This 30 pages counting short-story is the last in a series of twelve stories, published by Le Carnoplaste, as you can see here. Each story is writtenThis 30 pages counting short-story is the last in a series of twelve stories, published by Le Carnoplaste, as you can see here. Each story is written by a different author and you can only know who wrote what when you have the booklets in your hands. They each cost 3 EUR, but I was given my copy as a present by its author, Thomas Geha, this year at Les Imaginales (French SFFF-festival). I also bought two of his other books: Des sorciers et des hommes and the anthology Les Créateurs, both of course still to be read.
This short-story takes place in 11,996 B.C., somewhere in Eastern Europe. And 3 cycles after the crash of an alien species (a slug). There are a few clans in the large vicinity, one of which is that of Ock. Orik is the leader of another clan, but also Ock's enemy. The clans don't always get along, yet depend on each other for trade of goods or services or even members, especially when one clan is so decimated that the survivors can't continue on their own.
(view spoiler)[So, there's an alien slug in town, arrived after the gods sent out a sort of purple warning through the skies. Since several generations, animals and plants were disappearing and it became tougher to hunt for food. One day, two of Ock's clan members don't return from hunting or scouting. Ock decides to investigate this disappearance.
And that's also when he gets attacked by dead, skeletal horses. This revival is due to the slug's power, which revives dead animals and people by means of a blue substance. Horses, aurochs, warriors, wolves, bears, ... All these are skeletal zombies, which are hard to kill. The only solution is: decapitation. This definitely takes them out, as is also shown in the fading of the shine in their new, blue eyes.
As Ock's clan (Bear Cliff) gets exterminated, while he's out hunting, he decides to call upon the help of Orik's clan, since he and Orik once fought for the position of chief, but both were equally matched, so no one won. As the situation is urgent, Ock decides to take matter into his own hands and confront Orik with the danger that looms not far away. Orik mocks him, but has to pay a heavy price. Ock takes over the clan, though it takes some time to convince its members that he's the new boss.
So, the people go out to put an end to the massacre and in the end, there are, as far as battling goes, two survivors: Ock and R'ossni, Orik's best warrior and scout. Ock gets devoured by the slug, which, ironically, has not one bone in its body, yet its army of zombies consists of only that: bones (skeletons). As Ock managed to take out this one weapon he carried with him - large spoiler here - he can only laugh at his fate, since he's not devoured at all, let alone by any bone-jaws. So he takes out the knife bone and tries to cut his way out... until the slug explodes and the spell is broken.
R'ossni arrives at the scene of the crime and notices that Ock is no more, yet died "happily", so to speak, since he gave the alien slug a taste of its own medicine. As he's now the new clan-leader, he vowed to keep the memory of Ock alive for generations to come: Ock, the one who beat evil at its own game. (hide spoiler)]
This was one very entertaining story, and it makes me want to check out the other eleven stories. And of course, Mr Geha's books....more
Robert Silverberg needs no introduction, as he's one of the big names in SFF-history. It did take me a while to discover his works and so far, I've onRobert Silverberg needs no introduction, as he's one of the big names in SFF-history. It did take me a while to discover his works and so far, I've only read Downward to the Earth, which I can surely recommend. See my review here.
One of his last works is the 2010 novella 'The Last Song of Orpheus', which was translated into French in 2012 and published by Éditions ActuSF. Now, seven years later, a new edition is available, released in April 2019. The novella was translated by Jacqueline Callier and Florence Dolisi.
The French version comes with a foreword by Pierre-Paul Durastanti, the novella itself, and an interview with Mr Silverberg (conducted by Éric Holstein, whose D'or et d'Emeraude is on my TBR-list). The new cover was made by Benjamin Chaignon.
'Le Dernier Chant d'Orphée' is a rewriting of the Greek myth in which half-god Orpheus falls in love with the nymph Eurydice, but this love and relationship doesn't last long. Died by the bite of a snake, she arrives in the Underworld, home of Hades and Persephone. Orpheus has one big talent: music and singing, thanks to his master Apollo, to whom Orpheus is very much committed. His voice and musical skills cast a spell on all who hear it. Every creature, every tree or plant, quite simply everyone is moved by Orpheus's performances.
