ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

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ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Sat Sep 02, 2017 11:28 am

A topic for discussing ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction.

If you want to join the discussion but cannot register for any reason (e.g. you don't know the answer to the secret question), please drop us a line at poslednorog-AT-gmail-DOT-com.


My review:

Special announcement: Come hear me talk about the almanac on the panel "Translating Speculative Fiction: Challenges and Exaltations" on July 30 (Thursday), 5 a.m. GMT during Worldcon 2020. This year's Worldcon is completely virtual, so you can still join: https://conzealand.nz/

Or come get the almanac itself:

https://choveshkata.net/blog/?page_id=8419

It costs as much (or as little :)) as you feel like donating.


This is a dream come true--both for Atanas P. Slavov, who has dedicated half a century to the promotion of speculative fiction, in Bulgaria and across the world, and for me, as a translator of Bulgarian SF into English for the past 15 years.

Now we are looking for a publisher/agent interested in international speculative fiction; if you can recommend one, please let us know at poslednorog-at-gmail-dot-com.

My personal favorites in ФантАstika:

- "Love in the Time of Con Crud": The Bulgarian original won three different national literary contests (including the first edition of Изгревът на следващото, our own search for positive science fiction), and the translation was published in Future Science Fiction Digest during the 2019 Worldcon--fittingly, since the story takes place during the 2017 Worldcon in Helsinki. Right now, it's more topical than ever. ;)

- "How I Saved the World, Or, The Best Job": Superman, move over! Time for the real McCoys to step up!

(But seriously, did any of you think we must blow up those asteroids coming on a collision course with Earth? Seriously?! That's what happens when we watch too much sci-fi and read too little SF. :P :P :P)

- The Celestial Way is that rare beast born of a grand humanist vision and a desire to erase the lines between what we call human and non-human, to do away with separation. The journey that Airo the Dragonslayer and Veralla the dragon fledgling take towards each other strokes my mind as much as it does my heart.

A rare accomplishment, especially for a debut.

And now you can get the whole novel here. :)

- "The Most Terrible Beast": Beware what you lie about, even in such innocuous cases as hunters' bragging. *snigger*

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- the intro of Sun Untouchable: That was my Master's thesis. Fifty pages of translation and another fifty of analyzing the difficulties and justifying my choices. If I ever decide to do a Ph.D., I'll build upon it.

This one was omitted from the current version of the almanac, but we may include it in the next volume.


- "Father": The revelation and the self-sacrifice still feel forceful, after all these years. If I have kids, will I be able to do something like that for them?

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- "The Matrix: Resolutions": Hah! Take that, Wachowskis! :D

The idea that AI, if they ever emerge, will want to fight us humans was given a good spanking in John C. Wright's The Golden Age. Atanas only supplies the finishing, umm, touches.

This one was omitted from the current version of the almanac, and we can't include anywhere official. However, we've included it in the 2020 Worldcon sampler--if you're attending, grab and read it. ;)


- "The Assassination": Johan Vladimir is a rare phenomenon in Bulgarian (and world) fantastika in that her physical conflicts are as interesting as her philosophical ones. Who else does it well? Off the top of my head: Dan Simmons; David Zindell; David Brin; Steven Erikson; Roger Zelazny; A.A. Attanasio ... any other suggestions? Especially female writers?

- the excerpt from I, Sinner Ivan: A reimagining of the most famous Bulgarian saint and arguably the most famous period in Bulgarian history. Probably the first one I ever read, so it hit me like a sledgehammer. The level of the prose is on par with Anton Donchev's „Време разделно“ (Time of Parting); I don't know if we've been able to capture it in the translation.

- "Three Tales of a Very Windy Town": A quirky gem of a story that later grew into a magnificent--and even quirkier--play (so far only in Bulgarian; it's included in „Зелени разкази (ама наистина)“).

- the excerpt from The Coin: Have you seen the webseries? Did you know we've been adapting the story into a visual novel? And do you know you can get the whole novel now, in a completely revised edition? :)

- "The Dragon and the Orange Juice": Still makes me laugh, after all those years. The original short story eventually grew into a Pratchettesque novel (think of the early Pratchett, with more LOLs and fewer ruminations--though Genoveva Detelinova's eye for human quirks has always struck me as precocious).

- "The Film-thin Bound" (I never promised to be humble :D): The genesis of this piece is a whole novel in itself. Literally: I wanted to write a novel (or rather, a gamebook) about a sentient sword and her owner. Bits and pieces of the story kept haunting my mind ... so, to get rid of them, I wrote only the ending, viz "The Film-thin Bound." I've wondered if people would make any sense of it ... and I was genuinely surprised when it won a contest (for pulp fiction, of all things :O). That's my first and only published piece so far.

- Chirpy Firewood: I really don't know where to start here. With my shock when I found out the author's age? With my delight that Terry Pratchett lives? (Hmm, this is turning into a leitmotif.) With my wondering if this novel could be more Pratchettesque? Come on, Maria! At least one sympathetic character? I know it's a satire, but still ....

And on and on and on. It's a dialogue, folks. Like any writer-editor collaboration. ;)

(Oh, by the way, I am not Joseph. Nothing to do with him. Never in my life. There. Glad we're clear about that.)

- "In the Beginning Was the Subway": Despite some unwieldier moments, the idea of transforming the Sofia subway into a force for (spiritual) good still makes me beam.

- "The Keresztury TVirs" is a hooliganish, smart tongue-in-cheek. I always enjoy anthologies ending on a lighter note. They lift us up--and up ....
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Thu May 07, 2020 9:49 am

First interesting comments on GR:

aPriL does feral sometimes wrote:I’m not a mathematician, but a lot of the artwork seems like a mathematician’s dreams and nightmares of objects of topological properties. Just saying. :)

(...) idk, Kalin. I think I am not the right audience for these short stories. To me, the stories are too disordered with unfocused points to the story (like a bad photo), or arranged like donated items in a thrift store or used bookstore, or with plot points that are like following a schizophrenic’s word salad speech. Also, some references are maybe about communism? If so, it should be clearer the characters are from a communist country. Most English works assume a democracy backstory. or maybe I’m not understanding a reference. The translator in Its Only Fair Botkin doesn’t seem to be necessary to the story in form or function. idk. I’m not a literature expert.


Кал wrote:Actually, some of the artwork (Atanas P. Slavov's) is based on fractal algorithms. So you're right on the money. :)

And please keep reading (and--I know I'm not supposed to say that, but here goes--skip those stories that really bother you). There's no unifying style or theme in the anthology; no story prepares you for the next. That's the terror (and beauty ;) of such panopticons: you get to see the whole literary landscape of a nation. Maybe there be dragons; maybe there be treasures. :D


~

Gabi wrote:I just read the story with the dragon girl and was wondering why it is on the SF and not in the Fantasy section.


Кал wrote:That was a tough decision, actually. :) However, the entire Dragon Girl series by Nikolay Tellalov, though featuring zmeys (the Bulgarian variety of dragons), is entirely scientifictional in its approach, much like Anne McCaffrey's Pern series. For instance, all of Bulgarian mythology turns out to be (alternative) history. That becomes extremely obvious in the fourth book, Sun Untouchable (unfortunately, not in its prologue, which is the part we've translated so far).
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Thu May 07, 2020 9:51 am

On the ratio of female to male authors in the almanac

(This one is big so I'm bolding it.)

One of our Bulgarian test readers noted the shortage of women writers (or indeed, characters) in the almanac--especially in the Science Fiction section, where they're represented only by Elena Pavlova.

I can discern at least two major reasons for this:

1. We have not, as a rule, included originals in the almanac. We've focused on reprints, because: 1) we wish to keep the first rights of unpublished stories; 2) reprints have passed an external litmus test: an editor of a professional magazine or anthology has liked them well enough to buy them.

Therefore, the relative absence of women writers has something to do with the type of stories professional editors buy.

2. It reflects the ratio of female to male Bulgarian SF writers as a whole--at least in the past (nowadays, it's gradually changing). Actually (and much to my own shock), our only established female writer of hard science fiction is Elena Pavlova. I really don't know what to think about that--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.

With fantasy (which is a much more recent addition to our national medley of fantastika), things are more balanced. I think the almanac reflects that.

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There's another reason, too--related to the (lack of) emphasis the Human Library places on gender--but it would be really hard to explain without first writing my Ph.D. thesis on "(wo)men" and "guys": all people who do not identify (or do not care to identify) as women or men. Um, don't even ask. ;) Very, very briefly, it's about the extent to which you care about gender--your own or that of others--and the extent to which gender affects your interactions with others. Some of its subaspects include aromantic people and asexual people, but they're still rather narrow, compared to the whole phenomenon.

Interestingly, I haven't been able to find any gender studies/queer studies book that investigates this issue in its entirety. So this thing about writing my Ph.D. thesis may still become more than a personal joke. ;)
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Thu May 07, 2020 11:41 am

On Goodreads, Кал wrote:I had another look at our current table of contents--and what doesn't make sense is why we put Lyubomir P. Nikolov's stories in the Science Fiction section. They're definitely going to the Avantgarde Speculative Fiction when we do the next draft. (Well, "In the Beginning Was the Subway" is kinda borderline: the science there, BTW, is completely real; Russians are already doing this stuff. But "borderline" is a good fit for "avantgarde," yes? :)


Gabi wrote:I'm eager to get to the avantgarde section. I didn't encounter a differentiation like that before. Nikolov's stories had cool ideas that were okay in SF for me. (But then I don't know the avantgarde section yet.) I like my SF to be a bit weird. I will say more when I reached the section.


Кал wrote:Yeah--we considered if we can group those stories under different subgenres (e.g. new weird, slipstream, etc.), but eventually we decided that their only common feature is the experimental styles.

So I'd say Nikolov's "Three Tales of a Very Windy Town" fits there (it's close to magical realism); while "In the Beginning Was the Subway" uses some postmodern techniques (like the stream-of-consciousness beginning).

... Ah, classification's never easy. And then creativity comes and defies it. :D


~

Sammy wrote:I'm one of those that doesn't notice gender (basically, never really cared) in either authors or characters.

Out of curiosity (and boredom, because lockdown...) I tallied up how many books I'd read by male and female authors last year (125 and 55 respectively). Out of further curiosity, I then worked out what my average rating for each gender was, and the results were 3.6 for male authors and 2.7 for female.

I now do care. I obviously prefer books written by men, LMAO!

In other news, still chugging along (at 77% now) and should hopefully be done in a couple of days. So far I've come to the realisation that having the word "dragon" in the title is a good indication of how much I'll enjoy the story, seeing as how two of my three favourites so far fall into that category ;)


Кал wrote:Ahaha, Sammy ... wanna join the Human Library?
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Gev » Fri May 08, 2020 1:52 pm

Да си призная веднага, че аз съм бета читателя, който отбеляза съотношението на мъже и жени в секцията "научна фантастика" - и откъм автори, и откъм герои. Не с цел да се опитвам да бутам някакви квоти където не им е мястото, а просто защото ми е интересно като феномен. Това породи дискусия в имейли, на която, както Кал правилно отбеляза, мястото ѝ по-скоро е тук. Директно копирам отговора си от имейла:

Докато четях, се опитвах да си представя какви биха били мислите на потенциален агент или издател. От доста време живея в западна държава близка по манталитет с Америка, а и следя от МНОГО близо всичките туитър драми на писателската общност (които са бетер сапунен сериал, честна дума). В момента, те всичките са луднали по #ownvoices - което от една страна, за нас е плюс. Българска фантастика от българи! От друга страна, липсата на жени ще бъде забелязана. Хубаво е, че имаме готов отговор.

Пък и, честно казано, много се надявах като ти го кажа, ти да се плеснеш по челото и да се сетиш за тази разкошна авторка на научна фантастика, която някакси сме забравили. Ясно ми е, че шансовите бяха минимални, ама...

От лична гледна точка, аз обичам да чета книги писани от жени. Размишленията ти върху социални пол са интересни и уважавам гледната ти точка, но моята е малко по-различна. Първата причина е, че изпитвам солидарност. Специално във фантастиката, авторите-жени често са набутвани в YA или paranormal romance, независимо дали пасват там или не. Виж например какви корици са сложили на книгите на Carol Berg, която е разкошен автор на епично фентъзи. И така, дори и читателят да не се опитва да дискриминира съзнателно, правилните книги няма да достигнат до правилните читатели. Втората причина е, че женските гледни точки внасят определени интересни (поне за мен) проблеми, които никога не биха хрумнали на стредностатистическия протагонист-мъж. The Priory of the Orange Tree, например, има цяла сюжетна линия в която конфликтът се поражда от страха на една от героините от забременяване - точно тази героиня е кралица в матриархат, и има нужда да създаде наследник за да осигури стабилност на трона. Подобни проблеми (забременяване, менструация, противозачатъчен контрол, социални идеи за стойността на девствеността, конфликта и компромисите между майчинство и кариера) са ми интересни, защото съществуват в истинския живот, но не са особено застъпени във фантастиката. Има го и момента, че ако прочета твърде много книги с главни герои-мъже една след друга, започва да ми догарча от male gaze (направих тази грешка с Dresden Files - спокойно мога да не прочитам още едно описание на женски зърна до края на живота си).

