ON THE EDGE OF THE EMPIRE: SINNING IN SEVENS
edited by Silvana Moreira and Antonio de Macedo
Simetria FC & F / 326 pages / October 1999
Don’t recognise the publisher? You’re in the majority; this is the first look into the world of Portuguese science fiction and fantasy for most of us. Simetria FC & F is the Portuguese language sibling to our own SFWA or BSFS, or whatever your professional organisation, in whatever country. Thanks to this fantastic bi-lingual anthology, you are about to discover the rich vein of talent in Portugal and Brazil.
The first story out of the gate is going to grab you immediately. “Worthy of a Master” is the tale of one being who must destroy another planet and all of its inhabitants for the crime of wastefulness in a universe where most worlds’ subsist on so very little. Observing from the viewpoint of Nor is a revelation — how very rich Earth is and how seldom we appreciate that wealth. Sequeira’s prose is so vivid and inviting, we cannot help but see through his eyes.
“Ephemerides,” one of the shortest pieces in the collection is also the one which may make the deepest impression on readers. Oh! to be young and a pioneer on a new world! Barreiros’ swift skewer leaves you with a devastating pain at a vision horribly realized. It will take your breath away.
Fans of dark realism will be thrilled and repulsed by Tercio’s “My Angel.” Coming from a state that has seen more than its share of sociopaths, it’s almost a relief to see one operating elsewhere. But, there is no true relief in this grisly tale, only shudder piled upon shiver.
Lovecraft’s long arm of influence can be seen in the poetic, brutal “In the Stomach of Madness.” There is a touch of Rod Serling in Prescott’s “Tarantella” and de Macedo’s “The Lazy Countess” — I think readers will know exactly which Night Gallery episodes come to mind.
Sinning In Sevens‘ only sustained comic relief comes in a teasing piece by none other than Norman Spinrad and a quickie that closes out the collection with a wry look at those ill-advised dealings between human and demon, in “Mephisto.” The banter between de Menezes’ adversaries is a devilish note to end the anthology.
Virtually every selection in the book deserves the label of “literary” fiction. It’s all quality and all entertaining.
There is one thing more that sets it aside from probably anything else you’ll read this year: it is a taste of another world, right on Earth. You’ve never been to Brazil or Portugal? That’s all right; these authors will take you there for the texture, the sites, the scents, the people of these lands.
Believe me, you’ll never have a tour go this smoothly.