The short story “A Short Encyclopedia of Lunar Seas” by Ekaterina Sedia was published for the first time in 2012.
This guide to the lunar seas allows to appreciate its inhabitants and its connections with Russia. The lunar seas are full of life and magic, marked by the stories of the people living and working in one of them but also of those of the people who go to visit them for various reasons.
“A Short Encyclopedia of Lunar Seas” is a pseudo-tale developed as a guide that provides brief descriptions of the various lunar seas. From the beginning the reader can see very well that this isn’t a realistic guide because the Moon described is quite different from what we know with its inhabitants, not only human, and phenomena such as rain.
You might think of a Moon of the future that was in some way terraformed but there are references to creatures such as mermaids and in general the tone reminds of some ancient books describing alleged realms where there were dragons and other mythological creatures. This is a short story that can be cataloged as fantasy even if, as often happens with Ekaterina Sedia’s works, the genre label is limiting.
This guide begins with a fantasy connection between the Moon and Russia claiming that whatever disappears from the Earth ends up in the Moscow Sea (Moscoviense Sea), a lunar sea that actually exists, the largest of the hidden side of the Moon. In this case the Russian soul isn’t only the expression that indicates a literary tradition but also concerns metaphysical elements in the story.
The tones of “A Short Encyclopedia of Lunar Seas” in many ways have a fairy-tale flavor. The real character is this Moon somehow magic while the human characters that are mentioned here and there only serve to describe the wonders that can be found in the lunar seas.
Eventually considering “A Short Encyclopedia of Lunar Seas” with moments at times poetic as a fairy tale may be the best approach in reading this story. You can find it also in the anthology “Citizen Komarova Finds Love”.