As he so heart-broken, Orpheus decides to head into the Underworld to ask for the return of Eurydice. The sole condition is that he can't look behind him until both have reached the world of mortals again. As you can imagine, Orpheus is too anxious and commits the fatal error. Of course, he can't just go back and ask again for her return, since Charon (the ferryman) can't be tricked again by Orpheus's chanting.
And so, our musical artist seeks other activities, even moves to Egypt to work for the pharaoh. Being far away will surely help to ease the pain, he believes. However, one can only learn so much in a new setting. Orpheus returns to Greece/Thrace, but is soon put on several missions to assist in various, dangerous undertakings.
In his rewriting of this myth, Mr Silverberg added the myth of Jason and the Argonauts, in which Jason is to retrieve the Golden Fleece, a symbol of authority and kingship. This fleece is well-guarded by a dragon. Jason manages to retrieve it, but only with the help of Orpheus (who sings the dragon to sleep) and the spells of Medea, the witch with whom Jason has fallen in love.
All's well that ends well, see the various retellings of the Greek mythologies. Except for Orpheus. Or rather, because of his talent, he finally seems to have come to terms with his fate, as Apollo also confirms to him. Or is it Dionysos, god in whose honour a party is held? A party involving liquor, sex, drugs, ... A party which men should not attend, as their lives would be at stake. However, Orpheus does attend, having been invited earlier. And then it's one type of music versus the other. Orpheus does not relent, hangs on to his very skills, but it will mean the end of him. Or will it? It's the only way to be reunited with his former lover, Eurydice, to whom he's been fateful since the beginning. Something not every woman appreciated. So, in a way, all's well that ends well.
My knowledge of the Greek myths is very vague and thankfully, we have internet these days to quickly look up some information. Yes, there are also libraries and books, for which we should be even more thankful, otherwise much information wouldn't (have) be(en) available on the WWW.
Anyway, not only is this a recommanded retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice (and Jason and the Argonauts and more), it's also an excellent way to (re-)explore the world of Greek mythology, one way or another. The translated version of Silverberg's novella is quite accessible and allows for a smooth read. I liked also how Mr Silverberg added some philosophical food for thought, how he put all gods (no matter the kind of religion) in one bowl and considered them as various sides/versions of one and the same god or entity. Like Dionysos and Apollo were considered two sides of the same coin, at least in the story. Again, I would have to dive into the world of Greek mythology for full details and understanding.
But yes, do read 'The Last Chant of Orpheus', or 'Le Dernier chant d'Orphée' if you wish to read it in a different language.
I was sent this book by Éditions ActuSF for review. Many thanks to them for the trust.
'Les Questions dangereues' (translated: The Dangerous Questions) is a little story by the French author Lionel Davoust. It was previously published in'Les Questions dangereues' (translated: The Dangerous Questions) is a little story by the French author Lionel Davoust. It was previously published in 2011. This re-edition has been enhanced with a lengthy interview with the man, about his books, his take on literature, his inspirations, his characters, his influences overall, his work as translator, and more, including - obviously - some background info on this short-story.
As you can gather from the cover, the story is to some extent based on Les Trois Mousquetaires by Alexandre Dumas. This book, which isn't among the favourites of Lionel Davoust, as you can read in the interview - has been on my TBR-pile for quite some time and I will come around to reading it.. some day. Not only does the story take place in roughly the same period - in this case 1637 -, but Mr Davoust also invested a lot of effort in adapting his writing style. As English can be lush, stylish and eloquent, so can French.
The language used and applied here, the vocabulary, the grammar, ... quite simply a lust for the eye and mind. I often criticise the French language for being too long-winded, too wordy - why use 30 words to say something, when you can use 10? (in a manner of speaking) -, but here I genuinely had an exquisite time reading this story. Should you want a comparison, then I think that The White Company (by Arthur Conan Doyle; reviewed here) and Ivanhoe (by Walter Scott; on my TBR-pile) are fine examples, at least in the English language.
The story itself revolves around the death of the personal doctor (Jean Lacanne) of her Majesty the Queen, Léonie Lebensfreude de Légatine-Labarre, at the funeral of Sigismond Frédéric. King Louis-Charles XXVI had no interest whatsoever to leave the premises.
Mancequetaire (a musketeer fighting with [the divine power of] words) Thésard de la Meulière decides to investigate to find out whodunit. The assassin manages to escape, leaving no traces, except for an extract of a poem. Thésard hides this evidence, reveals it only much later to Batz d'Arctangente. And so the detective story begins.
