Note: this is the second review of the World Fantasy Award nominees for short fiction. You can see the list of nominees here.
“Das Steingeschöpf” scratched an itch I didn’t know I had. The tone and narrative style immediately placed me in early 20th century Europe with its quaint depiction of a German village and a young journeyman of sorts just beginning his career. This is no criticism. Unlike so many stories today, G.V. Anderson’s style allowed me to clearly picture the place, the narrator and the fantastic creature, Ambroise, who needs mending. Within the first two paragraphs I was completely immersed in the story.
Frau Leitner from Bavaria had written to request a small restoration—I took the southbound train from Berlin, made two changes, and disembarked at the end of the line in a small town tucked between the pleats of the mountains. A ragged man with a horse-drawn cart was waiting for me. We travelled by lamplight up a steep, icy path to the front door of an old timber chalet.
All was dark and quiet. I jumped down, the snow crackling beneath my weight, and turned to thank the driver. He’d already clicked to the horse and was turning the cart around, grimly avoiding my eye.
Perhaps my appreciation for the author’s descriptions seems a little sentimental. As I said, I didn’t expect the story to move me, but it did. This is a beautiful, melancholy story that captures the fleeting peace between the two world wars and, somehow, a turning point in human consciousness about itself.
Okay, I know that’s a really large claim, but that’s what I felt about it. Let me try to explain. Continue reading
Spanish translation below the English is by Daniela Toulemonde.
Author Nnedi Okorafor promises a straightforward account of an African woman’s adventure in space both with the title of her Nebula-nominated novella Binti and in the hauntingly beautiful cover design, illustrated by David Palumbo. Much more, however, is delivered. Okorafor’s prose and writing style makes this novella appear deceptively simple. It was only when I finished it that I realized the magic she had worked throughout. *Warning: spoilers ahead.
We join the main character, a young African girl of the Himba people, preparing to leave earth in secret and go to a prestigious university (a whole planet is dedicated to education) far across the galaxy. Despite passing the difficult entrance exam and gaining admission, Binti is worried. As a member of community on earth that is marginalized and discriminated against, she wonders if this opportunity will really open the doors to the education that she hopes for or will the university be just one more exploitive institution as her family has warned her?
Binti manages to board the ship filled with students departing for the university and, over the course of the journey, begins to make friends. Before reaching the university, however, the ship is attacked by sophisticated and deadly beings known as the Meduse. Everyone aboard is murdered except Binti and the pilot. Her goals shrink to one: survival. Continue reading
This is the fifth review of the 2015 Nebula Award nominees for best short story. Spanish translation below by Daniela Toulemonde.
As soon as I read the first sentence of Nebula short story nominee “Madeleine” –“Madeleine remembers being a different person.”–alarm bells sounded in my head. The voice is almost passive, it’s tight third person, and it’s a story about self reflection. Ugh. But I had enough faith in author Amal El-Mohtar to persevere, and I’m glad I did.
Madeleine is the child of a woman who is robbed of her memories and herself by Alzheimers. Bereft of family or close friends, Madeleine is nearly undone by grief after her mother’s death and foolishly agrees to participate in a clinical trial for a drug, which, she believes, has caused her to have incapacitating flashbacks. We see her battling the insistent logic of a psychologist who wants Madeleine to discuss her relationship with her mother even when our main character simply wants treatment for the episodes and to protect her memories. Continue reading