Read The Apex Book of World SF by Lavie Tidhar Dean Francis Alfar S.P. Somtow Jetse de Vries Kaaron Warren Zoran Živković Aliette de Bodard Mélanie Fazi Online


The world of speculative fiction is expansive; it covers more than one country, one continent, one culture. Collected here are sixteen stories penned by authors from Thailand, the Philippines, China, Israel, Pakistan, Serbia, Croatia, Malaysia, and other countries across the globe. Each one tells a tale breathtakingly vast and varied, whether caught in the ghosts of the paThe world of speculative fiction is expansive; it covers more than one country, one continent, one culture. Collected here are sixteen stories penned by authors from Thailand, the Philippines, China, Israel, Pakistan, Serbia, Croatia, Malaysia, and other countries across the globe. Each one tells a tale breathtakingly vast and varied, whether caught in the ghosts of the past or entangled in a postmodern age. Among the spirits, technology, and deep recesses of the human mind, stories abound. Kites sail to the stars, technology transcends physics, and wheels cry out in the night. Memories come and go like fading echoes and a train carries its passengers through more than simple space and time. Dark and bright, beautiful and haunting, the stories herein represent speculative fiction from a sampling of the finest authors from around the world. Table of Contents S.P. Somtow(Thailand)-"The Bird Catcher" Jetse de Vries(Netherlands)-"Transcendence Express" Guy Hasson (Israel)-"The Levantine Experiments" Han Song (China)-"The Wheel of Samsara" Kaaron Warren (Australia/Fiji)-"Ghost Jail" Yang Ping (China)-"Wizard World" Dean Francis Alfar (Philippines)-"L'Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of Stars)" Nir Yaniv (Israel)-"Cinderers" Jamil Nasir (Palestine)-"The Allah Stairs" Tunku Halim (Malaysia)-"Biggest Baddest Bomoh" Aliette de Bodard (France)-"The Lost Xuyan Bride" Kristin Mandigma (Philippines)-"Excerpt from a Letter by a Social-realist Aswang" Aleksandar iljak (Croatia)-"An Evening In The City Coffehouse, With Lydia On My Mind" Anil Menon (India)-"Into the Night" Melanie Fazi (France, translated by Christopher Priest)-"Elegy" Zoran ivkovic (Serbia, translated by Alice Copple-To ic)-"Compartments""...

Title : The Apex Book of World SF
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ISBN : 9780982159637
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 287 Pages
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The Apex Book of World SF Reviews

  • Wealhtheow
    2019-02-15 15:48

    A collection of sci fi, fantasy, and horror from all over the world. Some was written in English, others translated. I didn't like most of these stories. Some were too surreal for me to get a handle on what was happening and, even more importantly, why I should care (most obvious example: Zoran Zivkovic's "Compartments," in which the main character walks through train compartments and various characters tell him stories). Others were too obvious and cliched for my tastes (ex: Yang Ping's "Wizard World," in which a MMO player gets hacked and eventually decides to live life outside his computer, or the love spell gone wrong in Tunku Halim's "Biggest Baddest Bomoh") or were too fundamentally unbelievable for me to get engrossed (why did the butcher's boy agree to leave his family and all he knew just to help some stranger collect items for a magical kite for thirty years, as in Dean Francis Alfar's "L'Aquilone du estrellas"?) A few were nicely creepy but I didn't get the point of them (Jamil Nasir's "The Allah Stairs"), or why they were so recursive (Nir Yaniv's "Cinderers"). I didn't particularly enjoy Anil Menon's "Into the Night" or SP Somtow's "The Bird Catcher," about old men and cultural change, but I bet if I cared less about sf/f and more about literary considerations, I'd like them better. I liked Kristin Mandigma's "Excerpt from a Letter by a Social-Realist Aswang": the premise is great fun, and the style of the letter is as well:With regard to your question about how I perceive myself as an "Other," let me make it clear that I am as fantastic to myself as rice. I do not waste time sitting around brooding about my mythic status and why the notion that I have lived for five hundred years ought to send me into a paroxysm of metaphysical angst for the benefit of self-indulgent, overprivileged, cultural hegemists who fancy themselves writers. So there are times in the month when half of me flies off to--as you put it so charmingly--eat babies. Well, I ask you, so what? For your information, I only eat babies whose parents are far too entrenched in the oppressive capitalist superstructure to expect them to be redeemed as good dialectical materialists."I was very intrigued by the world building in Aliette de Bodard's "The Lost Xuyan Bride," in which North America is dominated by Greater Mexica and Xuya, with all the alternate cultural and historical shifts that implies. I'd like to read more by this author.Overall, this book was a collection of stories that just didn't fit my tastes. I wanted more worldbuilding, more characterization, more plot, and instead I got a lot of surreal nonsense, hackneyed plots, and very little plot indeed. This is not to say that these stories were bad, but they weren't what I look for in sf/f.

  • Steven
    2019-02-04 10:14

    The Apex Book of World SF is an ambitious project that, mostly, succeeds despite its difficulties. [Full disclosure: I read the electronic version, which does not include the story "Compartments", and that I reformatted the ePub version for the publisher immediately prior to reading the anthology.]Many of the stories suffer from slight translation quirks - unusual turns of phrase, a slight stutter in the flow of words. They are not errors as such, but seem slightly awkward to an ear raised on United States English. The substitution of "whilst" for "while" throughout (including the construction "meanwhilst") was jarring and reminded me that I was *reading* instead of allowing me to be submerged in the story.Some of the other stories fall slightly flat for other reasons. For example, "The Levantine Experiments" is a story full of "telling", and "Biggest Baddest Bomoh" has essentially the same plotline as "The Monkey's Paw" with little else to distinguish it. "Wizard's World" suffers from technological dating, and the characters are not quite compelling enough (unlike, say, "Johnny Mnemonic") to allow me to ignore it. None of these stories are bad - but they do not excel.The stories that do excel, however, are transcendent. "The Lost Xuyan Bride" is a compelling noir alternate history. "Excerpt From a Letter by a Social-Realist Aswang" tickled my sociological heart. "Into the Night"'s unreliable narrator frightened me with the possibility (or reality) of my own impending futureshock. And "The Bird Catcher", the tale that opens this book, is beautifully, dreamily, horrific.Overall, this is a book worth reading (especially the relatively inexpensive digital version). While some of the stories are merely serviceable, the gems more than make up the difference.

