Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A prosperous week for the Romanian speculative fiction

Last week, in Bucharest, the Gaudeamus National Book Fair took place and as much as I planned and wished to attend it unfortunately in the end it was not possible. I regret even more missing this edition when I look at the momentum gathered by the local speculative fiction at the book fair held last week.

Besides the two titles I already presented here, Narcisa Stoica’s “Taxidermy” and Ștefan Ghidoveanu’s anthology “The S.F.Crone’s 1001 inventions”, Millennium Books released a new volume, “Transfer”, by one of the most important names of Romanian speculative fiction, Michael Haulică.

The publisher’s website has a presentation of Michael Haulică’s “Transfer” written by Bogdan-Alexandru Stănescu: “The transfer concept, the passing in another human’s body, at a cost, a prostitution taken to paroxysm, an entertainment for the rich (in its “safe” circumstances), and for the poor (on the black market), it is nothing more but a disguise in sci-fi clothes of a phenomenon identifiable in 70% of the Bucharest’s apartments. Be that in form of RPG games or bloggers without an assumed identity.
The loss of identity, with this volume’s extreme face, it’s no longer a shadow of the future. And for predicting this thing, William Gibson truly deserves this monument raised by Michael Haulică. I could go even further and say that “Transfer” is a realistic book (and I would support my opinion with pretty powerful arguments), and what gives it strangeness are just the elements only talked in the everyday life, without a real foundation.”

The fifth issue of “Galileo Magazine” features the same mix of international and local fiction together with a couple of non-fiction articles.
Editorial: “The abundance’s eulogy” by Horia Nicola Ursu
Fiction: “Memorare” by Gene Wolfe
“The Homecoming” by Mike Resnick
“The Amsterdam Circus” by Paul Tudor
“The Sphere” by Eugen Cadaru
“A usual day after the end of the world” by Laura Sorin
“Human Resources” by Florin Pîtea
Non-fiction: “The gothic literature: value, works and representative names” by Oliviu Crâznic
“Mythology and luxury: Vladimir Colin” by Mircea Opriţă

Together with these titles Millennium Books also released an editorial volume by Cătălin Badea-Ghercostea, “Brought to day”, gathering articles of SF&F critique.

Nemira, one the most active publishers of speculative fiction on the Romanian market, revived one of the oldest and most important brands of science fiction in Romania, The Anticipation magazine, born in 1955 and dead after the 1989 revolution. This excellent initiative is materialized with a first issue featuring the following content:
“In the best of the worlds” by Alexandru Mironov
“The Island” by Peter Watts
“Science and Fantastic” by Alina Sârbu
“The Collection of Science Fiction stories: Short history” by Mircea Opriţă

On this occasion “The Anticipation Almanac 2013” was released too.

Nemira also presented two volumes by Romanian authors at this edition of Gaudeamus National Book Fair, Marian Truţă’s “The Second Coming” and Liviu Radu’s “The Moth Army”.

In 1960 Gagarin misses his landing and arrives somewhere near Calafat, in a village in the Danube’s Meadow. Only Romania is a kingdom, USSR doesn’t exist and the political map of the world looks very different than we know it.
Somewhere in Bucharest, in the 80s, an amateur wireless-operator is caught in a bizarre clash between two sides: a world of a probable, but inexistent past, and a world of a virtual, but improbable future.
In 1989 Ceaușescu won the game. We are in 2010, in full communist dictatorship and we witness the struggle of an obscure science-fiction writer. In spite of his innocence, he finds himself guilty of “hostile thinking against the regime”.
“The Second Coming” shows us a Romania that manipulates the Europe and world’s political games with the help of the alchemists. We have another Romania, in which the Orthodox Church and the Vatican are united against the Swiss plan of starting the God’s Machinery, a gigantic particle accelerator meant to hasten the second coming of Christ.
Four different faces of Romania, four alternative histories, in which the characters struggle to build an oasis of normality despite the events they are forced to live.

Taravik is an independent courier and a contracted brawler. He has an exciting life – transporting packages and letters through the wastelands, with the help of Kostik, his one winged Pegasus. A run into the desert, a cold beer, a jump into a ravine – the time passes in an interesting way. Until one morning, when Marieţa, his lover, chases him away from home because he has no manners and doesn’t know to behave. He never offered her a gift – one small bronze ring, at least, since one of gold can’t be mentioned.
And so, Taravik’s adventure starts. Looking for a ring for Marieţa, the brawling courier sets in motion occult forces, attracts the sympathy of the gods and competes with wizards from other lands. But, especially, he resurrects the Moth Army.
Taravik walks with innocence through all the chaos he involuntary unleashes, chatting peacefully with Kostik, while around him incredible battles are fought. Because, as Marieţa said, “You, men, see life as a game full of pain. You like crafts where you can hit your fingers with a hammer, you like games where the opponent is allowed to kick your legs and you like the entertainment that causes a terrible hangover the following day. So you cannot plant flowers for a long time before longing for trips in the wastelands and jumps in ravines.”

Tracus Arte publishing house released the second edition of Florin Pîtea’s novel, “The Final Year”, a love story set in a dystopian future, with accents of violence, hard SF and pulp fiction.

Also at the second edition is Dănuţ Ungureanu’s collection, “Marilyn Monroe on a closed curve”, published by Tritonic.
“I am young, I am a good hunter. I catch the rumor’s trace. It sounds dimmed in me, as the sound of rain is repressed… Run! Humans are naked beings. Under the organic cover, their thoughts crawl multicolored. Through their veins fluid thoughts are streaming, their lungs are filled with thoughts. The humans are not all humans. The humans are thoughts, rumors badly wrapped…”
“It snows under the Diomat block”

Voyager Premium Books gave a new life to the “Knights” series by Ioan Dan, a very personal favorite of mine since the high-school years. This is not speculative fiction, but cloak and dagger in its purest form. Published in the 70s I don’t believe that Ioan Dan’s swashbuckling knights lost their humor and appeal for adventures. This is a new and wonderful opportunity to re-live these stories.

Last, but not least, a new imprint was born on the Romanian speculative fiction market. Art Editorial Group founded a new imprint, Paladin, led by Michael Haulică and dedicated to the fantasy and science fiction. For now is focused in bringing the most important titles of speculative fiction on the Romanian market or offering a new edition of those already translated and published here. The honor of opening this new imprint goes to the new edition of Isaac Asimov’s “Pebble in the Sky”, the first novel in the “Empire” trilogy. This title will be followed by novels signed Jo Walton, Gene Wolfe, Ray Bradbury, China Miéville, David Brin or Brian Aldiss.

It is true that my budget was saved from a serious shacking by me not being able to attend this edition of the Gaudeamus National Book Fair. I am happy to see, however, that the Romanian speculative fiction offered plenty of good reasons for spending money and I only hope that such occasions would arise again in the future.


Michael Haulică said...

Thank you very much for this post.

Mihai A. said...

It is my pleasure, dear sir! :)
I am looking forward to read your book. I am sorry I could not get to the book fair, I would have loved a signed copy. Well, maybe next time :)