Сега, като няма повече жени, които са писали научна фантастика в България - няма, кво да правим. Освен ако някой от мъжете не иска да публикува под псевдоним? (шегувам се...)

Видях ти и отговора в въпроса в goodreads - ако трябва да спекулирам, бих предоложила, че липсата на повече жени, които са писали научна фантастика в България (бел. авт. - по времето на комунизма), е комбинация от институционална дискриминация и проста липса на време. Да, в България жените открай време имат същите възможности за образование и кариера като мъжете. Обаче от жената все още се е очаквало (и в известна степен още се очаква) веднъж след като се прибере след дългия работен ден, да се грижи и за дома и децата. Мъжът, в същото време, е имал доста по-голяма възможност да се отдаде на хобита, вклюичително писането на научна фанастика. Виждала съм статистика, че 80% от домашните задължения се изпълняват от жената в едно хетеросексуално домакинство, дори и двамата партньори да работят на пълно работно време. Къде време за писане?

Та така. Радвам се, че във фентъзито сме горе-долу разпределени по равно. Да взема да се преквалифицирам в писане на научна фантастика ли, какво? :D


Между другото, горещо препоръчвам есето She Wrote It But… :Revisiting Joanna Russ’ “How to Suppress Women’s Writing” 35 Years Later от авторката на фантастика Krista D Ball. До голяма степен съвпада с гледната ми точка и е доста по-добре аргументирано от този бърз коментар.

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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Fri May 08, 2020 2:16 pm

Ти мани липсата на жени, Слънце. Ами queers? Ами (драматична пауза) people of color?!?!1@?

(Впрочем ако толко пък настояват за people of color, ще помоля Наско да помоли Анибал Радичев да му преведем някое стихотворение. Сега, за queers ще ми трябва помощ от хората в клозетите... ъъъ, closets май не се превеждаше така...)

Стигаме и до сериозната част (Каквооо? Горното не било сериозно? Ей сега вече ми се бип би-бииииип...):

Искрено благодаря, че ме замисли по тоя въпрос:

Подобни проблеми (забременяване, менструация, противозачатъчен контрол, социални идеи за стойността на девствеността, конфликта и компромисите между майчинство и кариера) са ми интересни, защото съществуват в истинския живот, но не са особено застъпени във фантастиката.


Ъъъ... права си. И аз, като човек, който повече обича да си набавя знания от художествената литература (I know, it's self-defeating :D), сега съм в екзистенциален ужас, че книги с точно тоя тип проблеми почти не съм чел! Тоест за тях проблеми знам само с каквото ме е сблъсквал живият живот. (Пък той – к'во да се лъжем – невинаги е достатъчно интересен, че да го запомним. Или достатъчно премислен. ;) )

Така че ще се радвам да ми препоръчаш най-добрите образци, които се занимават точно с такива героини/ситуации. Ако търсят и решения (вместо само да мрънкат, както си умира „голямата“ литература, все едно жанра или темите :/), два пъти по-прекрасно. :)

П.П. Размишленията ми не са върху социалния пол. Сори, ако подведох с думата gender. Темата за пичагите е... сложна. Което не ми пречи да се изнервям, като се окажа между феминист~к~ите и антифеминист~к~ите и почнат да ме дърпат да си гледам пола... полът е жизненоважен, баце!!!

Нема пък да си го гледам. Искам да ви видя що за хора сте, другарчета. :)

(Или що за същества сме, ако се решим да излезем от тоя видистки (speciesist) дискурс. Тук впрочем не се шегувам... съвсем.)
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Gev » Fri May 08, 2020 3:14 pm

Кал wrote:Така че ще се радвам да ми препоръчаш най-добрите образци, които се занимават точно с такива героини/ситуации. Ако търсят и решения (вместо само да мрънкат, както си умира „голямата“ литература, все едно жанра или темите :/), два пъти по-прекрасно. :)


Да ти кажа, и аз наскоро открих, че почти не съм чела такива книги. След което направих кратка справка на съотношението между автори жени и мъже в библиотеката ми и останових с ужас как уж без да дискриминирам, явно дискриминирам. Точно затова и, както ти споменах веднъж, реших тази година да чета само книги писани от жени.

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Не помага, между другото, че в годините когато имах най-много време за четене (като ученичка), четях само на български. Оказва се, че ОГРОМНИ имена във фантастиката като Робин Хоб и Джани Вурц са преведени съвсем наскоро.


Книги, които съм чела и харесала, и засягат подобни проблеми:
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Circe by Madeline Miller
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
The Broken Earth series by N. K. Jemisin
The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Книги, които са ми в TBR купчината, защото засягат подобни проблеми:
Sing the Four Quarters by Tanya Huff
The Sword of Kaigen by M. L. Wang
Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly
The Birthgrave by Tanith Lee
The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold

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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Fri May 08, 2020 3:28 pm

Воркосиганската поредица – особено последната ѝ книга за това как овдовялите жена и бисексуален партньор в една бивша тройка преоткриват отношенията си – ти я препоръчвам с две ръце. Обвиняват Бюджолд в „мъжко писане“ :roll: и какво ли не... но аз винаги съм се възхищавал на свръхчувствителната ѝ психология (набутана в един милитаристичен свят... сметай). Тя наистина се интересува от хората – не мъже, не жени, не straight, не queer, не цветни, не сиви – ами всеки с всичкото му.

Jemisin съм я нарочил за „поразена“ от „голямата литература“: мноу проблем, а светлина нийде се не види. Ще се радвам да открия, че съм бъркал.

Novik силно ме разочарова с Uprooted – чисто писателски. Чела ли си я? Аз издържах до четвъртата глава, мисля.

От другите единствената ми пълна изненада е M. L. Wang – на останалите поне имената ми бяха познати.

(Впрочем аз препоръчах ли ти вече Zen Cho – особено сборника ѝ Spirits Abroad? Но и тя, и най-прясната ми находка Pat Murphy, и голямата ми нова любов Patricia McKillip се занимават с горните проблеми рядко до никак... ако нещо не забравям.)

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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Gev » Fri May 08, 2020 3:49 pm

Кал wrote:Воркосиганската поредица – особено последната ѝ книга за това как овдовялите жена и бисексуален партньор в една бивша тройка преоткриват отношенията си – ти я препоръчвам с две ръце. Обвиняват Бюджолд в „мъжко писане“ :roll: и какво ли не... но аз винаги съм се възхищавал на свръхчувствителната ѝ психология (набутана в един милитаристичен свят... сметай). Тя наистина се интересува от хората – не мъже, не жени, не straight, не queer, не цветни, не сиви – ами всеки с всичкото му.


Звучи точно като каквото търся. :) (това с "мъжкото" писане и свързаната критика за герои, че са като "мъже с гърди" страшно ми лази по нервите - заедно с "не чета книги от жени, защото пишат само за любов" са двете страни на същата сексистка монета)

Jemisin съм я нарочил за „поразена“ от „голямата литература“: мноу проблем, а светлина нийде се не види. Ще се радвам да открия, че съм бъркал.


Ох, не знам. На мен The Fifth Season ми хареса - особено с използването на литературни похвати, които не съм срещала често във фантастиката. Сцените написани от второ лице ми бяха любими. Обаче е много мрачна, до степен да се усеща леко edgy. Героите й са също до един кофти хора. Знаеш ли, взимам си тази препоръка обратно.

Novik силно ме разочарова с Uprooted – чисто писателски. Чела ли си я? Аз издържах до четвъртата глава, мисля.

От чисто писателска гледна точка, Spinning Silver е по-силна. Всъщност, сега като се замисля, от всяка гледна точка е по-силна. Обаче ако до такава степен не си понесъл Uprooted, сигурно и Spinning Silver няма да ти хареса.

(Впрочем аз препоръчах ли ти вече Zen Cho – особено сборника ѝ Spirits Abroad? Но и тя, и най-прясната ми находка Pat Murphy, и голямата ми нова любов Patricia McKillip се занимават с горните проблеми рядко до никак... ако нещо не забравям.)

Препоръча ми, и тя е в кюпа за четене. :) Чел ли си нейната серия Sorcerer Royal? Гледам, че я има като аудиокнига, а напоследък имам доста повече време за слушане, отколкото за четене.

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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Fri May 08, 2020 3:53 pm

Gev wrote:Чел ли си нейната серия Sorcerer Royal? Гледам, че я има като аудиокнига, а напоследък имам доста повече време за слушане, отколкото за четене.

Не съм. Но ми е набелязана. (Все пак усещането ми е, че тя е „разказвач“, не „романист“, и е тръгнала да пише романи само защото разказите не се харчат (което е тъга, тъгааа :(). Но дано бъркам...)

А книги – особено внимателно написани – аз не мога да възприемам през ушите. Навремето се пробвай с Асприн (който не е внимателно написан :D), и дотам.

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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Fri May 08, 2020 4:58 pm

Johan Haneveld's review on Goodreads:

First: I was very happy to read Bulgarian speculative fiction. Most was well written, but it was also tapping from a different well than most SF and fantasy from e.g. the US and UK. I liked how many fantasy stories (and even SF) took from Bulgarian legend and folklore and history. In the Netherlands we often base our stories more on anglosaxon idea's and literature (most of our fantasy is Tolkien-based), so it was refreshing to find stories from a different source here. I think this was a great overview of the fantastic literature from your country. I thought the opening story 'The last interview of Adam Sousbe' a wit weak, with an ending that did not really come from the story. It read more like a pamphlet. But I gather that this is meant to be a bit of a history of the genre, so I can guess it belongs as part of the history. 'Beating the air' was surprisingly good. i enjoyed that one. 'It's only fair Botkin' was a bit long for its idea for my taste, and it was not clear why the author chose for that last sentence. It may be a quirk of translation? It fell a bit flat for me. 'In the beginning was the subway' was a nice story, pretty well written, even if the ending to me was a bit predictable. 'Three tales from a very windy town' was a bit vague for me, and probably should be in the end with the more experimental fiction. I enjoyed 'Virgil and the water' very much. Great use of history and the mystery of how this Virgil came to survive for so long a time is built well and had a good pay off. This one I will stay with me. 'The best job' was good too for it's length and described well the process of changing the course of a meteorite (and it was great for me as a more western reader to read this kind of tale from the 'other' perspective!). I liked 'Deflation' as well. 'Dragonflies and Planets' did not do much for me. 'The empty room' was great dystopian SF. 'The most terrible beast' was laugh out loud funny. Or at least grin worthy. I enjoyed 'Father' as well, but I thought it could have been written a bit more clearly. 10-9 was good, I guess, but with all those jumps in time it seemed to try too hard, and I found it hard to see from the fragment wether I would like this story as a whole. 'To wake a dragon girl' was another exerpt, but i found myself wanting to know what would happen. The fantasy-like characters in a modern setting worked will, I thought, and was engaging. 'Sun untouchable' I didn't read all of. It went on a little long, and I got a bit bored by it. 'Love in the time of con crud' was hilarious. I enjoyed this story a lot! 'The assassination' was a good fantasy story. I didn't read all exerpts in the fantasy section fully, because I would rather read a complete story. I read enough of all to see that they were all well written. Avant garde SF is not always to my taste, I'm a bit more straightforward in my tastes. So I didn't really enjoy 'Journey to Akkad' or 'The book' But 'Asked the soldier: "Who called me?" was a great story - I enjoyed the worldbuilding here, the alternate history and the end. A great story. Well written as well. 'A small step' was wry in a good way. I liked 'Impossibly blue' as well. I didn't like 'The Keresztury TVirs' - it didn't read as a story, more like an infodump. Not my preferred style. 'Mindster' was one of my favorite stories of the collection. Great suggestive ending. And I liked to read about the fandom in Bulgaria. After I noticed on facebook that there's an organization for SF and fantasy authors and artists in Bulgaria, several Dutch authors suggested that would be a good idea to have in the Netherlands as well. There are organizations of SF-fans, but not an organization of authors and creatives. So who knows what will come from that?


Кал wrote:Thank you once again, Johan! I, in turn, am happy to see such detailed feedback. :)

Quick questions: Are there any stories that you:
a) would rather omit from the almanac?
b) want us to keep inside by any means? :)

(You can drop me an email/PM if you prefer.)

"The Keresztury TVirs" is an odd beast indeed: a review of a non-existent book. :D Stanisław Lem does those a lot.

Wow! You don't have a Dutch SF association? Go, go, go--make one! It will fit in nicely with the Dutch anthology you told me you've been compiling.

