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December 2009

Out of This World: International Science Fiction

This month we’re traveling in the world of science fiction. From nineteenth-century Pakistan to twenty-first century Russia, authors rocket through time and space to explore worlds uncharted yet oddly familiar. Replicants and aliens, spaceships and shapeshifters are all in play; the future mirrors the present, and the intelligence is anything but artificial. Lift off with Stanisław Lem, Tomasz Kołodziejczak, Olga Slavnikova, Zoran Živković, Hiroshi Yamamoto, Machado de Assis, Liu Cixin, Pablo A. Castro, and Muhammad Husain Jah, and prepare to be launched into the fantastic.

how many words do we need to make ourselves clear? in cubicles and cells papered with thick letters we throw each other all-purpose slogans air balls that slam us in the chest, knock us down flying erratically—…
Translated from Romanian
what would the savior have looked like grown old? would he still have lent his severe, nostalgic face to the builders of churches to the arrogant destroyers in quest of myths or guilty would he have healed…
Translated from Romanian
Suite Prelude A/H1N1
By José Eugenio Sánchez
we're in an epidemic:we're creatures of swine flu la influenza porcina:a new status that has us panicked:completely out of proportion:the virus is a new virusno one knows how it acts:it's…
Translated from Spanish by Anna Guercio Rosenwong
By Muhammad Husain Jah
One of the earliest accounts of the magical arts practiced in the Islamic world is found in the fourteenth-century work the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun, acknowledged as the first work on the philosophy…
Translated from Urdu by Musharraf Ali Farooqi
By Pablo A. Castro
Penetrate it and you’ll better understand:life is revealed to us in a painted reflection. Last night I killed my son Mauro.OK, it wasn’t exactly me who did it. All I did was give the…
Translated from Spanish by Andrea Bell
From Key of Passage
By Tomasz Kołodziejczak
The pyxel appeared at a most inconvenient moment for Robert. As usual on such appearances, the air flickered a little, an invisible violin began to play softly, and there was a whiff of vanilla. The pyxel…
Translated from Polish by Michael Kandel
From Ball Lightning
By Liu Cixin
The descriptions in this book of the characteristics and behavior of ball lightning are based on historical records.PreludeI only remembered that it was my birthday after Mom and Dad lit the candles on…
Translated from Chinese by Joel Martinsen
A Visit from Alcibiades
By Machado de Assis
A Letter from Appeals Court Judge X to the Chief of the Imperial Court PoliceThe Court, September 20, 1875Your Excellency must excuse the tremulous handwriting and the rambling style, both of which will…
Translated from Portuguese by Clifford E. Landers
From The Stories of Ibis
By Hiroshi Yamamoto
Called Ai no Monogatari (AI's Story) in Japanese, Hiroshi Yamamoto's The Stories of Ibis is a grand tour of science fiction and an excellent example of how science fiction as a genre is collectively…
Translated from Japanese by Takami Nieda
Sentimental Education
By Zoran Živkoviç
I went out the back door of the sanatorium. Before me stretched a flat lawn bordered by a tall hedge. The early autumn sun had turned the tops of the linden trees more golden than green. Dressed in identical…
Translated from Serbian by Alice Copple-Tosiç
From 2017
By Olga Slavnikova
That night, under the muffled, machine-like sound of the rain, the professor dreamed that this woman had come to him. Naked and very skinny, she was as perfect as a Latin letter, a sample of a special…
Translated from Russian by Marian Schwartz
Balloon to Solaris
Polish speculative fiction has been developing for over two hundred years, although it was only sixty years ago that science fiction began to be treated as a separate segment of the publishing market,…
Translated from Polish
From Man from Mars
By Stanisław Lem
The street sizzled. The clatter of skytrains, the car horns, the rattle of speeding trolleys, the twitter of traffic lights and the massive hubbub of human voices, all seethed in dark blue air, sliced…
Translated from Polish by Peter Swirski