Review: Kalpa Imperial

Argentinian writer Angelica Gorodischer has put together a winning collection of short stories in Kalpa Imperial.  As with much interesting writing, the genre defies easy classification.  If you’re a SF reader, these might be light fantasy; if you’re more literary, they might be stories of magical realism.  I came to them from a recommendation from Jo Walton, so someone thinks they’re SF.

Regardless of which genre bucket you put them in, the stories are rewarding and enjoyable.  Each is a tale of some facet of an imaginary Empire told by a different anonymous storyteller.  Gorodischer gets the most out of those constraints, showcasing different storytelling styles and kinds of stories.  Each storyteller is different, and visible in the text, though how and why differs widely.  Most tellingly, each has a different reason for telling the stories.  There are compelling reflections on the reasons we tell stories and methods we tell them.

The stories range from the personal to the political.  There are stories of individual lives that shaped the Empire and histories of cities that make it up.  Each has a point without being overly didactic.

The writing itself is beautiful.  There are well-turned phrases and perfectly textured paragraphs embedded in these well told stories.  Ursula Le Guin did the translation, and did the writing justice.


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