Sunday, October 15, 2017

Kjell Westö: Rikinkeltainen taivas


A story of a lower middle-class boy who befriends another same age boy, whose summerhouse is nearby, and who belongs to a family with “old money”. The book follows them until they are middle-aged and explores the stormy love-story between the fairly poor boy and the sister of the rich kid. The book dwells far too long on the adolescence of the characters but gets better when they become adults. The ending is extremely quick and seems forced, though. The writing was good, but the plot felt a bit clichéd and didn’t really engage me.


Luettu lukupiirin kirjana.
Kirja kertoo alemman keskiluokan pojan tarinan. Hän tutustuu mökkinaapuruuden kautta ruotsinsuomalaisen suursuvun saman ikäiseen poikaan, Alexiin. He ystävystyvät ja päähenkilö oppii tuntemaan koko perheen. Poikien välinen suhde säilyy vuosikymmenten läpi ollen välillä lämpimämpi ja välillä viileämpi. Yhteiskuntaluokalla ja rahalla on aina jonkinasteista erottavaa tekijää heidän välillään, eikä vuosikausia tai vuosikymmeniä jatkunut on/off seurustelusuhde Alexin siskoon, Stellaan, välttämättä aina välejä ainakaan lämmittänyt. Pienen ystäväpiirin elämää seurataan lapsuudesta myöhäiskeski-ikään asti. Tarinan yksi kantava voima on kertojan ajoittain myrskyinen, lopulta keskinäiseksi ystävyydeksi muuttuva suhde Stellaan.

Kirja oli kirjoitettu sujuvalla kielellä, mutta olisi voinut kyllä lyhentää sellaiset 50–100 sivua - etenkin sitä alkupuolen teinisäätöä olisi voinut kyllä rajusti leikata ja siinä vaiheessa kirjan lukeminen oli kaikkein raskainta. Ilmeisen tarkoituksellisen ärsyttävät päähenkilöt kävivät välillä hermoon. Loppupuolella kirjassa nopeasti käväisevä Arabi-hahmo oli kliseinen ja tarpeeton ja tuntui ajankohtaisuuden vuoksi kirjaan lisätyltä - kuten kyllä muutama kirjan kohtauksistakin. Loppua kohden kirja parani selvästi, kun hahmot ja heidän suhteensa tuntuivat lopultakin kypsyvän, mutta viimeiset 40 sivua olivat hyvin hätäiset. Vaikutti melkein siltä, kuin kustantaja olisi ilmoittanut kirjailijalle kesken kirjoittamisen, että kirjan PITÄÄ olla viikon kuluttua valmis ja piti nopeasti kyhätä jonkinlainen lopetus. Myös arabihahmon uusi ilmaantuminen kirjan lopussa oli tarpeeton ja ”tyhjästä tullut”. Monissa arvioissa on kehuttu kirjan antamaa tunnelmaa paikallisuudesta ja hyvästä paikallisväristä. Itsellä paikat ja kadut olivat pääosin täysin outoja, eivätkä ulkopaikkakuntalaiselle aiheuttaneet minkäänmoisia tuntemuksia tai väristyksiä.

Kirjapiirissä useimpien mielipiteet olivat samansuuntaisia; kukaan ei erityisesti ihastunut kirjaan ja tarinankuljetusta pidettiin hiukan löysänä ja juonikuviota jopa kulahtaneina. Joku mietti sitäkin, että jos kirjassa käydään jossain eurooppalaisessa kaupungissa, niin miksi sen pitää aina olla Berliini? Ja toinen lukupiiriläinen oli sitä mieltä, että tämä kirjan paransi hänet tarpeesta lukea Westöön uudet kirjat jatkossa.

459 s.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Long List Anthology: More Stories From the Hugo Award Nomination List by David Steffen (Editor)



A collection of stories that just missed a Hugo nomination in 2015. A varied bunch of tales, some very good, some a little less good.


