‘Waiting For The Machines To Fall Asleep’ is a collection of new Science Fiction stories from Sweden. It is edited by Peter Öberg, while Andreas Raninger provides the cover illustration. What we have here is twenty-six pieces of speculative fiction with the majority being Science Fiction from authors I had not heard of before. Now, I’m not sure if it’s an indication of the Swedish psyche in general or a reflection of the editor’s outlook on life, but humanity doesn’t fare too well in most of these stories.
I’m not going to be able to review all the stories but will pick out the ones which got my attention. Suffice to say that this is a collection of stories which is designed to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Some of the stories which I’m not so keen on may be other reader’s favourites. Having said that, there are some good stories here and there’s a short bio for each author at the end of the book. It’s interesting to see the background of the authors once you have read their story. There are some surprises here to, making you wonder where they got the idea from for their story.
It has been said that in terms of displaying emotion, I’m told I tend towards the Mr. Spock end of the scale rather than Dr McCoy. However, there are two stories here that pushed me towards the McCoy end but for completely different reasons. Firstly, there’s ‘One Last Kiss Goodbye’ by Oskar Källner which is a very moving tale, superbly written. It deals with the consequences of relativity where someone moving close to the speed of light ages slower than those they leave behind. It’s not a very long story being just over twelve pages on my e-reader but it is very well done.
The other story to elicit an emotional response is ‘The Mirror Talks’ by Sara Kopljar. This is pure Science Fiction horror which I found disturbing. While the initial premise of a single mum purchasing a new android companion to replace a lost child is straight forward, the subsequent events are not. Things take a very violent turn for the worse but not how you might expect. The information on the author says her writing likes to bring up the darkness and this story certainly does.
The story which lends its weight to the title of the collection is ‘Keep Fighting Until The Machines Fall Asleep’ by Eva Holmquist. This is an interesting tale set in the future where the machines have taken over and people live in city states alongside androids that are now indistinguishable from humans. Everyone is subject to constant surveillance but humans being humans, there is a pro-human resistance movement. The story deals with the resistance leader, Kate, who devises a plan to put the machines to sleep. It’s a rather good story with a twist in the tale.
As I said, there are a broad range of stories here and ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’ by Tora Greve would probably be classed as steam-punk. The setting is modelled on Victorian England but with a cast of characters that include Isaac Barrow, Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle and Fredrika Wilhelmina von Leibniz, who I think is the female equivalent of the German polymath and philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz in our particular reality. There are a few deviations away from our reality which leads to an interesting tale as some of the characters are not quite what they seem.
Another story which I really liked was ‘Getting To The End’ by Erik Odeldahl. It takes virtual reality and storytelling to a whole new level and well worth a read. Fantasy also has a presence with ‘The Road’ by Anders Blixt, which goes to show that this is a good collection of stories covering quite a wide range of subjects, with Swedish authors being the thread that binds them together. Whatever your taste there will be something to grab your interest in here. The stories making up this collection are:-
Melody of the Yellow Bard – Hans Olsson
The Rats – Boel Bermann
Getting to the End – Erik Odeldahl
Vegatropolis – City of the Beautiful – Ingrid Remvall
Jump to the Left. Jump to the Right. – Love Kölle
The Order of Things – Lupina Ojala
To Preserve Humankind – Christina Nordlander
The Thirteenth Tower – Pia Lindestrand
Punch Card Horses – Jonas Larsson
The Philosophers Stone – Tora Greve
A Sense of Foul Play – Andrew Coulthard
Waste of Time – Alexandra Nero
The Damien Factor – Johannes Pinter
Wishmaster – Andrea Grave-Müller
Quadrillennium – AR Yngve
Mission Accomplished – My Bergström
The Road – Anders Blixt
Lost and Found – Maria Haskins
The Publishers Reader – Patrik Centerwall
Stories from the Box – Björn Engström
The Membranes in the Centering Horn – KG Johansson
One Last Kiss Goodbye – Oskar Källner
The Mirror Talks – Sara Kopljar
Keep Fighting Until the Machines Fall Asleep – Eva Holmquist
Outpost Eleven – Markus Sköld
Messiah – Anna Jakobsson Lund
(pub: Affront Publishing. 419 pages eBook. Price: £ 5.81 (UK). ISBN: 978-91-87585-32-6)
check out website: www.affront.se