  • Barry King
    2019-02-02 13:04

    A well-rounded collection of tales. While "World SF" would seem to imply a sampling of stories clearly fixed to one region or another, I got the distict feeling that most of these are bridge tales, stories that find a means of crossing cultural gaps by a variety of means. An analogue is in the comparison between ethnographic musical sampling with studio-produced "world music" where fusion of traditional styles with modern global styles of sound production produces a kind of music that transcends cultural barriers.Just as physical bridge-building consists of many styles of accomplishing the suspension of traffic over water, these stories have certain clusters of means by which they perform their cultural crossover.Several of these are cosmopolitan in nature, bridging any cultural gap by means of tropes familiar to worldwide readers of the genre. Notably among these are the deliciously creepy historical drama "The Bird Catcher" by S. P. Somtow, and Aliette de Bodard's alternate-future gumshoe tale, "The Lost Xuyan Bride".Others reminded me of tropes that have lost favour in the fashion-conscious quick-turnaround genre fiction mix, and I'm glad to see them well represented in the surreal journey "Compartments" by Zoran Živković, Dean Francis Alfar's sad tale of unrequited love "The Kite of Stars", and Guy Hasson's dark psychological piece "The Levantine Experiments".A few of these tales use the ubiquity of technology to engender familiarity across cultures. Yang Ping uses the world of MUDding to give us "Wizard World", Alexsander Žiljak uses cyberpunk styling, and Anil Menon shows consumer technology subsuming tradition in his familiar and touching tale "Into the Night".Two tales stuck out at me as "missionary" stories, which have an uncomfortable narration from the point of view of a visitor to the culture. Jetse De Vries and Kaaron Warren's contributions in particular.A few, though, seem firmly rooted in their culture. Strongest of these were Jamil Nasir's "The Allah Stairs" and Tunku Halim's "The Biggest Baddest Bomoh", both of which rounded out the collection for me, although I got the feeling that I was missing cultural subtext in Nir Yaniv's "Cinderers" and Han Song's "The Wheel of Samsara", but that is probably some lack of knowledge of my own.Altogether a recommended read. My only quibble is that I was repeatedly thrown out of stories due to what I can only assume was an accidental global replace of "while" with "whilst" at some late stage in the editorial process.

  • Julie
    2019-01-21 16:05

    I love science fiction but have often lamented the lack of diversity in the field. The genre’s authors, protagonists and subject matter are unremittingly Anglo and western European, at least in terms of works the American audience has easy access to. Therefore when I stumbled upon this short story collection at GenCon last summer, I snatched it up immediately. Science fiction lends itself particularly well to the short story form, so the selection of this format to introduce worthy authors from around the world was brilliant. I had not heard of any of these writers before. Short bios let the reader know that many of these authors have won literary prizes in their own countries, and two, Zoran Zivkovic, and S.P. Somtow, are World Fantasy Award winners. The quality of the writing shows these awards are justified, but the styles in which the stories were written varied widely. Some leaned a bit too close to horror for my taste (“The Bird Catcher” and “Ghosts”) and many were more mystical than most scifi I have read (“Compartments” and “Elegy”). I particularly enjoyed “Transcendence Express” for its optimistic view of how technology can help the developing world leapfrog forward. Another gem was “The Wheel of Samsara” which perfectly suited its simple yet profound subject. “The Levantine Experiments” was disturbing and intriguing in equal measure, enough so that I looked up other writings by the author, Guy Hasson. Possibly my favorite was “An Evening in the City Coffee-House, With Lydia on My Mind,” written in such a way that it kept me guessing as the true nature of what was happening up until the very end. I would encourage anyone who considers him or herself a scifi fan to pick up this anthology. I would also recommend the highly informative review of this book by Andy Sawyer, that can be found here:

