The Stars Seem So Far Away by Margrét Helgadóttir

Fox Spirit, 2015, 161 p.

The Stars Seem So Far Away cover

This is a set of stories set in a future Earth presumably globally warmed where the south has become parched and refugees have flowed north to places such as Svalbard and The Green Land. Though not conceived of as a unity the author gradually found they described one fictional world. Characters reappear from one story to another. There is a certain sparseness to Helgadóttir’s style evident throughout.

The scene setter is Nora. The titular woman, who is sailing her ship alone, has her own methods of dealing with pirates. More like a sketch for a story rather than the story itself.
The Lost Bonds of this story’s title are those between humans and the animal world. In a post-ice northern clime a spirit fox helps out a group of men.
Aida is a refugee to the highly populated Svalbard Islands from the drought ridden lands to the south. Her survival after the plague which has depopulated the islands again is secured by an old man. But he is dying.
InThe Rescue, Bjørg, a young girl left by her father in charge of a seed vault, lives in fear of intruders. Things might not be as she fears though.
The Stars Seem So Far Away sees Zaki travel across the deserts of what was once called the Green Land and stumble upon a crashed aircraft in which lives the man who was once an astronaut.
In A Sailor Girl Goes Ashore, Nora goes ashore in Svalbard against her better instincts only to find the place all but deserted. She does, however, meet Aida and take her under her wing.
The Breakfast Guest is a boy who is following Zaki and Roar as they journey west towards Nuuk. He offers to help them cross a lake but they sense something is amiss.
In The End of the World Simik from The Rescue is on a hunt for murderers with his squad of soldiers when they come across a group of boys whose living space inside a mountain contains a mural depicting the decline of life on Earth up to now – and into the future.
Nora and Aida come ashore on The Women’s Island where they are greeted by three women whose friendly overtures they soon mistrust.
Frostburst Heart sees Bjørg and Simik, her earlier rescuer, threatened with separation after his invitation to go to space.
In Conversations siblings Zaki and Aida have finally been reunited in Nuuk but find it difficult to talk to each other. Enrolled in school they both have prospects of joining the space programme.
The Whale in Nuuk relates the visit of Bjørg and Simik to see the remains of possibly the last such creature not to be made by humans.
In The Last Night Nora says goodbye to her sailing ship, Naureen, and is surprised by a visit from Bjørg.
Farewell sees five of our principals go into space. Roar, who’s already been, and Aida’s dog Tarik stay behind. It’s an ending, of sorts.

Pedant’s corner:-“he clearly saw it lay down” (he saw it lie down,) the text refers to the lighting of explosives (in the future? Unless the future has degenerated – and this one doesn’t seem to have,) plus points for whom, “to not let people see her emotions” (not to let people see,) sailboat (sailing boat,) “he was not much taller than she” (either “he was not much taller than her” or “he was not much taller than she was”,) sunk in (sank in,) air field (airfield,) aircrafts (aircraft,) spacecrafts (spacecraft,) “the skin didn’t lay tight” (lie tight,) boar (the creature is obviously a bear,) a missing comma before a piece of direct speech, “‘Where is Gard?’.” (Doesn’t need that full stop outside the quote mark,) sunk (sank,) shrunk (shrank.)

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