The Breath of War • [Universe of Xuya] • (2014) • short story by Aliette de Bodard
The women of the world apparently sculpt a some kind of golem out of stone and, with a breath, turn it alive. When a woman gives birth to a child, the stone being must breathe on the newborn or it will die. A woman, whose Stoneman was left behind in the jungle and is heavily pregnant, tries to find it before her labor started. It turns out that she had sculpted a spaceship, which is alive.
The writing was very good but the story didn't make any sense whatsoever. Even fantasy should have some degree of believability and internal consistency. I can't imagine how the method of conception that was described could evolve, or what the benefits would be. If it is an artificial construct, why would anyone create such dependency? And waking up a stone statue is a pretty common trope. It is even harder to believe that you could sculpt a spaceship out of stone and then wake it up and end with a self-conscious, actually flight capable, vehicle. ***+
When It Ends, He Catches Her • (2014) • short story by Eugie Foster
A former professional dancer met her former dance partner, after the fall of civilization. He is a zombie (though, this word is not mentioned) but dancing restores his mind. They will have one last dance. A well written, bittersweet story. ***½
Toad Words • (2014) • short story by Ursula Vernon [as by T. Kingfisher ]
A man is cursed. Everything that he says comes out of his mouth as toads or frogs. When he learns that amphibians are dying out, he finds a way to capitalize on his curse. A fun little story. ***½
Makeisha in Time • (2014) • short story by Rachael K. Jones
A woman is pulled into the past and lives whole lifetimes there. She returns to the present when she dies in these lifetimes and no time has passed for anyone she was with before her time travel. As it has been decades for her, she tends to be slightly disorganized and has problems with her relationships. She is distressed, as her work in the past seems to disappear and is sometimes attributed to men. The end is slightly confusing but it was otherwise a pretty good story. I also wonder why she valued her life so much in the "present" that she was willing to commit suicide repeatedly in the other lifetimes. She apparently was able to have fully satisfying relationships in other times, the problems were only relationships in the present. ***½
Covenant • (2014) • short story by Elizabeth Bear
A psychopath is given a choice: he may go to prison or be cured. As he believes that his mind is strong enough to resist any tampering, he takes that choice. But more than his mind is changed; and soon to hunter becomes prey. A pretty good story, especially and beginning and end, the middle was a little less successful. ***½
The Truth About Owls • (2014) • short story by Amal El-Mohtar
A Lebanese girl has moved to Britain. She takes an interest to an owl that lives at a local owl sanctuary. She seems to have some sort of psychic powers that she can’t completely control, which she uses when she feels threatened. Nice writing but bit too vague for me. ***+
A Kiss with Teeth • (2014) • short story by Max Gladstone
A vampire pretends to be a husband who takes care of his family. His wife is aware of what he is and helps him. But it is very hard for him to pretend to be clumsy and slow like humans. His son has problems in school, so he starts to work with his teacher. But will he be able to control his urges? A pretty good story. ***+
The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family • (2014) • short story by Usman T. Malik
The terrorism and desperate lives of people in Pakistan is compared to different states of matter. A woman who has lost a lot tries to find her brother after years of separation. The writing was pretty good, but the story felt fairly disjointed and very hard to follow. ***
This Chance Planet • (2014) • short story by Elizabeth Bear
A woman works herself almost to death as a waitress, as her boyfriend is about to make a break in the music business. The problem is that he has been "about to" for a very long time already. He even suggests that she should volunteer to raise spare organs inside of her body to get more money, so that it would be easier for him to start touring. One day, on the way to her job, she encounters a stray, very pregnant, dog and eventually makes a connection with her. An excellent and well written story, with some magic realism happening in the fairly near future. ****-
Goodnight Stars • (2014) • short story by Annie Bellet
Something has hit the moon and it has shattered into pieces. The pieces are falling down and causing widespread destruction. A young woman, whose mother was on the moon working on a telescope station (and is most likely dead), journeys to her father's home. A pretty good, very well written, and moving story. But I didn't really believe the premise – just like I didn’t buy the premise of the Hugo nominated novel, Seveneves. ***½
