lunes, 21 de octubre de 2013

International Speculative Fiction #4, edited by Roberto Mendes


(Disclaimer: English is my second language, so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.) 

Review Soundtrack: I suggest reading this review while listening to Hope by S.P. Somtow (Spotify)

I'm a big fan of international science fiction and fantasy and I've been following the International Speculative Fiction project with great interest since it was first announced. However, it is only now that I've found some time to read and review one of the issues of the magazine. I greatly regret not having done it before, because I had a wonderful time with both the stories and the non-fiction included in it.

First of all, I found, to my delight, that the better part of ISF#4 is devoted to Zoran Živković, an author that I greatly admire and I think deserves an even wider recognition. On this issue, you'll find an essay on Živković's work and an interview with the author, both by Michael A. Morrison. They shed some light on the unique creative process of the Serbian author, with some very interesting insights that confirm some of my own thoughts about Živković's writing. Excellent material.

Also included on this issue is "The Astronomer," a short story by Zoran Živković. Though I'd lie if I'd say that this is Živković's best (I'd go for The Library, if forced to choose only one), it is an interesting story and a good example of his work that can serve to whet your appetite for more. Because this short piece is best understood in the wider context of the Time Gifts suite and, even better, as a part of the Impossible Stories collection (whose Spanish edition was my first encounter with the author). I highly recommend that you seek out the book. It is extraordinary. However, I think that its availability is somehow limited, something that sadly happens with most of Živković's work. For some time, there were electronic editions published by PS (as mentioned in the interview, in fact). I even bought a couple of them, but they seem to be no longer for sale for some reason. A real pity. 

My favorite story in this issue is, hands down, "Algorithms for love" by Ken Liu. I'm a great fan of Liu, but he is so prolific that it is hard to catch up with everything he produces and I hadn't read this particular story yet. What a mistake! It is, no doubt, one of the best stories he has written and it has immediately become of my favorite short stories ever. It is so good. Imagine something that is part Greg Egan, part Ted Chiang, with some Peter Watts thrown in for good measure and you'll have a good idea of what "Algorithms for love" is like. In fact, Liu was doing, six years in advance, what Chiang tried with The Lifecycle of Software Objects. But I dare to say that Liu did it better. Much better. This story is just an excellent example of science fiction at its best. A must-read. You should not miss it. 

On the other hand, "The Bird Catcher" by S.P. Somtow is a story that I didn't like very much, despite its being the winner of the 2002 World Fantasy Award for Best Novella. Obviously, I'm in the minority here, but neither the writing style nor the horror (or dark fantasy) elements were to my taste. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I have to say that I was expecting much more and I was not very impressed with the story.  

The issue also includes a profile and a sample of art by artist George Munteanu (who is also the author of the astonishing cover illustration), and book reviews by Sean Wright and Jorge Candeias. All in all, a very good issue that I highly recommend to all speculative fiction fans (have I mentioned that it can be downloaded for free?), especially because of Ken Liu's story and the non-fiction pieces on Zoran Živković's work.  I'll try and catch up with the back issues of ISF and I'm eagerly awaiting the new one, that I guess should be released soon. My most sincere congratulations to all the ISF team.  This is a very necessary project. Keep the great work!

(You can also read this review in Spanish/También puedes leer esta reseña en español)

No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario en la entrada