Literature: writing science-fiction
This story is published in the anthology A Polish Book of Monsters
published in the USA end of 2010. More
- curriculum vitae in short
An outsider may think that by turns I betray science to literature and literature to science. It is quite the opposite in fact, because the two of them complete each other perfectly. Humanistic perception is profitably restrained by scientific mind and, on the other hand civilizing contemplation does not allow the mind to crust with rigid principles. Saying it in another words, science allows to examine the world with analytical method, whereas literature gives opportunity of philosophical synthesis and generalisation. These two lovers do not snatch away time from each other too much, since while working on science fiction I have a rest from chemistry, and the other way round. Each of us should have such an emergency valve in order to get ease from time to time, otherwise sooner or later he/she will be hit by neurosis or alcoholism.
Let's concentrate on facts due to biography. One can say, I was born on the ruins of after war Warsaw, as it was in 1946. I did not like school as I had to swat up, and my contemporaries resembled a pack of wild dogs, Dingo. My favourite subject was Physical Education, and as they say, I even was a sprint champion. Unfortunately, I got rid of this talent very quickly. I hardly tolerated team-games; evidently since the beginning I have had inclinations to individualism. My next love was biology, probably because of the fact that I had a very nice teacher. In senior classes I preferred, of course, Polish lessons, anyway, to my luck they were well prepared. Putting aside my modesty for another time I can say that writing has been my good point since I started scribing. Teachers were smacking and praising. Speaking was my shortcoming - I have been unwillingly jabbering until now, but truly I do not regret it.
I graduated from Warsaw Technical University in 1969, and in 1978 I took my doctor's degree from chemistry there. Later I went three times on training to the USA, where I spent two years. At present I am a tutor on a Faculty of Pharmacy at Medical University of Warsaw, where I teach students the basics of Physical Chemistry and spectroscopy, and I do research connected with the structure of drugs. The results of my research have been analyzed in 40 publications, 38 of which are in English-based periodicals. Besides I am a frequent guest (but not maniacal) of scientific conferences and SF conventions as well as active publicist, mainly within the field of widely understood popularization of science - I have published over 100 articles and pars in all possible periodicals. The advancement of science I also realize by co-organizing the Science Festivals in Warsaw (from 1997 until now), especially at my home Faculty of Pharmacy and at the Association of Polish Writers.
I made my literary debut in 1980. The first story ("Duel") was published in weekly "Politechnik", and until now I have published in periodicals and books 70 works. I have published 10 books (8 collections of stories and 2 novels): "Szlaki istnienia" (Tracks of Existence), Nasza Księgarnia PH 1984, debut; "Homo determinatus", Poznańskie PH 1986; "Opus na trzy pociski" (Three Missiles Opus) Iskry PH 1988; "Spotkanie z wiecznościa" (Meeting with Eternity) Nasza Księgarnia PH 1989; a novel "Marcjanna i aniołowie" (Marcjanna and Angels) Poznańskie PH 1989; "Samotny myśliwy" (The Lonely Hunter) Alfa PH 1994; "Klatka pełna aniołów" (The Cage Full of Angels) Prószyński i S-ka PH 1999; "Łowcy meteorów" (Hunters of Meteors) Sorus PH 2000; "Śmierć ma zapach szkarłatu" (The death smells of scarlet) Fabryka Słów PH 2003 and "Biały rój" Literackie PH 2007. I was given award for my literary output, among the others from literary monthly "Fantastyka", Polish Society of SF Lovers and SFAN Club. In 1995 the story "Klatka pełna aniołów" (The Cage Full of Angels) received the nomination to Janusz Zajdel Award. Since 1991 I have been the member of Society of Polish Writers. Almost everything I have written is ascribed to widely understood science fiction genre. Let's Parowski speak, who is surely right when saying, "Zimniak prefers to use genre to stimulate thinking. Even if he cultivates science fiction of adventure, it's mainly psychological one. The author tends to ask questions about the nature of our world and the universe, which surround us".
Apart from literature and science I have another interests, and there fighting for the lacking time begins. I love wild nature, but above all - the sea and the mountains. I am the licensed diver, mountainous tramp, canoeist, traveller, photographer, and the explorer of the mysteries of female psyche. However, time dedicated to these trifles is not irrevocably wasted, because fruits of all these hobbies can be perfectly reflected in literature.