We Are the Cloud • (2014) • novelette by Sam J. Miller
A young gay man lives on a world where poor people rent out their brains for computing, risking severe brain damage in the process. Some nice ideas, but they are a side note, while the emphasis is on relationships. I didn’t really get into the story, it was ok, but nothing really special. ***
The Magician and Laplace's Demon • (2014) • novelette by Tom Crosshill
An artificial intelligence that has appeared spontaneously encounters magic. Magicians are able to bend the probabilities but only when no one sees them do so and if the situation is such that the magic can't be proved. The AI starts hunting the magicians, as they are the only ones able to limit its powers. Centuries later, the AI is chasing the last one, who is extremely powerful. A very good and well written story with an interesting brand of magic. ***½
Spring Festival: Happiness, Anger, Love, Sorrow, Joy • (2014) • novelette by Xia Jia
Episodes of life in China, with heavy touches of magic realism. Intriguing fragments of life that open a window to another culture. To really get the stories, one probably should have some familiarity with the Chinese culture. ***
The Husband Stitch • (2014) • novelette by Carmen Maria Machado
A young woman meets a young man who she wants to marry. She seduces him, submits to all of the sex he ever wanted and more, but she refuses to take a ribbon off of her neck, not even when her husband and, later her son, asks her to. A well written, allegorical story with a really stupid ending. ***
The Bonedrake's Penance • (2014) • novelette by Yoon Ha Lee
A human has been raised by an alien queen, who is revered by people who serve her and bring occasional gifts. There are secrets and choices which must be made. A very good and entertaining story. I would love to read other stories set in the same world. ****-
The Devil in America • (2014) • novelette by Kai Ashante Wilson
A story of a young black girl from the 19th century who can ask for help from "angels." However, they aren't so easy to control as she thinks. But there is always a possibility of making a deal with a demon... and white people are hunting blacks. At places, the story was hard to follow and pretty slow moving. I didn't get into it at all, but I don't usually like this kind of magical realism. ***
The Litany of Earth • (2014) • novelette by Ruthanna Emrys
Apparently, this story continues some of the classic Chulthu-stories. Inhabitants/survivors of a town that was invaded by the “old ones” have lived in camps for years. As I am not a fan of these stories (nor am I familiar with them), I didn’t get into the story at all. As a matter of fact after, a few days, I'm having a lot of trouble recalling anything about it. **
A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai'i • (2014) • novelette by Alaya Dawn Johnson
Vampires have conquered humanity. The remaining humans are practically raised as cattle, in kind of concentration camps, and are used as a workforce and bled to sustain the vampires. A few select ones get special treatment, and there is a competition for who will be the most favored one. Less dark of a story than one might imagine from the subject matter; an excellent and well-written tale. ****
A Year and a Day in Old Theradane • (2014) • novelette by Scott Lynch
A gang of rascals is blackmailed to perform an impossible heist: they are supposed to steal an entire city street. A lot of banter, which was possibly meant to be funny, but I didn’t get into this story at all, and it was a struggle to read through. All of that banter felt mostly stupid and silly. The story was very boring to me, possibly because it is connected to a series I am totally unfamiliar with. **½
The Regular • (2014) • novella by Ken Liu
A hooker is killed and her eyes are dug out. The police blame gangs. The hooker’s mother hires a private detective, who has some bionic augmentations and still has issues with the death of her own daughter. Her ex-husband works for the police and they combine forces. An extremely well-written and interesting story, but it is more of a detective story than science fiction. ****
Grand Jeté (The Great Leap) • (2014) • novella by Rachel Swirsky
A young girl is dying from cancer, only a little while after her mother died, also from cancer. Her distraught father uses a new technology to create an android that looks like his daughter and has all of her memories. The story is told in three chapters, from three different viewpoints. The basic plot and writing are pretty good, but far too much of the storyline is spent on Jewish habits. ***½

