There are many editorial operations that set themselves the goal of a single and all-encompassing publication of a specific genre. Often, we make use of the presence of some “usual suspects”, authors who do not need any presentation, but how can these volumes present something truly inclusive and, above all, “new” for its audience? On the occasion of the 50th anniversary from Fanucci Publisher (half a century of science fiction, horror and fantasy fiction!), the public publishing house The Great Book of World Science Fiction, a tome that contains a selection of science fiction stories by the great Lavie Tidhar, and we can assure you and anticipate that it is a work that goes far beyond the simple “Best of”. Let’s try to understand the reasons.
The Great Book of World Science Fiction, outside the box
In the years where we witnessed the boom of sci-fi, mainly in the 70s and 80s, the most famous works and the others derived from them seemed to come exclusively from the Anglo-American cradle. It will be enough for us to remember some giants such as Frank Herbert and its Dune cycle, or Isaac Asimov with the Cycle of Foundations and the irreverent Douglas Adams with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Yes, we did it on purpose to mention these cornerstones of sci-fi literature, but only to better clarify the evidence. But are we sure that science fiction is an exclusive specificity of the USA and the United Kingdom?
World science fiction, not necessarily Anglophone, from 2008 onwards has gained more and more acclaim, radically redefining the world of gender publishing, thanks to pillars such as Lavie Tidhar convinced that the protagonists of this narrative were not only “whites, men and US “. No sir.
Tidhar, here as the curator and “Virgil” of the work (we will soon see how), in addition to being Israeli, is an authentic citizen of the world. He brought back the experience gained during his travels on his works by him, works that have won numerous and prestigious international awards such as the World Fantasy Award (with the novel Osama2011), the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered (A Man Lies Dreaming in 2014) and the Chinese Nebula (Central Station2016), as well as many other awards and nominations.
In this volume de The Great Book of World Science Fiction Tidhar collects well twenty-six stories fictional stories from twenty-one countries (China, France, Singapore, Botswana, Nigeria, India, Japan, Italy, Cuba, England, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Spain, Mexico, Finland, Israel, Iceland, Russia, Ghana, South Africa, Sweden, and Malaysia) and four continents. Going into even more detail, fourteen women and twelve men: Aliette de Bodard, Chen Qiufan, Vina Jie-Min Prasad, Tlotlo Tsamaase, Chinelo Onwualu, Vandana Singh, Han Song, Ng Yi-Sheng, Taiyo Fujii, Francesco Verso, Malena Salazar Maciá, Tade Thompson, Fabio Fernandes, RSA Garcia, Cristina Jurado, Gerardo Horacio Porcayo, Hannu Rajaniemi, Nir Yaniv, Emil Hjörvar Petersen, Ekaterina Sedia, Kuzhali Manickavel, Kofi Nyameye, Lauren Beukes, Karin Tidbeck, Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Zen Chocia .
Glad of our Italian representation with Francesco Versowhich with its publishing house Future Fiction for years it has been promoting world sci-fi, and especially the Chinese one. Here instead we see him as an author with the story The Green Shipwhich does justice to earlier and more full-bodied works such as E-doll (Urania Mondadori 2008 Award) which we have read and enjoyed very much (E-doll, IV Edition Future Fiction, 2017).
With the diversity of these representations and with the intention of breaking the mold, the work of The Great Book of World Science Fiction first of all wants to carry out the task of disclosure. A premise that will allow its readers to (finally) broaden their horizons and start an authentic journey.
Around the World in twenty-six stories
The Great Book of World Science Fiction, even before offering a narrative review to the reader, wants to be a journey made around the globe, making the acquaintance of its authors thanks to Lavie Tidhar, who at the beginning of each story introduces us to the knowledge of the individual author and the circumstances that bind him to the curator. A real World Tour in twenty-six stories.
We will begin to learn about the Nebula Aliette de Bodard Award (France), how Tidhar crossed it in Toronto, Paris and London, and then immerse ourselves in reading “Immersion”(Excuse the pun intended) featuring Quy and the Xuya universe avatar theme. We continue with Chen Qiufan (China), met by the curator in Hong Kong and with his story Debt-free, the story of debts, asteroids and miners. There is no lack of more pungent stories such as that of Chinelo Onwualu (Nigeria), What the dead man saidwhich tells of a family and a “Catastrophe” that marked it forever.
Some really memorable like Xingzhou by Yi-Sheng who practically rewrites the history of Singapore, in a very sci-fi key, Virtual Snapshots by Tlotlo Tsamaase (Botsawana) on climate change and some really hilarious like Fandom for robots by Vina Jie-Min Prasad who, with her cartoon “Distorted Dimension” and her Computron, a robot with an incredible AI who writes fandom stories, amused us a lot.
So there is no shortage of robots, spaceships and time travel, decidedly weird stories, and everything a good science fiction fan could wish for. The quality of the stories is very high, with some subjective preferences denoted by the style that is certainly very different between the various authors. Lavie Tidhar’s selection included authors already known to the public and critics (many of them winners of various prizes), but also many newcomers never heard of before and, above all, narrating sci-fi from the perspective of their culture and their country, crossing new borders and perspectives. A work of dissemination, that of Tidhar, to say the least superlative.
The Great Book of World Science Fiction is a hardcover volume of 480 pages that will delight all fans of the genre, which sets itself and fully hits the goal of making known a “new science fiction” for our country.