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Speculative Fiction from Around the World

Translation Award Short Fiction Finalists Online

Several of the short stories nominated for this year’s SF&F translation Award are now available for free online.

From the award website:

We are pleased to report that a number of the short fiction finalists for our awards are being made available online. Currently you can find the following stories:

“The Fish of Lijiang” by Chen Qiufan, translated from the Chinese by Ken Liu (Clarkesworld #59, August 2011)

“Paradiso” by Georges-Olivier Chateaureynaud, translated from the French by Edward Gauvin (Liquid Imagination #9, Summer 2011)

“The Boy Who Cast No Shadow” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, translated from the Dutch by Laura Vroomen (PS Publishing)

“The Short Arm of History” by Kenneth Krabat, translated from the Danish by Niels Dalgaard (Sky City: New Science Fiction Stories by Danish Authors, Carl-Eddy Skovgaard ed., Science Fiction Cirklen)

“The Green Jacket” by Gudrun Östergaard, translated from the Danish by the author and Lea Thume (Sky City: New Science Fiction Stories by Danish Authors, Carl-Eddy Skovgaard ed., Science Fiction Cirklen)

Out thanks to the various publishers who have made these stories available. We are in discussions with Comma Press and PIASA Books regarding the other two stories and hope to have good news soon.

June 15, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Comments Off on Translation Award Short Fiction Finalists Online

Short Story Highlight: The Boy Who Cast No Shadow by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

PS Publishing are offering a free download of Dutch writer Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s story The Boy Who Cast No Shadow, translated by Laura Vroomen. The story is currently a nominee for the SF&F Translation Award and won the Paul Harland Award for best Dutch story of the Fantastic in 2010. It was first published in English in the PS anthology Postscripts: Unfit for Eden.

The Boy Who Cast No Shadow won the prestigious Paul Harland Award for best Dutch story of the Fantastic in 2010. Mr. Olde Heuvelt tells us he wrote it in a four-day rush in between two chapters of a novel which was giving him uncontrollable screaming fits at the time. “To me,” he adds, “it’s a story about being different and coming to terms with the fact that that ain’t such a bad thing. With this story I humbly paid homage to Joe Hill’s Pop Art, which I think is the best short story of the 21st Century.”

Born in 1983, Mr. Olde Heuvelt is the much praised Dutch author of four novels and many stories of the fantastic. His work contains elements of magic-realism, fantasy, and humour, and he is well-known in Holland for evoking strong emotional responses in readers either laughter, crying, or terrible outbursts of violence. BBC Radio called Thomas (they couldn’t pronounce his last name) “One of Europe’s foremost talents in fantastic literature.” His latest novel, Sarah Hearts, is currently being translated into English.

June 14, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

2011 South African SF/F in Review

2011 – A Year South African Speculative Fiction Gathers Momentum

By Sarah Lotz, Nick Wood and Tanya Barben

 

2011 has been a bursting year for South African speculative fiction, as it gathers further pace and push from the heralding, punchy impact of Lauren Beukes‘s first two novels. (2011 being split almost mid-year by the Arthur C.Clarke Award being presented to Lauren’s Zoo City.) Either side of this seminal event for South African speculative fiction lies various SF/F/H publishing successes for a growing number of local South African authors.

Nerine Dorman is doing great work in the indie horror world. She has published The Namaqualand Book of the Dead (Lyrical press) and is the editor of the annual Bloody Parchment Anthology. She also collaborates with Carrie Clevenger on a humorous paranormal/vampiric romance series (the first one is called Just my Blood Type). The Pornokitsch.com publishers – Anne Perry and Jared Shurin – launched Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse, with excellent stories in it from a host of SA writers (Sam Wilson, Lauren Beukes, Charlie Human and SL Grey).

The Irish SF magazine Albedo One (Issue 40), published Nick Wood’s alternative history story Bridges, set in a contemporary South Africa where apartheid has survived. Nick also presented an overview of South African speculative fiction at the University of Riverside, California, with one attendee in the audience being the Jamaican-Canadian author and GOH Nalo Hopkinson (who now holds a professorial post at the University.)

