by Kalin M. Nenov
These explanatory notes emerged organically during the test reading stage of our preparation; hence, I don’t feel they deserve to be called an introduction proper. They are not exhaustive either. If you have any questions not addressed here, please have a look at the webpage of ФантАstika, which offers a growing resource hub (including a conversation about the Yarkovsky effect and the overall scientific rationale behind “How I Saved the World”). Or you can simply ask us at poslednorog-АТ-gmail-DOT-com—we look forward to your feedback.
Representation: female authors
A few of our test readers noted the shortage of women writers in the almanac—especially in the Science Fiction section, where they are represented only by Elena Pavlova.
I can discern at least one major reason for this: It reflects the ratio of female to male Bulgarian science fiction writers as a whole—at least in the past (nowadays, it is gradually changing). Actually (and much to my own shock), our only established female writer of hard science fiction is Elena Pavlova. I have discussed the issue with the other editors of ФантАstika, but we cannot come up with a conclusive explanation—especially given that ever since the start of the totalitarian era (the 1940s), Bulgarian women have had the same access to higher education and jobs in science, engineering or medicine as Bulgarian men. For instance, both my parents are civil engineers. Equal opportunity, at least nominally, has been part of Bulgarian culture for a long time.
With fantasy (which is a much more recent addition to our national medley of speculative fiction), the situation is generally well balanced. ФантАstika reflects that.
(There are certainly other aspects of representation worth exploring. One is that ФантАstika provides a platform to an underrepresented language minority. Bulgarian is spoken by less than ten million people around the globe, and that number is decreasing. A segment of world culture and heritage is disappearing before our eyes. It is our hope that publications like our almanac can help reverse the trend.)
Multiple entries by the same author
Simon McLeish, a test reader of ours, commented,
“In a multi-author compilation, it is unusual to feature authors multiple times. This is done repeatedly here (…) [and] it makes it seem as though there are not enough good science fiction and fantasy writers to fill the anthology with unique contributions; I hope this is not the case, and that there are plenty of other writers who could have been included.”
There are a couple of considerations involved:
1. Our choice of short stories was limited to: 1) available translations; 2) which have already been published in professional magazines or anthologies (and have therefore passed an external litmus test); 3) and fit in (more or less) with the general values of the Human Library.
With these restrictions, it was in fact a miracle we managed to collect that many authors.
On the unpublished side, we currently work with some thirty other writers, whose fiction we are actively submitting to various venues. They are our raw material for the next anthology. There will be a next anthology, right, everyone?
2. Even when we have included a particular author more than once, we’ve tried to give everyone a roughly equal weight; e.g. Angelina Ilieva (Johan Vladimir) has a single story, but it is quite long: a novelette approaching a novella; whereas Valentin D. Ivanov has three, but collectively they are shorter than Ilieva’s entry.
The purpose of translating speculative fiction from across the globe—or reading it
I’d like to conclude these notes with a quotation that perfectly summarizes the most important purpose of our undertaking. Gerhard Hope, another of our test readers, wrote:
“I honestly think it is the responsibility of every SF and fantasy fan who cares about the sustainability of these genres to read as widely as possible (…). This is how the values, hopes and dreams of these genres are upheld and passed along, and how we readers and fans can play our small role in making the world more tolerant and vibrant for everyone.”
With that, I leave the stories themselves to work their magic (or/and science) on you.