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.

  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.