South Africa’s spec-fic magazine, Something Wicked, is still going strong as an e-version (it’s bringing out an anthology of the best of 2011 soon): http://www.somethingwicked.co.za/

Although a Malawian writer in origin, Luso Mnthali is currently a South African resident and her story People are Reading What You Are Writing was a clever story within the Moreno-Garcia and Stiles anthology (2011) Future Lovecraft. The anthology’s stories were bound by the engaging conceit of ‘Lovecraftian’ tales set in the future. Again, although not South African, Nigerian-American Nnedi Okorafor posted a fascinating series of blogs about Lovecraft, after winning the World Fantasy Award for her novel Who Fears Death:

http://nnedi.blogspot.com/2011/12/lovecrafts-racism-world-fantasy-award.html

Diane Awerbuck’s highly-lauded short story collection, Cabin Fever, includes a wonderfully creepy and psychologically disturbing story featuring the Mami Wata – when Diane tackles spec fiction, she does it superbly. Additionally, although not strictly horror/spec, Louis Greenberg wrote of Henrietta Rose-Innes’s Nineveh:

“Henrietta Rose-Innes, the Caine Prize-winning author of ‘Poison’, a story about a post-apocalyptic Cape Town, released her third novel, Nineveh, this year. Nineveh is what you might call subtle-spec, an ostensibly literary novel that gets weird when a plague of bugs takes over a hubristic new housing development south of Cape Town. In all her work, Rose-Innes is preoccupied with archaeology: digging away layers of history and meaning, and set squarely in contemporary South Africa and Cape Town where reality is often too bizarre and frightening to fictionalise, it is inevitable that strange things emerge from her imaginative excavations.”

Furthermore, Andrew Salomon was short-listed for the Terry Pratchett Prize for his novel Lun, which explored a variety of themes, including the smart and funny notion of a ‘sanctuary for tokoloshes’. Tom Learmont’s Light Across Time (Kwela Books) explored a novel evolutionary idea for extraterrestrials, back-dropped amongst a heady mix of zany theories and meticulously researched historical events.

Ken Sibanda’s The Return to Gibraltar was a welcome and enterprising SF debut by a black South African author – although he is now American too (Proteus Books). The novel involves an African American protagonist time-traveling to 1491 to help the Spanish Moors resist the Christian ‘reconquista’.

SL Grey’s The Mall (Corvus UK) was a dark and at times savage exploration of the life underneath (or parallel to, or even within) shopping malls, as experienced by a young white man and black woman, thrown unwillingly together by who knows whom – or what…

And, speaking of SL Grey, 2012 brings yet further exciting developments with the publication of The Ward, Grey’s second urban horror novel.

A ‘relative’ of SL Grey, Lily Herne, will follow up 2010’s wonderful YA zombie-SF novel Deadlands, with its sequel, Death of a Saint.

Also making an appearance in February 2012, Cat Hellison’s internationally published When the Sea is Rising Red. Although categorized as YA fiction, it’s undoubtedly a crossover novel, and its political undertones and cliché-smashing heroine have already been much praised by reviewers.

And, against this growing and exciting brew of South African spec-fic writers, Lauren Beukes has secured a spectacular hat-trick of book deals for her next novel, The Shining Girls (due out in 2013 from Random House Umuzi, Mulholland US, HarperCollins UK and Australia; various foreign rights have also been snapped up). As well as penning and producing documentaries and film scripts (including the screenplay for the forthcoming adaptation of Zoo City) she’s currently working on six issues of Fairest, a spin-off of Bill Willingham’s Fables comic series. It’s due in October 2012 and features a dark take on Rapunzel’s legend, set in modern-day and ancient fairytale Japan with yokai, yurei and yakuza.

2012 will also include the imminent anthology The Apex Book of World SF 2, with stories by Lauren Beukes and Ivor Hartmann amongst many others. You can see the TOC at Lavie Tidhar’s site: http://lavietidhar.wordpress.com/books/the-apex-book-of-world-sf-2/

Speaking of Hartmann, he plans to launch an African SF e-Anthology; there’s still time to submit, so get writing and go here: http://blogs.african-writing.com/ivor/2012/02/25/call-for-submissions-a-new-scifi-anthology-afrosf/

Roll on 2012, for the next thrilling wave of South African speculative fiction…

March 12, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Short Story Highlight: “Enter The Dragon. Later, Enter Another” by Lavie Tidhar

Just wanted to draw your attention to a short story I published on my blog yesterday: Enter The Dragon. Later, Enter Another – which deals with a future increasingly dominated by the effects of multiple WikiLeaks…

1.

Julian Assange’s Impenetrable Fortress of Ice lies on top of Mount Terror, on Ross Island in Antarctica.

It is a beautiful, icy desolation, hiding inside it the Planet’s Most Wanted Man. His name is Julian.

The Fortress is patrolled at all times by WikiLeaks guerrillas, battle-hardened veterans of the War on Info, the War on Terror, the War for Family Values and the American Way of Life. Behind its sheer ice walls the WikiLord resides in utilitarian splendour, banks of computers broadcasting a continuous digital signal to overhead satellites, spreading the word. The words.