  • GUD Magazine
    2019-02-05 17:06

    According to author James Gunn, in an essay in World Literature Today, Volume 84, Number 3, May/June 2010, "To consider science fiction in countries other than the United States, one must start from these shores. American science fiction is the base line against which all the other fantastic literatures in languages other than English must be measured."Gunn justifies this claim by stating that only in 1926 New York did SF become a distinct genre, then, curiously, punctures his own argument by referring to HG Wells' 'scientific romances', which, interestingly, Wells also referred to as 'scientifiction'. If that wasn't at least an attempt to create a separate genre for SF, then what was it?Yet the question that really goes unanswered, is, what about the SF written "in countries other than the United States" but not "in languages other than English"? That vast body of literature seems to fall between two stools in Gunn's argument; or, to be blunter, as far he's concerned, it either doesn't exist or doesn't matter enough to require measurement.Perhaps that only goes to prove that, at times, we all need a good editor.For writer and editor Lavie Tidhar, however, the attitude encapsulated in the introduction to Gunn's essay is only one spur to his efforts to raise the profile of World SF, both in his blog and in The Apex Book of World SF, a 'sampling of the finest authors from around the world'. For make no mistake, Lavie Tidhar is a man with a mission.His Apex anthology offers sixteen stories from a large chunk of the world outside the US--the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and the Pacific Rim. Some were originally written in English while others have been translated. Among the authors I recognise Jetse de Vries, who is a strong advocate for leavening dystopian SF with something a little more positive on occasion, and Aliette de Bodard, whose story 'As the Wheel Turns' leads GUD Issue 6. Beyond introducing the reader to a tiny amount of what's being written outside the closed, largely white, male world of American SF, the anthology has no theme. Then again, it doesn't need one' there's enough here to amaze and discomfort the reader without making things complicated.When I first started reading the anthology, I confess, I didn't like it. I couldn't get on with it. Couldn't understand why Tidhar had chosen these particular stories. I had to put the book down, set aside my Western sensibilities--okay, prejudices--and shake up my own ideas of what makes a good story, of where excellence in storytelling lies. It wasn't fun. It did however enable me to come back to the anthology with new eyes, and start to appreciate the stories on their own level. A start is all I made, however; I still find the multiple anthologies in Malaysian author Tunku Halim's story grating. That's not how 'we' write.Perhaps that only goes to prove that it's one thing to intend not to be a bigot; it's another to manage it.Thai author S.P. Somtow's 'The Bird Catcher' opens the collection with a disturbing tale of a young boy's friendship with the eponymous boogieman. At first repelled by the bird catcher's diet of raw bird liver, narrator Nicholas slowly finds himself drawn into this means of staving off 'the hunger' that has gnawed at him since his release from a Japanese internment camp. It would be easy to dismiss both the bird catcher and Nicholas as evil, but this story doesn't allow the reader that easy way out. Nicholas has lived through what we might well call evil, has inevitably been shaped by it, and is struggling to find his way out the other side. In the framing story, he takes one of his grandsons to see the boogieman's skeleton, and tries, in a world of McDonalds and Pokemon, to make relevant his personal horror tale."The war did that to him. I know. Just like it made Mom into a whore and me into...I don't know...a bird without a nesting place...a lost boy."The writing is strong, although I'm still in two minds about the opening, which refers the reader to JG Ballard's experiences of internment as fictionalised in Empire of the Sun. On the one hand, this gives the reader a quick-and-dirty background to the story and saves a lot of explanation; on the other, it might leave those who've not read Ballard floundering and confused. It's the sort of approach I'd discourage, but as this story won a World Fantasy Award, it's clearly a gamble that paid off.In 'Transcendence Express', Jetse de Vries establishes that you can write a story about good things being done by clever people, but that it may not be as satisfying as you'd expect. On the face of it, this is a rock-solid hard SF story, with a young scientist taking her knowledge of quantum computing to a small farming village in Zambia, and enabling local schoolchildren to build their own biological quantum computers, or BIQCO's. These computers, which rely on simple products and skills, are set to transform the villagers' lives. The End.It rubs me up the wrong way when a story lacks conflict. It's as if someone's taken the flavour out of my ice cream, and all I'm left with is something cold. It's worse, however, when a story deliberately evades conflict. Surely it's not hard to see that by enabling one village to make enormous leaps forward in agricultural productivity, you're setting it up for trouble with its neighbours? We might wish human nature were other than it is, but wishing doesn't make it so, and, in my opinion anyway, a truly positive story would show how obstacles are met and overcome, not pretend they won't happen. Conflict and difficulty and mistakes and things going wrong don't lessen a story; they're part of what can make it great.Guy Hasson's 'The Levantine Experiments' introduces us to Sarah, a child who's been confined all her life and isolated since the age of two. When a crack appears in one wall of her prison, she begins to fantasise about what might be beyond it. Her imagination has been so starved that, even when exercised to the full, it is woefully limited in what it can achieve. Hasson works hard to get into Sarah's mind, so different from ours as it must be, and his descriptions of her mental wanderings, although repetitive, have their own strange fascination."And slowly, in her dreams, she would rise with each breath she took. As the nights continued, she rose higher and higher, halfway up the room. And then she rose even higher. And then, one day, she was almost close enough to reach the darkness."Yet I have doubts. It's one thing in the Harry Potter books to ignore the damage Harry's upbringing in the cupboard would do; it's another thing to place a character in an experimental situation with clearly-defined parameters without thinking through fully what the consequences would be. I don't believe that the experimenters would be pushing toilet paper through to Sarah; if she's had no contact with another human being since the age of two, they'd be washing her shit off the floor. Even though her eventual release has horrific consequences, they don't feel like the right consequences. Her character is formed not according to her circumstances but according to the needs of the plot. When I'm told that Sarah "understood everything", once it had all been explained, I don't and can't believe it. Even those of us with the best advantages and the broadest education couldn't make that claim. Sarah, with her lack of a frame of reference for what we might consider 'normal' human life, has no chance.That said, there's a lot to interest and disturb the reader in this story. As a thought experiment, it's perhaps more painful than successful, and some reference at least to Bowlby's theory of attachment might have helped, but it does force the reader to think about how a child in that situation might develop, and how strange their thinking might be.I loved Han Song's 'The Wheel of Samsara', a short tale in which Western curiosity and Eastern fatalism meet to...ah, no, read it for yourselves! It's short, but the right length. The characters are not fully-rounded; instead, they are developed just enough to fulfil their roles. A beautifully-crafted work.'Ghost Jail' by Kaaron Warren is set in Fiji, where a child can be "trapped in a closed circle of gravestones, whimpering." Beggar Rashmilla, with the aid of the ghost of her sister, forever wrapped around her neck, can see and, to an extent, control ghosts, and is therefore hired for obscure purposes at Cewa Flats. The flats are supposed to be being cleared for redevelopment, but ghosts aren't easy to evict. This story is frightening on a visceral level. A ghost attacks another character, Lisa, who is powerless to defend herself. "He thrust the fist into her mouth and out, so fast all she felt was a mouthful then nothing but the taste of anchovies left behind." A visible, tangible, aggressive ghost against whom there's no apparent defence--and Cewa Flats is full of such. Once driven to the flats by the regime they tried to speak out against, Lisa and Keith are unable to leave. It seems they've been effectively silenced--but there is a way out.This story weaves a large and disparate group of characters together to great effect. There's the charming but unscrupulous police chief, the well-meaning outsiders, and even an agitator who perilously walks both sides of the tracks. More than archetypes, however, they are people, too.Yang Ping's award-winning 'Wizard World' was one of the less successful stories for me. I've always had difficulty in engaging with stories set in virtual worlds, but I