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Binge-Worthy Reads: The Very Best Greek and European Sci-Fi From the Last Decade

5 Selected Greek Titles in an article by Iphaistion Khristopoulos

Unborn Brothers by Michalis Manolios (Αγέννητοι Αδελφοί/Μιχάλης Μανωλιός) 2014

A near-future science fiction novel in Manolios’s characteristic style, it touches upon the possibility of implanting multiple artificial personalities (the titular unborn brothers) in a single person. There are three central characters we follow—the scientist who has invented the technology, a world-renowned musician and an assassin—all of which, interestingly enough for a male author, are women. However, there’s actually an abundance of characters in the book, all of which distinct from each other, as we watch each person’s unborn brothers emerge from their subconscious and take control.

It’s a demanding, complex and sometimes brutal novel, full of human drama and difficult dilemmas—a typical trait of the author, who likes placing his characters in situations where all possible outcomes are disastrous or unethical.

Michalis Manolios was born in 1970. He has released four books, two short story collections and two novels, including the one mentioned above. As far as I know, there’s one more short story collection coming in 2020. His story “Aethra” won the Aeon Award in in 2010. His works have been translated into English and Italian and, recently, Filipino.

Exiled Faces by P.M. Zervos (Η Εξορία του Προσώπου/ Π.Μ. Ζερβός) 2017

A short horror novel situated in Athens’s sister city, Piraeus. It’s in a sense the chronicle of a man’s descend into madness, starting with a terrifying dream. The story unfolds in the duration of one year. The nameless narrator keeps having the same nightmare every night at midnight. Soon he finds out that the same happens to the rest of the residents of his building, resulting even in the death of some. Later in the year, the nightmares stop, but an insatiable hunger for food and sex takes their place, which incites extreme behaviours, followed by a period of abject apathy. And so the story unfolds during the four seasons of the year, till we reach a state of normalcy that seems even more terrifying than the previous states of nervous collapse.

It is a strange allegorical book that makes use of the tropes of the horror genre to address the problems and struggles of modern man.

P. M Zervos was born in 1972 and lives in Piraeus. He has published short stories and essays in magazines and anthologies and has also translated some H. P. Lovecraft stories into Greek. A distinctive characteristic of his writing is his use of polytonic orthography, as opposed to the monotonic orthography which was introduced in 1982 and is the official Greek writing system ever since.

The Sons of Ash Trilogy by Eleftherios Keramidas (Οι Γιοι της Στάχτης/ Ελευθέριος Κεραμίδας) 2010

This is an epic trilogy in a pseudo-Byzantine environment. The first volume was published in 2010 by a major Greek publishing house, and later it was reissued in a revised edition, along with the rest of the trilogy, by a different publisher. It is essentially the story of a failing empire, full of court intrigue, magical human and non-human creatures, featuring impressive battle tactics and even a twisted but familiar version of Orthodox Christianity. The story starts with the son of an almighty wizard who tries to thwart his father’s plans, a youth raised in a monastery who finds out he has some special powers and the minister of a demented emperor who tries to manipulate the empire’s politics. The kingdom’s future seems to somehow depend on their actions.

An impressive amount of historical research has gone into this one, and, despite the abundance of characters and names, it’s quite easy to follow and keeps you turning the pages. It is also linguistically very interesting, as the author uses a fair amount of Byzantine terms along with his own made-up archaic words to recreate the atmosphere of a bygone era.

Eleftherios Keramidas was born in 1977 in Ithaca. Said trilogy is his first publication. Before that, some of his short stories had been included in sff anthologies.

Imaginative Stories by Various (ΕΦΦάνταστες Ιστορίες) 2013

First of all, please ignore the fact that there’s one of my own stories in this one. This is by no means the reason I’m including it. This is an anthology comprising short stories from the Science Fiction Club of Athens’s (ALEF) writers’ workshop. The works included are a selection of the best stories presented to the workshop between the years 2005 and 2012. Some of the writers were already established authors with published works, while for others it was their first time in print. The majority of the stories are science fiction, but there are also a few touches of horror or magical realism, and there’s a diversity in topic and style.

The book includes stories by: Giannis Papadopoulos, Panagiotis Koustas, Stamatis Stamatopoulos, Hedwig-Maria Karakouda, Spyros Kintzios and Angela-Lu Petrou, Nektarios Chryssos, Kelly Theodorakopoulou, Christina Malapetsa, Kostas Charitos, Michalis Manolios, Vasso Christou, Teti Theodorou, Hephaestion Christopoulos.

The Science Fiction Club of Athens has been around since 1998. The writers’ workshop takes place twice a year and this is the second anthology coming out of it. It is open to both experienced and first-time authors.

Desert and Fog by Christina Malapetsa (Έρημος και Ομίχλη/ Χριστίνα Μαλαπέτσα) 2015

A book consisting of two medium-length novels set in the author’s fantasy universe. The writer herself describes it as “two character-oriented fantasy stories about duty, morals and free will. Also daddy issues.” The first story pertains to a city beset by a curse that causes water shortage.. The situation is dire, so the city’s ruler decides to ask a neighbouring city for help. It is quite a straightforward fantasy story, but with a consistent worldbuilding and some impressive ideas. The second one is an eerie tale about two female adventurers who land on a bizarre island country inhabited by some not quite human creatures and try to understand the rules of their society. This one is the more magical of the two, full of little and larger details about an imaginary society and species.

Christina Malapetsa lives in Stockholm. Short stories of hers have appeared in anthologies, and Desert and Fog is her first book. Both stories were initially written for a NaNoWriMo challenge, and were later reworked and revised.

Sadly, none of the above titles have been translated in English yet. If you really wanna read some of them, leave a comment on this post so we can gauge interest.

You can read the entire article and find more European spec-fic titles here.

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What do you think, Mythographer?

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