498 pp.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Emmi Itäranta: Teemestarin kirja (Memory of Water)


A book that has received rave reviews everywhere. It tells a story of a future where water is rare and strictly controlled by a police state. The heroine of the book conducts Japanese-style tea ceremonies and controls the secret of one of the last springs. Nice and fluent writing, but the details of the world and society didn’t make much sense.

Kovasti kehuja saanut kirja, joka tapahtuu epämääräisessä, ilmeisesti kohtalaisen kaukaisessa tulevaisuudessa. Ilmasto on muuttunut huomattavasti lämpimämmäksi, meri on kohonnut ja peittänyt suuria alueita ja juomakelpoinen vesi on muuttunut jostain syystä erittäin harvinaiseksi. Jonkinlainen tarkemmin määrittelemätön totalitaarinen diktatuuri pitää valtaa. Kirjan päähenkilö, Noria, on nuori nainen, jonka isä on teemestari, joka järjestää tarkkaan perinteen säätelemiä teeseremonioita yleensä varakkaille vieraille. Noria auttaa häntä ja on mitä ilmeisimmin perimässä saman seremoniallisen tehtävän sukupuolestaan huolimatta. Vanhalta kaatopaikalta Noria ja hänen ystävänsä Sanja löytävät kummallisia kiiltäviä levyjä, joiden sisältämät äänitykset he onnistuvat toistamaan. Sisältö saattaisi järkyttää maailman perustuksia ja olettamia siitä missä juomakelpoista vettä voi olla olemassa.

Kielellisesti kirja on erittäin hienoa työtä, mutta muuten siinä on ongelmia. Päähenkilö on hyvin naiivi - toisaalta kun kyseessä on nuori (alle 20 v?) nainen, niin naiivius on osittain ymmärrettävää. Perusjuoni ja koko maailma ovat epäuskottavia. Mikä ihme sen makean veden on hävittänyt niin, että kuitenkin on suuri ja vuolas salainen maanalainen koski olemassa? Ja paarmoja ja muita hyönteisiä vaikuttaa olevan aivan suunnattomat määrät, niin paljon, että käytännössä mihinkään ei voi liikkua ilman hyönteisiltä suojaavaa huppua. Miten tämä on mahdollista jos on niin kuivaa, että metsät ovat kuolleet pystyyn? Melkein loppuun asti toivoin, että tässä olisi takana jokin ovela kirjailijan laatima juonenkäänne, mutta ei. Myös kasvit, mitä Noria kasvattaa olivat pääosin ihan samoja ja vanhoja tuttuja kasveja karviaisista alkaen - missäs vaikka viinirypäleet jotka lämpimässä ja kuivassa ilmastossa kasvaisivat hienosti. Maailman yleinen taloudellis-ekonominen toimivuus muutenkin jäi auki - mitä kyläläiset oikein tekivät? Viljelivät maata? Täydessä kuivuudessa? Olivat työssä jossain? Tekemässä mitä? Norian teknisesti lahjakas ystävä, Sanja, mietti laittoman vesijohdon rakentamista kotiinsa - mistä ihmeestä se vesi siihen johtoon olisi tullut? Kokonaisuutena kirja antoi kyllä hyvin nuortenkirjamaisen vaikutelman - naiivi nuori päähenkilö eikä ihan loppuun asti ajateltu juoni. Yhteiskunnallis-taloudellinen logiikka ei kirjassa ollut edes Nälkämaailman tasolla - ja senkään taso ei ollut kovin korkea. Hienon, soljuvan kielen vuoksi kirjaa kuitenkin jaksoi lukea, mutta jäi pettymykseksi aika koviin ennakko-odotuksiin nähden. Loppu oli kuitenkin varsin hyvä ja aika tulkinnanvarainenkin. Olisiko eräs henkilö ollut petturi melkein alusta alkaen? Vai ei?

329 s.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, September-October 2017



A pretty good issue; most of the stories were at least pretty good, a few were very good.