Written by Andrzej Zimniak
My texts were many times reviewed, commented, interpreted
and, of course, I was not always praised. Here I have a rather unconventional
review of my writing sent by Michael Kandel, the translator of Stanislaw Lem. It
is concise, but give you a flavor of my stories.
Favorites of Michael Kandel:
"Bring me the heart of Mother Theresa"
"Cage full of angels"
"Extract this world, Evitt"
During Eurocon '2000 in Gdynia I had a pleasure to meet Michael Kandel, a translator of Lem's books in the USA. We arranged that I'll send him couple of my stories. Without delay I packed 3 books and copies of some stories, and after about two months I was really glad about following e-mail letter:
"Praise for the Author
Thanks for your patience. I've been reading your stories on the commuter train. Ordinarily, I don't read at length: typically, I get a sense of an author and then stop, because I am not personally engaged in the writing (and because I have little free time). But your writing engaged me, was entertaining, was fun. My thanks as a reader.
"Przynieś mi serce Matki Teresy" ("Bring me the heart of Mother Theresa")
"Klatka pełna aniołów" ("Cage full of angels")
"Rozpakuj ten świat, Evitt" ("Extract this world, Evitt")
It was a surprise to me that, although you are a scientist, your fiction is not "hard" SF. You have an imagination (seeing other worlds) that is delightful and superior to that of most of your contemporaries, and your imagination comes with lovely, memorable poetry."
New York, Nov. 2, 2000, Michael Kandel
Published by permission of the translator
A Cage Full of Angels
by Andrzej Zimniak
translated by Michael Kandel
I hawked a gob in his navel.
It takes aim, but I have aim too.
Spitting in one's bellybutton is an insult not punishable by law. The insulted party, as a consequence, gains the right to respond physically--i.e., his response also is not punishable by law. No legal code covers the escalation that ensues. A moral code maybe. I've always been careful about such details, and so far it has paid off.
Of late I had been visiting a number of colorful, so-so, and totally dead towns in search of the Big Bad Nigger. His fame had preceded him and followed him, but I was in no rush. I knew that sooner or later we would meet and that the meeting would be as amusing as it was of use. Definitely of use to me, possibly to him as well.
I had heard much about him. They said he could bang a woman for two days without getting off, kill a dog with two fingers, and remove a punk's head by karate chop with practically no room to swing. Even if only a tenth of that was true, he would make a nice coot.
So I find the guy finally in a resort town as bleached as a clam shell, where combed couples walk the boardwalk and available houris pose waiting on the beach. Half the people assembled in the evening at a dive where there were matches.
The Big Bad Nigger turned out to be white, with olive skin and a torso glistening with oil. He wore only a studded vest and high boots. Before him a row of beer bottles had been set up; these he sent flying at the delighted crowd with the aid of his gargantuan whang. Obviously getting your beer in midair like that cost more. The guy had a topless stacked chick helping him, to keep him inspired. Ridiculous.
"You publicly insult the young lady," I said quietly but loud enough to be heard. "Even for your type that's low."
The Big Bad Nigger stopped smiling, or rather, the grimace of a smile froze on his big-jawed boxer's face. His out-of-focus eyes showed the presence of drugs in the blood. Scarcely had I formed the thought that he would be of little value when he grabbed a bottle and hurled it at me. This time normally, by hand.
Just before the missile reached me, I bent back, caught the bottle by its bottom, and resumed a vertical position. I popped the cap, took a swallow, and flung the beer away. It bounced along the floor, leaving a trail of foam.
"I only need my hands," I said, raising them. They were small. I was in the form then of a slender Slavic youth with a misshapen nose, a nondescript face, and a shock of straw-colored hair.
That's when I went and hawked in his navel.
The Big Bad Nigger was not entirely without class, however. He didn't sputter or come at me with furious curses. I gave him a little show of my stuff, as a pro forma warning. A touch of sportsmanship doesn't hurt when one has attained a certain level.
My opponent now broke into a smile designed to raise goose bumps. It got so quiet in the place, you could hear the beer gurgling from the fallen bottle. With one hand he pushed aside the table that held the bottles, with the other the stool that held the topless stacked chick, who was afraid to move. The guy's whang still poked stubbornly, respectably, from between the tassels of his vest.
"Apologize, child, apologize very nicely, and I will spare your life," he said.
Warsaw and Zakopane, March-May 1994
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