No swords, only words to defeat an opponent or obtain important information with regards to the events. Weapon of choice: a libram, a book of Questions and Answers. That's how one engages in a duel. Words are more powerful than weapons, a saying which more than applies here.
Politics also play a role, England vs France, not only through the character of Fall Leadenweather, who translated the work of François-René de Spline, 'Mémoires d'Hécatombe', of which a batch was due for shipment to England. A hecatombe is not only a sort of offer that was practised in old Ancient Greece, but also a term for a massive extinction with regards to biodiversity. This is also part of the interview in this re-edition.
And so, it comes to a fight to the death, when de Spline and de Meulière fight one another, only with unequal weapons. (view spoiler)[de Spline also has a sword, with which he stabs his translator, Fall Leadenweather. Luckily, she isn't badly hurt, and in the end, she can escape with Thésard, back to the hotel of Batz d'Arctangente. Later, the Queen receives both Fall and Thésard at her château.
Oh yes, de Spline perishes, as does his work, by the very cloud-like demon he summoned to annihilate Thésard de la Meulière. England and the rest of the world are saved from his life-threatening work, which would have given its readers neurasthenia, if I understood it all correctly. (hide spoiler)] It would not be a good story, if it didn't end well, of course, even if there is plenty of room for a sequel or bigger story.
Lionel Davoust used his imagination to play with words and names, of course. Libram is a neologism, Latin meets World of Warcraft. The real word is either Liber or Librum. Names: Sigmund Freud, Charles de Batz de Castemore (aka d'Artagnan), François-René de Chateaubriand (and his work: 'Memoires d'Outre-tombe'), Fall Leadenweather (a play on words about the English weather), Jacques Lacan, ... Just read the interview. ;-) However, it's nice to have such little, historic titbits in a story.
To keep it short, despite this lengthy review about a short-story: Very much recommended, not only if you do or don't like 'The Three Musketeers' - maybe this story can help you appreciate Dumas's work -, but also if you love languages, if you love the French language, if you love Lionel Davoust, or for any other reason.
I was sent this book by Éditions ActuSF for review. Many thanks to them for the trust.
Sylvie Lainé is a well-known name in the world of French science-fiction stories. She has written mainly short-stories and lots of them. They were pubSylvie Lainé is a well-known name in the world of French science-fiction stories. She has written mainly short-stories and lots of them. They were published in anthologies and magazines, and republished throughout the years. Some were even translated in Greek and Czech, for example. With other stories, she won some prizes.
Since she's written so much from the 1980s till the present day, it was time to bring together the best stories, or at least, what she considered the best stories or those that deserved to be assembled for this compilation/anthology (Fidèle à ton pas balancé), which was published earlier in 2016. Two years later, the collection is re-issued in pocket format through the Collection Hélios label of Les Éditions ActuSF.
These stories were put together by theme, as follows:
Partie 1: Ébauches et Tentatives Question de mode - 3/5 Le Prix du billet - 4/5 Mélomania - 4/5 Sirius m’était compté - 3/5 Le Printemps des papillons - 3/5
Partie 2: Essayons à Nouveau Un rêve d’herbe - 4/5 Subversion 2.0 - 4/5 Thérapie douce - 2/5 Le Karma du chat - 2/5 Un signe de Setty - 4/5
Partie 3: Un Pied Dehors Le Passe-plaisir - 3/5 Partenaires - 4/5 Petits arrangements intragalactiques - 4/5 Petits arrangements intragalactiques (Verso) (NEW) - 4/5
Partie 4: Hissons la Voile Carte blanche - 4/5 Le Chemin de la Rencontre - 4/5 L’Opéra de Shaya - 4/5
Partie 5: Décalages Définissez : priorités - 3/5 Grenade au bord du ciel - 4/5 Un amour de Sable - 3/5
Partie 6: Retour en Biais Temps, bulles et patchouli - 4/5 La MIROTTE - 4/5 Toi que j’ai bue en quatre fois - 4/5 (I'm not a fan of Romance [well, Erotica is the genre under which this story "should" be catalogued, to be more precise], but Ms. Lainé did write a "decent" - [no] pun intended - story)
Partie 7: Reprendre Depuis le Début... et Tout Recommencer Les Yeux d’Elsa - 4/5 La Bulle d’Euze - 2/5 Fidèle à ton pas balancé - 3/5
I'm not going to go into detail for each story. As is typical with anthologies, some stories do speak to you, move you, are to your liking, while others aren't or not as much. Therefore, I just added the points of the Belgian jury. As always, marks/grades/ratings remain a subjective element of a review.
