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The SFWA European Hall of Fame
edited by James and Kathryn Morrow
Tor, 352 pages

The SFWA European Hall of Fame
James Morrow
James Morrow has been called "The most provocative satiric voice in science fiction" by the Washington Post. It may be true. He won a World Fantasy Award for his novels, Towing Jehovah and Only Begotten Daughter, and has been nominated for his collection, Bible Stories for Adults.

James Morrow Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Only Begotten Daughter
SF Site Review: The Eternal Footman
SF Site Review: Blameless in Abaddon

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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Every few years, American editors seems to rediscover that there is science fiction beyond the borders of the United States. When this happens, collections appear spotlighting the work of Australian, or Canadian, or European science fiction authors. The latest rediscovery has now been made by James and Kathryn Morrow, under the auspices of the SFWA and has resulted in The SFWA European Hall of Fame, an anthology of sixteen short stories by European authors representing thirteen linguistic traditions.

One of the things that sets this anthology apart from earlier anthologies is the quality of the translations. While many of the past anthologies appear to have simply focused on changing the words of the story into English, the Morrows worked with their translators to make sure the stories reflected the original style of the authors. This attention to the translation even included new translations of works like "The Day We Went Through the Transition," by Ricard de la Casa and Pedro Jorge Romero (Spanish), which were previously translated into English.

The stories cover a wide range of science fictional topics, from a look at near future dystopias in Valerio Sinisalo's "Sepultura," (Italian) in which political prisoners are held prisoner in a strange gel that fuses to their bodies, to the almost surreal humor of Lucian Merisca's "Some Earthlings' Adventures on Outrerria," (Romanian) which also deals with political dissidents, this time working as mercenaries on a distant planet.

Given the selection process, it isn't surprising that most of the stories included in The SFWA European Hall of Fame are of a high quality. "Baby Doll," by Johanna Sinisalo (Finnish), is a very disturbing look at the trend of society forcing sexuality on children at increasingly young ages. JoŽlle Wintrebert's "Transfusion" (French) is an almost stream-of-consciousness hallucinatory tale. Marek S. Huberath's ""Yoo Retoont, Sneogg. Ay Noo"" (Polish) shares some qualities with Wintrebert's story, although it eventually shifts gears to become a more standard, but quite satisfying story of a strange future.

Many standard science fictional tropes appear, and some are repeated. "A Birch Tree, A White Fox," by Elena Arsenieva (Russian) and "Wonders of the Universe," by Andreas Eschbach (German) are both stories of dying astronauts, although they are very different in their portrayal. Eschbach has a lone astronaut thinking about her life and faith, while Arsenieva has three astronauts in a very strange situation trying to best complete their mission, despite the chance of their imminent demises.

The only two generalities about European science fiction that can be drawn from the stories in The SFWA European Hall of Fame are that European writers are producing some excellent speculative fiction and that their stories covers as broad a gamut as that being produced by American or British science fiction authors. Not ever story in The SFWA European Hall of Fame will be to every reader's taste, but every reader will find several appealing stories.

Copyright © 2007 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a five-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings. He is the publisher of ISFiC Press. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.


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