Future Science Fiction Digest #17 (e-mag review).

Future Science Fiction Digest # 17 opens with ‘The Language Of Insects’ by H. Pueyo in which three aliens land on Ippios, a Mars-like planet with a research base occupied by Rosa, a lone human. The aliens, Mango, Galena and Kinnabari, are insectoid life-forms but technologically advanced with a rich civilization. The story centres on their attempts to communicate with Rosa and it’s well done. The theme developed in a more touchy-feely way than I expected, so apparently advanced insects have touchy feelers, totally unlike the cold, ruthless bugs we fought with ray guns in the bad old days of Science Fiction. I liked the story but I’m not convinced aliens will have 21st century western liberal values.

Taiwo and his sister Kehinde break into a laboratory to steal a valuable piece of technology in ‘Seven Deadliest Inventions Of The New Era: An Itemization’ by Nigerian writer Uchechukwu Nwaka. Here is real humanity, dedicated to creating new weapons to win a civil war. The seven inventions appear one by one as the story proceeds and, only at the end, do you find out what it’s really about. A neat piece of work. I didn’t understand the science but the author is a medical student which lends it verisimilitude.

‘Let Us Keep Writing’ by Han Song, translated by Nathan Faries is a wonderful fantasy in which a wealthy Chinese businessman and patron of the arts learns that all literature is produced by aliens and always has been. Shakespeare, Faulkner, Austen Kafka, Mo Yan, Yan Lianke and the other great writers were all from outer space. Now the creative people are going to leave Earth for reasons inherent in their strange cosmology and there will be no more literature but they have a fallback plan involving Elon Musk and monkeys. This was good fun.

From Brazilian author Renan Bernardo we get ‘Great Granny Bethany’s Memories Of Space’. It’s set on a fifteen hundred-foot long spaceship whose hull is decorated with drawings of lilies and smiling planets. Blissboat, spacious, comfortable and with caring staff, carries thirty old people around the galaxy until they are all dead then comes back to Earth.

Anyone over ninety is entitled to a free ticket. The future must be very prosperous indeed for this to be at all feasible. Bethany Taylor leaves her family behind to take this last ride in a heart-warming tale that took up 20% of a Science Fiction magazine and had no Science Fiction content apart from the setting. It could have happened in a care home up the road. But it was nice.

Purer SF is to be found in ‘Max Loves The Internet’ by Rodrigo Culagovski. A tiny AI hacks into Earth’s satellite systems and slowly builds up its resources ready to signal an alien armada that our planet is ripe for conquest. It monitors human activity and makes acute observations. ‘They invent cryptocurrency, an economic scheme to help large groups of people deliver their assets to a smaller group of already wealthy individuals.’ The invader, Maximal Autonomous Surveillance Routine 8765, galactic-arm 4, subsector 7 – Max for short – is getting along famously with its mission until it encounters another AI called Inti, the internet. AIs, it turns out, are good for a laugh.

As usual, ‘Future Science Fiction Digest’ offers a mixed bag of quality stories to suit different tastes. This may be the last issue of the magazine as editor Alex Shvartsman is stepping down to do other things. Running a magazine is a lot of work. A shame. There are many short story outlets now and a zillion writers submitting works but this niche of international, non-anglophone SF is not so well supplied. On the other hand, there are more specialist translated anthologies which may, to a certain extent, fill the gap. Let’s hope so.

Eamonn Murphy

December 2022

(pub: UFO Publishing, 2022. 102 page e-mag. 1406kB. Price: $ 3.99 (US), £ 3.23 (UK). ASIN: B0BQ5BTX48)

check out website: https://future-sf.com/ for multiple retailer links.

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