Strange Horizons -- December 3, 2018

Tuesday, 04 December 2018 09:37 Victoria Silverwolf

Strange Horizons, December 3, 2018

"Fluxless" by Mike Jansen

"The Price of Eternity" by Laura Quijano Vincenzi

Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf

This special double issue offers two translated stories, one from the Old World and one from the New.

"Fluxless" by Mike Jansen (translated from Dutch by the author) takes place in a future world devastated by a plague of nanomachines. The microscopic devices, reproducing and mutating themselves endlessly, have altered the environment, both living and artificial, in deadly ways. The surviving tribes of people protect themselves with so-called fluxers, powered by solar electricity. The narrator goes on a quest to find the missing components of a device that could end the threat to humanity's survival. Along the way, she encounters an unlikely ally.

The author creates a unique apocalypse, with strange, often beautiful threats created by the nanomachines. The story leaves the reader with unanswered questions. It is not clear how the fluxers work, or exactly how the device that might end the disaster came into the hands of the man who gave it to the narrator. The woman's final triumph, although intriguing, is more a matter of luck than skill.

"The Price of Eternity" by Laura Quijano Vincenzi (translated from Spanish by Jerry L. Robinette) is a brief ghost story. A skeptical magistrate has puzzled over a mystery for many years. Long ago, a man rescued a woman and her child from drowning and earned a rich reward. At the same time, another man disappeared. The ghost of the rescuer appears to the magistrate and tells him the truth of what happened. The magistrate responds in a way appropriate to his rational nature.

Praise must go to both the author and the translator for the clear and elegant language of this tale. The fantastic events in the story are narrated in the calm, matter-of-fact style of Latin American magic realism. The resolution has a nice touch of irony.

Victoria Silverwolf knows no Dutch and a tiny bit of Spanish.