We’re enormous fans of Simon Stålenhag’s artwork around here, ever since we first came across him in 2013. His work mixes high-tech futurism with scenes from every day Sweden. Now, he’s released a brilliant art book, Tales from the Loop.
Tales from the Loop isn’t a novel, and it isn’t quite an art book either. It’s a bit of a mix of the two, with stunning illustrations of giant robots and flying machines along side snippets of an alternate world that he’s created of 1980s Sweden.
There’s a basic story: in the 1950s, the Swedish government ordered the construction of a particle accelerator, which ran through the mid-1990s. The surrounding area was awash in technology, and the narrator recounts a range of short episodes from his childhood in this environment.
While reading through this book, I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that I was reading something comparable to the brilliant novel Roadside Picnic by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky: there’s technology everywhere, but it’s been cast aside, abandoned, ripe for exploration.
There’s also a real sense of nostalgia rooted in this book, of a person looking back at their childhood and the simpler times. Here, machines wander the countryside, boys switch bodies, and mysterious creatures are rumored to swim in deep pools of water.
The story that emerges isn’t straightforward or even reliable at times - you’re looking through the eyes of someone’s childhood memories, which makes it even more special and exciting.
This could all make for a fine novel, to be sure, but what really makes this book pop is the amazing artwork that you see in it. Simon Stålenhag is an amazing artist, as demonstrated in the pages of this book.
All in all, this makes for the best type of coffee table or art book. It draws you in and sucks you into new, fantastic worlds that you don’t want to come home from.