Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep
Waiting For The Machines To Fall Asleep

Editor: Peter Öberg

Contributors: Hans Olsson, Boel Bermann, Erik Odeldahl, Ingrid Remvall, Love Kölle, Lupina Ojala, Christina Mordlander, Pia Lindestrand, Jonas Larsson, Tora Greve, Andrew Coulthard, Johannes Pinter, Andrea Grave-Müller, AR Yngve, My Bergström, Anders Blixt, maria Haskins, Patrik Centerwall, Björn Engström, KG Johansson, Oskar Källner, Sara Koplijar, Eva Holmquist, Markus Sköld, and Anna Jakobsson Lund

Reviewed by Adam Armstrong

Of all the data ever collected throughout human history, a majority of it was generated in the last two years. Technology is advancing in leaps and bounds and at times it is hard to keep up with it. Not just because I’m getting on in years, even the young folks are having a hard time wrapping their minds around what all is out there and what it is capable of. Automation and robotics are changing every aspect of the world we live in from automated factories to smart homes and cars to research in the medical field. But what happens when all of this technology decides we aren’t worth bothering with, or worse, we are in the way of its advancement.

Waiting For The Machines To Fall Asleep is a collection of 26 stories from Sweden. The Swedes take a slightly different look on things than we’re used to: Mankind has found a way to travel to a far off dimension only to find it populated by enormous, soulless killing machines. A city has found a way to kill off all of its rats in one fell swoop, only the inventor of the technology helps the rats turn the tables on the humans. A man is sent into a city of twisted dreams that is forever changing to find something that may hold the key to his own past. Humans create perfect androids, but are some things perfectly human without feelings? Perhaps it can overcome this imperfection by stealing human emotions. A mother commits the ultimate betrayal in order to save her dying son. The greatest scientific minds of the centuries come together but are soon torn apart by what appears to be magic. The machines have taken over and mankind decides it can put them all to sleep at once, but who is left that you can trust when all machines look just like men.

I have to admit, I haven’t read many books by Swedish authors. (I read one of the Stieg Larsson books when they were so popular years ago but didn’t care for it.) Living in the United States some people get the idea that the rest of the world is dramatically different, though I find most Western cultures are somewhat similar. Eastern culture is a different can of worms. With that being said, the stories presented here did have a “fresh” feel to them. There wasn’t really anything that had never been done before, just a slightly different take on familiar tropes that was compelling and refreshing.

While the first story was probably the weakest (and an odd choice for an opening) several of the stories really stick to your ribs…and then gnaw at them while you try to sleep. "Getting To The End" is a story that speaks to creative people, as to what happens to your creations when you take a break. Do their lives get put on hold, frozen, and waiting for their creator? Or do they get mixed in with every other idea in your head, lost and looking for answers? "The Order Of Things" told the touching story of a parent’s love for her child. Not only was she willing to give up her freedom, but the very things she spent her life fighting against in order to save her son. "The Publisher’s Reader" tells a tale where all creativity is measured against preordained rules, much the way Hollywood films and most YA books are starting to feel. In an ocean of copies and repeats a few drops of originality can still be found.

Along with the really strong stories there were a few that had a Twilight Zone feel to them. Not jumping off of the page satisfying but enough to make the reader give a hearty grunt and half smile when they finish. And a handful were largely forgettable. Not bad, they just didn’t resonate. 

If you want to see a slightly dark look at some real talent out of Sweden, pick up a copy. The stories have been perfectly translated. You may even find the a Sci-Fi version of Stieg Larsson in the mix.