Onward, friend! :)
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Sat May 09, 2020 8:05 pm

Sammy Stevenson's review on Goodreads:

I was given the opportunity to read an ARC of this collection, and on the whole very much enjoyed it. Much like any other collection, not every story worked as well for me personally as others, but on the whole, I found this a fun read, with some fresh styles and perspectives, which gave it a little more interest for me.

Some highlights:

Three tales of a very windy town - This story is cute and whimsical, and I could immediately picture this as a movie directed by Wes Anderson (it really suits his style)!

Virgil and the Water - Once I got into the rhythm of this, I absolutely loved it. A perfect blend of ancient history and sci-fi.

To Wake a Dragon Girl - An excerpt, and the one I would most like to continue reading.

Love in the time of Con Crud - This one made me laugh (been there, done that!).

Orpheus Descends into Hell - Another enjoyable excerpt I would continue reading.

The Dragon and the Orange Juice - Probably the stand-out of the collection for me. Outstanding world-building for such a short piece, and the pacing is excellent too.

The film-thin Bound - An evocative short. I want to know what happened before and how this situation came to be.

A Small Step - A fun twist on the Moon landing conspiracies that made me laugh.

Mindster - Another fun one that put me in mind of Heinlein's I Will Fear No Evil
Скрит текст: покажи
(probably because of the two minds in one body idea)
. It was definitely a fun note to end the fictional section on.

All in all a fun read for anyone willing to spend some time exploring different styles and ideas from your average "westernised" sci-fi and fantasy.


Кал wrote:Sammy, thanks! :)

Hah! So it was Wes Anderson who directed The Grand Hotel Budapest. I'll definitely look for more of his movies ....

I've already said a little about "The Film-thin Bound" in my own list of highlights:

The genesis of this piece is a whole novel in itself. Literally: I wanted to write a novel (or rather, a gamebook) about a sentient sword and her owner. Bits and pieces of the story kept haunting my mind ... so, to get rid of them, I wrote only the ending, viz "The Film-thin Bound."


Saying any more, I fear, will rekindle the wish to write that gamebook (or the wistfulness that I never will) ... so let's leave it at that. ;)
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Thu May 21, 2020 4:25 pm

Simon McLeish's review:

This is an extensive collection, a showcase of Bulgarian science fiction and fantasy, including both writing (translated into English) and art. I have never read any Bulgarian speculative fiction (at least, not knowingly), and so I'm approaching this with interest and am hoping to be impressed. I've written a mini-review of each story, and at the end I've added some general thoughts about the anthology as a whole.

The first section in the anthology contains stories which are considered to be straightforwardly science fiction.

The Last Interview of Adam Sousbe, by Lyuben Dilov (short story)
This story positions itself as a journalistic interview of a proponent of male rights in 2980, which has been proclaimed the "Year of Man" - the final interview before Adam Sousbe is murdered. The idea that gender inequality might be reversed in the future is not unique, of course, and it can be hard to tell whether a story on this theme is intended to highlight continued unequal treatment of women or to suggest that feminism has gone too far already. It is very much a John W. Campbell story, complete with the feeling of slight discomfort at the politics (though here I am less sure of the intention than I would be with Campbell's). I couldn't see a date for this piece, but the "about the author" paragraph places him in the 1970s, and it is certainly a story which wouldn't be at all out of place in any collection of short science fiction from that decade.

Beating the Air, by Velko Miloev (short story)
What would happen if people could choose to become a wind? This brilliant story takes this strange question and runs with it. The point of view character is a "wind inspector", checking up on someone who has taken that option, who is conversing with a wind that is tired of paid work producing picturesque effects for a poet. Reading this whimsical story is one of my fiction highlights of my 2020 science fiction reading, and it deserves to be widely known.

It's Only Fair, Botkin, by Khristo Poshtakov (short story)
There is still something of a tendency in science fiction to depict space exploration as a glorious adventure. In this story, it is a tedious job, and one which doesn't reflect well on the explorers. The story is a thinly veiled attack on the attitudes of Earthly colonialists on the native peoples they encountered; fairly predictable, and less interesting to me than the depiction of what it's like to be doing a dull job in space at the start of the story. Worth reading, but less good than the stories which precede it.

In the Beginning Was the Subway, by Lyubomir P. Nikolov (short story)
The beginning of this story is a bit incoherent, but by the second page it resolves into a tale of a ghost arranging for a young man to receive a mysterious device, though which esoteric scientific information is imparted to him over a period of weeks. It's a weirdly utopian tale, which in tone reminded me of Olaf Stapledon, with an old fashioned, didactic tone. Interesting, but not a story which appealed to me.

Three Tales of a Very Windy Town, by Lyubomir P. Nikolov (short story)
"Up on the cliffs by a rough sea, there falteringly existed a town" is a great start to a story. It sets the whimsical tone of an amusing tale, which is essentially three tall stories about the wind. Together with Beating the Air, it suggests that Bulgarian writers may have something of an obsession with the wind! It is very unusual in an anthology with several authors to have two stories in a row from the same author (especially as they are not among the shortest stories); if I had to pick, I would choose this one to keep - it is both more inventive and more enjoyable to read.

Virgil and the Water, by Svetoslav Nikolov (short story)
Another strange story, of the Roman poet Virgil, who in this version oversees the whole of the history of the Roman Empire, and is obsessed with plumbing. From the note following the story, it appears that this is likely to be the most well known story from this collection to Western readers. It's engagingly written, but to me suffers (in a slightly bizarre way) from one of the major problems facing science fiction authors: finding a good way to give the reader all the information s/he needs in order to be able to understand the story. Because of the way this story works, the infodumps here are not about interplanetary trade relations, or the foibles of faster than light travel, but concern Roman history. In some ways, this is brought to life by the insertion of Virgil as narrator into the centre of events, but I suspect that there will be many readers whose interests don't extend to a summary the events of six centuries in a few pages.

How I Saved the World, Or, The Best Job by Valentin D. Ivanov (short story)
Training to be a hero is not fun in a (minimally described) post-apocalyptic world. Obsolete equipment and vehicles do not have the expected glamour. But just wait until you find out what the job actually entails.... Humorous story with some neat physics in the twist. A short, but excellent story.

Deflation, by Valentin D. Ivanov (short story)
Illegal astronomy?! This very short story is about an undercover investigation into illegal astronomy, and right from the beginning I was hooked: why is the use of telescopes banned? Unusual for these stories, Deflation is set into the USA, in many ways still the spiritual home of modern science fiction (and, indeed, a lot of modern astronomy). Not quite as good as How I Saved the World, but Deflation also has a good reveal of the physics involved at the end.

Dragonflies and Planets, by Aleksandar Karapanchev (short story)
Even shorter, this two page story is a beautiful lyrical prose poem about the exploration of distant worlds. Dragonflies and Planets is a distillation of the sense of wonder which lies at the heart of science fiction.

The Empty Room, by Aleksandar Karapanchev (short story)
Karapanchev's second story is also short and poetic, about the seasons and death and renewal, but is less successful than Dragonflies and Planets. However, the intention is to chill rather than enchant, and it certainly does that.

The Most Terrible Beast, by Khristo Poshtakov
This amusing story is the space exploration equivalent of tall fishing stories in a bar - swapping tales of the most hair-raising beasts encountered on newly discovered planets, each one topping the last with larger, more fearsome and dangerous creatures. Here, it's accompanied by some fun but seemingly unrelated cartoons, perhaps the most unusual of all the art in the book.

Father, by Ivaylo G. Ivanov (short story)
A son has a lot of questions when the police question him because his father, dead for many years, appears to have left his fingerprints at a robbery scene. This is a story which has an emotional punch, though the twist at the end is unlikely to take any reader by surprise.

10^-9, by Nikolay Tellalov (synopsis and extract from a novel)
As the title suggests, the topic is purportedly nanotechnology (a nanometer is 10^-9 metres), though in the extract itself, there is not a great deal of nanotechnology to be seen. I found this tale confusing, especially the time shifts within the extract (which starts, "Thirty-two years earlier") - the synopsis doesn't give sufficient temporal anchors to make it possible to work out where the different times fit within the synopsis. The writing itself is good, but I don't think the presentation of this story is helpful to it.

To Wake a Dragon Girl, by Nikolay Tellalov (synopsis and extract from a novel)
Tellalov's talents as a writer are much better served by this story. It's a love story, and also, in a sense, a tale of an alien encounter. One of my favourites from the anthology.

Sun Untouchable, by Nikolay Tellalov (synopsis and extract from a novel)
A third excerpt from a longer Tellalov story; even though it is just a part of the whole, it is one of the longest contributions included in the anthology. This tale has illustrations by the author (where elsewhere the art included in the collection is just that, with no connection to the literary content). Of all the art in the book, I least liked these illustrations. And this story failed to grab me; To Wake a Dragon Girl is easily the best of the three Tellalov tales.

Love in the Time of Con Crud, by Elena Pavlova (short story)
Finally, a story by a female author - I was beginning to wonder if science fiction in Bulgaria is a completely masculine phenomenon! A story where the epigraph is one of my favourite silly physics jokes is sure to be good... It's a time travel story set in 2017 and the 2030s, and one of especial relevance now, as it's about attempting to derail and epidemic which leads to a permanent drop in the quality of life around the globe: "Helsinki 2017 takes pride in its pure water. Helsinki 2030 doesn't have that luxury." It's unintentionally chilling to read that line, published in 2019, in May 2020 - if we don't get things right, now, then what will life be like in 13, 15 years time?

The Assassination, by Johan Vladimir (short story)
This story begins the second section, classifying its stories as fantasy and magic realism. The title is simply a description of the subject of this lengthy story, about the planning for an assassination. The science fiction elements are provided by the central character, the assassin, who has visions of long-past events, other deaths and executions, and by the zmeys, the mysterious guardians of a utopian world order. This is hugely ambitious and complex for a short story, and is mostly successful, provided that the required level of concentration is granted by the reader. The "about the author" note reveals that Johan Vladimir is the second woman author here, writing under a pseudonym.

The Coin (Part One of Aurelion: Eternal Balance), by "Lights amidst Shadows" (synopsis and extract from a novel)
Any story by a large collaborative group of young authors is an unusual beast, and this is in fact a synopsis of and an extract from a novel, first of a trilogy for young readers. It is a story about a clash between science and magic, the coin of the title proving to be the key to preserving the latter. The extract consists of the prologue and the first two chapters from the novel - starting as one of the main characters has just had his pocket picked, losing the coin. The extract makes me want to read the whole trilogy despite being considerably older than the target audience - and I would not have guessed either that the tale was written by a group, nor that they were "children and young people" (as the note at the end puts it). It stands alongside the rest of the anthology with ease.

They Don't Believe in Fairy Tales, by Martin Petkov (synopsis and extract from a novel)
In this case, the "synopsis" is a summary of a discussion of the nature of law and the breaking of laws, and a link between this and children no longer believing in fairy tales. I'm quite glad to have this discussion in a shortened version - what there is appears to be just enough to provide the setting for the story, while letting the reader get to the action in only a page and a half. In the end, though, the extract doesn't really work, not being long enough to do more than give a vague idea of what the novella might be like - the ideas are clearly interesting, but not how they are worked through.

I, Sinner Ivan by Nikolay Svetlev (synopsis and extract from a novel)
Another extract, a story based on the life of Ivan Rilski, a tenth century hermit who became the patron saint of Bulgaria. It is a fantasy weaved around the basic biography of the saint, portraying him in this extract as a strange child, half in the mundane world, half in a spiritual one where the Christian God and pagan deities are close by and where he can command strange powers. Without the rest of the story, I found it quite hard to follow what was going on - it's clearly an unusual story told an a strange way, but it was not immediately comprehensible.

Mina, the Spells, and the White Vial, by Vesela Flambulari (synopsis and extract from a novel)
This story is for children, and to me seems unlikely to appeal to older readers; this is perhaps to do with the tone, which is very much in the face of the reader. It's a novel about a school for gifted children, gifted in the artistic sense, though this is a world with magic in it too. The extract didn't to me give much feeling for whether the novel would be more rewarding; it is taken from early parts of the book, before the main part of the plot starts up, it seems.

Orpheus Descends Into Hell, by Georgi Malinov (synopsis and extract from a novel)
An alternative universe, in which the Bulgarians conquered Constantinople and rule the known world, at the end of the fifteenth century when this story is set. Strange things are happening across the empire, though. Again, the extract is rather unsatisfying; I think I would much rather have read one of Malinov's short stories, a complete work.

The Dragon and the Orange Juice, by Genoveva Detelinova (short story)
A humorous short story about wizards trying to control a dragon. Vlad is different to the other wizards, as can be seen from the results of his trying to explain mobile phones to his raven familiar. He is convinced he's going to die soon, so his major preoccupation is to amend his bucket list so he can get it done and to hone his "famous last words"; the last thing he wants is the dragon, the national icon, to be misbehaving. This is very silly and quite funny, even in translation, which often flattens humour.

