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Eugen Egner, born 1951, is a writer, cartoonist and an occasional musician. His literary oeuvre is characterized by the comical, weird and grotesque and encompasses novels, novellas, short stories as well as radio plays for the Westdeutscher Rundfunk. His cartoons have appeared in the satirical magazine Titanic since 1989. In 2003 he was awarded the Kassel Literary Prize for Grotesque Humor and in 2011 the Bernd Pfarr "Sondermann" Prize for Comical Art. Egner's novel Androiden auf Milchbasis has been translated into English (Androids from Milk, Dedalus Books 2001). Totlachen im Schlaf, his latest collection of short stories, was published in 2012.

The Eisenberg Constant by Eugen Egner

"The Eisenberg Constant" (first published in 2001 as part of a prose collection of the same name) tells the story of Henry Selinger who leads an easy life inside the eponymous time loop. The simulated reality resets on a weekly basis, thus enabling the protagonist to start afresh every Monday morning.

One day, various "bugs" start to occur in the system: Strange voices can be heard from the bathroom, and the radio program grows increasingly bizarre. Furthermore, Selinger is having these disturbing nightmares about a monstrous cadaver, which later turns out to be the ape god Shaprak: His space ship has crashed on a field nearby and is apparently affecting not only Selinger's mental state, but also the whole community …

Egner's style in this piece of speculative fiction is full of the grotesque and the nonsensical, the language is quirky, inventive and, as always, completely sui generis. The result is menacing, zany silliness, culminating in a decidedly absurd finale.

CURATOR'S NOTE

A well-known artist in Germany, Egner was brought to our attention as a writer by Daniel Ableev. Daniel was very helpful to us as we researched international fiction for our upcoming anthology, The Big Book of Science Fiction, introducing us to many German writers not yet translated into English. As ever when doing research for a huge anthology, we encounter other works we want to showcase. We love this long time-warping, fantastical story and thought it made sense to provide it to readers as a separate e-book—with artwork by Egner himself! Look for an interview with Egner coming soon on Weird Fiction Review. – Ann VanderMeer

 

REVIEWS

  • "Think Kafka, think Spike Milligan, think Monty Python. But don't think you have encountered anything like this before."

    – The Times, London
  • "The maddest scientist in European literature."

    – The Times, London
 

BOOK PREVIEW

Excerpt

"A machine of immense proportions has crashed on an open field, thereby being driven a good way into the ground. There is no explanation to be found other than that the locomotive-sized, iron apparatus must have fallen from a great height and for unknown reasons. Now it is towering a good twenty meters up into the air in a slanting, but upright position. Its origin and purpose remain completely obscure. Rumor has it that inside the cab-like part of the machine a monstrous body not of worldly appearance has been found. Furthermore, claims have been made about it being none other than the inlay-faced ape god Shaprak, his crash foreboding great disaster. There is, however, no trace of the body or any evidence of its actual existence to be found."