Features / SFT Universe
The SF in Translation Universe #11
Welcome back to the SF in Translation Universe! It’s supposedly Spring here in Madison, Wisconsin, but it actually snowed for about five minutes this afternoon, so I don’t know anything anymore.
Wait, I do know one thing, and that’s the fact that 2021 is giving us a lot of fantastic SFT. So much, in fact, that since I wrote the previous installment of this column, I’ve discovered even more novels and collections that came out between January and March. Thus in a first for this column, I’ll include a paragraph about SFT that came out in the first three months of this year, and then I’ll jump into what this installment is supposed to be about, which is SFT coming out between April and June.
Somehow The Lunar Trilogy—a famous series of science fiction novels by Polish author Jerzy Zulawski—slipped under my radar at the time of my last writing, though it is now not just on my radar but also my website. Written between 1901 and 1911, and published in English in January of this year, these books tell the story of Earth astronauts who get stranded on the Moon and establish a colony, one that goes on to develop in many ways like the civilization they left behind. February brought us Rabbit Island, a collection of magical realist stories from Spain, and In the Company of Men (Côte d’Ivoire), which explores the Ebola outbreak through a fabulist lens. In March, we were treated to German SFT from Julia von Lucadou—The High-Rise Diver, a story about the cost of ubiquitous surveillance—and Markus Heitz (of the Dwarves and Alfar fantasy series), who is out with the Doors trilogy, an alternate-history thriller about a mysterious cave system to another timeline. March also brought us Zabor, or The Psalms (about writing as a way to achieve immortality), the fourth installment in Jin Yong’s wuxia series Legends of the Condor Heroes, plus Italian SF author and editor Francesco Verso’s collection Futurespotting and the ecologically-focused (and quite excellent) anthology Elemental:Earth Stories.
Which brings us to April, May, and June, when flowers should be blooming and snow should not be falling…but I digress. Korean SFT continues to roll in—which makes me very happy—this time in the form of a collection of interconnected stories by Kim Bo-young (I’m Waiting For You) and a novel by Choi Jin-young (To the Warm Horizon), about a group of people trying to move forward literally and metaphorically across an apocalyptic wasteland. From Japan, we’re getting Izumi Suzuki’s first stories translated into English—Terminal Boredom—a collectiondescribed as “at turns nonchalantly hip and charmingly deranged.” Sign me up.
Staying in Asia, we have a Chinese novel and anthology to look forward to in June. Chi Ta-wei’s The Membranes is a near-future tale about humanity living in undersea domes after climate devastation. Sinopticon, edited by Xueting Christine Ni, offers readers thirteen newly-translated stories from some of China’s most engaging science fiction authors.
French post-exotic author Antoine Volodine shows up in May with Solo Viola, where a viola player might just save his compatriots from the suffering they’re experiencing at the hands of an authoritarian leader. From Mohamed Kheir comes a magical story about Egypt’s hidden, magical spaces and life after the Arab Spring. And surely most of you reading this column know about Lavie Tidhar’s latest anthology of world speculative fiction—The Best of World SF—with stories about time travel, aliens, and everything in between. With authors like Taiyo Fujii, Cristina Jurado, Francesco Verso, and Nir Yaniv, you know this’ll be good.
“But what about short fiction?” I hear you asking. So far in April, we’ve gotten two excellent stories available for free online: “The Final Test” (Future Science Fiction Digest), translated from the Chinese, about a machine that must prove its worth by facing a virtual reality human in a test of wills; and the disturbing Icelandic story “The Sea Gives Us Children” (Words Without Borders) about a community without adults living on an island, where the sea periodically deposits babies for the children to care for.
Thanks for reading, and I’d love to hear what you’re reading now and what you’re looking forward to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time in the SFT Universe!