Helgadóttir, Margrét: The Stars Seem So Far Away (2015)

Cover artist: Sarah Ann Langton
Cover artist: Sarah Ann Langton

I am glad Ms. Helgadóttir asked me to review her book, The Stars Seem So Far Away. Its completion left me feeling weepy and I have been trying to figure out why that is.

How much loss can we endure before we decide that death is for us? I have never truly been alone. Somewhere, within my ability to contact them, have been people I have cared about. I am 50 and both my parents and all of my siblings are still fairly intact. My husband and my children are close, both geographically and emotionally, to me. In each of Ms. Helgadóttir’s stories we meet people who have, or think they have, lost all who they cared about.

When we meet Aida, she is in her early teens and on her way to becoming all alone once again. Her father and mother had died and her brother had disappeared during the plague. Another caretaker turned up, but he is also dying. We meet her grief and her decision to try to survive.

Could I keep from losing a sense of decency in my interactions with other humans in a world where those I encountered were likely to kill me? Nora did and her choice makes all the difference in a world where survival is, at best, a chancy thing. I loved her handling of the piracy situation that arose.

How do you reintroduce yourself to humanity if you have been alone for years? Bjørg has had to manage on her own with her isbos as her only company for some time. Her living conditions have been far superior to those of the other characters. Yet her mission, as set by her father and the Commander, has been traumatizing for her. Somehow she has muddled through it all. Finally, she is unable to do her “duty” yet another time, and that brings the soldiers of Svalbard into her life. Going from a solitary life to one filled with people (even if there are only four others) changes everything for her.

Loss of parents, siblings, children and friends are all losses that our characters experience. Loss of home and safety in a world where the only surviving animal seems to be human is another factor that adds to their burdens. Most plants are gone and the environment makes life difficult, or impossible, in most of today’s temperate zones. Ms. Helgadóttir’s future is entirely believable.

Tying her short stories together in the manner that she has was well done. Her prose is lovely and her portrayal of the Nordic is well done.

Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


The Stars Seem So Far Away available at Amazon here (UK) and here (US)


A copy was given to me by the author


Svalbard Global Seed Vault

2013: Melting Sea Ice Keeps Hungry Polar Bears on Land

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