Fact of the matter is, Sylvie Lainé is indeed a very good storyteller, who can handle various themes and subjects, while remaining in the field of science-fiction (the genre she prefers the most, because one can go into any direction, letting one's imagination free). She writes more from a character-driven approach (human relations, man's relation with nature, with other cultures, the implementation of technology in one's life, the choices you [don't] make in life and their impact, ...), with the necessary descriptions of the respective settings to bring the story in question more to life. Her SF is mostly not the "hard" kind, rather comparable to - as far as I can compare with my previously read books - that of Ursula K. Le Guin, Becky Chambers, Robert Silverberg, and similar.
If ever you wish to dive into Ms. Lainé's stories, then there is no better book than this anthology here. A varied Best Of that results in a unique document on this author's career.
I was sent this book by Éditions ActuSF for review. Many thanks to them for the trust....more
This short-story was and is offered by Éditions ActuSF (see here). It takes place in the world of Blanche. Blance Paichain is a 17-year old detectiveThis short-story was and is offered by Éditions ActuSF (see here). It takes place in the world of Blanche. Blance Paichain is a 17-year old detective in Paris in the year 1871, when the Prussians attack Paris. She's lives with her uncle - for reasons surely explained in the book itself - and is contacted by Henri Regnault (Wikipedia-link), a French painter, who's the son of Henri-Victor Regnault, also a painter. Apple and tree, n'est-ce pas?
After one of his visits at The Louvre in Paris, he sees that the Venus of Milo (link of the Louvre) has disappeared and fears it's been stolen. Blanche and he decide to go on an investigation. Not all goes smoothly, but it seems there is some Greek mythology involved in the process, even though Blanche was told by someone else that the statue was moved to hide it from the Prussians. Meanwhile, there are at least two people who are murdered during the investigation. The gods themselves decided to play a role to give Blance a bit more work.
All in all, an entertaining story (also part of the book), but with a strange ending. Still a bit too many questions left unanswered. Unless the book itself can fill those gaps?...more
The only story Jeanne-A Debats I've read so far is 'Maman, Papa, la machine et moi' from the anthology Utopiales 2016 (my review here).
'Lance' was preThe only story Jeanne-A Debats I've read so far is 'Maman, Papa, la machine et moi' from the anthology Utopiales 2016 (my review here).
'Lance' was previously published in the anthology Lancelot (2014; several stories with Lancelot starring in various contexts) and in the re-edition of Métaphysique du vampire (2015), in whose world this short-story also takes place. Earlier this year, the story was made available by Éditions ActuSF. See here.
Jeanne-A Debats is a fan of vampires, has written several stories about them. I'm not a fan of vampires. Or maybe my idea of a vampire-story is too classic/cliché? Maybe Mrs. Debat can offer me a different view on the matter.
In this short-story, we go back to 1936, the year in which the Nazis have summoned a dragon to hold captive a specific selection of babies in order to retrace the Language of Old, i.e. the Tower of Babel. Deprived of any human contact, these babies may share a large mattress, but they can not take each other's hands. (view spoiler)[Until our vampire, Navarre, saves them by putting them in a bag made from a special blanket that protects them from the dragon's power. (hide spoiler)]
The vampire Navarre is sent out on a mission to save these children, among whom is a princess, but first he must row to Avalon and awaken Lancelot, who's been sleeping in a sort of cryogenics tank for many centuries. Lancelot thus must adapt to a modern world very quickly, but seems not really bothered by the many cultural and other changes that have occurred over the centuries.
The story is written in a first-person-mode, as told by Navarre himself. The writing is fluent, humourous here and there, yet wordy and not only because Lancelot likes to use many words for simple things. Jeanne-A Debats uses a good slab of psychology, for example, in her story/ies. This enriches the reading experience, of course, but can sometimes slow down your reading. The descriptions and monologues also make the story more realistic, as if you're inside the story, as if Navarre is telling you personally how it all went.
