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Speculative Fiction from Around the World

The Bulgarian Science Fiction between the East and the West – IV. Ye Shall Not be Forgotten by Valentin Ivanov

This article originally appeared in Valentin Ivanov’s bilingual blog.

This excursion across the years and names cannot last forever. It was never meant to be complete and I am not even going to pretend that it was objective — I was simply telling you about my favorite SF books and writers from my country.

Before I finish, here are a few words about some modern Bulgarian SF writers of interest, at least in my view:

— Khristo Poshtakov (b. 1944) is probably the most widely published and translated present-day Bulgarian SF writer. His print runs in Russia reach five-digit figures, he has a few books in Spanish, and many stories in English, Spanish, and French. He won a Eurocon for debut in 1994. Here are some links to his work:
www.trantorpublications.com/issue_xviii_–_EEurope.htm#Ten%20Thousand%20Dollars
www.phantazm.net/fiction/the-most-terrible-beast/science-fiction.htm
khristoposhtakov.blogspot.com/ (personal blog, in Spanish)
I like best his first novel “Adventures in Darville”which tells how some commoners, not much different from the classical little man of Charles Chaplin, fight against evil. Poshtakov is also known for his work promoting Bulgarian SF abroad.

— Last but not least, I would like to point at two promising young writers that are among the best (but not last!) hopes to bring Bulgarian SF beyond the limitations of the language and culture. They are both called Ivaylo Ivanov, and one can only distinguish them by their middle initials.

Ivaylo G. Ivanov was born in 1971 in Varna. He is a professional lawyer. His story “Father” made its way into the fanzines “Oceans of the Mind” (in English), “AXXON” (in Spanish), and “Lunatique” (in French):
http://www.trantorpublications.com/issue_xviii_–_EEurope.htm#Father
http://axxon.com.ar/rev/172/c-172cuento5.htm
http://www.eons.fr//main.php?lang=fr&rubrique=Catalogue&idlivre=92

Ivaylo P. Ivanov was born in 1973 in Sofia. He is a professional economist and computer whiz. Unfortunately, he has not been published abroad, but some of his stories are exceptionally original and intense. My favorite is “I Dreamt a Human Face” (2005). It describes and artificial ecosystem, created by the survivors of a spaceship wreck. They were forced to use the only biomaterial they had – themselves, and as a result, all living beings in their new world, from herbivores to predators, descend from men and have preserved enough humanity to be aware of who they were and what they have become. The ending is cautiously optimistic – it doesn’t matter if you look like a human, what makes a difference is if you behave like one.

I can go on: Agop Melkonyan, Petar Kardzhilov, Lyubomir Nikolov… and I am sure I have missed names and stories worth telling you about but I will stop here.
Finally, we do have our Forrest Ackermans, too. Perhaps, the most distinguished ones are Atanas P. Slavov, Yuri Ilkov and Kalin Nenov.

Slavov was the editor of the first specialized Slavonic science fiction and fantasy magazine “Orphia”. The first and (alas) only issue was present at the 1990 SF Worldcon in the Hague, and won the Carel award. An image of the front cover can be viewed here: http://bgf.zavinagi.org/upload/7/72/Orphia.jpg

Ilkov is the editor and publisher of the longest-running (since 1999) Bulgarian SF fanzine “Tera Fantastika” (some covers: http://bgf.zavinagi.org/index.php/%D0%9A%D0%B0%D1%80%D1%82%D0%B8%D0%BD%D0%BA%D0%B0:Tera_fant_all.jpg; slow!)

Slavov and Nenov are the creators of the Human Library Foundation (in Bulgarian: http://choveshkata.net/) aimed at popularization and publishing of quality literature, specifically SF. You may have noticed that Nenov is the translator of many of the stories I pointed at – translation and popularization of Bulgarian SF abroad is one of the goals of this organization.

Some additional general articles, related to Bulgarian Science Fiction:
— Another take at the history of Bulgarian SF, by SF writer Khristo Poshtakov, was published in Phantazm: http://www.phantazm.net/fiction/science_fiction_in_bulgaria/introduction.htm
— Radi Radev, a young SF author, reviewed Bulgarian fandom in this “Locus” (http://www.locusmag.com/) article: http://www.concatenation.org/europe/bulga.html
— A more topical article, about Bulgarian SF life in 2006, by RossieDecheva, is available here: http://www.concatenation.org/europe/sfbulgaria2006.html
It contains a number of relevant links.
— An article about the Eurocon 2004, held in Bulgaria, by Jim Walker: http://www.concatenation.org/conrev/eurocon04.html
The late Robert Sheckley was one of the guests of honour.
Many other resources, such as webzines, discussion forums and websites of various Bulgarian SF societies and clubs were skipped on purpose because they are mostly in Bulgarian, and therefore outside the scope of this review.
I hope my presentation of Bulgarian Science Fiction has been interesting and that it might prompt you to follow some of these links…

Valentin was born in Bulgaria in 1967. He is a professional astronomer, working at the European Southern Observatory in Chile. Valentin has published in his native country a fantasy collection based on Bulgarian folklore, written with Kiril Dobrev in 2006. His first English language stories, “How I Saved the World” and “Unstable atmospheric circulation”, appeared in 2009.

February 18, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,

1 Comment

  1. pretty good

    Comment by minko | March 25, 2010


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