Journey to Akkad, by Val Todorov (extract)
This story marks the beginning of the third section of this compilation, which is made up of avant garde science fiction. Journey to Akkad is (as might be expected from the avant garde label) a strange story, poetic stream of consciousness, describing a journey through the land of the dead. It has good illustrations by Plamen Atanasov. Interesting and enjoyable to read, though remaining baffling.

The Book, by Val Todorov (extract)
The Book is a second extract from the same source as Journey to Akkad. It's a lot shorter than Journey to Akkad, and is much the same in style, tone, and quality.

That Thing Gone with The Birds, by Val Todorov (short story)
This is like a more surreal version of the Kafka's famous story Metamorphosis. Rather than a cockroach, Mr S. turns into a balloon... Another interesting but weird story, a lot more fun than the other two.

The Film-thin Bound, by Kalin M. Nemov (short story)
Shades of Samuel Beckett's "I can't go on, I must go on" immediately sprang to my mind reading the first paragraphs of this story, which almost literally repeats this, at least in the English translation. In two pages, it moves from death, mourning and despair, to a new love, and a heroic salvation. It doesn't to my mind quite work; it would take a top class literary master to manage such a change in that short a space, and the initial desperate sadness is much better portrayed than the ending, which as a result approaches glibness. Interesting, and a gallant attempt to be great.

Asked the Soldier, "Who Called Me?", by Yancho Cholakov (short story)
This story starts with affecting emotion, as did The Film-thin Bound (is there something about Bulgarian avant garde fiction which makes it easy to convey emotion), and goes on to deal with a topic which perhaps now seems difficult to discuss in a way which it might not have done a few months ago: the way that travellers can bring disease which may be fatal to those who have no immunity. Perhaps the most interesting story in the anthology, though in places the translation doesn't seem quite as good as many of the other stories here.

The Story of the Lonely Ranger, by Yancho Cholakov (synopsis and extract from a novel)
The synopsis of this work is almost more a description of the methods used in it rather than the plot - it's more a multimedia dossier than a novel, containing "pseudo-documentary" photos, drawings, and musical notes". The plot sounds rather Moorcockian, as "the huge figure of the Lonely Ranger is set against the dying mankind" - and hopefully the work offers an interesting depiction of the nature of heroism/villainy and the end of civilisation for the current era. Unfortunately, the excerpt - a half page of thirteen sentences rather reading like a scene from a gory pulp monster movie - is far too short to make a sensible assessment.

A Small Step, by Màri (short story)
Three actors are hired to pretend to be astronauts as NASA fakes the first moon landing. A fun story with twists even though short - I'm not sure why it's considered to be avant garde.

Impossibly Blue, by Zdravka Evtimova (short story)
A story about writing stories, a story about life, writer's block, and the neurotic thoughts that pass through most people's minds - maybe especially writers - from time to time. And it is fantastic.

Wrong, by Zdravka Evtimova (short story)
Another story about writing from Evtimova, this time about translating a work that is disliked, until a meeting with a mysterious stranger. Also good, it is pretty similar to Impossibly Blue.

The Matrix: Resolutions, by Atanas P. Slavov (short story)
This is Matrix fan fiction - it's basically an imagined conversation with the films' central character Neo. Possibly reactions to the story will depend on what the reader thinks of the films, personally I can take or leave them, and the same is very much true for the story.

The Keresztury TVirs, by Ivan Popov (fictionalised book review)
This article starts the final section, entitled "Futurum", a section title which is very unclear (and perhaps deliberately so). The Keresztury TVirs purports to be a review of a banned book describing computer viruses which affect cable TV transmissions, allowing editing of the picture and audio. It discusses their use by radical political factions as well as pranks and commercial advertising. Interesting and thought provoking - as science fiction should be!

Mindster, by Valentin D. Ivanov (short story)
Valentin D. Ivanov already has two stories earlier on in this anthology. This is rather more straightforwardly science fiction than The Keresztury TVirs, suggesting that the meaning of Futurum is simply near future science fiction. That is, assuming that the central concept is in fact a possibility: the story is about moving beyond file sharing online to mind sharing. Interesting, and a fitting conclusion to the anthology.

Overall thoughts

I was sent this anthology as an ebook with a request to let the compilers know if there was anything which was significantly less good than the rest, something which should be dropped. It's a big anthology, and the stories do not all appeal equally - but this is true of every anthology, and there is nothing which stands out as much poorer than the other stories. On the other hand, there were several stories which I enjoyed a great deal, including one I would pick as among the best things I've read this year in any genre.

On the negative side, I was not entirely convinced by the structure of the anthology. In a multi-author compilation, it is unusual to feature authors multiple times. This is done repeatedly here, and is more obvious because most of the multiple contributions are clustered together. This has the unfortunate consequence that 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. The biggest problem with the content of the anthology is the number of excerpts from longer works. They are clearly meant to give a flavour of the novel they come from, but in some cases, the extract is too short, or the accompanying synopsis doesn't quite give enough context to make for satisfying reading, which is a pity.

Like any other local science fiction community around the world, Bulgaria's is still influenced by the US, but this collection shows that there is local flavour there too, and a good deal of talent. I hope that the release of this ebook raises the profile of Bulgarian writers around the world - there are several I will seek out, given the chance (and, I'm afraid, the translations, as I speak no Bulgarian).

My overall rating: 8/10.


Кал wrote:Wow ... wow. Wow.

Um ... where to begin? :)

Maybe with this caveat re: "I was beginning to wonder if science fiction in Bulgaria is a completely masculine phenomenon." It was an unexpected (even shocking) realization for myself, too.

Since today is one of those days (where everything seems to happen at once), I'll stop here. For now. ;)

But, yes: thank you. This is definitely more than I was hoping for. :)))

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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Fri May 22, 2020 1:21 pm

Кал wrote:On to the next point:

On the negative side, I was not entirely convinced by the structure of the anthology. In a multi-author compilation, it is unusual to feature authors multiple times. This is done repeatedly here, and is more obvious because most of the multiple contributions are clustered together. This has the unfortunate consequence that 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.


A couple of considerations here:

1. Our choice of short stories was limited to: a) available translations; b) which have already been published in professional magazines or anthologies; c) and fit in (more or less) with the general values of the Human Library.

Given these restrictions, it was actually quite a miracle we managed to collect that many authors. :D

On the unpublished side, we currently work with some twenty to thirty other authors, whose stories we're actively submitting to various venues. Raw material for the next anthology, yes? :)

2. Even when we've 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're shorter than Ilieva's story.

(Well, that doesn't apply to Nikolay Tellalov. Tellalov is a phenomenon unto his own ;)--we basically have no other SF writer of his rank at present, so we wished to showcase him. The extent to which the chosen excerpts do the job is another matter. ;) )

3. This will not be the final order of the stories in the almanac. We're going to move some between the various sections, and each section will be completely rearranged. Stay tuned. ;)


Simon McLeish wrote:I quite understand that there were constraints, and I think re-ordering things will make a significant difference. It might be a good idea to add an introductory note pointing out that restricting the anthology to stories which had already received professional publication and the need for available translations has reduced the available choices. If I spoke Bulgarian, I would volunteer to translate some stories for you :-)


Кал wrote:Yes, these discussions actually help me focus my thoughts about writing a proper intro--thank you very much!

And thank you for the translation offer, too! If you want to help us, we can always use another pair of copyeditor's/proofreader's eyes. :) Right now, we're working with Daniel M. Bensen most of the time; but Dan is often busy with his own projects, so we'd appreciate having other well-read native speakers on board. You certainly qualify. ;)


Simon wrote:Happy to!


Кал wrote:Duly noted. :)

I actually think there's a translation in need of editing/proofreading right now ... but let's move that line of thought to our emails.
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Fri May 22, 2020 9:38 pm

Jenny's review on Goodreads:

I have never read Bulgarian literature before, so I was excited to read this almanac. Not only does it offer a perspective on Bulgarian culture, but I also love science fiction and fantasy, so I was glad to read this book and offer some feedback on it. The editors did an amazing job putting this collection together. The stories chosen work really well together and are creative, interesting, entertaining, thought-provoking, and diverse. The artwork included is also very engaging. I spent time looking at each piece because I love art, and the work included was unique and also thought-provoking.

After reading this collection, I feel like I have some insight into Bulgarian culture and interpretation of science fiction and fantasy. I love that there are some tropes that are cross-cultural, but I also appreciated that there are Bulgarian history, myths, and fairy tales clearly represented here, aspects of folklore or perhaps oral culture that I've never heard of but was able to learn some more about. I also appreciate the political commentary, mostly in the science fiction. I enjoy anything that has layers and makes me wonder a little bit, and most of the science fiction did that for me.

There are stories I didn't enjoy as much. I'm not a huge fan of avant garde fiction, so that section was the least enjoyable for me as a whole, but there were some stories in the other sections that just weren't for me as well. I also felt like the excerpts from novels could've been worked in differently. They are typically preceded by lengthy synopses that either didn't help me feel connected to the novel or gave away much of what was in the excerpt and thus felt redundant. However, one excerpt I really loved was from The Coin, by Lights amidst Shadows, a book I added to my TBR because the excerpt left me wanting more!

My other favorites were: "The Last Interview of Adam Sousbe" by Lyuben Dilov, "It's Only Fair, Botkin" by Khristo Poshtakov, "In the Beginning Was the Subway" by Lyubomir P. Nikolov, "The Empty Room" by Aleksandar Karapanchev, "Father" (eerie!) by Ivaylo G. Ivanov, "Love in the Time of Con Crud" (which hit differently during this epidemic) by Elena Pavolva, the excerpt from To Wake a Dragon Girl (which I also wanted to read the entire book of, but I couldn't find an English translation) by Nikolay Tellalov, "The Dragon and the Orange Juice" by Genoveva Detelinova, "A Small Step" by Mari, "Impossibly Blue" by Zdravka Evtimova, "The Matrix: Resolutions" (yes, a continuation of The Matrix movies, of sorts) by Atanas P. Slavov, and "The Keresztury TVirs" (which I read to my dad, and he thought it was real and looked up the events, but I convinced him it's a fictional story, so that tells how you well-written it is!) by Ivan Popov. I also read the "Fandom" section at the end, which provides a timeline for the creation of the science fiction club and is very fascinating in offering an insight into history and culture in Bulgaria before and after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Overall, I really enjoyed this collection, and I highly recommend it!!


Кал wrote:Thank you very much, Jenny! :)))

Would it help if we move the synopses after the excerpts? Nothing is fixed at this stage; all this feedback gives us fresh ideas and angles. :)

Unfortunately, the excerpt from To Wake a Dragon Girl is all we have at this stage. Fortunately, responses like yours inspire us to translate more. :D (Seriously: besides helping us fine-tune the selection in this anthology, you're also helping us see which novels get more love--and give them a higher priority in our waiting lists. Oh, had we but world enough and time ....)
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Tue May 26, 2020 4:20 pm

Gabi's review on Goodreads:

As I was told this anthology is due to revision and re-arranging so this overview may differ from the final release.
„Fantastika“ is a cross-section through Bulgarian speculative literature over the last decades. All stories herein have already been released in national magazines. (ETA: I just learned that most of the translations have already featured in international magazines.)
The emphasis in lot of the stories is on Bulgaria/Bulgarian characters which is great to read. It sets a welcome counterpoint to the still mostly US dominated storytelling in these genres. So I was quite eager to get my hands on this anthology and I wasn’t dissappointed. The range of authors and topics is broad and gives a delightful overview over the Bulgarian SF landscape.

It is subdivided into the parts Science Fiction, Fantasy & Magic Realism, Avant-garde Speculative Fiction and Futurum and contains standalone short stories as well as excerpts from novels (most of them not available in translation yet).

The texts are loosened up by galleries of wonderful, full page artworks by Bulgarian artists. These are the first thing that catches the eye of the reader while scrolling through the book and the paintings and drawings captivated me again and again during reading. There is so much talent and such imagination in those artworks.

I try to write a sentence about each of the stories. My personal highlights are set in fat letters.

