Books read in October 2012

Henrik Berggren: Underbara dagar framför oss. En biografi över Olof Palme. (A biography of Olof Palme)

This comprehensive biography of the assassinated Swedish social democrat prime minister was interesting to read since it covers a period that I was very much involved in. It not only covered the life and work of Olof Palme but also the politics and way of life in Sweden. I remember Palme as a nasty debater and in that respect the book did not ring quite true, but he was also an international politician which is well represented. However, I missed his engagement in the occupation of Palestine.

Maria Turtschaninoff: Anaché – Myter från Akkade.

This fantasy by the Finland-Swedish author is set in a country that resembles Mongolia, and it is very much concerned with a feminist description of the patriarchy. The fantasy element is contacts with the spirit world and feels well integrated in the story. I have written an enthusiastic review in Swedish on my blog.

Lavie Tidhar, ed.: The Apex Book of World SF.

A collection of stories from many different countries, at least some of them real sf stories. “The Bird Catcher” by S. P. Somtow from Thailand was a well-written and memorable horror story, ”Transcendence Express” by the Dutch author Jetse de Vries was an excellent and believable sf about making biological computers in a Zambian village, whereas “The Levantine Experiments” by the Israeli writer Guy Hasson was an overly horrible torture story about a girl forced to live confined in a cell from birth. “The Wheel of Samsara” by the Chinese writer Han Song felt mainly as a Buddhist myth of the origin of the universe, “Ghost Jail” by the Australian Kaaron Warren was a too complicated ghost story, and “Wizard World” by Chinese author Yang Ping was an entertaining story about virtual reality gaming. “The Kite of Stars” by Filipino author Dean Francis Alfar was more magic realism than sf but still a satisfying story about the dream of flying, “Cinderers” by Israeli writer Nir Yaniv was a horrible story about an arsonist, and “The Allah Stairs” by half-Palestinian author Jamil Nasir was another magic-realism story describing an obsession with monkeys. “Biggest Baddeest Bomoh” by Malysia’s horror writer Tunku Halim was an enjoyable zombie “be-careful-what-you-wish” story, “The Lost Xuyan Bride” by French author Aliette de Bodard was a nice detective story set in her alternate history where Aztecs still rule in America, whereas I had problems with the “Excerpt From a Letter by a Social-Realist Aswuang” by Filipino author Kristin Mandigma. I liked the almost Dickian idea of photographing flies in “An Evening in the City Coffeehouse, with Lydia on my Mind” by Croatian Aleksandar Žiljak, the moving “Into the Night” by American-Indian Anil Menon that described how the rapid changes in society can be difficult for an old person, and the affecting fantasy “Elegy” by the French author Mélanie Fazie where a mother tries to find her children in a tree. To me the masterpiece in the volume was the last one, the magic realism story “Compartments” by the Serb Zoran Živcović where a person has strange experiences in different compartments on a train. In conclusion, this anthology from several different countries was very nice to read with its mixture of fantasy, horror, magic realism and “real” sf.

Vildsint. Skymningslandet. (Ferocius. The Twilight Country.)

This is an original anthology of 44 short stories written by different Swedish more or less professional writers. Most of the stories were very short, and there was a also short presentations of the authors at the end. The theme for the stories was the twilight country, but this was interpreted in many different ways. Still, the anthology got a fairly down-beat feeling, since many stories were about death or loss. I was actually surprised that I enjoyed most of the stories, and remember them quite well when I now, a month later, browse through the book.

 

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