Future Science Fiction Digest #13 (e-magazine review).

December 20, 2021 | By | Reply More

‘Future Science Fiction Digest # 13’ is an unusual issue with only three stories, the star being ‘A Mountain Of Dust’ by Wangxiang Fengnian, translated by Judith Huang. It won the 2021 Gravity Award for Best Novella in China and it’s an interesting piece of work, though more fantasy than Science Fiction.

The concept is simple, the consequences profound. The story is set in a world where there’s a limited amount of food, unevenly distributed. The more you eat, the taller you grow. The less you eat, the smaller you shrink. Rich, successful people are titans, many others are average-sized and the failures shrink down and keep shrinking.

We know the protagonist only as the Reporter, though the Private Detective would have been more apt. He’s hired by a billionaire who raised his son carefully so that everyone around him stayed average size, partly to keep him safe. On coming of age, the lad escaped into the world and hasn’t been seen since. It’s suspected that he intends to shrink to see how the other half live. The reporter is sent to find him.

So the Reporter shrinks and finds a new milieu at every size. There are adventures but, unlike ‘The Incredible Shrinking Man’, he is not alone. Other people are also small and they form organised societies at different levels often, like Wombles, living off things that the everyday folks leave behind. I won’t spoil it except to say that he does not go down to sub-atomic level and find new worlds. The concept is a useful allegory for looking at inequality. China has as much inequality as the west now, with billionaires and coal miners at opposite ends of the scale, not to mention the Uighurs.

‘Echoes Of A Broken Mind’ by Christine Lucas has a setting familiar from 1950s Science Fiction with a modern dystopian twist. On a space station with views of Jupiter, Asimov or Pohl might have shown us nice engineers struggling with a technical problem. Today we get Kallie clutching trinkets she has salvaged from Earth immigrants headed for agro and mining domes on the Belt who have too much luggage for their weight allowance.

She sells them to Leutho at the pawnshop for tiny sums, just enough to pay rent and eat. Leutho put in the implant which keeps Kallie functional, just about, after a traumatic childbirth six years earlier that left her comatose. Danae, her little girl, was adopted. Above the struggling masses are ‘those lucky few from the Ruling Houses that have never had to work’. This future seems more likely now. An excellent story by a Greek author.

‘Three Times Dad Saved The World, And One Time He Didn’t’ by P.G. Galalis is a super-hero story. Powered by The Spark, a super-hero saved Earth from aliens on more than one occasion. Now, he’s dead and the aliens are coming back. What can his son do? Super-heroes in prose don’t work for me. I like them drawn in ink with gaudy colouring but the story was okay.

Two non-fiction pieces round out this issue. ‘The Conqueror Worm’ is a review of the new ‘Dune’ movie by Josh Pearce. It’s good! ‘If You Can #cometobrazil’ by Dante Luiz is ‘an analysis of the Brazilian experience in English-speaking SFF spaces’. Not enough Brazilian authors are breaking into the international market. How to fix this? I don’t know.

However, ‘Future Science Fiction Digest’ continues to bring us a range of SF from different countries with different points of view. I hope it keeps going. In his introduction, editor Alex Shvartsman mentions an upcoming anthology, ‘The Rosetta Archive: Notable SF/F Fiction In Translation’ edited by himself and Tarryn Thomas, which will feature all the translations published in the magazine in 2020 along with other select SF and Fantasy translations. It should be interesting.

Eamonn Murphy

December 2021

(pub: UFO Publishing, 2021. 100 page e-magazine. Price: £ 2.99 (UK), $ 3.99 (US). ISBN: 123-0-00531-936-7

check out website: http://future-sf.com/issues/issue-13/

Category: Magazines, Scifi

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