Astrotruckers (Hardback)

Author: Mikael Niemi
Harvill Secker
RRP: 10.00
ISBN-13: 978 1 8434 3278 4
ISBN-10: 1 8434 3278 1
Available 03 May 2007

What do you say to an intellectually fistular maggot who wants to observe you watching football? How many doors get slammed in your face when you try to find out who is in charge of the universe? And what happens when you switch your android's personality setting to "humour"?...

Astrotruckers is the new novel by Swedish writer/director Mikael Niemi. Niemi previously published the well-received book Popular Music which, in turn, became the film Popularmusik Fran Vittula (2004) - where Niemi pops up as the narrator. He also co-wrote the very funny miniseries Bondanger (1997).

Astrotruckers is a rambling scatological collection of loosely connected tales were, stylistically, James Joyce rhythmically cracks heads with Douglas Adams to the tune of Sousa's Liberty Bell. Everything here is open to question and interpretation from the banal to the cosmic. Discover how the big bang started after someone shoved his head where a head shouldn't go. Ever wondered why space adventurers would carry a piece of their own faeces into space with them, just for the occasional sniff?

The book has little in the way of a central narrative, short of the winsome musings of a disaffected astrotrucker. It reads more like a very long absurdist shaggy dog story, with a short term memory problem, that keeps getting distracted down invariably interesting side streets on the Dadaist side of town. The humour ranges from the internalised little chuckle to the laugh out loud and its comedic range should have something for just about everyone.

The various, loosely, connected stories pay comedic homage to many science fiction standards. So, we have the nature of God, a tempting look at the far future of the human race and more than a few pastiches of well known films.

Overall this is a delightfully written trip through the strange mind of Mikael Niemi. The only thing which let the book down was the cover. The copy I received was an uncorrected proof with a nasty illustration which wouldn't have done a forties pulp magazine justice, lets hope they find something different before publication.

Charles Packer

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