As you can imagine, all's well that ends well. A little love here and there, be it male-female or male-male, though (not?) always by mutual consent. What happened to the princess? No idea, but I guess, as she was saved, she will have been taken care of. Lancelot's return to his "tank" or "casket" would be delayed a bit, but he and his lance should have made it safely back "home".
All in all, a good story, especially with the psychological aspect, but I'm still not a fan of vampires (or horror-stories in general, even though the horror here was very light).
And yet, two points of critique: 1) commas for principal and subordinate clauses. Too much confusion that could easily be avoided. 2) different font sizes. From 8 or 9 to 12 and back to 8 or 9. Again, didn't anyone check the lay-out before unleashing this text onto the world?...more
Another free short story offered by Éditions ActuSF. You can download it here. As with the other ones, it takes place in the world of another book, thAnother free short story offered by Éditions ActuSF. You can download it here. As with the other ones, it takes place in the world of another book, this time Sorcières Associées, which I haven't read.
The short story is about an antiquarian running a shop with an associate. They got their hands on an old collection of erotic artefacts and books. As this is not their speciality (they run a respected shop, after all), they need to ask advice from someone who does know this world. Apparently, the collection contains a some rare and therefore expensive items. To attract the higher class of society means the rest of the population will follow and visit her shop. So she and her associate organise a sort of party to put the erotic stuff into the spotlight. This attracts all sort of upper-class and literate people. However, there's one little book that seems to be desired by various sorts of people, which is curious to witness. And so the game begins.
(view spoiler)[The little book is said to contain a code to summon a sort of genie, caught forever inside the book. As our antiquarian has more on her mind, like a customer whose wife has an insatiable lust for the pleasures of the flesh (and him seeking a potion to counter it), she ultimately decides to decode 'Les Fleurs de Minuit' (The Flowers of Midnight) herself and strike a deal with the genie to eliminate the guy who kidnapped her son to obtain the little book. Not that she doesn't already have other problems with her son, but the kidnapper sure as hell isn't going to get away with this. In comes the genie. (hide spoiler)]
I found this story quite entertaining. It's fluently written, there are some fun moments, ... You might then want to read the book itself and its sequel/successor (L'Échiquier de jade). As always, too many books, too little time. Besides, my French TBR-pile is still more than large enough, as are some of the books on it....more
It's about a witch who steals a golden cauldron from the Dagda, spiritual father of the druids. However, no matter what she does, all that comes out are golden objects. She desperately wants to create life. (view spoiler)[It takes some of her own to accomplish that: tears, blood, ... (hide spoiler)].
All in all, not a bad story, but nothing exciting either. However, judging by the first chapters of the book, I think the book is the better option and should provide more reading pleasure. My TBR-pile is unfortunately too high to verify this. I may do so in the (near?) future....more
I've never read anything by this French author, also because the books he has written aren't on my radar, aren't the kinds of stories I usually read oI've never read anything by this French author, also because the books he has written aren't on my radar, aren't the kinds of stories I usually read or look for. But as there is/was a free short story (downloadable on the website of the publisher, it's an ideal way to acquaint oneself with the author in question's style.
This short story is set in the world of Fées, weed et guillotines : petite fantasie pleine d'urbanité and is about two police inspectors - Marc-Aurèle Abdaloff and Premier de la Classe (young kid, smart-ass, likes citing the law and everything, working by the book) - examining several murders, said to be executed by a man accompanied by sanguinary/bloodthirsty squirrels.
But as they seek for evidence in the woods, they find a trace of squirrel droppings. (view spoiler)[When suddenly a knight in armor comes from behind the trees, all are stunned. He claims he's Lancelot, seeking a life away from battle, politics, and so on. He's retired, to so speak. A little later another knight shows up, Gauvain (Gawain, another knight of the Round Table). And they start to quarrel and fight each other, slinging insult after insult at each other. In old French, of course. Well, it should've been English, but as this is a French story... In the end, all's well that ends well. Both knights destroyed each other in the process. Dust to dust... which is evidence in the murder case. No news about the squirrels, though. But I guess they continued their lives like before, only now without a master. (hide spoiler)]
The story itself is fairly ok, contains some humour here and there, in light vein of Terry Pratchett, maybe?. However, you have to be either a native speaker of French or have a very good knowledge of the language, because Mr Berrouka used various terms I didn't know. I could deduce the meaning of some, thanks to the context, but otherwise it weighed on the reading pleasure.
