Time Gifts :: Zoran Živković

Time Gifts

by Zoran Živković

Translated from Serbian by Alice Copple-Tošić

A mysterious visitor comes to see three desperate human beings: an astronomer in his prison cell the night before his execution for the ultimate heresy; a paleolinguist with a wasted life behind her who has been forgotten by everybody in her dusty basement office; an old watchmaker with a dark, painful spot in his past that has haunted him for decades. The visitor has a unique but ambiguous time-gift for each one of them. His true identity is only known by an insane artist locked up in her asylum atelier. But who would believe an artist in this world, even if she were not insane?

Runner-up for the 1998 NIN Award

Also included in Impossible Stories I


  • As might be expected of a European academic trained in literary theory, Živković mingles postmodern flourishes—self-reflexivity, deconstructionist ruminations—with the materials of speculative fiction. Overall, he perhaps most strongly resembles Italo Calvino in the latter’s fantastic vein. Surrealism, incongruous introspection, teasing narrative geometries, and startling systems of hyperbolic wit shape and illuminate his yarns, lending them an Escheresque elegance.
    —Nick Gevers, Locus
  • Think of the Imaginative as a vast ocean, in which are located a number of islands, one of them called American genre sf, another called (or at least inhabited by) Umberto Eco, another for Patrick Süskind, and another for Zoran Živković. It’s not a matter of turning in “other directions,” because all directions of the Sea of Imagination are part of the whole, and wherever he turns, Zoran Živković adds to our archipelago and enriches all of us.
    — Darrell Schweitzer, The New York Review of Science Fiction
  • …sophisticated, philosophical fantasy of a high order.
    —Tom Arden, Interzone
  • Provocative and compelling, these are stories that will tease you long after the pages are completed, the questions raised eluding any definitive answer. An impressive work.
    — William Thompson, SFSite.com
  • Živković writes with a light and unpretentious touch—welcome and refreshing in the wake of post-Borges, post-Calvino practitioners of labored postmodern fiction. His tales are strangely stimulating not so much for their philosophical insight as for their intimate appreciation of contemporary readers’ experience of time and space.
    —Publishers Weekly


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