SFWA European Hall of Fame: a chance to read sf from outside of the Anglo Bubble

The SFWA European Hall of Fame is a ground-breaking anthology from James and Kathryn Morrow -- a collection of sixteen translated sf stories written by European authors. A down-side of being an English-speaker is that there's so much English-language material around that very little gets translated into your language, leaving you in a kind of bubble of literature written by people who speak the same language you do.

This is far less true for speakers of other European languages, who enjoy the pleasure of reading translations from many, many languages (including, of course, English), and are thus able to mix, match and remix the sensibilities, ideas and styles of writers from around the world.

It shows. The stories in The SFWA European Hall of Fame are not quite like any sf I've read before. Like much of the best sf, these stories tend to be allegorical, often absurdist, existential, and just plain weird. But there's a certain... stilted character to them that I came to realize was the emergent property of all those swirling styles and ideas, cross-pollinating and recombining outside of the Anglo Bubble.

I especially enjoyed the entries from the Greek author Panagiotis Koustas, "Athose Emfovos in the Temple of Sound;" the comic Romanian entry by Cezar Ionescu, "Some Earthlings' Adventures in Outrerria;" the Twilight Zonish and characteristically Russian fatalistic "Destiny Inc" by Sergei Lukyavenko; and especially the gorgeous conceit lurking in one of the Spanish entries, Jose Antonio Cotrina's "Between the Lines."

You would be hard pressed to find another anthology whose works were more different from one another -- and from the stories you're accustomed to -- than this one. It's a mind-opening journey: not always pleasant but absolutely rewarding.

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