Exploring Dark Short Fiction is a series that Eric J. Guignard has put together in order to celebrate modern masters of literary short fiction and give readers a glimpse into the authors work.
Being a huge fan of short fiction, I was so pumped when Eric reached out to ask if I had any interest in reading this latest addition to the series! I was especially excited because I hadn’t yet heard of Han Song.
Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book from the editor in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my rating in any way.
Let’s dive in!
My Thoughts on Exploring Dark Short Fiction #5: A Primer to Han Song edited by Eric J. Guignard
In the introduction, the author mentioned having little experience with fiction from Asia but wanted to rectify that. That passage really hit home for me. I’ve just recently started watching Asian horror movies but I have yet to read much from the region. I definitely have to change that as well!
Next, we were on to a biography of Han Song which was short but very sweet. I couldn’t wait to dive into his work after this!
Next up, a slew of stories from Han Song! In between each story, there were wonderfully spooky illustrations created by Michelle Prebich. I loved these so much! This one was my favorite:
Per usual, here are my quick notes on each one-
Earth Is Flat – Translated by Nathaniel Isaacson PhD – 3 Stars
Interesting! I have never seen a tale centering around Christopher Columbus like this. This was certainly a bizarre tale and I definitely couldn’t have guesses where it was going to go!
Transformation Subway – Translated by Nathaniel Isaacson PhD – 3 Stars
Oh my good lord. This was truly a nightmare! I’m petrified of subway trains and such things to begin with because they’re in tunnels. Add onto that a crowded train, let alone one as packed as this one… but a train that goes on and on for ages not stopping and seeming to go through darkness?! No thank you! This story just kept getting more and more bizarre as it went on.
The Wheel of Samsara – 4 Stars
Oh man, if only we could just leave other cultures alone and not feel the need to go in to dissect and change them at our every whim. The idea behind this one was really interesting and I liked that there was quite a bit of mystery.
Two Small Birds – Translated by John Chu – 2 Stars
I’m personally not a huge fan of magical realism to begin with, so this one was a little confusing for me. Reading the note afterward was super helpful! But this one overall was a bit over my head.
Fear of Seeing – Translated by Nathaniel Isaacson PhD – 4 Stars
Oh goodness, this was unnerving! What would you do if your baby was born with too many eyes?! This one just got more and more out of hand as the story continued.
My Country Does Not Dream – Translated by Nathaniel Isaacson PhD – 4 Stars
As someone who has had issues with sleepwalking in the past, this one really freaked me out!
Next up we have an article titled Why Han Song Matters by Michael Arnzen, PHD & In Conversation with Han Song. I loved these two sections! They added more insight into the stories we had just read and then helped the reader get to know the author a bit more.
Lastly, there is an essay by Han Song titled Sending Chinese Science Fiction Overseas: A New Dialogue, translated by Nathaniel Isaacson PhD and then a bibliography of Han Songs works!
My Final Thoughts on Exploring Dark Short Fiction #5: A Primer to Han Song
This was a great introduction to a new-to-me author! While I enjoyed the read and I LOVE the idea behind this series, these stories weren’t super up my alley as I struggle with sci-fi. Even so, I had a great time reading them!
I highly recommend checking this out if you’re into sci-fi, magical realism, and when both of those things are mixed with horror!
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Thanks for reading!