So, all in all, not bad. However, here as well, I tend to think that the book mentioned above is probably more entertaining.
This short story here was previously published in the anthology Lancelot....more
This short story takes place in the same universe/world as Les Poisons de Katharz, which I read and reviewed in 2017. See here. You can download thisThis short story takes place in the same universe/world as Les Poisons de Katharz, which I read and reviewed in 2017. See here. You can download this story for free on the website of Éditions ActuSF. It was published earlier in the anthology Utopiales 2017 (still on my TBR-pile) of the SF-festival Les Utopiales, which takes place in Nantes, France.
What's it about? (view spoiler)[In short, 'Le gnome qui voulut être fée' is about a gnome who's an outcast in his own community. He's not accepted, doesn't feel accepted, does things differently. At some point, he sees one of the faeries (different population, not liking the gnomes at all) fighting for her life. As he saves her, he accidentally touches her breasts, as during the life-threatening event, her costume got ripped apart. Other faeries, mainly masculine (of course!), can't have that and scare the gnome away.
You then get the impression that the saved faerie has some sympathy for the poor gnome, even misleads him into thinking he's actually one of the faeries which were kidnapped a few decades ago. She tells him he does have wings, but they're hidden under his skin. However, all he has to do, is jump from a high cliff and the wings will pop out. He will have to suffer afterwards, because the healing process is quite long.
As the gnome didn't feel at home any more with the other gnomes, wanted so bad to be a faerie (also because of the one he saved), he follows her instructions... and meets an untimely death. The ending really is unexpected and not for the faint of heart. (hide spoiler)]
The story itself was ok, though not super. The novel, even if an entirely different story, was much better. But the topics in this short story make it worthwhile: racism (gnomes vs faeries), discrimination, equal rights (female vs male), ... And, love is blind. The poor lad needed psychological guidance, not more of the same....more
I've never read anything by French author Danielle Martinigol, but as she writes mainly (or only) for young readers, I skip those stories. However, thI've never read anything by French author Danielle Martinigol, but as she writes mainly (or only) for young readers, I skip those stories. However, this is a short story taking place in the same universe as her series La Trilogie des Abîmes and freely available on the website of Éditions ActuSF, I decided to give it a go, also because it's not that long.
Martiginol's style is not that accessible, I find, even if my knowledge of the French language is advanced.
(view spoiler)[The story takes place in space on a planet on which mankind embarked and landed to set up a colony, if I understood correctly. Prior to that, however, the spaceship traveled through space with the occasional stasis. However, as Andjo saw a bright light out there, he wasn't inside to prepare for the statis. His mother saw him, tried to save him or get him close to her, but as she left her safe place to not suffer from the sudden break, she didn't make it. This led to family problems, with his father not wanting to know about it. His sisters didn't intervene in any way; both of which are different characters, one more severe (Alexine), the other more caring (Adrielle), in a way.
By the way, Andjo also has a hiding place in a sort of cave, where a stone structure is formed like a throne. There he also keeps a sort of (exotic) pet, as he liked the local fauna.
At some point, Andjo wants to know where the light comes from and flees, if only to get away from his angry father. But the kid is not prepared for such an undertaking. Luckily he gets rescued by one of the abîmes or sort of sea-creature, even if it doesn't mean this at all when you translate abîme into English. But in the story's context, there's only this as possible answer.
And so, there's a family reunion, after the whole community has helped searching for the kid. All's well that ends well. (hide spoiler)]
Not a bad story, but not that super either. Maybe I'm not part of the target readers. Maybe younger readers will appreciate it more....more
This short-story is the first in the anthology Aucun souvenir assez solide, but can also be downloaded for free. See lower in this review.
What's it abThis short-story is the first in the anthology Aucun souvenir assez solide, but can also be downloaded for free. See lower in this review.
What's it about? About the privatisation of language. Most of the words (of the French language, in this case) have been registered. If you want to use them, you have to pay a licence fee. Wor[l]d Corporation has made it their core-business: using (registered) language is allowed, but you have to pay for it. And woe onto you if you use the language illegally.
This also results in people having a more limited vocabulary, yet do everything in their power (to such extremes as prostitution among students) to re-obtain certain words or acquire possession of such words.