can't help feeling this one in particular needed to work harder to make me care about the world that's suddenly and ruthlessly snatched away from the protagonist here. Or, if not that, to make me care about him, because, alas, from beginning to end I never did. It's a common failing of male writing--in my experience--that the need to make the reader empathise with the central character is often overlooked. So when 'Xingxing' dies in Wizard World, and loses his account, and this turns out to be only the start of a hacker conspiracy to destroy the whole MUD, we have only the potential for an exciting story. Add to that some surprisingly easy and unexplained changes of behaviour and of intent, and the story feels somewhat empty. Character is serving plot, rather than plot arising from character. Or perhaps its my narrowness of thought holding me back again.'The Kite of Stars' by Dean Francis Alfar is a fairy tale with a bittersweet ending. When Maria Isabella Du'l Cielo falls in love with astronomer Lorenzo, she convinces herself that he will only ever notice her if he sees her among the stars. So begins her quest to find the materials needed for a kite that will carry her to the heavens: "...acquiring the dowel by planting a langka seed at the foot of the grove of a kindly diuata (and waiting the seven years it took to grow, unable to leave), winning the lower spreader in a drinking match against the three oldest brothers of Duma'Alon, assembling the pieces of the lower edge connector whilst fleeing a war party of the Sumaliq..." The quest is bizarre, yet entered into heart and soul by both Maria and her ever-faithful companion, a butcher's boy who first named Lorenzo to her. The language is lyrical and beautiful, and carries the reader along despite the protests of the rational side of the brain that this is fantastic, ridiculous, that nobody would do this, not even for love.Perhaps the story's greatest strength is that, although Maria's quest seems ludicrous and her dedication woefully misapplied, the writing never loses respect and affection for her. It would have been so easy to beat her with the stick of her own foolishness, but the author's fondness for her won't let harsh judgements in.I wasn't sure what to make of Nir Yaniv's 'Cinderers', which seems to be about multiple personalities, or possession, or possibly Donald Duck's nephews. It makes effective use of repetition, a shtick that's always difficult to pull off, managing to keep it at the level where it's amusing but not irritating. It's the sort of story anthologists love; you can put it anywhere and it'll calm the readers down or cheer them up or do whatever might be the opposite of what the last story did.Part Two of this review will appear next week.Introducing this anthology, Tidhar writes, "Languages come and go. But stories stay." Fantasy, of which SF is (arguably) a sub-genre, has certainly proved resilient over the millennia. Sadly, we don't know what tales homo erectus told each other over the campfire, and we probably never will know, but if we could eavesdrop, Babel fish firmly inserted in ear, perhaps their stories would be both familiar and eerily strange. If SF is to retain the sense of wonder that is its hallmark, we need to look beyond its alleged home in the US, and to seek out and embrace the unfamiliar, the new-to-us, the wonderful, enchanting other. This anthology is a small start in that direction. Let's hope the enlargement of our SF view doesn't end here.In Jamil Nasir's 'The Allah Stairs', we're treated to a revenge cycle with a difference. The narrator and his brother Laeth return to their home town in search of childhood memories. They seek out their old friend Laziz Tarash, whose father died in the street, screaming about monkeys, when they were boys. The story generates a sense of nostalgia, rather than threat, and even when the exotic happens, it's hard to believe anything bad will come of it. This gentle journey of reminiscence, however, is doomed to end badly, and in a shocking and unexpected way that provides a perfect echo for the ending. Mood is beautifully handled in this piece, and it draws the reader in so gently yet irresistibly that the suspensions of disbelief is never disturbed.'Biggest Baddest Bomoh', by Tunku Halim, gave me perhaps my biggest, baddest culture shock. It's not that I'm unaccustomed to conventional Horror stories being, in general, sexist to the point of misogyny; you can't read slush and not have a special mile-thick spot on your skin for that kind of thing. It's more that this story carries no sense at all that the narrator is acting, well, badly, in asking again and again for dates he's not going to get. Sexual harassment, much? He gets his comeuppance--of course--albeit in an unforeseen fashion, but there's a strong sense throughout that the object of his passion is just that: an object to serve the story and his hubris.Then there's the multiple adjectives. "The next morning found him gazing into those warm, dreamy eyes, longing to caress her gleaming, shoulder-length hair, yearning to press his lips against her fair, smooth cheeks--not to mention those full, cherry-red lips." This is the sort of overblown writing that Western readers currently won't accept, although, conversely, it seems a lot of Western writers haven't yet realised this.Short version: it's a Horror story. Enough said.This brings us to my favourite story in this anthology, Aliette de Bodard's 'The Lost Xuyan Bride'. It's no secret that I like de Bodard's writing; after all, I chose her story 'As the Wheel Turns' to head up Issue 6 of GUD. It's also of course a story by a European, which might bias me in its favour, not through parochialism but simply because its themes, tropes, and approach are more accessible to me. Perhaps I even identify with the lost, just-getting-through-the-days private detective, an archetype some GUD readers might recognise from my story 'Sundown' in Issue 0. Whatever the reason(s), I thoroughly enjoyed this melancholy tale. Set in an alternative America, the story follows the private eye narrator as he searches for He Zhen, a young bride-to-be who has fled her arranged marriage and her home, leaving behind her bullet holes and blood.It's a murky trail, inevitably, and there's much for the detective to learn about He Zhen and her passion for a culture other than her own before he finds her and learns of the choice she has made, a choice that stands for all the compromises women have to make in worlds ruled by men. A fine story that uses its world-building to calculated effect.By contrast, 'Excerpt From a Letter by a Social-Realist Aswang', by Kristin Mandigma is a lot of fun. It isn't a story as such, nor is it a slice-of-life piece. It is, as it says, a letter. It won't necessarily generate laughter to the extent of rolling around on the floor, but more of a knowing smirk. I wasn't sure what an aswang was when I began reading, yet, when I looked up the term later, felt that my ignorance hadn't materially affected my enjoyment of this piece. What more do you need to know, than, "In this scheme of things, whether or not one eats dried fish or (imperialist) babies for sustenance should be somewhat irrelevant." Those who dabbled in left-wing politics in their youth will probably get the most out of it, provided they have the capacity to laugh at themselves--not, I admit, a customary combination.'An Evening in the City Coffeehouse, with Lydia on my Mind' takes us into Alexsandar Ziljak's vision of the future of pornography. Forget actors; in the future, anyone who's good-enough looking can be a porn star. The narrator sends a swarm of 'flies' to film them without their knowledge, and assembles the footage into clips he can sell. No, he's not a very nice person. He is, however, in trouble, as his business partner has been murdered after trying to blackmail a porn subject who turned out to be in a very exotic line of prostitution, and he fears he's next.Quite apart from feeling only glad that the narrator's death is imminent, I had a couple of problems with this story. Firstly, I misread it at a crucial stage, and thought the narrative was discussing how the narrator proposed escaping from Zagreb and the hit squad, when in fact he was only describing how he puts his pornography together. I'm not convinced it was entirely my fault, either; the story is in present tense throughout, which makes it tricky to detect a shift into the past.My second problem goes deeper, however. I simply had a problem with Lydia: the prostitute who services aliens. Yes, okay, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that aliens would want to have sex with humans; after all, many humans have sex with a fascinating variety of animals--horses, sheep, chickens, and so on. It's often not a matter of who (or what) but how. Accepted. However, do sheep shaggers seek out the sheep who's considered the most attractive by the other sheep? Are chicken standards of beauty used when selecting the sex-object from the farmyard? That's the bit I find difficult to believe; that it matters so much what Lydia looks like. Because, of course, Lydia is beautiful: "beautiful face, sensual lips, long and shiny blonde hair cascading over her shoulders." This is a man's story, after all. I can't help finding this a failure of imagination along the lines of Clarke's in 'Childhood's End', where, in an allegedly perfectly equal world, women still find themselves doing the cooking.Read the rest at GUD Magazine.[The review book was given to the reviewer and will be kept]

