Harry Martinson began to write Aniara in following Soviet Union's nuclear weapon tests and inspired by a view of the Andromeda Galaxy he had seen. Aniara was adapted into a Swedish feature film in According to Aadu Ott and Lars Broman at the International Planetarium Society, Aniara is an effort to "[mediate] between science and poetry, between the wish to understand and the difficulty to comprehend". The poem consists of cantos and relates the tragedy of a large passenger spacecraft [10] originally bound for Mars with a cargo of colonists from the ravaged Earth. After an accident, the ship is ejected from the Solar System and into an existential struggle. The style is symbolic, sweeping and innovative for its time, with creative use of neologisms to suggest the science fictional setting:.

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Emelie Jonsson plays Aniara protagonist the Mimarobe. Credit: Magnolia Pictures. Evacuees, many scarred by the flames of some unnamed Armageddon, set out for Mars on a space ferry. So far, so sci-fi. But Aniara , the Swedish film pivoting on this catastrophe, is not about skintight spacesuits and high-tech derring-do in the void. Invented by the first Mars colonists, Mima taps human memories to plunge visitors into a dream-like simulation of paradise: Earth as it was. In our first sight of MR, she stares out of the grimy window of a space elevator ascending to Aniara , for what seems like a routine flight.

The ship — a kind of shopping mall in space, laden with spas, bars and amusement arcades — is ultimately depressing, as children cry and bored adults walk around like zombies under neon lights. Soon, it all starts to go wrong. After swerving to avoid space junk, a freak accident occurs: Aniara is hit by a tiny screw that sets its nuclear power source on fire.

The burning fuel rods must be ejected, leaving the ship with no power to allow the pilots to steer. Aniara , and the passengers, must continue on a trajectory into the blackness. Spaceship passengers escape to a dream-like simulation of Earth in Aniara. The film thereafter charts the emotional journey of the passengers as they endure stages similar to those of grief.

Days turn into weeks, weeks into years, with the Mima Hall the sole way of staving off the barely tolerable bleakness. But lives are lived on the ferry. She and MR are wonderful, fully developed characters: MR competent and resilient, Isagel pervaded by growing gloom. The closest thing to a villain, the supremely arrogant captain Chefone Arvin Kanania , is delightful, almost comically macho in his conviction that every problem can be solved by hitting the gym harder.

Cults develop, sexual freedom reigns and chaos descends. Aniara is short on space science. Nor is anything said about the lack of rescue ships, or how the on-board algae farms are capable of providing food indefinitely, if not palatably.

The film is no poorer for that. The ship and its journey are a stage for a subtle psychological exploration of human behaviour — our capacity for destruction and cruelty, as well as optimism against all odds. Ultimately, however, this is a philosophical film: a soul-searching examination of our insignificance at the cosmic scale.

A sense of doom is never far away. At heart, Aniara is a reminder that we live on a remarkable planet. Even as fires burn from the Arctic to the Amazon, there is still time to stave off tragedy — for now. An essential round-up of science news, opinion and analysis, delivered to your inbox every weekday.

Advanced search. Aniara is released in the United Kingdom and on streaming from 30 August. Nature Briefing An essential round-up of science news, opinion and analysis, delivered to your inbox every weekday. Sign me up to receive the daily Nature Briefing email. Close banner Close. Enter your email address. Sign up.

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Aniara: An Epic Science Fiction Poem

When Swedish poet and writer Harry Martinson was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in "for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos" , the decision was controversial, to say the least. Any Nobel prize to a Swedish recipient is of course automatically suspect. If you pick persons in the world at random, you can only expect to find one Swedish-speaking person in the group. And there are more than 6, languages in the world. There are counterarguments.


Science fiction when the future is now

Aniara by Harry Martinson. Our Assessment: B : odd piece of work, but has its moments. Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review 's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge and remind and warn you that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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