Saturday, May 13, 2017

Hexagrammaton, by Hanuš Seiner

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(SF) A woman approaches the narrator to help her smuggle a special package to the human survivors of an alien virus that could make people something more than human. (10,180 words; Time: 33m)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

"," by (translated by Julie Novakova, edited by Ann VanderMeer), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: There are lots of really interesting ideas in here. An alien language where every sentence has multiple meanings. A set of code words that can change the personalities of people who hear them.

Con: The whole story is a confused mess. Why was the narrator in prison? Did the hexagramamton really let the spaceship leave? Was the virus a good thing or a bad thing? What really happened here?

It's way too long to be this confused.

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6 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I liked the story (though the prose (perhaps due to translation) left something to be desired). I think all those things are explained -- SPOILER...

    The narrator was in prison in a different future than the main one of the story. Likewise, the spaceship left in a different future. These future(s) were "created" in a sense by the Hexagrammaton.

  2. Of all the translated stories we've seen over the past three years, I can only think of two that suffered obvious translation issues. Things like bad narration (aka telling not showing), as-you-know-Bob dialogue, and poor plotting can only come from the original. Unnatural dialogue, however, is definitely the fault of a translator. Remember that the translator is a native English speaker, but is probably not a writer.

    One translated story I read recently was in Spanish, and I can read that, so I compared the original to the translation. I found that the translator had omitted entire paragraphs and, in addition, had naively translated Spanish verb tenses and aspects, all of which introduced a good bit of confusion and ambiguity that didn't exist in the original. That magazine should have demanded their money back.

    I don't speak Czech, so it's hard for me to be sure nothing like that happened here. I certainly found it painfully confusing, and it just went on and on and on.

  3. I liked this, and although I was somewhat confused at times it was in that good "I'm sure all these strands will get resolved" way.

    1. Did you feel it all got resolved at the end?

  4. I liked this one too. I felt like once you realize that the prisoner was the version of the narrator who didn't leave his wife and go to Earth, it all comes together.