  • Sean O'Hara
    2019-02-10 11:05

    The Apex Book of World SF is a mixed bag. It has a good variety of authors -- much better than the old The World Treasury of Science Fiction, which had a heavy emphasis on Anglophone authors -- but many of the stories fall flat. However, the best stories -- The Bird Catcher, Wizard World, and Into the Night -- make up for the duds.(Note: The ebook doesn't contain Compartments by Zoran Zivkovic)S.P. Somtow - The Bird Catcher *****: A young boy in post-War Thailand befriends a serial killer. There's nothing SFnal about this story -- if anything, I'd compare it to Peter Straub's writing in the late '80s and early '90s, particularly Houses without Doors -- which makes it an odd choice to lead off the book, though the quality of Somtow's writing make up for that.Jetse de Vries - Transcendence Express *: You ever have that experience after finishing an anthology where you look at the table of contents, and there's one story that you know you must've read, but you have absolutely no memory of it? This is it.Guy Hasson - The Levantine Experiments ***: Evil scientists with undefined goals keep children isolated in featureless white rooms. One day one of the girls in the experiment notices a crack in the wall of her chamber, which both terrifies and fascinates her. Conceptually this is an interesting story, but the execution is flawed. The little girl is strangely uncurious before the crack appears -- supplies are delivered to her room while she sleeps, but she's never tried to find out where they come from. She doesn't even seem to've created a story to explain it. Why would a crack in the wall inspire her imagination, but not the rolls of toilet-paper?Han Song - The Wheel of Samsara **: A more fantastical version of "The Nine Billion Names of God," but ultimately just as silly as the original.Kaaron Warren - Ghost Jail *: In a dystopian Fiji (sadly lacking in sheep with water wings), a couple dissident reporters hole up in an abandoned village that's filled with ghosts. Warren does a horrible job with the world building -- the nature of the ghosts remains vague despite being important to the plot; the dystopian nature of Fiji is more assumed than shown -- all we get is government goons harassing the reporters, who are such jerks that it's hard to care (the protagonist has gone beyond agitating for change and started burning down houses).Yang Ping - Wizard World *****: I think we have a new genre on our hands: stories about people who play MMORPGs. We have This Is Not a Game and Deep State by Walter Jon Williams, Slum Online by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, and this story. In Wizard World, Our Hero, a sysadmin for the titular game, is lured to what's supposed to be a really awesome custom level, but which appears to be a badly rendered implementation of Zork -- except the house is designed to be a virtual death-trap. Turns out there's a bug in the system -- it's possible to register a new profile in the name of a character who just died and gain access to that player's account. The window to do this is so small that the game designers decided it wasn't worth fixing, figuring it would never happen by chance and would be impossible to use in a malicious attack. They forgot the first rule of computer security: Never underestimate the tenacity of a hacker with too much time on his hands. Soon the hacker has Wizard World on the verge of shutdown, and millions of nerds cry out in agony at the thought of having to get up for something other than Cheetos and Mountain Dew.This story is awesome. From a literary standpoint, it's not as good as The Bird Catcher or Into the Night, but it's by far my favorite story in the collection.Dean Francis Alfar - L’Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of Stars) ***: A girl falls in love with a young astronomer, but he's so obsessed with the stars that he doesn't notice her, so she asks the greatest kite-maker in the city to build a kite that she can fly on. He tells her this is impossible, but when she insists he gives her a list of necessary parts. She then embarks on a quest that takes her half a century and around the world to complete.I really enjoyed the style of this story, which is very reminiscent of S. Morganstern without the pomposity, however the plot eventually devolves into an itinerary -- she goes here to get that, and then there to get this, but than she loses that and has to backtrack.Nir Yaniv - Cinderers ***: A very strange story about a schizoid pyromaniac.Jamil Nasir - The Allah Stairs ***: A very good dark fantasy about a boy who escapes into a magical realm to get revenge on an abusive father. Has the feel of Victorian weird fiction, where two guys are walking down the street and they spot something weird that they don't fully comprehend.Tunku Halim - Biggest Baddest Bomoh ***: A poor office schlub is in love with his boss's secretary, but she won't give him the time of day. After a co-worker tells him about a Bomoh -- a magician who can give him whatever he wants -- he sets out to get a geas placed on the secretary. The story starts out well, but is ruined by a Twilight Zone ending.Aliette de Bodard - The Lost Xuyan Bride ***: An alternate history where China colonized North America in the early 15th Century and allied with the Aztecs to keep the Spanish out. Nevertheless, the United States exists and Richard Nixon is President (well, she doesn't go that far, and she does make the US much poorer than in our timeline). Our Hero in this story is an American PI who's set up shop in Xuyan (Chinese North America), and is hired to find a runaway bride. The case leads him to uncover shocking connections between the the wealthy and organized crime, ya-dee-ya-dee-ya-da. Decent enough mystery, the idea of the alternate universe is interesting, but I think the world building could be improved. In particular, I have a problem with the idea that in a world that diverged so significantly would still have a World Wide Web that uses domain.tld/file.htm addressing.Kristin Mandigma - Excerpt from a Letter by a Social-realist Aswang **: This story is about the thing the story is about. If you understand the thing the story is about, you will probably like the story. Me? I don't get it.Aleksandar Ziljak - An Evening In The City Coffehouse, With Lydia On My Mind ****: Meet Our Hero, a sleazy pornographer. But unlike sleazy pornographers today, Our Hero locates attractive women online and then inserts microscopic flying cameras into their homes without their knowledge. One day his cameras discover a prostitute who has sex with exotic aliens. When the aliens find out, they send goons to kill him and he has to take it on the lam. The first 9/10 of the story were great, but Ziljak ruins it with a deus ex machina at the end.Anil Menon - Into the Night *****: This is the Singularity story I've always wanted to read, about an old man who doesn't understand the new technology that surrounds him, who is befuddled by all the people walking around in consensus reality and having conversations with the air. That old man, the Hindu equivalent of a fundy creationist, believes his biologist daughter has abandoned her heritage and worships a Western god called Evolution. When he tries to learn the new technology, he blunders around and, in an almost Mr. Magoo like misunderstanding, ends up doing the future equivalent of hooking up with someone on MySpace. This is far and away the best story in the book.Melanie Fazi - Elegy **: After a woman's children disappear, she becomes convinced they've been eaten by a demonic tree. Yeah. This is one of those horror stories told in a stream of consciousness style that hints at the delusional mind of the narrator. It's told well enough, but ultimately she's rehashing Poe and Maupassant.

