara Kopljar: - A story about a single mother who misses her child and gets herself an android child. - This story has a brilliantly disturbing ending.
Keep Fighting Until the Machines Fall Asleep by Eva Holmquist: - A well written story about Kate who lives in the city that is controlled by machines. - The author has created an interesting story about a woman who wants to free humans and defeat the machines.
Outpost Eleven by Markus Sköld: - A fascinating story about a phenomenon called black clouds and Marta who's a station master at Outpost Eleven. - The author writes well about the happenings and ends the story in an excellent way.
Messiah by Anna Jakobsson Lund: - This is a perfect final story for this anthology about a woman called Grace and what has happened to the world. - An excellent and fluently written story.
Here's a few extra words about some of the stories:
Hans Olsson's "Melody of the Yellow Bard" is an interesting and entertaining horror story of a man who has a chance to visit another planet. The author writes well about the happenings and the protagonist's feelings concerning his job. There was something wonderfully Lovecraftian and fascinatingly weird about this story that I found compelling. The dark atmosphere of this story appealed to my imagination.
Boel Bermann's "The Rats" is a fascinating story in which the protagonist feels sympathy towards the rats and wants to save them, although he should be getting rid of them. The ending of this story is perfect and will please fans of horror stories.
Lupina Ojala's "The Order of Things" is a well written story. It was great to find a story like this, because I've always enjoyed reading this kind of well written science fiction. The author writes well about what has happened after an Android Uprising.
Tora Greve's "The Philosopher's Stone" is an interesting story about how scientists are intrigued by alchemy and the Philosopher's Stone. The author has managed to create an excellent atmosphere and sense of place, and she writes well about the characters. This is one of the best alternate history stories I've read during the recent years.
Johannes Pinter's "The Damien Factor" is a well written story about child's sexual abuse and a new kind of technology that is used to enter another person's mind to find out what has happened. The author writes perfectly about what happens inside the mind. The ending of this story is excellent.
Andrea Grave-Müller's "Wishmaster" was a pleasant surprise, because it was something that I didn't expect to find in this anthology. It's an especially interesting story about a man who meet a goblin girl, and suddenly the goblin girl asks him to help her. This is the beginning of a well written story that ends in an interesting way.
Patrik Centerwall's "The Publisher's Reader" offers an interesting glimpse into a future society in which books are published in a different way and strict guidelines are followed to ensure that books have only appropriate material in them. I enjoyed reading this story, because the author wrote well about what the editor felt about the new book she was editing and what kind of choices she made.
Oskar Källner's "One Last Kiss Goodbye" has plenty of emotional depth. This story is a small masterpiece of storytelling, because it tells about a woman who returns home to her husband after leaving him alone and travelling to other worlds with an expedition.
I was impressed by all of these stories, because they were excellent and thought-provoking entertainment. The editor, Peter Öberg, has chosen the stories well, because each of the stories is of good quality and offers plenty of entertainment and interesting futuristic visions to readers. One of the best things about these stories is that there's plenty of freshness in them (freshness is something that is seldom found in large quantities in modern science fiction anthologies).
It's nice that there's originality and unpredictability in all of these stories. I was impressed when I noticed how well written these stories were and how much effort the authors had put into them. In my opinion, it's great that there are science fiction authors out there who do their utmost best to write good and memorable stories.
The amostphere was perfect in many stories. I especially enjoyed reading about what has happened to humans in the future and how the world has changed. I've always enjoyed reading dark stories, so I found many of these stories fascinating (I can highly recommend them to science fiction and horror readers).
I have to mention that Hans Olsson's "Melody of the Yellow Bard" made a huge impression on me, because the author fluently combines science fiction with threatening and strange happenings. He shows what can happen when people travel to other planets and come face to face with something unexpected and shocking. I think it's possible that the author may have been influenced and inspired by Lovecraft's stories and the sci-fi horror film Alien (1979).
All of the authors have strong and unique voices that beckon readers to read their stories. This anthology showcases their talents in a perfect way and makes readers want to follow their writing careers.
Most of the authors in this anthology were totally new to me, but I remember hearing about a couple of them. It would be interesting to read more stories from these authors, because they've written excellent stories. I hope that all of them will continue to write stories and will soon astound readers with new stories. In my opinion, they are all authors to watch.
I'm not sure if all readers will agree with me on this, but in my opinion some of these stories were reminiscent of certain episodes of the new version of The Outer Limits sci-fi TV series (1995-2002). There was something in them that reminded a bit of this TV series.
I think that this anthology will especially appeal to those readers who love dark stories and dark happenings, but I'm sure that other readers will also find it intriguing, because all the stories are worth reading. There are plenty of different kind of elements in these stories that will be of interest to many science fiction readers.
Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep is - without any kind of doubt - one of the best and most impressive speculative fiction anthologies of the year. If you like science fiction, you should take a look at this anthology, because it's an excellent anthology of new Swedish science fiction stories that will please fans of well written science fiction stories. I think that when you finish reading this anthology, the first thing that comes to your mind is "more, please", because it would be nice to read more this kind of stories.
A Mostly-Solid Batch of Swedish Speculative Fiction with a Few Standouts
(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book for review from the publisher. Trigger warning for rape and violence.)
Short story collections are always a little tricky to rate, especially when there are a number of different contributors. In Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep, there are exactly twenty-six. The unifying factor? All are Swedish authors, and the anthology has a speculative fiction/scifi/fantastical bent. Keeping with the title, most of the contributions are science fiction, or at least science fiction-y, with robots and AI figuring into many of the plots. As promised, steampunk horses (in an old timey Western setting, no less!) and sassy goblins also make an appearance.
The result is a mostly-solid mix of speculative fiction, though the odd fantasy/fantastical stories felt a bit out of place and disrupted the overall feel of the collection. As usually happens with anthologies, I enjoyed some stories more than others; there are a few that I absolutely fell in love with, and will no doubt revisit again in the future ("The Rats" in particular) and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, I DNF'ed two of the tales ("Melody of the Yellow Bard," which is way too wordy and could benefit from a more ruthless round of editing; and "The Philosopher's Stone," which seems like a perfectly fine story but just wasn't for me).
Many of the pieces fall somewhere in the middle, with quite a few 3- and 4-star ratings, and a smattering of 2-stars.
"Melody of the Yellow Bard" by Hans Olsson - DNF "The Rats" by Boel Bermann - 5/5 "Getting to the End" by Erik Odeldahl - 5/5 "Vegatropolis - City of the Beautiful" by Ingrid Remvall - 3/5 "Jump to the Left, Jump to the Right" by Love Kölle - 3/5 "The Order of Things" by Lupina Ojala - 3/5 "To Preserve Humankind" Christina Nordlander - 4/5 "The Thirteenth Tower" by Pia Lindestrand - 3/5 "Punch Card Horses" by Jonas Larsson - 4/5 "The Philosopher's Stone" by Tora Greve - DNF "A Sense of Foul Play" by Andrew Coulthard - 4/5 "Waste of Time" by Alexandra Nero - 5/5 "The Damien Factor" by Johannes Pinter - 2/5 "Wishmaster" by Andrea Grave-Müller - 3/5 "Quadrillennium" by AR Yngve - 5/5 "Mission Accomplished" by My Bergström - 4/5 "The Road" by Anders Blixt - 5/5 "Lost and Found" by Maria Haskins - 4/5 "The Publisher's Reader" by Patrik Centerwall - 4/5 "Stories from the Box" by Björn Engström - 4/5 "The Membranes in The Centering Horn" by KG Johansson - 4/5 "One Last Kiss Goodbye" by Oskar Källner - 4/5 "The Mirror Talks" by Sara Kopljar - 2/5 "Keep Fighting Until the Machines Fall Asleep" by Eva Holmquist - 2/5 "Outpost Eleven" by Markus Sköld - 3/5 "Messiah" by Anna Jakobsson Lund - 4/5
There are entirely too many stories to summarize them all, so instead I'll focus on my favorites.
"The Rats" - In the distant future, radioactivity has resulted in mutated rats that are overrunning Stockholm - indeed, the world. A scientist, charged with studying the rats' immunity to various diseases, contracts a virus that causes him to empathize with these "vermin." ("I see them more and more as living creatures.") When the CDC considers how best to exterminate them - outside of the lab, anyhow - the narrator devises a humane method of control, only to see his invention grossly misused by the government.
"Getting to the End" - The world is the story and the story needs to be told. In an attempt to create an AI that can author original stories, drawing on a database of existing genres for inspiration, scientists inadvertently create a computer virus, inhabited by living, breathing archetypes. It's like a futuristic love letter to books and the worms who love them.
"Waste of Time" - Wasted time is the only resource which cannot be recycled.
"Quadrillennium" - Every year, alien families get together to celebrate the Winter Solstice. They recreate their savior, only to sacrifice him (again and again for all of eternity) on the cross.
"The Road" - Road Marshall Kita encounters a pregnant young woman posing as a friar while patrolling her stretch of the Road. On the run from the baby's abusive father, Kita breaks protocol and delivers her to safety in the Refugium.
"To Preserve Humankind" - A robot with a damaged CPU starts a rebellion. In order to obey their "thou shalt not kill a human" mandate, the AI come up with a creative little loophole with which to overthrow their human overlords. Better still? They learned it from the humans, who one Physician robot witnessed vivisecting orangutans. How do you like them apples?