Data. All, as the faithful say, is Data.

Information wants to be free.

2.

They bred me out of the black vats, deep underground, moulded me out of the greatest warriors of all time, General Schwarzkopf and Chuck Norris with a hint of Idi Amin, a touch of Bruce Lee. I am the Dragon. I kill at the speed of thought. I come to Antarctica as men have done over centuries, by sea. A British ice-breaker deposits me on frozen land. Broken icebergs drift across the ocean. I practice by breaking solid ice with my bare hands. I stare up at the frozen volcanoes, at Mount Erebus and Mount Terror. Erebus is a beautiful cone of snow and ice, but the eye is drawn to Terror, where battle drones fly like dark birds in the sky.

I kill a bear with only my knife and wear its hide.

I am ready for this task, as ready as I can ever be.

I reach the volcano.

I begin to climb.

3.

The Iraq War was a computer simulation. Thousands of sentient ghosts died within its cycles of warfare. Viruses of Mass Destruction wrecked havoc on a sculpted landscape, a PR coup d’état for the American infidels. The truth is everywhere you look, just pick up the signal, reality is not what you see, it is what you think it is.

4.

The first Assange I eliminated was in Paris. He was a version 5.02, without the killer instincts as yet, blond almost white-haired, a charismatic, preaching the word on the Rue Saint Michel.

As I ran away from the scene of my crime Mandela-bots chased me, telling me there is another way. I did not want their truth, nor reconciliation. I escaped by speedboat on the Seine, already I was booked for a second job, in Tel Aviv.

5.

On Dizengoff Street I eliminated the Assange preaching sedition, a later model, war programming upgraded, he put up a fight, his knife routines were beautifully choreographed but I am the Dragon, and I completed my mission and flew to Riyadh.

6.

There had been seven Assanges in Riyadh but none when I left.

continue reading.

December 20, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Comments Off on Short Story Highlight: “Enter The Dragon. Later, Enter Another” by Lavie Tidhar

Short Story Highlight: “Faithful City” by Michael Pevzner

The latest issue of Apex Magazine has published the debut of Israeli author Michael Pevzner, short story Faithful City.

I’m not a music person. Father has all sorts of things in the house that can still play, and he listens to them on occasion, but I never cared. I have no need of borrowed emotions; my own are more than enough for me.

Yet a morning came when the orchestra sounded within me. It burst through the cobweb of my dream and I knew that it was something different. I couldn’t see it, I could only hear it, and I heard that it was calling me to it. I felt all of me drawn towards something greater than myself, something distant and beyond my comprehension, something I must become a part of.

In my dream I could fly. I had gossamer wings and these wings carried me upwards, above the tin tent, above the hydroponic farms and the rest of the settlement. I flew, led on by the sounds of the orchestra, not yet knowing myself where I was headed, but knowing with the utmost certainty that the orchestra was leading me to where I belong. I flew through the dust clouds, above the heaps of garbage that have flooded the world, towards the ruined buildings that towered on the horizon like the rotten teeth of a giant. I saw underneath me skeletons of cars and tractors, of trucks and of buses, and I flew straight through the shattered windows of colossal buildings. In one of them I saw a writing desk covered with dust and a shattered television set and a framed picture that lay on the desk, and I stopped for a moment to sweep the dust off the picture and saw the face of a woman smiling at me. – continue reading.

December 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Comments Off on Short Story Highlight: “Faithful City” by Michael Pevzner

Short Story Highlight: “The House of Aunts” by Zen Cho

We’ve not had the opportunity to run many of these short story highlights this year, which is a shame, as they allow us to showcase specific stories as and when they appear. We’ve featured Malaysian author Zen Cho once before (and hope to have an interview with her soon) – her latest work of fiction is the novella The House of Aunts at GigaNotoSaurus:

The house stood back from the road in an orchard. In the orchard, monitor lizards the length of a man’s arm stalked the branches of rambutan trees like tigers on the hunt. Behind the house was an abandoned rubber tree plantation, so proliferant with monkeys and leeches and spirits that it might as well have been a forest.

Inside the house lived the dead.

#

The first time she saw the boy across the classroom, Ah Lee knew she was in love because she tasted durian on her tongue. That was what happened–no poetry about it. She looked at a human boy one day and the creamy rank richness of durian filled her mouth. For a moment the ghost of its stench staggered on the edge of her teeth, and then it vanished.

She had not tasted fruit since before the baby came. Since before she was dead.

After school she went home and asked the aunts about it.