  • David
    2019-02-04 16:06

    This is a collection of 15 short stories from non-US/UK writers. While several stories fall into the traditional SF category, some are straight fantasy/horror, and a couple are hard to describe. Reading this collection is sort of like sampling from a buffet of foreign dishes you've never tried before: some of the offerings are familiar, some are unfamiliar but delicious, and a few are just odd and unappealing. There are a couple that probably read much better in the language from which they were translated. Below is a quick summary of each:The Bird Catcher: Set in Thailand, about a serial killer.Transcendence Express: A teacher introduces biological quantum computers to African school children. (There's a bit of the "white savior" cliche here; white Europeans bring high tech enlightenment to poor, grateful Africans.)The Levantine Experiments: Very weird story about a child used as a scientific experiment. Not really horrific, but strange.The Wheel of Samsara: Another strange story that's hard to describe. A scientist studies a prayer wheel in a remote Tibetan monastery.Ghost Jail: Journalist seeks out corruption in Fiji, discovers literal corruption in the form of ghosts.Wizard World: I think this Chinese story suffered most in translation. A denizen of an online world vs. hackers.L'Aquilone du Estrellas: This is more of a fairy tale, about a girl who goes on a lifelong quest to win the attention of the man she is in love with, accompanied by a boy who is in love with her.Cinderers: An arsonist with psychoses; hard to describe further without spoilers.The Allah Stairs: One of my least favorite stories in the collection. A couple of childhood friends discover that a classmate's fantastic stories weren't so fantastic.The Biggest Baddest Bomoh: Not so original, but well written: a Malaysian clerk seeks out a shaman to help him win the heart of a woman he's in love with.The Lost Xuyan Bride: One of my favorites. A PI takes on a job to find a missing girl, set in an alternate history where the Chinese colonized western North America and the Aztecs still occupy southern Mexico.Excerpt from a Letter by a Social-Realist Aswang: Very short but amusing letter from a Filipino Marxist vampire, with some meta-commentary on the sci-fi genre.An Evening in the City Coffeehouse, with Lydia on my Mind: A futuristic pornographer films the wrong subject.Into the Night: An elderly, traditional Tamil man has trouble adjusting to his daughter's world of science and virtual reality.Elegy: A woman's children go missing; you have to draw your own conclusion as to whether she's right about who the culprit is, or if she's simply gone mad with grief.

  • Cathy
    2019-01-22 17:48

    I didn't feel inspired to write about each story in this anthology. I think I didn't always feel capable, like I'd necessarily fully understood enough to really comment or criticize. And to be completely honest, I didn't always like some of them enough to have much to say. But others were great. Or disturbing. Or kind of fascinating. Some that I didn't like were all of those and some that I did like were all of those. And Aliette de Bodard's Xuya story was just great, pretty much everyone seems to agree on that. I'm getting more and more sucked into reading all of the stories in her Xuya universe, she's compelling and many of them are available online for free. There's a timeline on her website with links if you're interested. I find it interesting to see that quite a few people did write reviews commenting on each story, more than I see for most big anthologies (for example, those edited by George R.R. Martin which have authors from multiple genres, if not many countries). It's interesting to see that most people also read every story, unlike in so many anthology reviews where you see people say, "I only read the story by...". I enjoyed reading the comments by the people who wrote detailed reviews, it helped me try to understand my reactions to the stories, and gave me that feeling of being in lit class and having a great discussion about the book. And it was just fun to see that the book inspired so much reaction, that people cared enough to want to write about it, even though I'm five years late to the party. I really appreciate all of the work people put into their reviews, it added a lot to my enjoyment of the book. I sometimes feel like a dork when I post super long reviews about anthologies with comments on every story, but I keep my notes for my own sake so I can remember what I thought about the stories and the authors in the future. But maybe someone else will appreciate seeing what I thought sometimes like I do seeing what these people thought today. Anyway, I enjoyed the book and the experiences, and I'm looking forward to the next two installments.

  • Tamara
    2019-01-27 16:17

    Some of these are better than others, ("The Bird Catcher" and "The Levantine Experiment" are the ones that stay with me as particularly good, though both are horror stories more than anything, which isn't usually my cup of tea,) though none stood out as really awful. A few were overly familiar, perhaps. The collection seems to lean more in the direction of , evocative atmosphere and character pieces than more plot/concept based stories, despite the nominal 'SF' in the title (I guess the S is for Speculative rather than Science.) The geographic spread I found to be largely background color - not to say that it wasn't interesting or appreciated - more than some glimpse into foreign cultures or traditions of writing. In that sense I think the collection represents to some extent how how globally unified genre writing actually is, (many of the stories were actually written in English) or possibly how far reaching and inclusive the dialog is, if you want to be charitable ;-)

  • Erika
    2019-02-04 11:12

    A collection of short stories in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres from authors from countries the Western world is not used to reading. A fascinating collection and well worth reading, even the stories that don 19t quite work. The were all interesting and challenging and reengaged my interest in the genres again, it was so refreshing to get different cultural perspectives than I am used to. "The Bird Catcher" by S.P. Somtow, ThailandA modern version of the Boogeyman and the conditions that made him.This was a dark and disturbing story and I found the ambiguous ending unsettling but it was also subtle and fascinating and I was pulled into it immediately, it made some of the darker tendencies of humanity accessible if not understandable."Transcendence Express" by Jetse de Vries, NetherlandsA new form of computer and technology and how it can transform the world.At first I had a hard time getting into this story as I had a hard time deciding where it was going, and at the end I realized it was because it was a more upbeat and positive story vs. the dark and cautionary themes I 19m used to in science fiction. I was more blown away by my reaction to it than to the story though it certainly made me think about my expectations from science fiction and want to search out more positive themed concepts."The Levantine Experiment" by Guy Hasson, IsraelA look at a scientific experiment into the development of self and special awareness.The very concept of the story made me very unhappy and unsettled, I don 19t like dark stories involving children but I found the exploration of her mind and how she perceived the world around her fascinating. The ending was a bit to abrupt and unsatisfying, it felt a bit forced in order to make its point but the rest of it was worth it. "Ghost Jail" By Kaaron Warren, Australia/FijiThis was a mix of social activism in what I am assuming is a third worldish island dictatorship mixed with local magic. I never really got a feel for or was able to develop any sympathy for the main character/s and they mostly acted naive and stupid, which did not help. I did find the use of ghosts and magic fascinating and would have liked to read more about that. A mixed story, interesting but ultimately unsatisfying. "Wizard World" by Yang Ping, ChinaA look at what happens when a virtual world takes over and then is taken away.As a gamer whose favorite MMO had just shut down this resonated with me and hit close to home so I was the perfect audience for this book. It felt believable in how people can become so immersed in their virtual worlds that the real one fades away, the ending was a bit abrupt but still felt believable within the world created here."L'Aquilone du Estrella" ("The Kite of Stars") by Dean Francis Alfar, PhilippinesA fairy tale of a young girls life long quest to gain the attention of her love at first sight. This truly reads like an old time fairy tale, it is epic and grand in scale and for all its unbelievability it was believable. Everything fit with this, the world, the language used, the characters, a real gem and joy to read."Cinderers" by Nir Yaniv, IsraelI 19m not sure if this was a story about renegade artists, a murderer or psychosis or all three. For me it was the only fail in the whole book as I did not like it and the ending left me vaguely angry, like it had wasted my time. I don 19t need things spelled out for me but this was so obscure it just ended up meaning nothing."The Allah Stairs" by Jamil Nasir, PalestineAnother fable/fairy tale about a boy who can summon monkeys from Allah? I 19m not really sure how that works but it was interesting if not engaging. I really couldn 19t tell if anyone was a good guy in this story or if there was supposed to be a moral or anything so I ended up not caring but the visual imagery was effective and captivating so I enjoyed it for that."Biggest Baddest Bomoh" by Tunku Halim, MalaysiaThe dangers of using love magic. Another one I found hard to get into as I felt both characters were dislikable and the guy especially but I did like the not really a total surprise twist ending, I felt that was handled well."The Lost Xuyan Bride" by Aliette de Bodard, FranceA mystery/detective story set in an Alternat History Mexico.This was my favorite story in the book, she is the only author I 19ve gone out of my way to track down more of her writing. I loved how full and realized the world she created felt, you don 19t have to read any of the others stories in this universe to fully understand and get into this story. Very satisfying. "Excerpt from a Letter to a Social-Realist Aswang" by Kristin Mandigma, PhilippinesA letter from a Communist demon. Short, amusing, a little self indulgent but since it is so short it works. "An Evening in the City Coffee House, With Lydia on my Mind" by Alexsandar Ziljak, CroatiaA cyberpunkesque story about voyeurism, pornography and well, other things. Not a pleasant story but a fascinating one. For me it did a great job of creating the world and it 19s technology and was positively reminiscent of the original cyberpunk movement. "Into the Night" by Anil Menon, IndiaAn aging Brahmin trying to adjust to a more Western and technological world than he is used to. I found it a somewhat interesting look at the culture clash between different generations but it was a bit unbelievable that he would have no familiarity with the current technology which took me out of the story completely, and it was pretty obvious how things would go for him so it was very hard to care that much as neither he nor his daughter were very likable and we were given no reason to care, they were both just their to fulfill their story bound roles. "Elegy" by Melanie Fazie, FranceA mother dealing with the unusual disappearance of her children.This is another one I had a hard time getting into, I couldn 19t tell if this was something that really happened or if it was all in her mind and she had gone crazy with the grief. The writing didn 19t flow for me and felt forced and with the concept not being clear to me it just left me confused and unsatisfied."Compartments" by Zoran Zivkovic, SerbiaA somewhat existential story of a mans journey on a train and the people he meets there. I have read this authors stories before so knew better than to expect anything easily understood or clear cut and this was no exception. His writing has a more lyrical and poetic feel to it vs. traditional narrative story telling and you never really find out what is going on and while that was a tad frustrating at the end, the journey itself was so magical that it still makes the story worth reading.