Science Fiction:

- „The last interview“ by Lyuben Dilov: A story in form of a record set in a future with reversed gender inequality. It left me quite untouched and perhaps isn’t the best piece to start an anthology.
- „Beating the Air“ by Velko Miloev: why not choose being a wind as a job option? A short piece sparkling with imagination, written in a refreshing, sassy way. Definitely one of my highlights of the collection.
- „It’s only fair, Botkin“ by Khristo Poshtakov: A not-exactly-first-contact misunderstanding story written in a tongue-in-cheek prose. I liked it, yet the ending felt a bit flat.
- „In the Beginning was the Subway“ by Lyubomir P. Nikolov: A good idea written in a slightly humorous prose. Yet again I was missing the twist/concise ending I favour for short stories.
- „Three Tales of a Very Windy Town“ by Lyubomir P. Nikolov: Like his first story in this collection this one has a wonderfully weird idea. I love this author‘s surreal take. Another one of my favourites.
- „Virgil and the Water“ by Svetoslav Nikolov: A short walkthrough through Roman history to the downfall of the empire through the eyes of an unusual narrator connected with aquaeducts. A special and interesting approach that kept me invested.
- „How I saved the World, Or, The Best Job“ by Valentin D. Ivanov: I loved it. A fun idea and humourosly written. This is perhaps my number one because of its crazy but quite realistic idea.
- „Deflation“ by Valentin D. Ivanov: Even though written by the same author this story left me without any feeling whatsoever.
- „Dragonflies and Planets“ by Aleksandar Karapanchev: I was delighted to find a poem among the contributions. A wonderful show of the bandwith of the authors.
- „The Empty Room“ by Aleksandar Karapanchev: Another one of my favourites. Poetic and atmospheric. The anxiety was palpable and I was left with quite a turmoil in my soul.
- „The Most Terrible Beast“ by Khristo Poshtakov: Unfortunately I couldn’t get into this story.
- „Father“ by Ivaylo G. Ivanov: A haunting story, a bit mysterious and with a nice twist that wasn’t surprising.
- „10-9“ by Nikolay Tellalov: this one was an excerpt and like with other excerpts in this almanac I unfortunately had problems to get into the story.
- „To Wake a Dragon Girl“ by Nikolay Tellalov: this excerpt did work for me. It was the beginning of a story about a contemporary guy finding a small zmey girl (the Bulgarian version of a dragon). The excerpt worked well and made whetted one’s appetite for more.
- „Love in the time of Con Crud“ by Elena Pavolva: I fell in love with the skillful prose here. A timetravel story with heart. Another favourite.

Fantasy & Magic Realism

- „The Assassination“ by Johan Vladimir: This story needs a lot of concentration and apparently I wasn’t up to it. I tried to follow the plot and remember who is who, but in the end I realised that I would have to read it again (which I propably will some time).
- „The Coin“ by Lights amidst Shadows: An excerpt that didn’t exactly pull me in with its topic (but then I’m no fan of classical Fantasy), but I’m totally fascinated by the fact that his novel was written as collaboration by a group of young writers for young readers. And since I’ve seen that the first part is available in translation as ebook I will definitely get it to see what those young artists are up to.
- „They don’t believe in Fairy Tales“ by Martin Petkov: This excerpt cum summary didn’t work for me. I got no clear impression about how the author would be going along with his story concept that sounded interesting.
- „I, Sinner Ivan“ by Nikolay Svetlev: This one worked! I love it when local history/legend is worked into Fantasy tales. A story about the Bulgarian patron saint would be very much to my liking. Unfortunately this one doesn’t seem to be available in translation.
- „Mina, The Spells and the White Vial“ by Vesela Flamburari: Sounded good in the summary, but the excerpt didn’t do much in terms of peeking my interest.
- „Orpheus Descends into Hell“ by Georgi Malinov: Another excerpt that would make me want to read the book, because it, again, seems to be grounded in Bulgarian alternate history/legend.
- „The Dragon and the Orange Juice“ by Genoveva Detelinova: a fun, slapsticky sorcerer story, written in a tongue-in-cheek prose. Sets a nice light emphasis in this anthology.

Avant-garde Speculative Fiction

- „Journey to Akkad“ by Val Todorov: A melancholic, surrealistic story that sucked me in. Even though it is labelled as excerpt it works as a standalone.
- „The Book“ by Val Todorov: again an excerpt, but too short to really work.
- „The Thing Gone with the Birds“ by Val Todorov: Adorable! Absolutely weird, surrealistic and skillfully written. Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything by this author in the GoodReads search. I’d gladly buy a collection of his work.
- „The Film-Thin Bound“ by Kalin M. Nemov: A very short stream of consciousness which creates anxiety without being clear for me what it is about.
- „Asked the Soldier 'who called me?'“ by Yancho Cholakov: a story that stays just beyond my grasp of understanding.
- „A Small Step“ by Màri: I’m not sure about this one. It’s about a topic read about several times with a twist ending that’s foreseeable.
- „Impossibly Blue“ by Zdravka Evtimova: Absolutely wonderful! I loved everything about it. And I was happy to see that there are translated ebooks available by this author.
- „Wrong“ by Zdravka Evtimova: not quite as outstanding as „Impossibly Blue“, but a favourite nontheless.
- „The Matrix: Resolutions“ by Atanas P. Slavov: I don’t even know if I’ve ever seen the last of the Matrix movies, so I was missing the foundation for this fanfiction.

Futurum
(I’m not clear about the distinction between this section and the SF section)

- „The Keresztury TVirs“ by Ivan Popox: Written like an essay about TV viruses. Interesting idea, but too dry for my taste.
- „Mindster“ by Valentin D. Ivanov: Better accessible for me than the one before. A story about information storage told in time jumps.

I was glad to have read this collection and will definitely watch out for some of the authors in future. I hope the almanac soon will find a publisher and be welcomed by an international audience. The love and talent that went into it certainly deserves recognition.


Кал wrote:Thank you very much, Gabi! :)))

A quick correction: Most of the stories (translations) here were already published in English-speaking (that is, international :) magazines.

And a quick question: Are there any stories you'd rather we omitted from the final selection? I can't tell from your individual impressions alone.

Your puzzlement about Futurum makes me wonder if we should get rid of that section entirely. Hmm ... let's see about that.

... Oh! We will definitely keep Futurum (but will move "Mindster" to Science Fiction). I forgot there's another article we're working on right now; as soon as we find a market for it--and the rights revert to us--we'll include it in the almanac. It's called "The End of Historical Man," and it's an epic analysis of certain trends in our current and future world ... I promise. ;)


Gabi wrote:Kalin, Thanks for the correction, I edited it into the review.

I would not omit a story, cause what I didn't like might be a fav of somebody else. The strength of the Almanac is its broad spectrum. Yet in case I'm not the only one who found the first story wanting I would put one of the generally loved ones at the beginning to quicken the appetite of the reader (assuming that there are stories where beta readers are of the same positive opinion)

Yes, I wasn't clear why some stories ended up in the Futurum section while they would have fit the SF section. Is this supposed to be for more theoretical texts?


Кал wrote:Thanks!

"The Last Interview" is definitely not going to be the opening story. Judging from our testers' responses, we may start with "Love in the Time of Con Crud."

Yes, Futurum is supposed to be entirely about futurology. But then one of the authors withdrew his essay, we replaced it with "Mindster" to fill the gap ... and now it's neither here nor there. ;)


Gabi wrote:"Love in the Time of Con Crud" is a good opener, indeed.


Gabi wrote:And I wanted to ask If "Zunk the roadfinder" is available internationally. I couldn't find it on GR. I'm totally in love with the illustrations by Dimo Milanov.


Кал wrote:No, unfortunately not.


Gabi wrote:Pity. Those illustrations are so lovely I would have loved to know the story behind them.
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Thu May 28, 2020 10:35 pm

Back to Simon McLeish's review:

Кал wrote:Aaand ... we get to a more personal question. :)

Re:
Shades of Samuel Beckett's "I can't go on, I must go on" immediately sprang to my mind reading the first paragraphs of this story, which almost literally repeats this


Where is the quote taken from? The only play by Beckett I've read is Waiting for Godot--and then not of my own volition. ;) He certainly wasn't on my mind when I wrote that I-don't-know-how-to-qualify-it.
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Fri May 29, 2020 9:46 am

Simon wrote:Sorry, it's a slight misquote from memory. I've just looked it up, it's "I can't go on, I'll go on" and it's the last sentence of the novel The Unnamable. It's kind of a summary of the hopelessness and determination of the characters in the trilogy of which The Unnamable is the third.


Кал wrote:Thanks!

(Hah! Hopelessness! Not for nothing have I ignored Beckett all these years. :D)

Now my final question:
(...) there were several stories which I enjoyed a great deal, including one I would pick as among the best things I've read this year in any genre


(I cannot say "thank you" enough for this reaction. It fills my anthologist's heart to the brim.)

Which story was that? "Beating the Air"? "Asked the Soldier, 'Who Called Me?'"?

I'd like to share this overbrimming joy with the author too. :)))


Simon wrote:Beckett was the subject of my partner's MA thesis, so we have all he wrote around the house. Which means I've read it, at least once. He was a brilliant writer, but I find his works too depressing to love.

It's Beating the Air that I was thinking of when I wrote that: congratulations are due to Velko Miloev. The story has an intriguing and original concept, and is very well executed too.
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Wed Jun 03, 2020 10:54 am

A.G.'s response:
To be truthful, K, for me, an ordinary person, these stories have some issues of language translation, maybe, or maybe it is that in the Bulgarian language it culturally uses what are customary words and manners of style in speech which in English are unfamiliar. As an example, everyone in America recognizes a TV cartoon character, Bart Simpson's, usual retort of    "Eat my shorts!", from a cartoon show which has been on air for almost forty years, so that when we hear someone say eat my shorts we know the character and TV show and why someone is jokingly using this phrase, but I suspect someone from Malaysia would not get the cultural framework and maybe be FAR more insulted than it was meant.

This is a common issue I have noticed of all translated works - from Japan, China, Sweden, even from the UK written in UK English.

Another thing is the amount of philosophical mental rumination of characters. I have some trouble following or caring about the personal philosophical angst of many of the characters in these stories because here in America we don't agonize like this about ANY philosophical/personal socially deep issues so endlessly in fiction, or agonize over these specific issues presented in these stories at all.

Maybe these philosophical angsty ruminations are common among educated Bulgarians, or they are common among eastern European intellectuals. I suspect so because I have read other eastern European writers from the time of Russian domination of their countries from the 1970's-1990's and they ALL have the exact same angsty philosophical ruminations. These lengthy internal philosophical conversations of a fictional character are dull, TLDR, and without cultural meaning or context for Americans. I am familiar with them because I obsessively read every fricking thing in front of me, even breakfast cereal boxes. But I am crazy in this singular way of reading which is not normal for most Americans. Only other obsessive readers do this.

; )

I have noticed the ideas in high-end Modern and Post-Modern fiction novels written by educated eastern European intellectuals also all seem to agonize over the SAME social-personal-political issues in the same extended philosophical wordiness, although personalized to the author, but these intellectual ruminations simply have absolutely no foundation for American readers. I have noticed this custom in many eastern European novels from ALL twentieth-century eras, and in nineteenth-century German novels (translated into English).

For someone used to how American writers write fiction novels (very brief and minimized use of words, mostly used to describe action or a few emotional feelings) or how UK writers write (more expansively than American writers, but still about action and a few words describing emotions - although UK writers of fiction recognize a wider range of character emotions than American fiction writers, haha!)

I also am not familiar with Bulgarian mythology or imagery. However, the artwork I see included is fascinating. I can't stop looking at it.

Having read the stories I have noted below so far, I feel very reluctant to read more. That Eastern European style is getting to me. Of course, I am just me talking about my taste.

(...)


Кал wrote:Thank you very much, April! :)

Since I agree with your observations about the difference between Western (in particular, Anglophone) mentality and our own Bulgarian (or indeed, Eastern European) inclination for rumination (haha, that's a nice one to read out loud), can I recommend a few stories from our final section, Avant-garde SF, that you'll probably like better?

"The Dragon and the Orange Juice" (okay, this one is pure fantasy--but it's Pratchettesque enough to merit mention)

"The Film-thin Bound"

"Asked the Soldier, 'Who Called Me?'"

(As a whole, I think Avant-garde SF would suit better the tastes of more literary-minded people. But it's a bit scary for everyone else, so we'll keep it at the back ... maybe. ;)

Again, thank you for your feedback--I'm duly noting it for our next iteration of the anthology.
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Sat Jun 06, 2020 8:54 am

Leroy Erickson's review on Goodreads:

This is an interesting collection of stories and images. The stories are a mix of true science fiction, magic, pure fantasy and, in some cases, just dream sequences. Almost all of the artwork is beautiful. Some of the excerpts seem to be just a little bit too brief to drive any interest in looking for the book.

Science Fiction - 12
Artist: Dimitar Yankov - 12
The Last Interview of Adam Sousbe - Lyuben Dilov - 23 - 3 stars
- A reversal of society puts women in the dominant position, treating men along the lines of the worst way that men have ever treated women. The main character in the story pushes a men's liberation movement and is laughed at socially for it. A so-so story.

Beating the Air - Velko Miloev - 27 - 4 stars
- A man has been turned into an intelligent wind for a period of time, and finds out that he doesn't like it. An odd story.

Artist: Vasil Ivanov - 33
It's Only Fair, Botkin - Khristo Poshtakov - 43 - 3 stars
- An explorer on a far planet shows little respect for native life and finally goes a step too far when he steals an important object from a native tribe. An interesting look at a possible situation.

Artist: Atanas P. Slavov - 53
In the Beginning Was the Subway - Lyubomir P. Nikolov - 79 - 4 stars
- An interesting story, although not really science fiction.

