PL + 50. Histories of the Future

Selected and introduced by Jacek Dukaj
PL + 50. Histories of the Future
  • WL
    Kraków 2004
    © Jacek Dukaj
    558 pages
    ISBN 83-08-03564-7

PL + 50 is an anthology of pieces by 23 different authors. Mostly traditional short stories of a similar length, they are creative visions of the future by the best Polish fantasy writers, with a supporting cast of writers who do not specialise in science fiction (including Olga Tokarczuk, Karol Maliszewski and Daniel Odija). The anthology also includes pieces by people who do not write fiction (including Zygmunt Bauman and Jadwiga Staniszkis) as well as some stars of the literary world such as Stanisław Lem and Ryszard Kapuściński. They were all given the same commission, which was to envisage or rather imagine Poland in the year 2054, exactly 50 years after joining the European Union. All the contributors have set about this task splendidly. One of the book’s primary merits is the great variety of visions and forms they have come up with. Some have approached the task very seriously, others plainly took it with a pinch of salt, and yet others have let themselves be carried away by their own scientific or journalistic passions. It turns out that the most commonly adopted approach to writing about Poland in 50 years time is as a dystopia, and so negative scenarios prevail: Poland under Chinese occupation, a return to pagan beliefs, a state of terror run by feminists and Eurocrats – these are just some of the many pessimistic, dispiriting images. The project was initiated by Jacek Dukaj, whose brilliant preface introduces the anthology. He has also included one of his own stories, Crux, which according to the reviewers is the best piece of all.

Dariusz Nowacki