Review by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir.
What does the future behold? Who hasn’t wondered what the world will look like, ten, 100, 1,000 years from now. Will there be flying cars? Will there be a human colony on Mars? Will aliens have taken over our planet? Will Earth even exist?
In LoveStar—originally published in Iceland in 2002 but released on the English-language market last year—author Andri Snær Magnason shares with us his view of the future in this crazy Brave New World-meets-Futurama sci-fi novel.
Sci-fi is a new genre in Icelandic literature and a fellow sci-fi author commented in an interview that Andri Snær was not being serious, that LoveStar was some sort of a joke.
It’s true that LoveStar is funny. Laugh-out-loud funny rather than bizarrely funny like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
That’s not to say LoveStar isn’t bizarre but to me its humor lies in ‘insider jokes’ that those unfamiliar with Icelandic current affairs and culture might miss.
Like a tomb having been made for Davíð—Oddsson, I presume (the author doesn’t specify which Davíð)—underneath the mountain Keilir where tourists can observe his mummified body. Like Lenin. I found that a hilarious prospect.
I don’t know what kind of sci-fi literature is serious. I must admit I have limited tolerance for the genre, so if a sci-fi novel isn’t funny I might not pick it up in the first place.
In any case, LoveStar was serious enough to be nominated for the reportedly prestigious 2013 U.S. Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Award.
It should be pointed out that Andri Snær isn’t strictly a sci-fi writer. I’m not sure he fits into any genre unless there’s one for good authors. Or perhaps one for environmentalist authors.
Andri Snær told me once in an interview that his goal is to “betray his audience” in that he jumps genres. He has written poetry, children’s literature and non-fiction, all to critical acclaim, and what they have in common are environmental references.
In LoveStar, electro-magnetic waves have messed up the instinctive navigation system of animals so that Arctic terns start nesting in Paris and bees invade Chicago.
A mad scientist who calls himself LoveStar (although probably not the author’s intention, I keep seeing founder of deCODE Genetics Kári Stefánsson as LoveStar) and his team study the waves animals use to communicate and discover the key to true love.
Building a business empire on pairing people up, LoveStar sets up his headquarters inside the distinct Hraundrangi mountain range in the rural Öxnadalur valley in North Iceland where on the outside, the countryside seems as idyllic and peaceful as ever.
Having conquered love, LoveStar expands into marketing death. Through LoveDeath people can choose to literally be sent to heaven for the afterlife by space rockets.
Gradually, life on the entire planet is taken over by LoveStar’s empire, controlled from his headquarters in Öxnadalur.
People lose their free will and all ambition in life as it is dictated for them. Finding a partner is pointless because LoveStar guarantees everyone their one true love.
Parents don’t have to bother with raising their kids properly because if they fail they can order a clone of the child and start all over again.
So what happens if someone rebels against the system?
The protagonist of the story, Indriði (who reminds me of Fry in Futurama), believes to have found the love of his life on his own accord, is happy with his darling Sigríður and refuses to give her up just because some computer says he should.
Simply put, LoveStar is their story, of their fight against the system and for a better world. And the question is, can they save it from destruction?
I read LoveStar as a comedy but surprisingly, it also has a serious undertone and leaves one with food for thought.
Not being an avid fan of the sci-fi genre, I enjoyed LoveStar mostly for Andri Snær’s brilliant writing. Judging by the reaction from the U.S. sci-fi elite, it looks like it struck a chord with them too. I’d say it’s safe to recommend for all literary connoisseurs.
LoveStar is available on amazon.com.
Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir – [email protected]