Three Tales of a Very Windy Town - Lyubomir P. Nikolov - 93 - 3 stars
- Not very much of a story. This was kind of like the author had a couple of very different ideas for story lines and just hooked them together into one story. Then didn't know how to end it, so he just stopped.

Virgil and the Water - Svetoslav Nikolov - 98 - 3 stars
- The poet Virgil lives through many generations in ancient Rome, watching the construction of the various aqueducts and coming to the realization that they are slowly killing the Roman people through lead poisoning. Why he lived so long I couldn't quite gather.

How I Saved the World, Or, The Best Job - Valentin D. Ivanov - 117 - 3 stars
- A very weird story about a multi-national project sending astronauts and cosmonauts to work on painting an asteroid which is on a track to hit the Earth in a few years. Other groups are building a large microwave transmitter to use light pressure to divert the asteroid. The paint job is to make it respond to the light pressure better. The normal use of light pressure is to push an object in the opposite direction. This story seems to imply that a rotating object will be heated by the received rays, and then when that side rotates away it will emit photons as it cools down and move in the opposite direction. ???

Deflation - Valentin D. Ivanov - 125 - 3 stars
- Another odd story about police raids to catch amateur astronomers using illegal telescopes in order to study the skies. The government doesn't want this to happen because it has been discovered that changes in the universe will cause all life on Earth to be destroyed in the relatively near future and they're afraid that too much knowledge will cause rioting.

Dragonflies and Planets - Aleksandar Karapanchev - 130 - 3 stars
- Other than the words "space ship", there is nothing having to do with science fiction or fantasy in this story. It's simply colorful description of a dream.

The Empty Room - Aleksandar Karapanchev - 132 - 4 stars
- An inventive idea. On a planet (Earth?) where nature has been destroyed almost totally, people are confined to small apartments with limited space. Their only exposure to 'the outside' is through 'sensovision' telecasts from another planet with a nature reserve. To get more space in their apartment they can have a door into another dimension installed. But, technology sometimes fails. Well done.

The Most Terrible Beast - Khristo Poshtakov - 139 - 4 stars
- A group of friends, sitting at a bar, telling stories about increasingly larger, more horrible monsters that they have run into. One of them finally tells about the galaxy destroyer and describes the colors that it cycles through as it attacks. Then they look outside. Pretty good.

Artist: Kalin Nikolov - 144
Father - Ivaylo G. Ivanov - 160 - 5 stars
- A man is put into an "incubator" when 8 years old because he has a terminal disease that they can't yet cure. He is revived when he is fully grown, but now has to let his mental age catch up with his physical age. He finds out that his father died just before he was revived, but later finds signs that seem to indicate that that isn't true. He continues trying to find out the truth until, finally, finds it, but wishes that he hadn't. A very good story, if kind of oddly written.

10^-9 - Nikolay Tellalov (excerpt) - 168 - 3 stars
- Being just an excerpt, you can't pick up much feel for the story. The style, however, seems to be pretty good and the general plot seems like it might be worth reading. The excerpt is too short to really learn much, though.

Artist: Stefan Lefterov - 179
To Wake a Dragon Girl - Nikolay Tellalov (excerpt) - 192 - 4 stars
- A man drops his knife over a cliff edge, climbs down to look for it and finds a rock face with a carved dragon on it - which talks to him. This seems like a pretty good story. There's just enough in the excerpt to give you a feel for the story and to appreciate the writing style. A+

Sun Untouchable - Nikolay Tellalov (excerpt) - 209 - 2 stars
- I'm sorry, but I just couldn't read this story. It seemed to just be a lot of words that didn't accomplish anything. What is the story?

Love in the Time of Con Crud - Elena Pavolva - 253 - 4 stars
- An elderly couple travels back in time to the World Science Fiction convention in Helsinki in 2017 in order to find themselves at a much younger age and prevent themselves from catching a plague. Interesting.

Fantasy & Magic Realism - 260
Artist: Kate Danailova - 261
Artist: Plamen Semkov - 267
The Assassination - Johan Vladimir - 276 - 4 stars
- A conditional four stars. Mankind has surrendered itself to be controlled by ancient god-like creatures from ages ago. Some men and women exist long past their deaths as spirit-like creatures. Parts of the story aren't very well explained.

The Coin - Lights amidst Shadows (excerpt) - 307 - 4 stars
- The portion of the book chosen for this excerpt was well done. It contains a readable story that gives you a good feel for what the rest of the book is about.

Artist: Peter Stanimirov - 330
They Don't Believe in Fairy Tales - Martin Petkov (excerpt) - 342 - 3 stars
- I can't quite follow this one. Is it an entire book about the aftermath of the Pied Piper of Hamelin? Did he keep the kids and start educating them? Not quite enough info.

I, Sinner Ivan - Nikolay Svetlev (excerpt) - 350 - 3 stars
- Obviously a fantasy story even if based on a possibly true historical character. The story is OK but doesn't accomplish much.

Mina, the Spells and the White Vial - Vesela Flamburari (excerpt) - 356 - 3 stars
- Another excerpt which tells a little vignette but leaves too many things hanging. Who are the twins who save Mina? Do the teachers intentionally allow the bullies to act as they do? The book might be good, but I can't tell from this portion.

Orpheus Descends into Hell - Georgi Malinov (excerpt) - 362 - 4 stars
- This seems like it might be a nice adventurous novel. The excerpt gives just enough info to grab your attention.

The Dragon and the Orange Juice - Genoveva Detelinova - 376 - 4 stars
- This one wanders a little bit but turns into a pretty good story with a nice little twist.

Artist: Emil Valev - 393
Artist: Kalin Nikolov - 397

Avant-garde Speculative Fiction - 403
Journey to Akkad - Val Todorov - 405 - 3 stars
- This is another tough one to follow. Why are the people traveling to the other cities? What do the leeks have to do with it? It all just seems pointless.

The Book - Val Todorov (excerpt from Irkalla, the Land of the Dead) - 423 - 2 stars
- What possible purpose is met by individually listing so many individual things that are affected by the explosion, almost two pages worth? There was nothing in this excerpt which would lead me to read the book.

That Thing Gone with the Birds - Val Todorov - 427 - 3 stars
- This is an interesting story but I'm missing something, or many things. How or why is Mr. S turned into a balloon? Why did everyone leave Monica's house and leave her alone? Parts of the story are nice but it isn't complete.

The Film-thin Bound - Kalin M. Nenov - 436 - 2 stars
- What is the story?

Asked the Soldier, Who Called Me? - Yancho Cholakov - 438 - 3 stars
- This story seems to be pretty good,but seems to have a few things missing, or at least I'm missing them. Does this culture really only eat meat? Where are the Holy Soldier and the later soldiers coming from and why?

The Story of the Lonely Ranger - Yancho Cholakov - 452 - 2 stars
- Maybe the book might be good, but I'm not sure that I'd want to read a rewrite of The Iliad being fought by magical alien armies, if that's what it is.

A Small Step - Mári - 454 - 4 stars
- A strange way to tell it, but an interesting variation on the faked moon landing idea. Done well.

Impossibly Blue - Zdravka Evtimova - 459 - 4 stars
- Another good story. A woman who appears to have lost touch with reality returns to live a normal life with her husband and child. It works well, and the twist at the end is nice.

Wrong - Zdravka Evtimova - 463 - 4 stars
- A good story.

The Matrix: Resolutions - Atanas P. Slavov - 471 - 3 stars
- The whole thing just seems like a philosophical discussion, not a story.


Futurum - 477
The Keresztury TVirs - Ivan Popov - 478 - 4 stars
- This one is odd. I'll give it four stars for the concept.

Mindster - Valentin D. Ivanov - 485 - 4 stars
- Another high score for the concept. An interesting idea.

Artist: Georgi Markov - 495
Artist: Dimo Milanov - 501

Fandom - 511
Ivan Yefremov SF & Futurology Club - 511
Chronicles of Ivan Yefremov SF Club - 512


Кал wrote:Re "In the Beginning Was the Subway": The only actual science-fiction element here is the paint they invent in the end, AFAIK. The chamber itself already exists; however, the researcher who came up with it wasn't named Erofeev but Kaznacheyev. ;) I can't find a proper description of Vlail Kaznacheyev's work in English, but here's an article about him:

https://medium.com/@3DA0KM/check-out-th ... f2e96466fa

(Interestingly, it also mentions Kozyrev mirrors--which appear in the translation I'm working on right now. :-O)

"Three Tales of a Very Windy Town" eventually grew into a longer story (a novelette)--but this here is the version that Unstuck bought.


valentindivanov wrote:Dear Leroy,

Kalin told me about your review – and many thanks for reading our almanac with so much though!

Now, the story How I Saved the World, Or, The Best Job was written for an educational anthology and presumably reading it would come after listening to some Astronomy 101 lectures. ;)

The direct "push" of the light pressure from the source – be it the central star or human-built microwave gun – is negligible for the orbital migration of planets and asteroids. In fact, if it wasn't, there will be no planetary systems in the Universe, because the stars would have blown away all planets and asteroids.

The Yarkovsky effect is caused by the change that the emitted light imposes on the orbital velocity of the asteroid - if the orbital velocity increases, the asteroid's orbit widens, if the orbital velocity decreases - the orbit grows tighter (pretty much like the maneuvers of the artificial satellites and space crafts when they turn on their engines near a planet).

BTW, the educational anthology – Diamonds in the Sky, ed. M. Brotherton – is freely available on Internet. It is an excellent educational resource, if I may say so.

Cheers!
V.


Кал wrote:Thank you, Valyo! I just realized I hadn't grasped that part of the science.

As my dad says, we learn while we're dumb. :D

(Okay, this sounds better in Bulgarian: Човек се учи, докато е прост. ;)
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:22 am

In our mailbox, Geoffrey Urland wrote:Presumably all of these stories and artists were chosen because they were important somehow to the development of Bulgarian SF/Fantasy. It would be helpful if before or after each story there was a brief editorial comment about when the story was written/published (to put it in historical context) and to describe why it or the author/artist was important/notable/interesting.


Кал wrote:We'll definitely include the years of creation (I suspect the art will be harder to trace back), plus an alternative reading order based on chronology.

As for the stories we've chosen to include, please see this comment: viewtopic.php?p=30210#p30210
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:54 am

Choko G's review on Goodreads:

This is a very eclectic collection of short stories and book excerpts from various authors and in myriad of genres. The authors are of different generations, from different social backgrounds, and have very different approaches to how they view the future of the Science Fiction and literary Fantasy genres. The one thing that unites them is that they all came from the small Balkans country, Bulgaria. In order to fully appreciate the diversity in storytelling, you have to understand that in a country smaller than most of the square states in both land and population, the historical context of its population is as diverse as an European country could be, with landscape clusters of everything but a desert... Rivers spring from numerous mountains, run through rich valleys, forests spread from one end to the other, and the Black Sea gives way to golden sanded beaches. It is a microcosm of the best G-d has to offer, but centuries of political strife have seen peoples come, others take them over, then others coming through, leaving a genetic mixture of humanity, always fighting for their right to stay and claim its beauty for their own. Much blood has been spilled on its earth, and much sorrow has shaped its people, but a sense of humor and ironic optimism keeps the artists of all mediums always aware of their past while creating with a look to the future. Thus, it is not surprising that a lot of the writing in this almanac is a bit more ponderous and leaning towards abstract than what we have gotten accustomed to in the more widely published western literature. There is a distinct voice to all of the writing included, despite the strong individuality of the authors. There is some loss of impact at times, which is somewhat inevitable with translation in order to keep the original authors' style and meaning, but I think the intent is always understood and some leniency is expected.

I need to say, I am absolutely in love with the art! All of it. The full page prints are breathtaking and thought provoking, bursting with detail, color, and imagination. I couldn't get enough of it. I found the balance in the ratio of word to art absolutely perfect! Congrats on hitting that just right <3

Were there stories that were not as satisfying as I would have liked? Yes. But they were far outweighed by the good, even great ones. If a short didn't speak to you, the beauty of the almanac is that you can just move on to the next one, sure to find something to please you. I do have to make a special mention to the young group of kids, who write as a group under the name of Lights amidst Shadows. What a great collaboration and just the fact that a group of people, let alone kids, can come up with something so good as their book, The Coin, of which we get an excerpt, I need to read the whole thing now!!!

