Sunday, January 31, 2016

Book Review: Apex Books of World SF 1-4

It took me about six months to get through these four magnificent collections of short stories written by authors from across the globe. There is no pattern to these stories and each one contains a surprise that shifted my worldview or made me think differently about science fiction. These stories contain something for everyone from aliens to robots to wizards to shamans to ancient spells to fantastic future. I highly enjoy each new book unable to decide on a favorite.
I recently finished book 4 though none of them need to be read in order and even the stories can be read out of order just starting one and getting lost in a foreign, yet strangely familiar, sci-fi or fantasy world. Editor Lavie Tidhar did a great job making each story seem wholly different while letting them flow from one story to the next and editor Mahvesh Murad continues this tradition in the fourth book. This series has so much to offer and truly hope they continue to put out new books in the future.
There are so many stories and it is hard to pick out one in particular amongst such a stellar crowd but I would recommend taking time after each story to let it sink in and I often find myself rereading passages or even whole stories to reacquaint myself with this awe-inspiring concepts. Some stories have a lot of action while others delve down deep into a single character's thoughts. As I mentioned, some stories go so deep into the past but use a method of future time-traveling to explore these traditions older than the written language, that's the kind of twisted awesomeness I encountered in these collections.
I would have never encountered some of these authors if they had not been translated and conveniently added to this collection in English. I would've remained wholly ignorant of stories that have changed the way I see the world. After all, when aliens come, they will see us all as the same species. It's so interesting after being inundated with thousands of stories about aliens landing in the USA to start to imagine what other countries would think and how futures are imagined in places outside of North America. I didn't often think about how close-minded even my imaginative fiction reading was until I picked up this collection.
I would recommend every one of these collections to any serious reader of science fiction and anyone that appreciates something that will change their way of thinking. The writing is top notch though many authors are writing in their second language. The ideas in these books are so cool and mysterious. I also saw one striking familiarity of the human condition no matter if someone was telling a story from the other side of the globe. The Apex Books of World SF are a great collection, and I hope there are more to come!

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