Future Science Fiction Digest #9 (e-magazine review).

December 27, 2020 | By | 1 Reply More

This is an East Asia Special issue of ‘Future Science Fiction Digest’ with stories from both established authors and exciting up-and-comers in China, Japan and South Korea.

‘Roesin’ by Wu Guan (translated by Judith Huang) is written in the form of an academic essay about art, in particular the Restoratronist School which concerns humans. The machines, having wiped out most humans, now have a fashion trend for wearing human skin, which means hunting down the few people that are left. But one particularly dedicated artist named Roesin wants to go much further than that in imitating their fleshy creators, who they now hate, incidentally, ‘Terminator’ was never like this. Here’s a genuinely original take on what kind of art a society of artificial intelligences might produce. Fascinating.

‘Raising Mermaids’ by Dai Da (translated by S. Qiouyi) is an oddly amusing story about Celtigar, a wealthy extra-terrestrial living on Earth who has purchased a mermaid from a dealer named Anatoly. This expensive and beautiful pet leads to complications. Celtigar’s point of view is used throughout and there’s a lot he doesn’t know which is obvious to the reader. Dramatic irony at its best.

Prolific Argentinian author Gustavo Bondoni crops up everywhere there are short stories. Editor Alex Shvartsman had an open call to writers worldwide to envision positive futures for East Asia and Bondoni beat the competition with ‘Butterfly Blue’. Mongolia has started a space program using reliable Russian rockets but there are political complications with their powerful neighbour, China, and with the traditional attitudes to women. A solid story with a few neat twists.

‘Reflection’ by Gu Shi (translated by Ken Liu) is about an odd friendship between a reporter and a clairvoyant who has an excellent record of predicting world cup and US election results, among other things. He’s a sceptic. The premise of a fixed, immutable future reminded me of Silverberg’s classic ‘The Stochastic Man’. Some people find this notion terrifying but I rather like it.

There’s a sort of fairy tale quality to ‘Whale Snows Down’ by Kim Bo-Young (translated by Sophie Bowman) about intelligent fish in the deep, dark depths of the ocean who see via a glowing green light which protrudes from their foreheads. When they mate, they remain joined and the male seems to merge into the female and lose his own brains and identity, a common occurrence up here, too. Intriguing, original story and I loved the fish names.

‘Formerly Slow’ by Wei Ma (translated by Andy Dudak) is set in Shenli City, China where, thanks to the benefits of dormancy technology, they manage their environment by only being awake one day a week. The streets are not crowded. There are Wednesday people awake every Wednesday who know each other but never see the Friday people. Xia Mang is a Science Fiction writer and when his new baby daughter, Weiwei, is unable to go dormant, the process won’t work on her for some reason, he has to stay awake seven days a week to look after her. His wife Xiao An remains a Wednesday person, dormant the other six days. Complications ensue. Demonstrating the impact of new technology in human terms is the root of Science Fiction and this has some likeable characters, too.

‘Just Like Migratory Birds’ by Taiyo Fujii (translated by Emily Balistrieri) is another tale of relationships and technology, this time in the 22nd century. Humankind is moving out into space with orbiting habitats, colonies on Mars and wormholes to the stars, though there are limitations. Gene editing people to suit new environments is easier than terraforming whole planets, so humanity is gaining new sub-species. The people got a bit lost in the science here, I think, but it was full of good ideas.

Another fine issue of ‘Future Science Fiction Digest’ here which again demonstrates the different lines of thought and philosophy that can occur in the work of writers from other cultures, East Asia in this case. We can only hope, especially those cotton-picking Uighurs, that future developments in simple humanity around those parts will eventually catch up to their undoubted scientific expertise. But you could say that about the rest of the world, too.

Eamonn Murphy

December 2020

(pub: UFO Publishing, 2020. 153 page e-magazine. Price: £ 3.86 (UK), $ 4.99 (US). ISBN: 1-23000440-754-6)

check out website: https://future-sf.com/


Category: Books, Scifi

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  1. Review of Future SF Digest | GUSTAVO BONDONI | December 28, 2020

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