I also loved the stories based on traditional Bulgarian folklore and legend, as well as local saints and history. I even ended up getting a map of the country in order to picture the places some of them described. I would love for more international readers to discover those authors and artists, and hopefully the final edition of this almanac would whet their appetite for more of their work! I wish this endeavor all the best <3


+ Individual updates:
The art of Dimitar Yankov is very pleasant and somehow calming, maybe it has to do with the color pallet he uses, warm but with chilly shades coming through. The shapes let your mind make out of them what it chooses and only gently suggest a familiar form or intention. Overall, I would give it *** 4.25 ***

The Last Interview of Adam Sousbe by Lyuben Dilov: I understand what the author was trying to do, putting a very political statement in a fictional future, thus making a point of gender inequality and the extremes it could lead to, and I even enjoyed the way it was presented in the interview format, but something was missing. Not sure what, and I think some might have been lost in translation... * 3 *

Beating the Air by Velko Miloev: Really loved the concept! Loved the whole thing really, but I benefited from being familiar with Bulgarian expressions, because they seemed to be translated very literally, thus making the prose a bit clumsy in English... Very little things, but a big difference in the flow of thought. I will rate on substance though, so *** 4.75 ***

Graphic Art by Vasil Ivanov (1909-1975): Definitely old school, like between 50's and 70's, very heavily influenced by the style of art popular in the country at the time. I love it for the window in time it gives us, and for the unique vision of the artist and the time which shaped it. Works with scale differential, high tonal contrast, and dukes of juxtaposition of soul and matter. Lovely! *** 4.50 ***
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Tue Jun 23, 2020 3:51 pm

On Goodreads, L.S. Popovich wrote:I'd like to find more International fiction with an element of myth, the supernatural or the uncanny. I'd like to get the flavor of another place, either out of this world, or representative of another culture.


Кал wrote:"The Assassination" by Johan Vladimir (penname of Angelina Ilieva) in this forthcoming anthology offer an in-depth look into zmeys, patron saints, and the complicated relationship between Christianity and paganism in old Bulgaria.
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Fri Jun 26, 2020 11:14 am

Dr. David Jenkins's response, in two parts:

All Aboard the Almanac


Growing up in Salt Lake City, Utah in the fifties and sixties of the prior millennium, I was an avid reader for pleasure (though not so avid when it came to homework assignments). I faithfully followed the exploits of Chip Hilton and Bronc Burnett, high-school superstars who accomplished marvelous feats on the baseball diamond and American football field, on basketball and tennis courts. I kept close company with Bomba, Boy of the Jungle, who not only survived but thrived on hair-raising adventures somewhere deep in the Congo.

But not all of my fantasies were earthbound. Another of my pulp fiction heroes, Tom Swift, Boy Wonder, had a rocket ship he had designed built himself. From one novel to the next, Tom’s inventions rivalled those of Jules Verne. Like Captain Nemo, Tom also had his own submarine. There was Mr. Peabody on the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show, who went Tom and Captain Nemo one better. Mr. Peabody, who was an amazingly intelligent and maddeningly pedantic dog, had a time machine. With his somewhat dense human sidekick, a boy about my age named Sherman, Mr. Peabody visited many admirable and notorious figures through the ages with just the twist of a dial. Like Sherman, I was happy to go along for the ride. Whether traveling back to the past or back to the future, Mr. Peabody rocked, rolled, and ruled. He ranked right up there with Dexter and his laboratory.

Years later, I gladly signed on to the crew of the Starship Enterprise to serve under Captain Kirk and go where no one had gone before. When Kirk relinquished his command of the Enterprise bridge, I quickly reenlisted under Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Later, I dutifully followed Picard to the X-Mansion when he was reinvented with the help of Stan Lee as Professor Xavier. With classmates like the mutants Wolverine, Storm, Pyro, Psylocke, Mystique, Rogue, Jubilee, and Beast, even Muggles would dutifully do their Harry Potter Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry homework.

And while we’re on the subject of superheroes, how can we ignore the entire Marvel Universe, Superman and Batman and Robin, Supergirl and Batwoman and Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern and Spiderman, and all of the indomitable Avengers? Okay, as it turns out they were more than a little domitable after
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Thanos got hold of the Infinity Stones and reduced lifeforms in the universe by half. But like the Terminator, Dr. Strange, Iron Man, Black Widow, the Hulk, Thor, and Jeremy Renner will all be back. Oh, yes they will, I believe they will. And with a vengeance!


Then there’s the Dark Side – and not just the darkness inhabited by Darth Vader and Darth Sidius. What about a world where human life is just sham and a pretense, where human life-forms are no more than rechargeable orga-batteries for a pandemic dark-side Tesla-Factory Purgatory controlled by artificial intelligence and the impervious machine world, with murderous muscle flexed by more Mr. Smiths than even Neo could imagine? What about the Matrix? That is no excellent adventure, Bill and Ted. Dark, yes, but also a gargantuan parable. Neo the Chosen One, the One, jacked up and jacked in, Oedipus at Colonus and Christ on the Cross. Thanks to Neo’s ultimate soul sacrifice, Here Comes the Sun, little darlings, and a new day dawns. But how in virtual reality could a slacker hacker like Neo save the human race? Even the Oracle admits she doesn’t have the answer to that one. But like Morpheus, and like all the rest of us, she believes. Because faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Which brings us to the project at hand – a collocation of Bulgarian visionaries collectively known as the Terra Fantasia Association of SF&F Writers and Artists. This broadband of brothers and sisters has assembled an anthology or almanac for the ages, spanning not only ages but also a hefty chunk of the space-time continuum and the chronosynclastic infundibulum (see Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan). The creative collective’s tales and illustrations stretch from irresistible good vibes illuminating and energizing a subway system to sentient, poetic winds turned street sweepers and lovelorn hats blowing in the wind, extends from butterflies tippling by rippling streams to… infinity and beyond. Even know-it-all Mr. Peabody would be gob-smacked to learn that Virgil was not only a great Roman poet and an ecologist aghast at all the deadly lead in the Roman water supply, but was also
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“a self-tuning bio-robot,” at least as we get to know him (it) in Svetoslav Nikolov’s “Virgil and the Water.”


And while it is all too easy these days to imagine a human future shorn of flora and fauna and reduced to cyphers in a dystopian megalopolis, who could guess that the unbearable alternative, at least for two of the grizzled survivors of climate apocalypse, would be the prospect of a three-day virtual vacation in a sweet sylvan retreat? (Spoiler alert: what they dread is not the Arcadian virtual reality. It is the prospect of three hellish days away from their bleak apartment. How will they manage without a regular cupful of the liquid-sky soma that keeps them high in their home sweet soma-homa?) Ah, Alexander Karapanchev, we weep for your addicted, terminally conflicted homunculi.

According to Valentin Ivanov in “How I Saved the World, or the Best Job,” for the über-rich there are other options. They can sign on for a cosmic über-lift Virgin Galactica style, destination an asteroid hurtling toward Earth. Once they reach their destination, they can look forward to long, tedious hours, days, and months black-washing the ominous rock, the better to aid the techies who determined to alter the hurtling Hammer’s course and, in thirty years or so, save humankind. It seems that even that far from the sphere of our sorrow, there is plenty of хамалска работа. “Whatever you do, don’t ever call your foreman Tom Sawyer. Even behind his back. Even with the radio off. He has ways of hearing you and he gets very upset. The man just thinks that painting fences is the best job ever.”

In Khristo Poshtakov’s “The Most Terrible Beast,” life beyond Earth’s orbit is red in tooth and claw; it is brutal, nasty, and short. The Cosmos is where you encounter, for starters, creatures that are “part chameleon, part horned frog and part scorpion,” with tongues some twenty meters long and mouths “so big they could easily swallow a whole man.” Thus saith Captain Ivashkevic as he bellies up to the space-bar, Hans Solo style. But as Captain Furimoto replies, puffing on his pipeful of intoxicating gas, you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve seen a giantocyplex on the planet Crypt. “Listen carefully, rookie, this is the most hideous creature in the galaxy. It weighs about a hundred tons, devours whatever crosses its path, smells disgusting, burps every five steps, and the sound of that is like a thunder striking. Its brain is the size of a pin, and if it has nothing left to eat, it attacks its own kind. That’s why we found just about a hundred specimens on the planet, raging with hunger. It goes without saying that the armor of those beasts is made up of something like ceramic plates which make even laser weapons useless, or that their teeth look like steel pillars.”

As the intrepid Furimoto recalls, taking another puff, the only remedy for these extraterrestrial pests is a small thermonuclear device served up as an appetizer. “The dumb thing just wolfed it down. In short, we rid the universe of one huge stinker.” Now there’s a tale from the crypt, or at least from the planet Crypt.

But Captain Bradley isn’t impressed. “It’s quite another story killing a plasma medusa, as we did once on Jupiter III. Imagine a pale mass as big as a city, pierced by millions of electric discharges each sec, waving around a million tentacles. Such a beauty cares about one thing only: how to turn everything in its track into energy. This plasma terror swims inside the dense atmosphere of the planet and assimilates anything and everything—from smaller medusas, storm clouds and hailstorms with stones the size of six-story buildings to the midgets roaming around the yellowish gas mixture of that sky. Its main job, after all, is reducing matter to atoms.”

And even worse than the Planet Eater is the Galaxy Destroyer, immune to all attempts to eradicate it. As Ivashkevic recalls, “the first sign of imminent doom was the appearance of an odd green light seemingly coming from nowhere. As it gradually turned violet, the stars in the galaxy exploded and created a cosmic fiery hell.”
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As the cosmo-barflies brood over their potions of intoxicating gas, the expanse around them gradually turns an infernal greenish-violet. And that, boys and girls, is End of Story. No greeting the dawn here. Just hop in a rocket and get the hell out of there! But alas, poor Yorick, there’s nowhere left to go. An infinite jest.


Our fathers, who art in heaven, in cemeteries, on expeditions to the Congo’s inner station, sweeping chimneys, selling cars, installing mini-blinds… We are exhorted to love our fathers and mothers – and for that matter, our neighbors and enemies. David, the Mecha-Boy replicant repository of all human being after our race has been extinguished, was programmed to love his mother forever, beyond all human bounds. Instead of retiring her, Decker chose to take his chances with another replicant, the ravishing Rachel, who may or may not have dreamed of electric sheep; we’ll never know. In Ivaylo Ivanov’s “Father”, a story told by his son who spent his childhood years in an incubator, Oliver loved his deceased father Simon, though Oliver’s memories of the man are scattered and sketchy at best. Is Dear Old Dad really dead? Or is he just playing dead, the better to live a life of crime? Even the private detectives that Oliver engages refuse to tell him the truth. Though Simon’s death certificate declares him dead as of May 29, 2081, the truth is that
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Dad has donated his entire body to his son, to live as long and to prosper as much as time and tide allows. We can almost hear the echoes of Oliver’s silent prayer “in sector nine, row five, in front of the small copper plaque.” “Father, author and finisher of my genetic code and my innate predispositions, I honor your memory as I stand before you, since I am you, through and through, my soul in the body that you have given me.” For the rest of his life, whenever Oliver looks into a mirror he will look into his father’s eyes.


While my interest in the writing and visual artistry on display in the embarrassment of riches that is the Terra-Fantasia Almanac knows no earthly bounds, for the purposes of this thumbnail review or reader’s response, I have limited myself to these few comments on tales from the almanac’s first section, Science Fiction. It goes without saying that the rest of the anthology, filed under the headings Fantasy and Magical Realism and Futurum, is equally worthy of praise and richly rewards close attention.

In passing, note that I employ the alternative rubric anthology, since when I think of an almanac, as an American I can’t help but recall the always-practical farmers’ almanacs, preeminent among them Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac, with its weather and crop reports, its home remedies and helpful hints about farm animals and farm equipment, always generously sprinkled with epigrams, aphorisms, and apothegms such as “Early to Bed and Early to Rise / Makes a Man Healthy, Wealthy and Wise,” or the one pasted above the locker room entrance that I passed beneath every time I suited up for football practice or football games at my high school in Salt Lake City, as I (vainly) sought to live up to the heroics of my prepubescent sports heroes: “No Pain, No Gain.” I was never quite sure what that meant. Optimistically, it could be interpreted as “make the effort and you will succeed,” or conversely, “if you don’t make the effort, you will fail.” But what if it is just a nano-statement of fact, or an injunction? “There is no point in making an effort, since it won’t do you any good.” Which in turn reminds me of a tee-shirt my father gave me (лека му пръст): “No Guts No Glory.” Is that to be interpreted as “Be brave and gain praise?” Or is it a bleak statement of fact: “Cowards are worthless.” If I wear that tee-shirt, am I advertising myself as a worthless coward?

But I digress. Whether we call it an anthology or an almanac, this collection is the result of who knows how many hours, days, months, and years of painstaking creative effort – including the Herculean task of translating the genius of Bulgarian into the genius of English (I use the word ‘genius’ here in the somewhat abstruse sense of ‘informing spirit’). After taking so much pain, I can only hope that the Association will reap substantial gain. And in all humility (since like Bill and Ted, I’m not worthy), I offer my heartiest congratulations and many thanks for the many excellent adventures. I can only applaud the collective’s collective efforts.