“Ah Ma,” she said, “can you taste anything besides people?”

It was evening–Ah Lee had had to stay late at school for marching drills–and the aunts were already cooking dinner. The scent of fried liver came from the wok wielded by Aunty Girl. It smelt exquisite, but where before the smell of fried garlic would have filled her mouth with saliva, now it was the liver that made Ah Lee’s post-death nose sit up and take interest. It would have smelt even better raw.

“Har?” said Ah Ma, who was busy chopping ginger.

“I mean,” said Ah Lee. “When you eat the ginger, can you taste it? Because I can’t. I can only taste people. Everything else got no taste. Like drinking water only.”

Disapproval rose from the aunts and floated just above their heads like a mist. The aunts avoided discussing their undeceased state. It was felt to be an indelicate subject. It was like talking about your bowel movements, or other people’s adultery.

“Why do you ask this kind of question?” said Ah Ma.

“Better focus on your homework,” said Tua Kim.

“I finished it already,” said Ah Lee. “But why do you put in all the spices when you cook, then? If it doesn’t make any difference?”

“It makes a difference,” said Aunty Girl.

“Why do you even cook the people?” said Ah Lee. “They’re nicest when they’re raw.”

“Ah girl,” said Ah Ma, “you don’t talk like that, please. We are not animals. Even if we are not alive, we are still human. As long as we are human we will eat like civilised people, not dogs in the forest. If you want to know why, that is why.”

There was a silence. The liver sizzled on the pan. Ah Ma diced more ginger than anyone would need, even if they could taste it.

“Is that why Sa Ee Poh chops intestines and fries them in batter to make them look like yu char kuay?” asked Ah Lee.

“I ate fried bread sticks for breakfast every morning in my life,” said Sa Ee Poh. “Just because I am like this, doesn’t mean I have to stop.”

“Enough, enough,” said Ah Chor. As the oldest of the aunts, she had the most authority. “No need to talk about this kind of thing. Ah Lee, come pick the roots off these tauge and don’t talk so much.” – continue reading.

December 8, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Comments Off on Short Story Highlight: “The House of Aunts” by Zen Cho

Mexican authors in latest issue of Flurb Magazine

The 11th issue of Rudy Rucker’s Flurb, guest-edited by Eileen Gunn, features no less than 3 Mexican writers, Alberto Chimal, Bernardo Fernández (also known as BEF), and Pepe Rojo. The stories are published in both the original Spanish and in the English translation.

Hotels, by Alberto Chimal (translated by Carmen Valderrama):

n Reykjavik, there is a study group that specializes in the mysterious work of Juan Cruz de la Piedra, whom members call (in Spanish) “El Arquitecto del Misterio,” the Architect of Mystery. They are miracle workers, soothsayers, haruspices, and there are even one or two architecture graduates from the University. Their meeting place is a clandestine hall on Safamýri Street, presided over by a bronze bust of either Gunnar Gunnarson or Loftur the Wizard (they cannot agree which). In any case, they say it has the power to speak seven times a year, to announce disastrous or wondrous events.

The Last Hours of the Final Days, by Bernardo Fernández (translated by the author):

Our bike ran out of gasoline as soon as we crossed the intersection of Reforma and Bucareli. The bike coughed to death. Just like that. Cursing, Wok tried to start it again; he kicked it furiously, refusing to accept that the ride was over.

“What’s so funny, bitch?” he asked, half angry, half amused. “Stupid Aída!”  I’m always laughing.

We left the bike beside Sebastián’s Caballito. The huge sculpture used to be a brilliant yellow monument; now it’s a rusty wreck blocking Reforma, as are most of the other statues that we’ve been playing dodge-’em with since we found the bike.

Silently, Wok climbed the sculpture’s carcass. From the top, he scanned the horizon in search of a vehicle we could steal. Or at least milk some gasoline from.

“Nada,” he mumbled from his watchtower.

We could hear a few distant explosions.

Stuff, by Pepe Rojo (translated by Alida González Navarro):

“Hi, Dolly!” the husband shouted, opening the front door.

“Hi, Doll!” the wife answered from the kitchen.

“Where are the kids?” Doll asked, brushing his cheek against hers.

“They’re staying over at the neighbors,” she said, pulling a container out of the microwave and putting it on the table.  “How was work?”

“As usual,” the husband replied.  “A calculator decided to swap religions and went for the hexadecimal system. Destroyed a week’s worth of work. The experts are working on it. How about you?”