  • Sarahmarie
    2019-02-01 16:00

    DNF. A couple good stories mixed with I couldn't get into the writing at all. Don't think it was "bad", just not styles that captivated me

  • Federico
    2019-02-07 18:07

    En realidad esperaba mas de las historias, algunas fueron en realidad bastante flojas a mi parecercreo que me quedo con The Levantine Experiment que fue la única que me atrapo desde que la empece.

  • Donald
    2019-01-19 10:16

    The cover of this one has a quote by Frederik Pohl: “These voices deserve to be heard.” Simply stated and I agree.I’ve taken my time with this anthology of authors who represent a good many countries and societies. It is not something to read quickly like a paper-wrapped burger, but rather to savor like a high-priced lamb dish. Some highlights follow:The Bird Catcher by S.P. Somtow introduces the idea that you can buy a bird to release yourself from the cage of karma. But the bird’s wings are clipped to make it easy to catch. So when you release it, a boy catches it to sell to someone else. This story is filled with ideas that give pause, with old world ideas brought to life within a short story.Wizard World by Yang Ping is a fun virtual reality story with virtual dialogue bubbles and computer prompts. Clever writing.Dean Francis Alfar’s The Kite of Stars is a love story. Maria falls in love with Lorenzo who never notices her; all while the butcher’s boy falls in love with Maria, who in turn doesn’t notice him. Excellent story and well told.Cinderers by Nir Yaniv is a sort of Palahniuk meets A Clockwork Orange kind of story; with Huey, Dewey, and Louie. You gotta read this one.By far the coolest title (and some of the titles sort of sucked), is the Biggest Baddest Bomoh by Tunku Halim. It’s one of those be-careful-what-you-ask-for stories.The last story, Compartments by Zoran Živković, has the main character barely make boarding a train. The conductor introduces him to several compartments in the train before debarking, each of which is populated with odd characters. You learn a little about the main character through his interactions but you don’t care because the rest of the cast is fun and absurd.For what you get—a collection of sixteen stories written and conceived by writers from other countries—the price is paltry. This is a great study in what works and what doesn’t. And it is a wonderful chance to see how other writers perform their craft.

  • Peter
    2019-01-26 15:48

    A collection of short stories from authors from or in different parts of the world than the traditional sources of western SF. Some are science fiction, some fantasy, some horror.I actually won a free copy of this ebook as part of a bundle that I was given a free copy of, but I do like reading SF from different perspectives, and people from other cultures can certainly have that, so I was excited about this more than anything else in the bundle. I was a little disappointed, because of the definition of SF... the book takes it in the broader, speculative fiction definition, whereas I was really hoping it'd be mostly science fiction. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Some of the non-science fiction stories were still entertaining, of course, but I really wanted to see other culture's view of science and the future, and I didn't get enough of that. And most of the stories that I felt nothing for were, of course, in the fantasy/horror blend. One I wouldn't even call fantasy, but at best a fable. And honestly, most of the fantasy and horror stories didn't even showcase especially original stories... often they were rather uninspired plots that happened to be written by a foreign author or have a foreign setting. To a certain extent this was true of the science fiction stories as well, although to a lesser degree. Maybe my hopes were too high, but for a book collecting SF from around the world, one would hope they could find something particularly innovative that was missed by the western world, instead of fairly conventional stories.My favorites were probably "Transcendant Express" by Dutch writer Jetse de Vries, "An Evening in the City Coffeehouse, With Lydia on My Mind" by Croatian writer Alexsander Ziljak, and "The Lost Xuyan Bride" by Aliette de Bodard from France. Although I was left a little disappointed, I still would read future volumes of this if I stumble upon them... although I would really like an all science-fiction collection of foreign SF.

  • Alison C
    2019-01-21 12:54

    The Apex Book of World SF, edited by Lavie Tidhar, is, as the title suggests, an anthology of sf/f short stories and novellas by mostly non-Western authors, many of whom North American readers will not have run across before. I've found, however, that it is best to take these stories a few at a time - for whatever reason, I've been having difficulty reading the entire volume back-to-back, and therefore don't yet have a full picture of the quality of the work. Having read about half of the stories thus far, though, I would consider most of them to be quite good. I have a big problem with the table of contents, however, in that it lists the stories but not the authors, which is very annoying; one hopes that is not the case in any dead-tree edition and that it's limited to the Kindle e-book version. Overall, this Early Reviewers copy is fairly interesting in terms of reading new-to-me authors in the sf/f realm, but it will be a while before I'm completely done with it, so at the moment my recommendation for it is rather tentative.