Docent-Doctor David Jenkins
Fulbright Professor of American Literature, Plovdiv University
Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, The University of Texas at Austin
M.F.A. in Creative Writing (Poetry and Translation), Columbia University


In the response that I sent you a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that for my tastes, there were a few too many very similar illustrations/works of art. Let me clarify and revise that. As you know, I was referring to the first few sets of illustrations, those that are mostly in black and white. Now that I have read through the rest of the PDF, I have come to appreciate the majority of the illustrations for their winsomeness and technical adroitness. If it were up to me (it certainly isn’t), I would still reduce the number of drawings in the science fiction section. But I wouldn’t cut very many of the illustrations after the science fiction section. Most of them strike me as unique and impressive.

As for your prose selections – whether we call the PDF collection that you asked me to read an almanac, an anthology, a representative sampling, a sampler, or a collection of “greatest hits” – I do have a few favorites. They include the droll and nimble tale, “The Dragon and the Orange Juice,” and the excerpt from To Wake a Dragon.

One reason I particularly liked these pieces was the quality of the English translations, but I also appreciated the story’s and the excerpt’s unlikely or magically real characters and the spry plots, which I found witty and life-affirming. I have to add that the “back-to-the-future-jump-cut” plot development in “The Dragon and the Orange Juice” wasn’t entirely to my literary tastes, but maybe that’s just me.

I for one would love to have a snake in my backpack that could transform itself into a beautiful woman and grant me three wishes, as in the aforementioned excerpt – a snake reminiscent of the genie in Aladdin’s lamp or Prospero’s Ariel, or even the beautiful, nubile woman qua white-snake-demon in the fabulous Chinese fable.

On the topic of excerpts. There are times when I would have chosen different excerpts, so as to end with (begin, continue with) more bang and less whimper. Sometimes the chosen passages seem to end, I suppose because there was an allotted amount of space for them and a need or a directive to fit as many of your esteemed and celebrated authors and works into the almanac/anthology as possible, so that when the allotted space was filled, the excerpt ended: poof.

For me, poof (not to be confused with Poof the Magic Dragon) isn’t a good enough reason to make your readers applaud your choices. But again, I am just one of your many, many readers, and of course I recognize the fact that you are long-established, prodigally published collective with access to an impressively productive publishing house.

By the way, there is no verb in English “to suicide.” The (non-transitive verb) is “to commit suicide,” whether we are referring to the self-extinction that figures in the conversation between the Emily Dickinson-haunted, “suicidal” AI program and Neo, in Atanas Slavov’s “Matrix: Resolutions” – or the specter that haunts Kalin Nenov’s “Film-Thin Bound.” (Strange title, that.) I might have preferred “Bound by a Thin Film,” or maybe “Nano-Thin Boundary.” Or perhaps “Imperceptible Border,” or even “Ties that Barely Bind,” borrowing from (and subverting) the first line of a life-affirming traditional hymn that I like to sing while accompanying myself on the guitar:

Blessed be the ties that Bind
Our hearts in Christian love.
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.


Even Slavov’s global AI program might appreciate that verse, if AI programs are able to appreciate things, since the program recognizes the need for a state tending toward something I might call “universal benevolence,” a phrase I borrow from an American authority on postmodernism, Ihab Hassan.

All the best, and keep up the good work.

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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:15 am

Rukiye-Ayshe Egeli's response:

First of all, I love illustrations in books and the ones in the Almanac are one of the most imaginative I have seen in any book. They made me feel as if I was in a different world while reading the book. Furthermore, I had been wondering for a long time who the talented artist behind the cover of The Innkeeper’s Song was, now I know it was the brilliant Kate Danailova.

The stories and excerpts were rich in detail and most of them contained deep philosophical questions. It is hard to create fully-fleshed characters in rather short pieces of writing, however, the authors included in the almanac have done a wonderful job. I was especially impressed by the way some authors intertwined Bulgarian history and/or Slavic mythology with the more modern aspects of the world we live in – there was a subtle (or not so subtle at times) nostalgic vibe in that. There wasn’t a story I hated or even did not like. I am very happy to see that there are so many dedicated Bulgarian fiction writers.

If the ones who have not officially published their writings yet decide to do so, I would definitely purchase their books.
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Sun Jun 28, 2020 2:56 pm

Gerhard Hope's review on Goodreads:

It is one of the great ironies of SF that its fans often know more about the alien cultures and civilisations they read about than they do about the myriad cultures of our own planet. Recently when chatting to Kalin M. Nenov on Goodreads about the Apex Book of World SF anthologies, he remarked that there was not a single Bulgarian writer represented in that series, now in its fifth instalment.

I admitted that I did not know a single Bulgarian SF or fantasy writer (Czech writers like Karel Čapek are far more well-known globally.) Kalin – whose ‘The Film-thin Bound’ is one of my favourite stories in this mammoth collection – promptly sent me a link to what is rather weirdly called the ‘Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction’, which I suspect is a reference to the fact that it is a yearly publication.

My heart kind of sank a bit at that point, because we all know how dreadful fanfic can be … and the Almanac weighs in at a considerable 500+ pages. Imagine then my surprise when I accessed the PDF, and found it to be a beautifully produced document.

It is divided into five sections - Science Fiction, Fantasy & Magic Realism, Avant-garde Speculative Fiction, Futurum (cutting-edge SF) and Fandom (the history and development of the Bulgarian SF scene.) All of these sections are interspersed with colour reproductions of works from a range of talented Bulgarian SF and fantasy artists.

Kalin remarks on Goodreads that this project “is a dream come true – both for Atanas P. Slavov, who has dedicated half a century to the promotion of speculative fiction, in Bulgaria and across the world, and for me, as a translator of Bulgarian SF into English for the past 15 years.”

Atanas, who lives in Sofia in Bulgaria, founded the first Bulgarian SF club in 1968 (a year before I was born!) Incredibly, Science Fiction and Fantasy South Africa (SFFSA) was also established in 1969, with its quarterly journal Probe now one of the longest-running fanzines in the world. It also organises the annual Nova short story competition, which has brought to the fore some of the best genre writers in our country, and an annual convention.

Of course, all event-based activity has now been halted in its tracks due to our lockdown for the Covid-19 crisis (not to mention that an ageing demographic has probably meant that the entire SFFSA management is in the high-risk category …)

It was only recently that SF seemed to have escaped its North American bias, with a veritable cornucopia of translated works from as far afield as Cuba and China now colouring the genre. I think this internationalisation has been largely successful due to the tireless efforts of SF fans as far afield as Bulgaria and South Africa, who not only keep the flag flying for SF and fantasy in their own countries, but also add their unique perspectives to enrich the genre even further.

It was a privilege reading the Almanac, which is an astonishingly diverse collection. I learnt a lot about Bulgarian culture and its rich folklore. Many of the stories and book excerpts here are refracted through the lens of Bulgaria’s complicated political past. But SF is all about the future, of course, and the Almanac shows just how strong and diverse the genre scene is in Bulgaria.

Tireless champions like Kalin and Atanas are clearly the backbone of such fan communities worldwide. While a lot of these writers are virtually unknown outside of their native country – due to the added complication that their work has to be translated competently into English for a global audience – 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, and to grab the opportunity especially with a gem like the Almanac.

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. In the words of Kalin: “As they say in certain stories, be the force that changes for the better.”


Кал wrote:WHEEEEE indeed! :D

Just a minor clarification now: the Futurum section is supposed to be about more fact-based (and less fictional) writing; the futurological section, so to speak. It will really become that when we add an article/manifesto/vision written by Atanas there (and move "Mindster" to another section).


Кал wrote:A few more notes:

I was wrong about the Apex Book of World SF anthologies: there's a Bulgarian entry in the fourth one, by Haralambi Markov.

We called this anthology "almanac" in honor of the original Bulgarian yearly publication, of which there have been ten issues so far; and also because it will hopefully be the first of several anthologies. (Dare I say "many"? :) Does that make it more acceptable to you? I'm asking for real; it's not too late to switch to ФантАstika: Anthology of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction.

Kudos about Probe! The longest-living fanzine we have in Bulgaria, Tera Fantastika, started in 1999. That was also when our national SF convention, the Bulgacon, took place for the first time (in 2000). (Hmm, but you already know about these from the article about Bulgarian fandom's history, right?)

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.

Hear, hear! :) That's exactly why I created my World SF shelf on Goodreads; and why for this year's Worldcon, I'm spending equal (if not greater) amount of time on the New Zealand Sir Julius Vogel Award nominations as I'll do on the Hugos (whose claim to be "world" awards is tenuous at best; see the ongoing discussion on the inclusion of "Best Translated Work" in the Hugo categories, and the way it was swept under the rug during the 2019 meetings of the World Science Fiction Society). In the years to come, I'm going to devote an increasing amount of attention to international SF.
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:33 pm

My tease of a response to David Jenkins:

After carefully rereading (and savoring) all your points and ruminations, I find there's nothing that I really need to add.

Maybe just this small friendly tease: "to suicide" and "to suicide oneself" (meaning the same) have already made their insidious way into Merriam-Webster's. Some time in the mid-19th century, in fact.

By the way, have you read Kory Stamper's Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries? I've gathered some of my favorite excerpts here: viewtopic.php?p=29799#p29799 (just skip the word list ;).

Now, "to suicide somebody (else)" is definitely a non-standard usage. But so is our own Писмото ти ме усмихна. We know what the writer/speaker meant in both cases, right? :)

(Alternatively, do we even English? as they say on the Net. :D)

Once again, thank you for your very detailed, and very personal, response. I thoroughly enjoyed it on both counts.

Of course, now you're in for some surprise recompense ....

Mysteriously,
Ka(:n @ HL
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:52 pm

Mel (Epic Reading)'s review on Goodreads:

I had the privilege of reading a very early copy of this wonderful collection of stories. It's always interesting to see what types of ideas other countries and cultures have about aliens, fantasy, and general science fiction. I often find they aren't the same old tired ideas that are easily found with North American authors. This set of Bulgarian fiction (and lovely artwork) did not disappoint. There were some very clever stories, one that I swear Terry Pratchett wrote, and a couple that had me looking up religious concepts. One of the best referenced Asminov's fourth law of robotics that I (embarrassingly) didn't even know existed!
As always I believe that one of the best ways to understand a culture is by reading their fiction. And it's never, ever a bad thing to diversify.
Huge thanks to Kalin and his crew of authors, editors and translators for allowing me to read an early copy and provide feedback!


Кал wrote:Haha, Genoveva Detelinova writes like the early Pratchett, right? :) Well, but that's early Detelinova. We're yet to see what Detelinova-now will sound like--she's finishing her first novel in English currently. ;)

Asimov's Fourth Law is an unofficial joke. :D This particular version was invented by Bulgarian author Lyuben Dillov; interestingly, Wikipedia offers an explanation.

Finally, thank you for joining us in this journey, Mel! That's just the beginning. :)

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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Mon Jul 13, 2020 6:47 pm

And now we have a proper webpage dedicated to the almanac.

Yossa like? :)

Missa gonna invite buddios ...

... buddios inviten!

In an email, Кал wrote:Friends (:

Worldcon--the world convention of speculative fiction lovers--is taking place at the end of July, and this year it's entirely online: https://conzealand.nz/

I've already registered (yoo-hoo, my very first Worldcon ever!)--and I should be speaking on at least one panel, presenting our ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction: https://choveshkata.net/blog/?page_id=8359

Wanna join? :)

Please note that this year the New Zealand organizers offer a number of cheaper memberships for people from underrepresented communities and minorities. Like the entire Eastern European block, m? ;)

https://conzealand.nz/blog/2020/07/03/c ... initiative

Here're the relevant options for you:

Option One: attendance upgrade.
The attendance upgrade allows a person with a CoNZealand Supporting Membership ($75NZD) to upgrade to a CoNZealand Attending Membership at no cost. This would be a full attending membership and would come with full WSFS rights and available printed materials. There is no need to have purchased the supporting membership before applying for the upgrade. Should you be awarded the upgrade, you can purchase the Supporting Membership at that time.There are 100 upgrades available at this level.

Option Two: attendance pass.
The attendance pass allows a non-member to attend CoNZealand. This would be a pass for CoNZealand attendance only, with no WSFS rights and no rights to printed materials. There are 20 passes available at this level.


So ... wanna join? :))

If yes, let me know--and then I'll let you know when my panels will be as soon as I have the final schedule.

Wishing you loads of fantastic experiences in this ever more fantastic world of ours,
K;)
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Re: ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction

Postby Кал » Mon Oct 12, 2020 12:06 pm

Just nominated the almanac as the first monthly read in the Goodreads group "Speculative Fiction in Translation":

Since "Anything Goes" is likely the only theme where an anthology would fit, I shamelessly nominate ФантАstika: Almanac of Bulgarian Speculative Fiction: an overview of the past 40 years of spec fic in Bulgaria, with almost all the stories having already appeared in professional magazines (and so having passed an external litmus test ;).

The nice part is that I can provide all of you with the electronic version for free. (While we're looking for an agent/publisher, we use the "pay as you will" donation model anyway.)
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