“The Peregrine Falcon Flies West” by Yang Wanqing, tr from the Chinese by Jay Zhang (Clarkesworld, February)
You Glow in the Dark by Liliana Colanzi, translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews (New Directions, February 6)
The seven stories of You Glow in the Dark unfold in a Latin America wrecked and poisoned by human greed, and yet Colanzi’s writing—at once sleek and dense, otherworldly and intensely specific—casts an eerily bright spell over the wreckage. Some stories seem to be set in a near future; all are superbly executed and yet hard to pin down; they often leave the reader wondering: Was that realistic or fantastic? Colanzi draws power from Andean cyberpunk just as much as from classic horror writers, and this daring is matched by her energizing simultaneous use of multiplicity and fragmentation—the book’s stylistic trademarks.
Blue Lard by Vladimir Sorokin, translated from the Russian by Max Lawton (NYRB Classics, February 27)
The book begins in a futuristic laboratory where genetic scientists speak in a Joycean dialect of Russian mixed with Chinese—peppered with ample neologisms—and work to clone famous Russian writers, who are then made to produce texts in the style of their forebears. The goal of this “script-process” is not the texts themselves, but the blue lard that collects in the small of their backs as they write. This substance is to be used to power reactors on the moon—that is, until a sect of devout nationalists breaks in to steal the blue lard, planning to send it back in time to an alternate version of the Soviet Union, one that exists on the margins of a Europe conquered by a long-haired Hitler with the ability to shoot electricity from his hands. What will come of this blue lard? Who will finally make use of its mysterious powers?