  • Pablo Flores
    2019-02-05 15:08

    Rating this book is not straightforward, since it's a collection of totally unrelated stories, of different genres (science fiction and fantasy/horror, mostly), written by very different authors. But it's not difficult if this kind of variety is what you're looking for. I didn't like every story, of course. Among the better ones I'd rate two horror tales: S. P. Somtow's The Bird Catcher and Kaaron Warren's Ghost Jail; one in the alternate history genre: Aliette de Bodard's The Lost Xuyan Bride; and one "pure" science fiction story: Anil Menon's terribly sad Into the Night.

  • Tyrannosaurus regina
    2019-01-26 11:00

    It's rare I give an anthology more than three stars, just due to averaging out the weak and strong stories, but this one was fairly consistently strong for me, tipping the scales to the upper end. There is a tremendous mix of stories, though most seem to have been originally written in English (with just a few in translation, and of those the majority were translated by the author). If pressed to choose a favourite--okay, let me have two--they would probably be "L’Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of Stars)" by Dean Francis Alfar and Kristin Mandigma's "Excerpt from a Letter by a Social-realist Aswang", two stories which probably couldn't be more different from one another (though, interestingly, are by the two Filipino writers in the anthology).Well worth reading, and I'm looking forward to the second volume, which my email assures me is making its way through the postal system to me at this very moment.

  • Rob
    2019-01-22 11:48

    ...So how successful is this collection? As the editor points out in the introduction the The Apex Book of World SF is geographically speaking incomplete. The focus is mostly on Europe and Asia so there is much more territory to explore. Tidhar has managed to gather a bunch of quality stories though, and he hints that this may be the first part of a larger project. What he has presented so far certainly leads me to believe there are more of such jewels to be uncovered outside the anglophone sphere of Science Fiction. I certainly hope that The Apex Book of World SF will be successful enough to allow more ventures into world SF....Full Random Comments review

  • Gary
    2019-01-29 11:02

    When i picked this book up, I first thought, "Are these stories going to be too exotic, originating from other cultures?" Then I realized how stupid that was: most sci-fi is inherently about other cultures (and 100% of fantasy is).Anyway, I found the stories very accessible. Some might be more appreciated if the reader understood more of the culture out of which the story arose (e.g., the satirical "Excerpt From a Letter by a Social-Realist Aswan"). But most of the stories were OK, a couple were disappointing, and one ("The Kite of Stars") I found outstanding--about the standard track-record for any anthology.There is a second volume, and I plan on reading it.

  • Catherine Siemann
    2019-01-21 10:52

    The idea of an anthology of speculative fiction from all over the world is a vital one; imagining the future from a purely Anglo-American perspective is far too limiting. As with most anthologies, there are stories that are fairly ordinary, but there are also some real standouts. The ones that have stuck with me, as I read this collection slowly over the period of nearly a month, are first and foremost S. P. Somtow's chilling and vivid "The Bird Catcher" (Thailand), Dean Francis Alfar's lovely fable "The Kite of Stars" (The Philippines), and Aliette de Bodard's alternate history noir, "The Lost Xuyan Bride" (France).

  • Soh Kam Yung
    2019-02-15 10:08

    An okay collection of stories, not all SF or Fantasy (some horror thrown in), that attempts to showcase fiction from a non-Anglo (Western) perspective. It partially succeeds, with some stories, like SP Somtow's "The Bird Catcher" having a definite asian (non-Western) feel.One story that I was delighted to read, although not SF, was Tunku Halim's "Biggest Baddest Bomoh", which dropped me back into Malaysia (my home country) like a good Lat cartoon drawing. (You have to be Malaysian/Singaporean and read Lat's books to understand the reference.)I look forward to future collections like this to expand my SF/Fantasy horizons.

  • Angela
    2019-02-11 17:14

    Mostly good except for the fact that they played a dirty trick on me at the end of the book. The very last story in my copy of the e-book only gives you the first paragraph or so of the story and then tells me that If I want to read the rest of the story I need to get my hands on the print copy of the book. This would have been useful information to have before I bought the book not when I'm almost finished it. Since it was just one story I won;t be bothering to try to find said print copy and if I did I won;t want to pay for it because it is just one story. And because of this I am less inclined to want the next compilation of stories in case they do it again.

  • Marri
    2019-01-19 11:00

    A two star review looks bad, but two stars apparently means "it was okay," which it was. I'll be honest in saying I expected more. None of the stories really inspired or captivated me. A few were interesting. Some were unimpressive and I read through them quickly. A note to prospective readers: Several stories were quite light on, or only incidentally had, science fiction elements, which isn't what I expected from a "science fiction" anthology. Speculative fiction might be a better label for several stories in here, as several skirt into horror or supernatural territory in an ambiguous enough way that the 'science' element is missing. Set expectations accordingly.

  • José Vázquez
    2019-01-22 13:08

    Demasiado irregular para mi gusto, apenas se salvan tres o cuatro relatos (y de ellos el de Aliette de Bodard ya lo conocía) y el resto me han resultado bastante flojos. Supongo que un nuevo caso de gestión de expectativas. Esperaba más CF y un tipo de historias menos canónicas y no he obtenido ni una cosa ni la otra.

  • Michael
    2019-01-31 11:13

    Although well written and intriguing in some cases, it seemed to me only a few of the stories included could definitely fall into the category of "sci-fi" as advertised. Most of them seemed to either be pure fantasy or horror, and it just wasn't what I was expecting from a book with SF in the title.

  • Matt Bitonti
    2019-02-11 10:02

    Several great short stories, some more horror or fantasy than science fiction. Aliette de Bodard had a page turner. My favorite was the Alexander Ziljak, which is also available through their magazine for free:

  • Roy Kenagy
    2019-01-17 14:01

    Most notable is that all of the the stories in this collection are set on a slightly askew Earth, not on distant galaxies: a science fiction of anthropology, not physics. Highly recommended, if only as a glimpse beyond the Western mind-set.

  • Mike McArtor
    2019-01-26 09:48

    Some of these stories are really inventive and fun. Some are pretty boring. I wonder if the difference between fun and meh in the translated works are due more to the abilities of the translators rather than of the writers?

  • Jesse Field
    2019-01-29 12:50

    A few free stories available here; the Han Song story is worth the whole book as far as I'm concerned. Yang Ping's, not so much. Still going through the others.

  • paula
    2019-02-14 15:15

    Because it turns out, Israelis can write SF. Arabs can write SF. Filipinos can write SF. And I swear to god, the Low Countries ARE SF. Plus, a story called "Biggest Baddest Bomoh" is something I gotta read.