“Tales from the Loop”

Simon Stålenhag

Two coffee-table-book reviews in a row!

This was a fascinating read; I wasn’t really sure what to expect going in, and it turned out to be a really lovely work of science fiction. In short, this is a coffee table book from a different timeline, one where WWII research invented some kind of magnetic chicanery that lets battleships fly. It’s all centered around a small town in Sweden, something of a company town for the largest particle accelerator ever built.

And I really love that concept. It’s not a science fiction novel, it’s not particularly interested in telling the big story. It’s a coffee table book, an art series by someone who grew up in a place, telling their own story and explaining their paintings. It just happens that the place they grew up was at the center of a lot of weird stuff.

Stålenenhag’s art style works really well for this; something about it feels like concept art that comes out of film and video game studios. That air of mystery, of cinematic effect, and the fact that it’s not a fully fleshed-out story about every last aspect of these things makes it so much more interesting. There’s a lot more room for you to come up with your own explanations.

I almost wish the cover was subtler; it’d be fun to make a version of this that’d blend in, and watch people flip through it and slowly realize “hang on…”

This is a fun read, full of beautiful paintings. Check it out.1

  1. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.

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