As with almost every dystopian story, there are rebels who want to break this monopoly and keep language free to use. They live in a separate zone, Zone 17, in towers which are accessed via flying bicycles (delta-planes) and bridges. The brightest of these rebels is a certain Spassky (no, not the chess master), who makes his language revolve around the word 'chat'. With a lot of creativity, you might think we're dealing with ch'ti, the language of the Picard region (north of France).
In short: Language and the use of it should never be copyrighted or licenced or anything of the sort. Language is more than words, and not every language has a word for something that exists in another language (see, for example, Is That a Fish in Your Ear? The Amazing Adventure of Translation). Language is also subject to change and evolution, not always for the better, but still... Many words have also acquired a new meaning or undergone a new spelling over the years and centuries. Dictionaries come and go and with each new edition, there are several words that don't make the it. Little by little, these disappear from daily or regular use, in favour of other words. But it doesn't mean that they can not be used any more.
Alain Damasio demonstrates his love for language, as he uses neologisms, new compositions, a different writing of several words (in which case you deal with, for example, homonyms, words that sound the same, but mean something else and are written differently), all in such a lush way that makes this short-story a must-read for anyone with an interest in language and linguistics.
The French author Jean-Laurent Del Socorro has, since a few years, become one of my favourite authors, as you can see here (what I've so far by him).The French author Jean-Laurent Del Socorro has, since a few years, become one of my favourite authors, as you can see here (what I've so far by him). Before his debut novel, Royaume de vent et de colères, was published, he mainly worked on short stories, one of which is this one here, 'La mère des mondes' (translated: Mother of Worlds). You can download it for free (after having created your Axys-account, which is very easy and useable on other, related websites) on the website of publisher Le Bélial. See here.
This short story here is more science-fictionish, in that it takes place in the (near) future and involving an "alien" species. The main character is a priest from Poland, who is devoted to spread the word of Christ around the globe. He travels to Zagreb, Croatia, to set up office there for about eight years. After that, once he's sort of fed up with being stationary, so to speak, he travels to New Zealand.
(view spoiler)[The way to travel there is through a "Bouche" or mouth. Some sort of portals, I'd say, which are heavily guarded until a certain time. Undertaking this mission, he ends up in a country that's heavily snowed under. Of course, he didn't know or foresee this, which means he could die soon enough when not finding proper shelter and food.
But then the "alien" population turns up and saves him from an untimely death. One thing leads to another, they exchange their own views about the world, about life, and mainly about the divine (gods, faith, belief). As you can imagine, there are differences in the approach (spirits vs one god), but there are also similarities in believing in general. During these talks, the "aliens" (a sort of centaurs) seem to be the more advanced population, indicating how limited the priest's view is. However, and that's where the title comes in, as the priest unravels his tale, he gets accepted by the group through a sort of ritual and even gets converted himself, as both "partners" wonder who Mary is (who has her counterpart in the "alien" belief), where she comes from, if she really exists. In other words: the priest went out to convert, but got converted by others. (hide spoiler)]
'La mère des mondes' is a pretty good story, though there are some holes that I wished to see filled: what are these Bouches exactly? What's the world like in Europe? Why is the situation so much different in New Zealand? etc.). He could, if he wanted, expand this into a novel. The setup reminded me a bit of Downward to the Earth by Robert Silverberg, which I read earlier this year.
In any case, if you want a nice read in-between, then this short story is worth it....more
Sandra M. Odell is an unknown author to me, but I came across this story by accident. It's, if I understood it well enough, a story about gods fallingSandra M. Odell is an unknown author to me, but I came across this story by accident. It's, if I understood it well enough, a story about gods falling from the sky, causing thousands of deaths, and people trying to get their piece of the divine produce (skin, muscles, gold, and so on). Until the scavengers (a sort of worms) are let loose.
A very weird story and hard to get into, to "see" what's going on. But it's also a way of showing how mankind doesn't respect even the gods, if they can use the skin, the bracelets and other things for their own economic purposes. Or, if you can make money with it, why not?
As my TBR-pile is still more than large enough, I don't read SFF-magazines, let alone know which are available on the market. Sure, there is ClarkeswoAs my TBR-pile is still more than large enough, I don't read SFF-magazines, let alone know which are available on the market. Sure, there is Clarkesworld, Uncanny, Asimov's, and others, but I don't really follow that kind of publication. Especially when several are only online available, not in physical form. But I do try to read some of their free, online stories now and then.
