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The Trans Space Octopus Congregation, by Bogi Takács

Review copy provided by the author.

Takács has not chosen this title accidentally. While this collection is not a single theme, its constellation of themes undulates around gender, fluidity, and form, with the alien and the other taking varying roles according to the needs of the story. The ordering of the stories has a particularly liquid flow, from one into the next in ways that inform and illuminate with no one theme or tone ever having a chance to grow stale.

I have major issues with the prior claim (NOT by Takács) that science fiction is the literature of cognitive estrangement (but that is, as they say, another panel–literally, that is a panel I will be on at Readercon next week, discussing the classic Darko Suvin essay on this topic)–but this science fiction is deeply and profoundly estranged, and at the same time is interested in healing that estrangement in the ways that healing is meaningful and possible–and the ways in which efforts toward that healing do not themselves cause greater harm. That is: recognition of estrangement is also a possible good in these stories. Diversity both of problem and of solution is recognized here.

No collection has every story for every reader, but so very much of this was for me–despite almost none of it being “for” my demographic. I am not trans, not Hungarian, not Jewish, not for that matter a cephalopod or an alien, but this is exactly the kind of science fiction where the beauty of not being “same” shines through the most. Recommended.

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