The Electric State

The Electric State cover

by Simon Stålenhag (2017)

I listen to a really fantastic science fiction podcast by Damien Walter, which is fascinatingly cerebral. Damien selected Stålenhag's work for his recent round-up of the 21 most significant science fiction storytellers of the 21st century (so far).

This is the same artist whose work inspired 2020's Tales from the Loop, and Damien's selection spurred me to engage more fully than just browse around Stålenhag's images all over the web.

I wasn't disappointed. The word count is low enough to be considered a short, but the main event is the accompanying illustrations, which are downright startling in their contrasts of the mundane and the fantastic.

Charting the journey of a runaway teenager and her small yellow robot, through a ruined near-future American landscape, littered with the debris of a high tech consumerist society addicted to an all-encompassing virtual-reality system. As they approach the edge of the continent, the world outside the car window unravels at an ever faster pace, as if somewhere beyond the horizon, the hollow core of civilization has finally caved in.