Review: “Invisible Planets” by Hannu Rajaniemi

5 of 5 stars.

A sentient darkship considers the civilizations of six planets in quick vignettes as the ship passes into the intergalactic zone beyond Cygnus 61. Like the gods they are named after, the planets’ civilizations are culturally diverse and yet paralleled here poetically, and beautifully. Like looking into a broken mirror, the glimpses intrigue as well as conceal.

Oya–the wealthy live longer at the expense of the dead. Corpses host xenocatabolic bacteria that prolong the lives of the living as gut microflora. A culture of who can preserve the dead and who can afford the dead.

Lakshmi–home of the wealth race. Personalized space detritus converts cosmic rays into the only viable currencies, quantum cryptocurrencies then transmitted to the smart-phones below.

Ki–a world that truly exploits the 3 dimensions having long ago left the limitations of their planet’s surface. They now needle time itself and pick at the curled micro-dimensions.

Glaukopis–where everyone sees through others’ eyes, a constantly-traded commodity. The blind are the ones looking forever outward to space with fixed eyes.

Seshat–everything is words to be read: texts, DNA, computer code. The landfills overflow with all the read objects. Now Seshetians explore the language of neutrinos and dark matter.

Zywie–silence. Empty husks of great cities with machines still churning. More machines whirr on land, at sea, and in near-space. Lower creatures stir . . .

“Invisible Planets” appears in The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2015 edited by Rich Norton and published by Prime Books. It first appeared in Reach for Infinity.
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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