KG Johansson's Googolplex will be published by Affront Publishing in September 2015.
Information about KG Johansson:
Swedish author KG Johansson was born in the fifties, grew up with rock music and became a musician. Today he plays and writes full-time - science fiction and young adult novels, film scripts, opera libretti and music books - and is one of the foremost authors of speculative fiction in Scandinavia.
Click here to visit the author's official website (in Swedish).
Information about Googolplex:
If you could have anything but the one thing you really wanted, what would you do?
Jack is part of a group of colonists traveling to the distant planet Shylock to build themselves a new home. But Jack has trouble letting go of his past and the world he left behind. He becomes obsessed with what could have been, and with the help of multis - mysterious beings from parallel universes - he begins his search for truth. However, in a world where even love seems impossible to define, what can he find?
A REVIEW OF KG JOHANSSON'S GOOGOLPLEX
KG Johansson's Googolplex was originally published in 2010. It won the Spektakulärt Award for the best Swedish science fiction novel in 2010. It's nice that this novel has been translated into English, because it's a thought-provoking, creative and well written novel for adult readers who want to read something a bit different.
Scandinavian speculative fiction seems to be on the rise, which is nice, because it brings much-needed freshness and originality to the genre. Googolplex is an excellent example of thrilling Scandinavian speculative fiction.
I recently read KG Johansson's story, "The Membranes in the Centering Horn", which was published in the excellent anthology Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep (Affront Publishing, 2015). Because I enjoyed reading it and found it fascinating, I was eager to read Googolplex. When I began to read this novel, I was positively surprised by its freshness, because the author used well-known science fiction elements and concepts in a fresh and interesting way.
Googolplex is a combination of different elements that together form an enjoyable novel that's different from most new science fiction novels. KG Johansson fluently combines such themes and issues as space travel, DNA modification, colonisation, technological inventions, love and relationships etc (the author covers quite a big range of different elements and he does it extremely well).
Here's information about the story:
- At the beginning of the story, Jack wakes up from stasis in which he has been for seventy-three years. He is travelling towards the distant planet Shylock with other colonists. He and the other colonists have been given new bodies, because Shylock has a gravity one and a half times that of Earth. When Jack and the other colonists arrive on Shylock, they begin to work and build a colony. They also begin to form couples. Jack is attracted to a woman, but their relationship is a bit difficult...
- Soon Jack returns to Earth and begins to relive his memories. He becomes increasingly obsessed with his past and what has happened to him. He gets help from the mysterious beings called multis...
This is the beginning of an intriguing story with entertaining, thought-provoking and philosophical elements. The author explores life, love and relationships in an intriguing and surprisingly deep way.
The author writes well about Jack's life and feelings and also about his obsession with what could have been. At the beginning of the story, Jack lives in a young body that has its own hormones and needs. Although his body is young, his mind is old (his body is still a virgin, but he is not). He has to think about many things, including falling in love and having children. He reflects on his life, choices and actions, and he examines what he has done and what has happened to him. Reliving his memories leads him on a quest to find the truth.
The multis are interesting beings, because they differ from humans. They are believed to come from parallel worlds and have the power to travel in the multiverse. They're a bit larger than humans and have a few legs and arms. They seem to have a kernel, but around it they have layers of flowing gases and fluids that make their appearance exotic and strange. They're called "it", because nobody knows if they have sexes. They communicate by pictures and seem to be able to read minds.
I found it interesting that human beings could live in different bodies and were able to change them when the time was right. Human beings were also able to backup their memories when needed. Backuping up one's memories and accessing them is an intriguing process, because it's possible to store away many memories and only choose the memories that one wants to remember. When a person want to access the memories again, it's possible to remember what has happened before and relive different moments from one's past.
It's nice that KG Johansson concentrates on describing the problems that the colonists face on Shylock. He seems to have thought of all the important things that are related to colonising a planet and fluently writes about what happens in the colony and how the colonists feels about what's going on. For example, he writes about how the colonists have problems with crops and one another etc.
The author's vision of the future of Earth and human beings is genuinely fascinating. He reveals what has happened to Earth and human beings after the upheavals that were mostly caused by polar caps melting and different kinds of oil running out. The world changed permanently, because many people died because of the upheavals, famine and epidemics, but gradually a new world emerged from the ruins of the old world. Reading about the wonders of the new world was interesting.
I enjoyed reading about how humans learned new things from the multis and developed in significant ways over the years. Humans learned to modify DNA, change their apperance, grow bodie and store memories etc. A whole new era began for humans when they learned these things.
One of the most fascinating things about this novel is that Jack learns new things from the multis when begins his quest for truth. The multis teach him many new things, including how to travel between universes. Reading about the learning process was thrilling, because Jack was willing to learn new abilities.
There's an intriguingly sad and touching undertone in this novel that I found compelling. There's also a deeply human level to this novel that is lacking from many science fiction novels, because the author writes about Jack's feelings and obsession with what could have been. I think it's good that there's a human level to this novel, because it brings depth to the story.
Now that I've read "The Membranes in the Centering Horn" and this novel, I have to mention that I want to read more novels and stories by KG Johansson. I hope that he continues to write speculative fiction, because he has a wonderful imagination and is capable of writing different kind of stories.
Because the words "googol" and "googolplex" are mentioned in this novel, I think it's good to say a few words about them. If there are readers out there who are unaware of what these words mean, here's a little mathematics:
- Googol is the large number 10^100 (the digit 1 followed by 100 zeroes).
- Googolplex is the number 10^googol (10^(10^100) aka it is the digit 1 followed by 10^100 zeroes).
If you want to read something a bit different and enjoy well written science fiction, please read KG Johansson's Googolplex. It differs nicely from what's out there on the market nowadays, because it feels fresh due to its combination of imaginative storytelling and thoughtful examination of the protagonist's life and feelings.
Excellent science fiction!