My Fifth and Most Exotic Voyage • novelette by Edward M. Lerner
Gulliver describes his latest travel - to the future. Future scientists wanted to capture a person from the past, and they got the Gulliver, who claims he himself wrote the famous book about his travels. The scientists don't believe him, as he clearly isn't Jonathan Swift. And he claims that his travels are true, not fiction. Did they capture a madman? A very good story, once you get past the oldish writing style. There was one very stupid scientific mistake, though. The carbon dating tells the age of an object - not the year it comes from. There is a difference, especially if your dealing with time travel. An object brought from the past should seem new, if it were tested by C14 dating. It is almost a spoiler for me to say that very a similar plot idea was used earlier by Larry Niven. ****-
I Know My Own & My Own Know Me • novelette by Tracy Canfield
The story is told as chat logs. An expedition tries to find out why a colony of humans has reverted to almost mindless animals, whose brains don't even accept brain implants. Someone has used an implant for a cat, who can now take part in the discussions in broken language. And it has eaten all of the lab rats. A pretty nice story, but perhaps a tad too long for the idea. ***+
Ghostmail • short story by Eric Del Carlo
A man is connected to his wife, who is fighting in a war, through some sort of direct subspace link. Then his wife is killed in action. To his surprise, he continues receiving messages. Is he mad? A pretty good and moving story. ****-
The First Trebuchet on Mars • short story by Marie Vibbert
A short story about what the title says. It turns out that there is a use for such a thing in Mars. A short and amusing story. ***
Climbing Olympus • short story by Simon Kewin
Another story about Mars. A man whose father was an avid mountain climber also used to climb mountains, but they never did it together, as they were never at the same skill level. Now he is taking part on a Mars expedition, and tries to climb Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in the solar system. A pretty good story, which explores a failed father-son relationship. ***+
A Tinker's Damnation • short story by Jerry Oltion
The nano-machine which was supposed to create all of the required high-tech items on a colony on another planet is broken beyond repair. It was supposed to be able to create almost anything, with the correct instructions. But, as it isn't working, the colony must use old-fashioned methods to survive. An apprentice for the mechanic of the colony has tinkered with it, but it seems to be beyond repair. A good story, but with such strong Luddite overtones that I wonder why such people would have moved to another planet. ***½
The Old Man • novelette by Rich Larson
A criminal is thawed out from cryostorage. He is made an offer: if he hunts down an even worse criminal, he will get a pardon. He knows the criminal intimately and hates him; the criminal in question is his father. Not bad story, first seemed like a retreated old movie, but ended up being something really different. ***+
Orphans • novelette by Craig DeLancey
A mission to Betelgeuse 2 is approaching a planet. It appears to bear a lot of life, but there are no signs of intelligence. They discover subterranean lines, which appear to be artificial, but there are no other signs of civilization. Several probes they sent to the planet failed soon after landing for unknown reasons. And then there is an accident. Another pretty good story, where the "enemy" is unexpected, but the crew is very clueless and makes extremely stupid risks. ***+
The Absence • short story by Robert R. Chase
A smart man has succeeded in almost everything. Now he is building a space elevator. It turns out that, as a student, he took part in an experiment which was designed to boost brain activity. It seemed to be a failure, but now some participants have reported some strange and worrisome effects. A bit of a fractured story. I didn't really get the connection between the drugs and impending catastrophe. ***-
Arp! Arp! • short story by Christina De La Rocha
A marine biologist examines why a sea farm, which is supposed to produce high-quality algae extract that can be fed to animals, used as food, or even as fertilizer, is failing. She finds what is going on, by a very big coincidence. And the guilty ones apparently did what they did mainly because they are evil. ***
The Mathematician • short story by Tom Jolly
Life among aliens who are essentially immortal, but are able to combine their bodies, but usually lose their memories and knowledge in the process. One manages to circumvent that partially. A too-short story, which was fairly hard to get, as a lot of the pretty unusual life cycles were crammed into too few pages. **+
The Sword of Damocles • novelette by Norman Spinrad
The Galactic Eye is a giant telescope which is built in space. It is tended by people who have been modified to live in free fall. The main purpose of the telescope is to find alien civilizations. And it finds several of them, but all seem to be restricted to their own solar systems. There are no interstellar empires. Why? There isn't a lot of story here. The novelette is mainly fairly philosophical discussions of the main theme, but it was good, nevertheless. ****-
Heaven's Covenant • novella by Bud Sparhawk
A planet has been colonized by humans possibly centuries ago. They ready to use the old colony ship to send a new colony on another star. The government is apparently ruled by religious fanatics, who are pushing for the extermination of a "lesser" race who is apparently used for menial tasks who are called Folk. Even the moderate factions have not the slightest doubt of their inferiority. A woman whose family has died is tending a large farm. She takes good care of her Folk, but she meets a man with whom she falls in love. She is also asked to take part in the new expedition. At the same time, the more strict factions are pushing for the genocide of the Folk. A well-written story, but a bit too long, and the racist and narcissistic husband was very grating. There were some hints that the normal humans were Folk, and the protagonists were members of a “better” race, but that was not stated explicitly. ****-
Abductive Reasoning • short story by Christopher L. Bennett
An advanced alien must land on Earth to make repairs to her ship. She encounters a UFO fanatic conspiracy theorist whose theories about aliens make her think that humans must be lunatics. A fun little story. ***½
Coyote Moon • short story by James Van Pelt
A poor couple, who works at several jobs at the same time and still can't make the ends to meet, sells everything to get a place on a clandestine flight to the Moon. They hope that, since they will be some of the first people there, they will be in a better position. Well, the exploited usually will be exploited. The story could be slightly longer. The emotional attachment to the characters isn't powerful enough. ***
Invaders • short story by Stanley Schmidt
A man goes to a remote hotel to watch a total eclipse of the Sun. Some of the other inhabitants of the hotel seem slightly strange. It turns out that a total eclipse is really rare, and some of the watchers come far away. A nice humorous story. ***½


