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Sky City: New Science Fiction Stories by Danish Authors
edited by Carl-Eddy Skovgaard
Science Fiction Cirklen, 242 pages

Sky City
Science Fiction Cirklen
Science Fiction Cirklen (The Science Fiction Circle) is a long running Danish Union for Science Fiction fans in Denmark. They publish zines and books, mostly in Danish.

Science Fiction Cirklen Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

Every few years, international science fiction appears to be spotlighted by an American editor, whether it is the excellent SFWA European Hall of Fame edited by James and Kathryn Morrow in 2007 or Tales from Planet Earth edited by Frederik Pohl and Elizabeth Anne Hull twenty years earlier. What is less common is when the science fiction authors of a non-Anglophone culture compile their own book of science fiction, translated into English.

Sky City, with stories selected by Carl-Eddy Skovgaard and published by Science Fiction Cirklen, is an anthology of Danish Science Fiction originally published in 2007 and 2008 with new translations into English. To demonstrate the activity in Danish science fiction, authors represented in the earlier named volumes are not represented among the nineteen stories in Sky City.

Several themes are recurrent in the book. Fighting against conformity appears in both Gudrun Østergaard's "The Green Jacket" and in Camilla Wandahl's "The Red Parakeets." A feeling a loneliness and isolation pervades many of the stories, most notably, perhaps, in "Dreams of Stone," a nihilistic work by Brian P. Ørnbøl which looks at a dweller in a world-spanning city who dreams of being surrounded by nature. Post-apocalypticism gets its time in both Glen Stihmøe's "Helium Loves Company" and the fish-based "In the Surface," by Sara Tanderup.

An issue with reading stories in translation is that the reader is at the mercy of the translator. In the case of the stories in Sky City, most of the translations are good, although there are a couple, most notably, "Departure," which was translated by its author, Niels Gjerløff, that leaves the reader hoping that the Danish version of the story was smoother and more complete.

Although Denmark features in many of the stories, other stories are set in Japan, the United States, China, and on space stations. When Denmark does feature in the stories, it is often in a matter of fact way, used because it is what the author is familiar with, which is as it should be. Nevertheless, stories like Søren Elmerdahl Hemmingsen's very enjoyable "A Contribution to the History of Denmark," which shows the aftermath of a mutant reptile attack on Copenhagen, would have been strengthened, at least for an international reader, with a little more Danish flavor.

The strongest of the stories, which deserves to be reprinted in a volume with a larger Anglophone audience, is the final story in the anthology, Lars Ahn Pedersen's "Interrogation of Victim No. 5." Set up as a question and answer session between an interrogator, identified only as TK and a crime victim known as RL, the science fictional elements of the setting are slowly revealed, and, almost simultaneously, Pedersen incorporates a look at the issues each of those elements would raise in society. Despite not coming to a final conclusion in some ways, the story is complete in and of itself, resolving the necessary issues.

One of the strengths of Sky City is that unlike so many of the other anthologies of foreign authors, this one was not chosen by an Anglophone editor with Anglophone sensibilities in mind, but rather by the Danes, themselves, and is therefore more reflective of the breadth and scope of Danish science fiction and its concerns, without trying to tailor the selections to a non-Danish audience.

Copyright © 2011 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a seven-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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