SFcrowsnest

Anthology Of European SF edited by Cristian Tamas and Roberto Mendes (e-mag review).

I’m quite a fan of translations, foreign-language SF and languages in general. My stories have been published in twenty European languages, nominated for awards in Estonian and Catalan and one of my short stories appears in another fifteen European languages on my website, so I was very pleased to be sent a review copy of the ‘Anthology Of European Speculative Fiction’. The collection features both stories translated into English and originally written in English by authors for whom English is a second language and two English people. Some are reprints, so here I’m concentrating on the original stories.

A dangerous deep-space mission is the setting for ‘Memory Recall’ by Regina Catarino. A newly qualified navigator gives a pleasantly human viewpoint to the story, despite being a centaur. I think the conclusion is intended to be a surprise, but it isn’t. Still, it’s nicely written.

‘Digits Are Cold, Numbers Are Warm’ by Liviu Radu is an ambitious story that ties together several important historical dates using some nifty numerology. Told in flashback by an innocuous-seeming vicar’s widow during his funeral, we learn of the awful secret they uncovered together, leading them to face a terrible fate in order to save humanity. The story is slightly over-complicated with its multi-layered back story, but hangs together well nonetheless.

‘Repeat Performance’ by Carmelo Rafala is a gritty story of rescue and revenge set in a future where children are sold into slavery and transformed by bizarre biochemical means to serve their new masters. I was drawn into this intense story and enjoyed it through every revelation and each progressive scene.

In ‘Bing Bing Larissa’, author Cristian Mihail Teodorescu has gone to great lengths to create a new branch of physics based on money and cleverly introduces all kinds of ideas throughout the narrative. These snippets are entwined through the story of a woman who treads the dangerous ground between teaching her daughter the truth and revealing herself as a heretic. A fun and intriguing idea. If you know your physics, there’s lots to look out for.

‘The Royal Library’ is Vladimir Arenev’s odd little collage of vaguely related fantasy tales told in an impersonal mythical style. They’re fun pieces by themselves, though I’m still not sure why they’re stuck together

‘News From A Dwarf Universe’ by Dănut Ungureanu is an entertaining little tale chronicling the results of a new technology designed to save the Earth’s resources and the inevitable unforeseen results. It’s narrated rather than experienced, but is short enough to sustain that form.

In ‘Rebellion’ by Diana Pinguicha, a biologically enhanced super-soldier recounts the tale of how she escaped from the organisation she was bred to serve. It’s a well-written account, although it’s not clear why she is telling the tale to a young girl she’s met, rather than the story just being told in the first person.

In fact, several of the stories in the collection are told by narrators who are part of the story, rather than just being written as a direct account. Maybe this is a feature of continental European SF I haven’t spotted before? It certainly used to be popular in British SF at one point. Perhaps I’ll start a survey on the subject.

So, altogether, an entertaining and enjoyable collection. Interestingly, I was struck by the similarity on style and theme of many of the stories to English-language SF, despite the variety of places their authors come from. I was not startled by ethnic or cultural differences, enchanted by quaint or exotic locations or stumped by unrecognisable names. It seems SF is indeed a European pursuit.

Gareth D. Jones

(pub: ISF Magazine & Europa SF. 132 page e-book. Price: Free Download)
check out website: http://scifiportal.eu/