On the French side and in physical form, there's Bifrost, Solaris (Canada) and others. As this 91th edition of the French Bifrost magazine was a special one, focusing on short stories, I decided to try it. Next to those stories, there are the traditional book and magazine reviews, plus an interview with the people behind publisher L'Arbre Vengeur, and a scientific look at the moon, i.e. in which books and films it was featured and what the current state of affairs is in terms of research. This last article is by Roland Lehoucq.
This special edition of Bifrost contains the following short stories:
Save for Léo Henry and Ken Liu, the authors are unknown to me. The kinds of stories presented here are quite diverse, from fantasy over science fiction to horror (one way or another). I'm not going to go into detail, but it suffices to say that every one of them was an interesting and entertaining read (I did find Michel Pagel's story less attractive, though, a bit hard to see what was going on), with some food for thought.
I don't often read SFF-magazines, as my TBR-pile is of a higher priority, but since they exist, why not try them? Previously, I read the latest issueI don't often read SFF-magazines, as my TBR-pile is of a higher priority, but since they exist, why not try them? Previously, I read the latest issue of the French magazine Bifrost, which you can see here.
There are a few magazines in French, also in Canada, home to the magazine Solaris. As these magazines are not readily available in my country - except for Bifrost, but even then you sometimes have to order it at your local library - I had to order Solaris (as well). There's a delay of three months between the publication in Canada and the availability in Europe (Belgium, France, ...). Three months! In other words, you get to read your ordered copy, when a new one has come out in Canada. For example, no. 207 has been out since August, but it won't be available over here until late in October.
So, my first encounter/acquaintance with Canada's oldest (?) French SFF-magazine, and one has to start somewhere, right?
It's less thick than Bifrost, but also contains short stories, a science-related article, and book-reviews. Bifrost also has magazine reviews, for example. Price-wise, the Canadian is more expensive in Belgium, because a few distributors (Interforum, Dilibel/Hachette) still use the table to ask a higher price for French books/publications. See this article (in French), for example? In short: Bifrost costs 11 EUR, Solaris 12.70 EUR (11 EUR in France).
In this issue (206), we have five short stories, all by authors unknown to me. And that's also one of the reasons to read such a magazine, to discover new authors and/or to have something else to read between two books.
Short stories: * Fétiches funèbres, Martine Bourque * Ma station de métro, Dave Côté * L’Odeur de tes racines, Josée Lepire * Pendant l’hiver, Karine Raymond * Celui qui parle aux morts, Christian Léourier
Article: * Les Carnets du Futurible : L’Archéologie spatiale, ou la recherche des technofossiles, Mario Tessier
I won't go into too much detail, but as is typical, the quality of the stories varies, but they also cover different themes and styles. I do think that most deal with mankind in various situations: leading a marginal life, drugs, alcohol, and trusting the wrong persons (Fétiches funèbres). Or, a thriller-like story in 'Ma station de métro'.
Finding your own home (or having something that is linked to it), your place in 'L’Odeur de tes racines'. 'Pendant l’hiver' takes place in a futuristic Korea, in which a private company (similar to Monsanto, for example) own alsmot the entire market in terms of food, and what not. but as they made a grave mistake, the authorities/government want(s) to nationalise the company. As there is resistance against the company's policies, the CEO cunningly convinces the daughter of a former employee to join the company to help her do her job better, with better means. But it comes at a high price. Not easy to get into at first, but in the end, it's one of the better stories, in my opinion.
'Celui qui parle aux morts' deals with religion and politics: how to deceive/mislead a population (in a post-apocalyptic world) and be someone you aren't, which makes it also hard to keep the lie intact. This was ok, but not super.
The stories are followed by an article on exoarchaeology, or archaeology on extraterrestrial grounds / in extraterrestrial environments, followed by an overview of how this theme is applied in SF-stories (with examples of titles and authors).
A better review, in my opinion, can be found at Phenixweb.info (direct link).
All in all, this was not a bad first experience with Solaris. I don't doubt there are better issues out there, but the problem is mainly that the magazine - as I wrote above - isn't readily available in bookshops, at newsstands, ...
However, I do appreciate the existence of such magazines and might/may read more of them in the future. ...more