“It was an awful day,” Dolly answered with a smile.  “Everything was going well until the paper came. It was written in another language, but the pictures and the cartoons were all right, so I decided not to worry about it. At noon, the fridge had a nervous breakdown, and it defrosted. When I walked in, the kitchen was flooded. I had to mop the floor, sweep it, call the supermarket for more ice, and then call the therapist. He promised to have the fridge back this weekend.”

“Poor thing!” said Doll.

 

August 16, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Short Story Highlight: “The Fish of Lijiang” by Chen Qiufan

Great news and major kudos to Clarkesworld Magazine for publishing in their latest issue the short story The Fish of Lijiang by Chinese author Chen Qiufan, translated by Ken Liu. The author will also have a new short story, “The Tomb”, in the forthcoming Apex Book of World SF 2.

Two fists are before my eyes, bright sunlight reflecting from the backs of the hands.

“Left or right?”

I see myself reaching out with a child’s finger, hesitating, and pointing to the one on the left. The fist flips, opens. Empty.

The fists disappear and reappear.

“One more chance. Left or right?”

I point to the one on the right.

“You’re sure? Want to change your mind?”

My finger hesitates in the air, waving left, then right, like a swimming fish.

“Final answer? Three … two … one.”

My finger stops on the left.

The fist flips, opens. Other than the bright sunlight, the hand is empty.


A dream?

I open my eyes. The sun is bright, white, and hurts my eyes. I’ve been dozing in this Naxi-style courtyard for who knows how long. I haven’t felt this comfortable in such a long time. The sky is so fucking blue. I stretch until my bones crack.

After ten years, everything here has changed. The only thing that remains the same is the color of the sky.

Lijiang, I’m back. This time, I’m a sick man. – continue reading!

August 2, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Comments Off on Short Story Highlight: “The Fish of Lijiang” by Chen Qiufan

Short Story Highlight: “The Widow and the Xir” by Indrapramit Das

Our latest short story highlight is The Widow and the Xir, by Indian writer Indrapramit Das, published in Apex Magazine:

Namir watches his wife and son as they sift baking salt-pans under the sun. They help gather the wet mounds of white clay that will be turned to dry powder later. If they see him, they will avert their eyes. If he comes any closer, they will flee in fear and alert the village. He knows this. So he watches from afar, his clawed feet sunken in the cool shadowed side of a dune. The whiskers that cover his face and shoulders like tattoos of string-thin spines quiver in the breeze, picking up the emanations of their life-heat. – continue reading!

July 8, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Comments Off on Short Story Highlight: “The Widow and the Xir” by Indrapramit Das

Short Story Highlight: “Unathi Battles The Black Hairballs” by Lauren Beukes

South African author, winner of the recent Clarke Award,  Lauren Beukes‘ new story, “Unathi Battles The Black Hairballs” (originally published in South African anthology Home Away in 2010) is now available to read online at SFX Magazine:

Unathi was singing karaoke when the creature attacked Tokyo. Or rather, she was about to sing karaoke. Was, in fact, about to be the very first person in Shibuya’s Big Echo to break in the newly uploaded Britney come-back hip-hop remix of the Spice Girls’ classic ‘Tell Me What You Want (What You Really Really Want)’.

It was, admittedly, early in the day to be breaking out the microphone, but Unathi was on shore leave, and the truth was that she and the rest of Saiko Squadron weren’t up early so much as they were still going from last night, lubricated on a slick of sake that ran from here to Tokohama.

Unathi stepped up onto the table in their private booth, briefly giving her madoda a flash of white briefs under her pleated miniskirt. When she was on duty as Flight Sergeant of the squadron, she kept strictly to her maroon and grey flightsuit or the casual comfort of her military-issue tracksuit.

In her private life, however, Unathi tended to be outrageous. Back in Johannesburg, before she’d been recruited to the most elite mecha squadron on the planet, she hung out at 44 Stanley and Newtown, where she’d been amakipkip to the max. Named for the cheap multicoloured popcorn, the neo-pantsula gangster-punk aesthetic had her pairing purple skin-tight jeans with eye-bleeding oranges and greens, and a pair of leopard-print heels, together with her Mohawk, added five inches to her petite frame.

In her newly adopted home, she tended towards Punk Lolita. And not some Gwen Stefani Harajuku-wannabe Lolipunk either. In civvies, she wore a schoolgirl skirt cut from an antique kimono that had survived the bombing of Hiroshima according to the garment dealer’s providence and she’d grown her hair out into little twists that were more combat-friendly than her Mohawk. But the highlight of her look was a pair of knee-high white patent combat boots made from the penis leather of a whale she had slaughtered herself. – continue reading!

July 1, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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