Polica Dubova

Slovensko / English

Jacek Dukaj: V deželi nevernikov

Jacek Dukaj
V deželi nevernikov
Translated by Jana Unuk
Pages: 656
Format: 130x200 mm
Published by KUD Police Dubove
Year of publication: 2021
Edition: Solaris, 8
ISBN 978-961-7020-70-0
ISBN 978-961-7020-72-4 (epub)
Retail price: 27,90 €
Discount price: 22,90 €
E-pub price: 15,90 €

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An anthology by a renowned Polish science fiction writer, containing eight stories set in a technologically advanced future where humankind wanders through the vastness of space. 

The short story collection In the Land of Unbelievers contains eight anthologised tales by Jacek Dukaj, one of the most esteemed representatives of contemporary Polish science fiction and fantasy. His prose bursts with radical ideas, concepts, models of future and alternative worlds, and last but not least, linguistic ingenuities and neologisms. Yet the author combines the genre’s classic thematic underpinnings, such as technological development, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence, with questions of metaphysics, ontology, and ethics, of human origins, beginnings and endings, all the world’s being and doing. If Dukaj’s vision is predominantly a gloomy one, this is because it mirrors our present, transposing it into the experimental conditions of fictional worlds. The only constant is human nature, which endures, unchanging, through the vicissitudes of time and place. Yet these advanced technological realities also contain within them the threatening, the mysterious, and the unpredictable, as if drawn directly from the depths of prehistoric myth or the unconscious. 

In a world where the role of science has been supplanted by magic, an empire wages centuries-long wars against the barbarians that threaten its borders, while an amoral lust for power inevitably leads to betrayal (The Iron General). In a hostile marshland in the midst of uncharted space, interpersonal relations between humans and their dreamed-up creations, including a Native American game-tracker, deteriorate despite the initial promise of a brighter future, while a liberated woman, a leader, finds herself demoted to the historical roles of wife and mother (IACTE). On a newly discovered planet, ruthless human exploiters encounter the ghost magic of yet-unrealised beings from the future (Flykiller). A group of space conquerors finds themselves on a parallel Earth where Jesus Christ, who did not die on the cross, has brought about a civilisation marked by boundless love, which presents the newcomers with the greatest ordeal imaginable (Christ’s Earth). Against the backdrop of local conflicts in Africa, a wealthy Western entrepreneur predicts and attempts to intercept a divine revelation, yet the rules of the game are unexpectedly altered by the actual coming of Christ (Medjugorje). Literary characters bump up against their ambiguous ontological status and yearn for evidence of their humanity, such as in the context of a computer game (Irrehaare) or upon encountering their “creator” (IACTE), whilst an artwork growing in the middle of a planetary wasteland interrogates the role of the artist as demiurge (The Cathedral). In the titular novella In Partibus Infidelium, a short history of space conquest through the means of evangelism, humanity encounters the representatives of alien species, yet it turns out to be impossible to determine the boundaries of their recognition – for what is the exact point at which life is imbued with a soul? 

Jana Unuk

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Co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

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