Imagine – Space, somewhere in the outer rim of the known universe there is a small asteroid surrounded by an uncountable number of space trucks. On this small asteroid is only one bar, one restaurant and one gas station and it is the only one in existence for millions of light years. It’s exclusive situation leads to the fact that it is also very famous and truckers from all around the universe come here, make a break not only to fill their fuel but also to exchange their stories. They are the toughest and most experienced space pilots in the known universe and they have seen things the “common person” is not even able to imagine.
Imagine – even more that one day a tourist that got lost lands here on this asteroid and goes to the bar, enters it and gets to hear one unbelievable story after another. It seems that Mikael Niemi was this tourist, got lost and heard a lot of stories which he collected afterwards within this book. I do not know if this happened that way but I kinda like the idea and maybe one day we may find out.
The sun hung low over the tree-clad horizon to the north. Its quivering red disc was reflected in the water and split into long, red brush-strokes drifting on the fast-flowing surface. I sat on the riverbank and let my melancholy drain away.
– From the Short Story “Farewell to the Liviöjoki”
One story after the other we are told of forgotten societies, how people that are from Earth are treated, especially nobody knows anything or heard about this planet, how life for astrotruckers feels like, what they are allowed to take with them and what their daily life consists of, why stones are boring and that – in reality – they are sleeping and we even get some insight information about the big bang. Hear hear!
(..) from the Earth,’ I said.
They hadn’t a clue what I meant. I eventually realised that it wasn’t due to the wax. I translated my origins into all the ten languages I have in my head, and the other 340 lurking in my translating machine, but they just gaped at me through all their numerous orifices.
‘The Earth,’ I said, gesticulating wildly. ‘Where grass and flowers grow.’
– From the Short Story “The Earth”
Mikael Niemi – author of Popular Music – delivers one amazing story after the other. His stories are filled with worlds, filled with references to our world, to our universe – even an Austrian Student from Graz is mentioned – and gets the reader’s attention from the very first page. The strength of this book is that each story can stand completely by itself, there is no connection to any other story in the book, not even loosely. Makes it easy to read, put it away, read another book and go back – it is one of those books you love to revisit and may find something you missed the first time. It found an exclusive place on my book shelf, close to the Hitchhiker’s Guide, The Hyperion and Dune. If a book can feel comfortable in any way – this is the place to be.
And she realised that it was over. The story was finished. We would never know.
– From the Short Story “Time’s Last Angle”