I've been learning more about international science fiction lately, and so I was very excited to get my paws on a copy of World SF 3. Tidhar has brought together some of the best contemporary writers of scifi and speculative fiction here, with some stories originally written in English and others translated from Chinese, German, French, Spanish, and Swedish.
From self-aware androids who embrace religion, to authoritarian regimes that restrict thought and speech by means of the internet, these stories show us the breadth and depth of speculative writing across the world, and how we share many common concerns about technology, identity, and family.
While some stories, like Xia Jia's "A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight" and "Jungle Fever" by Ika Koeck, explore the world of ghosts and creatures of the jungle; "The Foreigner" by Uko Bendi Udo" and "Regressions" by Swapna Kishore examine how advanced technology can change the ways we think about national and individual identity. Where would a human-alien child belong- on Earth or an alien planet? Who gets to change the past, and what happens when different agendas clash? Questions like these force us to think about the future in creative and unexpected ways.
And even though I enjoyed all of the stories in this anthology, my favorites have to be "Act of Faith" by Fadzlishah Johanabas and "The City of Silence" by Ma Boyong. Both take as their starting point a future that is closer than we might think, and ask us how we would react in similar circumstances.
Johanabas writes about a self-aware android built to be a servant, but who becomes so close to his human charge (an old man) that he takes on human mannerisms. Eventually, he becomes a Muslim, like his companion, and insists on praying at a mosque, even though the other worshippers question his right to practice religion.
In "City of Silence," Boyong updates Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four by imagining how the State might eradicate human freedoms and even subversive thoughts by encouraging online-only communication and slowly eliminating words from the language until only "healthy" words remain. Boyong underscores the connections between language and thought, and between thought and action, and how our own reliance on digital communication might become its own trap.
World SF 3 has introduced me to a great many writers with diverse and fascinating perspectives on our present and future worlds. I strongly encourage you to check it out.