ФантАstika Almanac: origins and visions
by Atanas P. Slavov
I dreamed of something like this almanac as far back as 1980, when we put together the first anthologies presenting young Bulgarian SF writers: Models 1, Models 2, Models 3, Models 89.
I fantasized about it, as we worked on the pilot issue of FEP [Speculative Fiction, Heuristics, Prognostics]: the first SF magazine in Bulgaria.
I saw it as a distant vision, while we published the books from the Orphia imprint; the ORPHIA magazine collecting Slavic SF in English was meant to pave the ground for such a publication.
I came up with sections-to-be for it, as I compiled the anthologies New Bulgarian SF ‘91, Modelirium, Virt, and the dozens of issues of my fanzine Fanternet (which won a Eurocon Award in 2004) ….
And in 2008, it finally happened: a revived periodical for speculative fiction (fantastika).
Firstly: why ФантАstika? This bi-alphabetic title (pronounced fantastika) goes to show that the almanac showcases speculative fiction from all over the planet, by pens writing in both the Cyrillic and the Roman alphabet (eventually, also in hieroglyphs).
We’ve been putting a lot of love in translating works that have garnered the highest accolades. Let me elaborate: A lot of love means that our translations come from the inspired young members of the Fantasia Translation Academy, whose primary mission is to translate Bulgarian SF writers into full-fledged English and present them to the world, side by side with their international kith and kin. Our translators read, help select, edit, and polish. Likewise for Russian; here, Russian—or indeed any other SF—is welcome, standing on the same footing as SF in English.
Yet our translations do not focus on bestsellers only. The almanac is a territory of humaneness, for the same reason that we have named our foundation The Human Library. We believe that SF is the tool best suited to reflect the ever-changing humane aspect: to winnow the transient from the eternal in Homo Sapiens. Therefore, we publish speculative fiction of all kinds and by all peoples, as long as it is looking for humaneness.
Bulgarian SF writers are generously represented: both in the familiar framework of science fiction plots and the more literary traditions set up by Svetoslav Minkov; in texts that have stood the test of time—and in debuts. However, they’re all original, bearing the mark of their authors, their singular styles and settings.
In the Bulgarian issues of ФантАstika, we have a section called Fantastology, which aims to give us better insights into speculative fiction. Reviews of works published around the world offer a bird’s eye view of planet Fantastika.
Nor do we limit ourselves to literature; we also cover SF cinema and TV shows, which have become dominant in visual culture nowadays; fine arts and illustrations, video games and larp, music. We approach our subjects with an eye both critical and always open to new inspirations.
The Fandom section presents the world of SF authors, professional and amateur alike; meetings, conventions, clubs—in Bulgaria and around the world; various fanzines and the first publications of now-accomplished writers.
We believe that the Futurum section is much needed. Contemporary SF has not “divorced” the future: our popular science articles capture the advent of the New.
Finally, let me draw your attention to the signpost above each issue of the almanac. It says:
ФантАstika is for those of us who have been cultivating
passionate minds and wise hearts.