cambridge book review

cbr 18 / summer 2011


cbr 18 / summer 2011

Eleven Poems: An Audio Chapbook
Elli Hazit

J.D. Salinger: A Life
Kenneth Slawenski
Reviewed by Norma Gay Prewett

Birds of Wisconsin
B.J. Best
Reviewed by Amy Lou Jenkins

Lord of Misrule
Jaimy Gordon
Reviewed by Bob Wake

The Masturbator
A short story by John Lehman

A short story by Ruben Varda

From the Archives
Origins of FIS (Factory in a Suitcase)
An excerpt from Redshift: Greenstreem
Rod Clark


June 1, 2012 Posted by | biography, fiction, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Ruben Varda
From Voice from the Planet: An Anthology of Living Fiction
Edited by Charles Degelman
Harvard Square Editions 2010


“You’re making progress, Kit, I like your universe. You managed to achieve rapid stabilization. This promises long life without any shock. Tell me, how do you see its future?  What might its zest, or uniqueness, be, so to speak?”

Kit smiled, flattered by the words of her Professor. “You are right, Professor, it is stable, that’s true, but because of this, it is not very lively. Not much happens there. At the moment I do not see any zest, and I’m afraid I have to add one more spatial dimension.”

“And if you continue to play with the initial conditions, without adding a new dimension?”

“Fine, but remember that not much time is left, examinations are coming soon. If you need my assistance, come and see me.”

“Is there anyone left behind the door?” asked the Professor. “Tell them to come in.”

“I believe only God is waiting,” Kit said, gathering her papers.

“Come in, God, come in. As usual you’re the last,” mumbled the Professor. “Well, has there been any progress?”

“I took into account all your remarks, Professor, and look what I got,” said God, unfolding his paper.

“Well, and what have you there, God?” asked the Professor in a tired voice. This group of students was his biggest, and they exhausted him with the results of their numerous simulations.

“You see, Professor, since your last consultation I have considered many different models. You know, my specialty is bio-universes, so I tried to build a model of the universe where at some stage of the development bits and pieces based on silicon or carbon emerge. In the beginning nothing good happened, and even when I succeeded for a short time in creating large molecules, they soon broke up into component parts. But once I got lucky: I managed to create quite a complicated and twisted helix molecule, after which the process went with astonishing speed. And then I set a goal: to create, firstly, a biological object in my image, so that in its appearance it would be like me, and secondly, to ensure that sooner or later the object would realize that by its very existence it is indebted to me and only me.”

“Modesty, God, humbleness! You’re still a student and look at your ambition! You think I do not know where this new fashion comes from? Creationism, or so they call it? And what good is it?  What have you achieved with it, God, tell me.”

God’s mood began to worsen. He had expected praise and support from the Professor, and it turned out that all his efforts were in vain.

Noticing this, the Professor felt his duty to support the talented, but somewhat presumptuous student.

“Do not worry, God, if it does not work with this one, build another universe. Your universe is just a file, and it can always be deleted.”

“I would like to leave it and see what happens with these amusing creatures.”

“You can leave it if you like, but for me everything is clear: your universe has entered into the nonlinear mode. You managed to create life, but it turned out that to sustain one life another one should be destroyed. These amusing creatures, as you call them, will continue to deteriorate and, eventually, they will destroy this very life for which you created your universe. My advice to you, God: Go for a new universe. By the way, how many dimensions did you have there?”

“Initially there were many, but eventually only three spatial and one time dimension survived.”

“That’s it! And does time flow back and forth there, or only in one direction?”

“Only one, Professor,” mumbled God.

“All clear! With only one time coordinate you make them forever hurry, jump like grasshoppers and overtake time, whence all this aggression. Why not try to build inverse bio-universes with one spatial and three time dimensions?” the Professor suggested cheerfully.

“I did try, Professor,” God sighed sadly. “Even worse: they crawl along a single spatial coordinate and perpetually fight, either with ancestors or with descendants, and even with both simultaneously.”

“Well, I do not know what to advise you, God. I am afraid that as long as you stick to your creationism, nothing sensible will come out. Look at Kit and others. They created quiet universes. It is a real pleasure to look at them.”

“You know, Professor, I would have removed this universe and started a new one long ago if not for some amusing creatures. You laugh, but I have become attached to them.”

“I do not understand, God.” The Professor was genuinely surprised. “You mean to tell me that you learned to work at the level of individual creatures? There should be billions of them there! How do you do it?”

“I wrote a little program called ‘Guardian Angel.’ It follows the life of every amusing creature from birth to death, after which it automatically enters the data into the archive and destructs itself. As soon as a new creature is generated, the program copies a new guardian angel for it.”

| Continued >> |


Ruben Varda (Vardapetian) was born in Yerevan, the capital of Soviet Armenia. He wrote and later published in Moscow his first fantasy novel in Russian, The Girl with a Lute. Ruben is now writing his second novel. He received his PhD in physics from the Moscow Lomonosov University and then worked in Armenia, teaching and doing research in in the Yerevan University and in the Academy of Sciences. In 1992 he moved to Denmark and in 1996 was posted by the Danish Ministry of Research to Brussels. Since then he has lived in the Belgian capital, mainly occupied with the management of R&D projects, the latest being on EU-Russia cooperation in nanoelectronics.

June 15, 2011 Posted by | fiction | , , , | Leave a comment