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Anne Holt, Even Holt: Äkkikuolema (Sudden Death)


Two cardiologist friends try to find out if a football team is using doping to improve running speeds or not. In the same mix is an art robbery which happened a few years earlier and a retired Mossad agent. A fairly good medical detective story, but perhaps with too many side plots.

Eräänlainen osittain lääketieteeseen pohjautuva dekkari. Tunnettu ja loistoluokan kardiologi, Sara, on enemmän tai vähemmän sattumalta jalkapallostadionilla, kun yksi palaajista lyyhistyy maahan sydänkohtauksen saaneen. Kardiologin ammattitaidolla elvytys onnistuu ja pelaaja selviää. Hänet kutsutaan jalkapallojoukkueen omistajan, upporikkaan arabin kotiin illalliselle. Arabi kerää huippuluokan taidetta ja häneltä on ryöstetty joitain vuosia aikaisemmin useampia mestaritason taideteos. Saran ystävä, Ola, työskentelee jalkapallojoukkueen yhtenä lääkäreistä. Hän huomaa, että yllättävän moni joukkueen pelaaja on saanut sydänoireita viime vuosien aikana. Ja yllättävän moni on parantanut juoksuaikaansa paljon enemmän, kuin millään tavanomaisella harjoittelulla olisi mahdollista. Voisiko kyseessä olla doping? Mutta kaikille pelaajille tehdään jatkuvasti hyvin tarkkaa doping-seurantaa – miten mitään dopingia voisi olla käytössä? Ola ja Sara alkavat selvittää mistä on kyse ja peli lopulta muuttuu kovin kuumaksi, ehkä jopa vaaralliseksi. Mutta miten tuo aikaisempi taideryöstö liittyy asiaan? Ja vielä kummallisempaa on, mitä eläkkeelle jääneellä Mossadin agentilla on asioiden kanssa tekemistä.
Ihan kohtalainen kirja, jossa oli hiukan liikaa hajanaisuutta ja ehkä muutama sivujuoni liikaa; pieni tiivistys olisi voinut tehdä terää. Nopeaa luettavaa, mutta etenkin alussa oli hiukan vaikeaa pysyä henkilöistä perillä, varmaan osittain koska en ollut edeltävä samaan sarjaan liittyvää kirjaa lukenut.