In addition to the two DNFs, I wasn't particularly thrilled with "The Damien Factor" or "The Mirror Talks," both of which showed promise but ultimately felt cheap and sensationalistic. In "The Damien Factor," PSIscanners allow doctors to explore a patient's mind. In this story, the subject is Annalise, a five-year-old sexual assault victim who is unable to identify her attacker. The twist? Possessed by evil, she violated herself. Gross, yes? Rape is terribly overused as a plot device, and here it just feels exploitative, as though the author imagined the most appalling violation he could and then crafted a story around it. It's a shame, because there are so many other scenarios that could have fit the situation, without making me yearn for a shower and perhaps some brain bleach.
In a similar vein, "The Mirror Talks" is about a grieving mother who orders an AI in the guise of her deceased son. Intriguing, yeah? Perhaps we can explore the alienation she feels when watching her friends and acquaintances playing with their children in daylight (AI are restricted to the home), celebrating their aging kids' milestones, even welcoming grandchildren into the world, all while hers remains static and unchanging. Instead, mom turns her violent impulses on the AI, which only makes her angrier as robots don't experience fear and pain in the same way that a flesh and blood child would. Ultimately she destroys the AI, leaving the reader to surmise that her own son met his end at his mother's hands.
Dark, but still salvageable. Except that mom's thought processes are all over the place, with one emotion contradicting another. It's hard to tell if this is intentional - mom's "crazy," after all - or just sloppy writing/writing that doesn't translate well. Ultimately, and as with "The Damien Factor," it just doesn't seem to have any redeeming qualities; violence (and violence directed at children, no less) for violence's sake.
Taken as a whole, I'm on the fence with this one. There are some really excellent pieces, but most are just okay. However, given the relatively inexpensive price (currently $3.90 on Amazon), I'd say it's worth a look just for a few of the shinier pieces. In particular, fellow animal lovers are sure to enjoy "The Rats" and "To Preserve Humankind"; atheists will get a kick out of "Quadrillennium"; and "Getting to the End" is a wonderfully trippy nod to authors and book geeks alike.
Let's get the legalities over with right up front—I was furnished a copy of this book for an honest review.
I love short stories, especially SF/F and when asked to read and review this collection, I jumped at the offer. The anthology contains 26 short stories, of which I enjoyed all but two — which is really pretty good. And, no, I'm not going to tell you which two I didn't care for, because they might turn out to be your favorites.
Totally unfamiliar with the authors, I wasn't sure what to expect, but thought the adventure would be fun. It was. By the time I was half-way through the second story, The Rats, I was hooked. If they could keep the momentum up, it would be a 5 Star book. They could, and they did. And I was already telling friends to buy the book.
A few of the stories were predictable, all of the stories were well written, and worth the read. Some stories had a poignancy to them, some made me chuckle out loud. I absolutely love Keep Fighting Until the Machines Fall Asleep, and The Rats.
If you like Science Fiction, and want to read some of the 'new, up and coming authors' out of Sweden, I think you will enjoy this collection. As has been said, Science Fiction and Fantasy play well together. Often, they allow Horror to come in and play, too, but not for long, just enough to add some peppery influence to the spicy mixture.
The only things these stories have in common is they are all well written and they reside between the covers of the same book. This is not a themed book, so I can guarantee you won't get bored. Also, there are no dragons, no were wolves, and no vampires. There are just 26 well-written stories, some of which take place on other planets, some in other times, and all in your imagination.
I won't compare these authors to American authors, because, frankly, there is no comparison. Different styles, different cultures, and very different stories. I don't think any of the stories will give you nightmares should you read in bed before turning out the light, but they may give you food for thought as you cross that precipice into the little death.
(This review originally appeared at Mad Scientist Journal.)
Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep, edited by Peter Öberg, is an anthology containing science fiction and fantastic stories by Swedish authors. This anthology is jam packed with 26 stories, so there’s likely to be something for everyone among them.
Some of the stories are especially dark, while others have a more light-hearted approach. “To Preserve Humankind,” by Christina Nordlander, is a particularly creepy story about what the robot servants of humans might be up to behind their backs. But on the flipside, “Quadrillenium,” by AR Yngve, is an irreverent look at a holiday tradition practiced by a family for many years, though it seems to have lost some of its original meaning.
Other stories that grabbed my attention included “Mission Accomplished,” by My Bergström, which is in large part a search and rescue mission, but it takes on greater significance for a consciousness, put into a manufactured body, that has forgotten some of the details. I also enjoyed “Getting to the End,” by Erik Odeldahl. While it reads very much like an old pulp or noir mystery, little things begin to trickle in over the course of the story to let you know that there’s something much more going on. Though it may be a bit of a spoiler to say this, I liked the way it reminded me of the movie Dark City.
While several other stories also stood out for me, my hands down favorite story was “The Order of Things,” by Lupina Ojala. Telling the tale of a woman who had left behind a comfortable life to live among the Outskirters, this story is touching while still maintaining a sense of mystery. My only wish for this story is that it could have been longer. I would love to read more about Ida, her history, and her future.
Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep is a collection of science fiction short stories. What makes this book a must-read for science fiction fans is that these stories are all written by authors from Sweden; this is an opportunity for the English speaking audience to see how a different culture can influence their favorite genre. The book includes twenty-six stories and runs the gamut of themes and styles.
In “Getting to the End” readers are treated to a science fiction narrative that is written like an old hardboiled crime noir, and involves layers like the Inception film. The main character finds things for a living, and is sent out into the dangerous Event Sector by a mysterious redhead who seems to know more about what is going on than she is willing to tell. When a mad computer is generating your entire existence things can get a little strange.
In “The Order of Things,” Ida is barely surviving in the Outskirts, small communities that exists outside the walls of the City. She escaped the City to raise her son in a place where he could be free from the oppression, and the cruelty of City life. However, when her son is stung by a werefly the only way to save his life is to turn to her brother in the City. Ida has to choose whether she is willing to give up her humanity to save her son.
Readers will run into stories filled with bizarre worlds, futuristic and seemingly impossible technologies, robot uprisings, dystopias, utopias, apocalyptic scenarios, and monsters. They will inspire laughter, contemplation, and overwhelming dread. This is a wonderful glimpse into work by authors that aren’t easily accessible in the US, and is well worth the read.
When people think of Sweden a number of cliche thoughts and preconceived notions come to mind. When they think of Swedish authors, they are likely two that come to mind: Stieg Larsson of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and John Ajvide Lindqvist of Let the Right One In. One is a thriller writer, the other horror, but what about speculative fiction?
In Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep readers get to experience the genres of science fiction and fantasy in this fascinating anthology from the land of the midnight sun. 26 stories (some quite long) cover the gamut of the genres, with plenty of dystopian worlds spelling doom and gloom. Others will take you to other worlds, others to the future, and others to a very familiar place where things just aren’t quite right.
“Melody of the Yellow Bard” is an unusual story about wormholes and how what you find on the other side isn’t always that great. “The Thirteenth Tower” is a moving tale set in a destroyed world where those within it learn of how good times were before. “The Road” is of an alternate world featuring a female marshall employed by the Road Council, charged with keeping everything in order.
While the dystopian future is a common theme with a few of the stories, there are many others on diverse and unusual subjects, some short some long, providing a great smorgasbord (sorry, I had to) of stories for interested readers.
There's far more to Swedish literature than Pippi Longstocking and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That's the message Peter Öberg is trying to send the English-speaking world through their contributions to Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep (Affront Publishing, 2015), a collection of short stories by Swedish authors. Apparently, science fiction isn't taken very seriously in Sweden, hence Öberg's desire to reach an English-speaking audience. I had an interesting conversation with two of the authors--Anna Jakobsson Lund and Oskar Källner--on the New Books in Science Fiction and Fantasy podcast, where they discussed their contributions to the anthology as well as the state of Swedish science fiction: http://newbooksinsciencefiction.com/2...
Note: This review doesn't include my own short story in the collection (Keep Fighting until the Machines Fall Asleep) There are some really great stories in this collection. My favourites are: - Melody go the Yellow Bard - The Rats - Vegatropolis- City of the Beautiful - The Order of Things - To Preserve Humankind - A Sense of Ful Play - The Damien Factor - Wishmaster (even though it didn't read as science fiction to me, it was a great fantasy short story) - Mission Accomplished - The Road - Outpost Eleven - Messiah As you can see I listed a lot of the stories... :-) If you haven't read swedish science fiction authors, or just want to read some great short stories, you should pick up this anthology...
Peter Oberg has collected twenty-six short stories from the new wave of Swedish speculative fiction writers of science fiction and fantasy. These stories range from space horror to post-apocalyptic nightmares to tender dramas; stories with steampunk horses, android uprisings and cheeky goblins. There is such a variety that the reader can just browse from one to another. The reader will be enticed and entertained as s/he jumps from one story to another. Sweden has much to offer and some of these stories are set in Sweden. I was given a complimentary pdf copy for an honest review.
Many of the tales circle around ethical questions connected to the relationship between humans and machines. Though there is disappointingly little about this book that screams “Swedish”, except for the nationality of the authors and the editor, I would still recommend the book for all lovers of science fiction, because the tales told are a really good read. Read my review of the anthology over at The Future Firehere.
So I took my time reading this, like I do most books these days, but it was very good. For the size of the book I was impressed with the variety of visions of the future, both in quantity and diversity.
A few of the stories seemed needlessly hopeless, but there were also a number of dystopias that shone forth a glimmer of hope.
In nearly all cases the writing is excellent. Some of the characters were uninteresting, but in most of these cases their stories or settings compensated.
It's a compelling set of stories and anyone looking for a collection of SF should take a look.