ISF # 2 – December 2012 reviewed by Carla M. Soares (Portuguese author):
Reading each of the three excellent short tales by Nassau Hedron, Lavie Tidhar and Ken Liu presented in ISF #2 was a pleasure. The underlying thread serving as a central motif, the idea of love, connects the stories, but results in very different voices and rhythms and very different, but equally interesting narratives. The stories are original, very well written and result in a compelling and challenging reading.
This issue also offers a rather interesting interview with scholar and SF researcher Rachel Haywood Ferreira, but what you won’t want to miss are the short stories. Really!
1 – Siren Songs in Deep Time by Nassau Hedron:
Nassau Hedron’s beautiful story, Siren Songs in Deep Time, is a very well thought of and very well written story that spans across time, in a few very short and well knit together chapters, from Greece in World War II – though we are made to know that the story began long long before, maybe in the beginning of times – to somewhere in space sometime in an undefined future. It is very interesting to see very intense moments in recent History serve as a setting for a wonderful tale of inevitability that resembles the eternal repetition of History and human life – which inevitably ends in death and separation. It is also a love story, or many, since in each chapter a different story begins and ends. It is never bitter, though it is sometimes a little sad, like a sweet siren’s love song. The end surprised me, though maybe it shouldn’t have, because in a story about love(s) this siren’s last love is indeed the ultimate and most irrational and animal form of love. And the one that can change everything.
2 – Ahrodisia by Lavie Tidhar
You are lost in the beginning of Aphrodisia – wonderfully lost, for you recognize and yet don’t recognize Earth (somewhere in Vietnam, I think) and some sort of humanity in this very strange tale by Lavie Tidhar. The main character / narrator is, I think, a man. And yet it is not a man, for it has been devoid of his sex in order to become… something else. His friends are… a robot, maybe, and a sort of octopus from another planet… maybe. He is in love, or maybe addicted to a creature, Aphrodisia, that was once human but is now a sort of goddess… I believe. Nothing is entirely clear, but his feeling of longing and despair. The story appears to be rather simple, but it is beautiful and not simple at all, because the reality presented to you in fractions is harsh and fascinating. You get glimpses of a future on a decadent Earth (you imagine it is the future, though you are never told), somewhere in Vietnam, perhaps, riddled by creatures from alternative realities and other worlds, and by synthetic or adapted beings. Also, there are several references, in names and ideas, that you just almost recognize, but are not entirely sure about, because everything is incomplete, as if this was part of a larger story, one that you actually wish you could read. I know I do. I would read it eagerly.
3 – Single-Bit Error by Ken Liu
What if memory and faith depended on a very slight error of our brain, just like system fails in computers derive from single bit errors? What if those mistakes of the brain came from the interference of tiny protons from exploding stars, travelling through space to land wherever they wish? Single-bit error builds upon those concepts to present a lovely story about love and memories and the desire for faith in the age of reason, of how very small changes condition love and loss, alter memory, make and destroy life and belief. It is a touching almost fairy tale about life and living, “sometimes even happily”, until we die.
ISF # 2 WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR FREE DOWNLOAD ON 23 DECEMBER 2012