443 s

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Tommi Kinnunen: Lopotti


Continues the story of an earlier book which was both critical and commercial success in Finland. Tells the story of two people who were more or less side characters in the first book. The book had extremely good writing, but the life stories of the main characters were fairly depressing, and they lived very much life of outsiders.

Neljän tuulen tien jatko-osa, joka jatkaa ja syventää edellisen kirjan joidenkin hahmojen tarinaa ja osittain jatkaa siitä mihin edellinen kirja loppui.
Kirjan päähenkilöinä ovat Helena, tyttö joka Neljän tuulen tie- kirjassa tuli sokeaksi ja lähetettiin sokeainkouluun ja jäi kirjassa tämän jälkeen lähinnä sivuhenkilöksi.
Toinen päähenkilö on Tuomas, Helenan veljenpoika, joka aluksi lähtee kylältä armeijaan ja jä myöhemmin etelään opiskelemaan.
Aikaisempi kirja oli kotikylässä asuvien näkökulmasta, tämä kylästä olosuhteiden pakosta muuttaneiden näkökulmasta. Molemmat muuttaneet kokevat enemmän tai vähemmän irrallisuutta eivätkä täysin kotikylästänsä eroon pääse, mutta lyhyiden lomien yhteydessä ovat siellä yhtälailla ulkopuolisia, elämä kun pohjoisessakin on edennyt omaa rataansa.
Sokean tytön, Helenan elämä vaikutti aluksi menevän olosuhteisiin nähden hyvin, kunhan hän ottaa oman elämänsä hallintaansa rankkojen kouluvuosien jälkeen. Hänen kohtalonsa lopulta ei ollut mikään miellyttävä. Tuomaksen tarina oli osittain samantyyppinen: alkuvaikeuksien kautta näytti elämä kääntyvän hyväksi, kunnes asiat eivät sujuneet kuin henkilö olisivat toivoneet

Tämä elämän yleinen surkeus oli jopa ahdistuksen tunnetta aiheuttavaa, jotain positiivisempaa kirja olisi mielestäni tarvinnut – nyt meni vähän liikaa suomalaisen ”kurjuus-realismin” puolelle. Osaltaan kirja myös tuntui hiukan turhalta - ei Neljän tuulen tie mielestäni mitään jatkoa olisi kaivannut, se oli hyvä ihan sellaisenaan. Toisaalta kieli oli kirjassa niin hienoa ja nautittavaa, että sen luki mielellään ihmiskohtaloiden kovuudesta huolimatta. Juonellisesti tarina oli hiukan liian hajanainen. Päähenkilöitä seurataan ajassa hyppien melkein, mutta ei kuitenkaan kokonaan, kronologisessa järjestyksessä ja etenkin alussa tarina vaikutti hiukan sekavalta.

364 s.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Necessity by Jo Walton



The last part of a trilogy. The setting of the book is completely different from the earlier books. It doesn’t happen in ancient Greece, but in a future on a distant planet. When Zeus heard of the experimental city Apollo and Athene had set up based on the principles of Plato’s Republic, he was not too happy about it. He decided to transfer the town (which, by that time, had already split up into several sub-towns, each following its own interpretation of The Republic) in time and space.

When the book starts, several decades have passed. Most of the characters of the earlier books have died, including Apollo, who had been living in the town in corporeal form. After his body died, he regained his godly powers. As a god, he learns that Athene has disappeared and she can’t be found anywhere in time and space.

Life has settled on the new planet, even if it is much colder than Greece, with the temperature hovering around the freezing point of water for half of the year. (That doesn’t sound very bad, by the way; way better climate than I have in my hometown.) But the supposedly smart philosophers still wear chitons or togas. One would imagine that they would have learned to make some warmer clothes in a few decades. The inhabitants of the planet have already made contact with a couple of alien races, with some aliens living in the towns as full citizens. A human ship shows up in the orbit. They came from a human colony and want to trade. How are they going to explain to these new humans how they ended up on the planet? The story about a divine intervention might sound slightly odd. Many people think that they should tell the truth, as it wouldn’t be believed anyway, but the new arrivals might refrain from other questions, being afraid of offending religious sensibilities.

