Reviews at SF in Translation

Daniel Haeusser reviews short stories at Speculative Fiction in Translation: https://www.sfintranslation.com/?p=6675

Colors That Tinted the Sky” by Malena Salazar Maciá, translated from the Spanish by Toshiya Kamei

SFinTranslation.com April 10, 2019

Another flash fiction dealing with religion and mythology, this time narrated from the point of view of Anubis as he ponders humanity’s relationships to deities and our continued mistakes despite technological advances, while witnessing a scene of massive destruction simultaneously horrible and beautiful. I liked the nuances of this and the flow of the text.

Looking for Carla” by Carlos A. Duarte Cano, translated from the Spanish by Toshiya Kamei

Teleport Magazine, April 2019

A telepathic narrator relates his or her (as far as I can tell the story in English does not definitively indicate) efforts to find a beloved Carla, who does not know the narrator is telepathic. The narrator has been unable to tell Carla the truth of his/her secretive work, and she has given up on their relationship in frustration and feelings of neglect. The story is a speculative take on the balances that are made in life between professional responsibilities and the love and devotion one also wants to give to a partner. The first translation of work from this author into English, I mostly enjoyed the theme and the sense of desperation you see in the narrator. However, the author explicitly points out some speculative details that the reader can easily infer without being spoon-fed. I can’t comprehend Spanish, but the English text flows very effectively and word choices seem perfect to capture the atmosphere of the story.

“Paulina” by Laura Ponce, translated from the Spanish by Toshiya Kamei

Moon City Review 2019

The translator of this and several other stories that came out this month was kind enough to supply copies of these texts for review. The titular character of this dystopic speculative fiction resides in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, a setting where employment is not easily attained and other rights, particularly of women, are restricted. The story is a timely one that tackles current issues of immigration and citizenship, and it’s one well worth checking out.

“Two Leaf Novels” by Yoshiro Takayasu, translated from the Japanese by Toshiya Kamei

Delos: A Journal of Translation and World Literature Volume 34, #1, Spring 2019

A pair of short fairy tales with modern themes, consisting of “Ryota the Kappa” (about the eponymous mythological monster – and a tanuki) and “Scent of Spring” (about a fairy met in the woods). The stories are followed by biographical information on the author, but most interestingly on the form of writing that Yoshiro Takayasu employs by bridging past tradition with the modern. His ‘leaf novels’ are effectively flash fiction: a story short enough to be written on a leaf. The etymology of this term in Japanese is equally fascinating:

“[The author] points out that “kotoba,” “word” in Japanese, is a compound word made up of koto, which means “talk,” and “ba,” which means “leaf” as well as “fragment.” His “leaf novel” consists of approximately 1,600 characters (roughly 800 words when translated into English), and, in the author’s words, “invites the reader to the world of deep psychological insight, desires, departed souls, and irony.”

These are cool and worth checking out, particularly if you are an aficionado of fairy tales through different cultures.

“There Are No Serpents in Heaven” by Swylmar dos Santos Ferreira, translated from the Portuguese by Toshiya Kamei

unfading daydream Issue 8: Heroes & Villains, April 2019

A devastating plague has left a post-apocalyptic world without humanity, where the narrator has abided in routine for a long time, perhaps too long. The language at the start of this story is exceptional, filled with words like ‘inevitable’, ‘again’, ‘usual’, ‘inexorable’ and sentence/paragraph structure that drive home how the narrator must feel in this emptiness. With lots of references to classical myths/religion the narrator recalls the details of the plague and what has brought him to this lonely condition. For my taste it gives too much explanatory detail rather than leaving the reader questions and keeping the hazy atmosphere of the story’s start. But still, a solid speculative read.

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