THE ROSETTA ARCHIVE Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Alexander Wallace opens the archive.
We still have an annoying tendency to think of science fiction and fantasy as Anglophone genres. It is only recently that we have seen the likes of Cixin Liu gain prominence in the English-speaking world, and we have only recently begun to understand that there are whole corpuses of similar works from other languages and other countries. To showcase those other bodies of work, Alex Shvartsman (whose novel A Middling Affliction I have previously reviewed) and Tarryn Thomas have assembled an anthology of stories from all over the world. That anthology is The Rosetta Archive: Notable SF/F in Translation, published in 2022 from UFO Publishing.

The Rosetta Archive is a veritable kaleidoscope of literature, from countries that range from Sweden to South Korea to Brazil. It’s a testament to how much the genre has grown, and how reality has come to resemble the genre; it’s the sort of thing that would have been so much harder to compile before the internet. It is, in that regard, such a treat, a candy bowl filled with delights from every corner of this world, and I’m convinced there’s something for everyone.

What is striking about this collection is how similar and yet so different these stories are from the Anglophone mainstream. There’s a Gothic tale, several space operas, a Swedish fantasy tale that could have easily come from the old pulps (and was perhaps my favorite story in the whole thing). There is Korean hard science fiction and a great deal of Chinese stories that still feel, to me, like something John W. Campbell could have edited several decades ago, with that enthusiastic view of technology that nevertheless has much trepidation. There are kings and whales and therapists with odd clients and strange creatures and other planets. There’s also a riotously funny Russian story that feels very Russian, in that droll, wry sense that can be both very thought-provoking and also utterly gut-busting.

The Rosetta Archive is a veritable selection of delicacies imported into our strange language that through gunboats became the global lingua franca. It will expand your horizons in the best way - is that not exactly what science fiction and fantasy are about? Anglosphere fans have long gazed into a field of stars; now, they have a whole new galaxy into which to venture. It’s an absolute treat, and I recommend it highly to anyone who may be interested.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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