The setup is very interesting. Unfortunately, most of the book consists of more or less philosophical discussions, and fairly little actually happens. The aliens, the new human visitors, and even the disappearance of Athene have a pretty minor role and are underdeveloped in the book. The writing was very good, just like in the earlier parts, and even if the discussions were interesting as such (and the book was good and enjoyable), it was a slight disappointment after the two earlier excellent installments.

336 pp.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tove Jansson: Muumilaakson Marraskuu (Moominvalley in November)


The last of the Moomin books. One of the few I didn't read as a child. On the other hand, there are no moomins in this book at all. Several inhabitants of the Moominvalley want to meet the moomins and travel to the Moominhouse late at autumn. It turns out, that the house is empty and there is no trace of any of the Moomins. The characters almost start to imitate the life of the moomin family and they move in the house. The writing is excellent and gives powerful feeling of the autumn stillness. A very good book and a proper goodbye for the moomins.



Luettu kirjapiirin syksyyn sopivana kirjana. En ollut tätä muumikirjaa aikaisemmin lukenut, en edes lapsena. Lastenkirjasta tosin ei oikeastaan edes ole kyse. Eikä oikeastaan tarkkaan ottaen edes muumikirjasta – muumeja ei tässä kirjassa tavata.

On syksy. Monet muumilaakson asukkaat päättävät mieli enemmän tai vähemmän haikeana lähteä muumitalolle muumeja, etenkin muumimammaa, tapaamaan. Mutta muumitalo onkin tyhjä. Ovet ovat auki, mutta kukaan ei ole paikalla. Jokainen erikseen tullut pikku olento: Hemuli, joka on yhtäkkiä tuntenut elämänsä jotenkin tyhjäksi, Vilijonkka, joka on menettänyt halunsa siivoamiseen, yksinäinen ja hieman pelokas homssu, ikivanha ja huonomuistinen Ruttuvaari ja kaunis, itsevarma pikku Myyn isosisko, Mymmeli. Kun muumit eivät ole paikalla, vieraat asettuvat asumaan muumitaloon ja jopa ottavat osittain muumien rooleja itselleen.

Ajallisesti kirja ilmeisesti liittyy kirjaan Muumipappa ja meri, jota en muista lukeneeni. Lopussa ilmeisesti muumiperhe on palaamassa tuolta merimatkaltaan – tai sitten ei, asia jää lopulta hiukan auki.

Kirja on hyvin kaunista kieltä, joka välittää syksyn haikean ja jotenkin melankolisen ja jopa hitaan tunnelman hyvin voimakkaana. Kirjan yhtenä henkenä on myös muutos, yhden aikakauden päättyminen. Kirjan loppuun mennessä oikeastaan kaikki kirjan henkilöt olivat jollain lailla muuttuneet ja ehkä hyväksyneet itsensä paremmin.

Muumit eivät kirjan kirjoittamisen aikaan tainneet olla ihan yhtä suosittuja kuin nykyään, mutta onkohan kirjan juonessa mukana jonkinlaista metakirjallista kommentointia muumien kovasta suosiosta? Kaikki kirjan hahmot ihailevat muumiperhettä, haluavat tavata heitä ja jopa alkavat käyttäytyä ja osittain jopa melkein muuttua muumien kaltaisiksi. Onko tämä kirjailijan kannanotto muumifaneihin? Ei ehkä sentään.

Kokonaisuutena kyllä hieno kirja, ja houkuttaa lukemaan muut muumikirjat, muista suurimman osan olen lukenut, mutta vuosikymmeniä sitten ja muistikuvat ovat enemmän tai vähemmän hämäriä.

161 s