Só pelo facto de ser um projecto arrojado, que nos dá a conhecer diferentes perspectivas sobre o género fantástico, já merecia a referência. Contudo mais que esse simples facto une o correio do fantástico e Lavie Tidhar, editor desta excelente colectânea, pois a Dagon publicará vários dos contos destes autores internacionais. Aqui fica uma crítica por Adam Callaway no blogue weirdside.
Uma primeira perspectiva sobre os contos que podem aparecer nas primeiras edições da revista! Curiosos? Então leiam o texto que se segue:
When I saw that Apex was putting out a book of SF short stories from outside the US and UK, I was thrilled. I had been looking for an anthology that ran the gamut of world SF (although many, if not most, of the stories are more Fantasy or Horror than SF).
It’s hard to analyze anthologies overall, but I’ll try to say a few words about this one: surreal, creative, unique. That’s the feel I got overall. Being a Westerner and seeking out Western literature, I am not used to what the rest of the world does with plot, development of ideas, character development, etc. The way most of these stories are structured and develop is antithetical to my notions of storytelling, which is great, because any new view adds to my bag of tools as a writer. You have stories told like fairytales and folktales. You have stories that start at the absolute earliest that could start, and end before they begin. You have stories that bring you in late and read like a twenty-page long ending. I firmly believe in expanding your worldview and getting out of your comfort zone (to a point), and this book is great at doing that.
Now, to go through the stories individually, and rated according to my personal taste:
“The Bird Catcher” by S.P. Somtow, Thailand
Firmly entrenched in reality. Folktale told from a grandfather to his kid’s jaded son about the Boogeyman. Alternatingly sweet, terrifying, gruesome. 3.5/5
“Transcendence Express” by Jetse de Vries, Netherlands
Unique form. Interesting idea about home-made, third-world, biological quantum laptops. Dry and side-story romance seemed forced. Title and poetry within is goofy. 2.5/5
“The Levantine Experiment” by Guy Hasson, Israel
Classic SF idea of a controversial experiment about a young child deprived of social interaction and left to her own brain. Idea developed well, but slowly. Thought the imagery was both blunt and vague simultaneously. Creepy ending, but a bit abrupt. 3/5
“Ghost Jail” By Kaaron Warren, Australia/Fiji
Social commentary involving active ghosts and underground journalism. Warren tries to inject life into her characters, but the one-dimensional ghosts end-up more interesting. It was alright, but not memorable. 2/5
“Wizard World” by Yang Ping, China
Fun story that made me think of World of Warcraft/Second Life taken to the nth degree. Explores the implications of a true VR. Great ending. 4.5/5
“L’Aquilone du Estrella” (“The Kite of Stars”) by Dean Francis Alfar, Philippines
One of two stories that make this anthology well worth the cover price alone. Told like you would an old folktale around a fire. About a woman who spends her whole life trying to get her love-at-first-sight to notice her and about her companion who silently loves her get what she wants, whatever that may be. I’d put this story in my top ten shorts of all time. It is beautiful in every way. 5/5
“Cinderers” by Nir Yaniv, Israel
I’d call this story “Fight Club gone surreal.” It deals with split personalities, renegade art (infer what it is from the title), and a cybernetic demon. Yeah. Read it. 4/5
“The Allah Stairs” by Jamil Nasir, Palestine
A boy has his dad beaten to death by monkeys that come from Allah who is reached by stairs that appear in the middle of his apartment. Not as interesting as it sounds. Another story where you just don’t care about the characters. 2/5
“Biggest Baddest Bomoh” by Tunku Halim, Malaysia
Best title of the bunch. Uses folklore and myth as the basis for a forced romance. Cupid’s Arrow has unwanted, but expected, repercussions. 3/5
“The Lost Xuyan Bride” by Aliette de Bodard, France
Most plot driven story of the bunch. Detective story in future Mexico revolving around the family of a high-priced prostitute. Well developed world. Flat characters. Way too long. 2.5/5
“Excerpt from a Letter to a Social-Realist Aswang” by Kristin Mandigma, Philippines
Short and entertaining. A snooty demonic presence comments on a letter received from a friend about speculative fiction. Really fun little metasciencefictional piece. 4/5
“An Evening in the City Coffee House, With Lydia on my Mind” by Alexsandar Ziljak, Croatia
F***ed-up story about cyberpunk voyeurs and an intergalactic sex circle. Need I say more. 3.5/5
“Into the Night” by Anil Menon, India
I’ve never really cared for stories set in India, and this doesn’t break the trend. You actually feel for the main character in this one, a confused, aging Brahmin whose wife has died and is going to live with his Westernized daughter, but it’s just not very interesting. Frustrating, but not interesting. 2.5/5
“Elegy” by Melanie Fazie, France
A uniquely told unique idea. You really feel for this mother whose two kids have been assimilated into a tree. Stylistically interesting. 3.5/5
“Compartments” by Zoran Zivkovic, Serbia
The other story that warrants the price of this anthology. Every time I read a new Zivkovic story, he reminds me why he is my second favorite short story writer (after the Blessed Ted Chiang). This story about a man, a conductor, and a bunch of train cars populated by extremely colorful people will keep you silently chuckling to yourself. The best part: you never find out anything about the main character or main conflict, and you want it that way. I can see how some of the unenlightened would throw the book across the room from the lack of resolution, but it really fits the story. The other reason Zivkovic is a true master of the short form is that he takes an incredibly pedestrian idea and makes it one of the most entertaining stories I’ve read all year. 5/5
Don’t let the individual scores deceive you. I thoroughly enjoyed this anthology for what it is, and it had more gems than the average anthology, especially for its small size.
Apex is taking a bold step with this anthology. A lot of people have certain authors who write certain stories that they read to feel a certain way. To buy an anthology like this is to launch yourself out of a high-powered steam-cannon into parts unknown. To invest your time and resources into something so totally alien takes guts.
The most important thing about this anthology is the art: the short stories. A lot can be gathered from a societies art. You can see where their morals lie, which way their priorities point, the problems that are really affecting them right now, their history and legends. It gives you just the slightest inkling of an idea about what their culture is like, and that is worth tens times the $18.95+tax of this anthology.
Open your eyes to the world and prepare to have your skullcap forcefully removed.
4 out of 5.