Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Fiction #4 Review

Fiction Magazine #4
Review by Gareth D Jones

Since issue #3, Fiction magazine has moved to PDF format, with the possibility of moving back to print in the future. I don’t find on-line magazines as exciting as having an actual printed magazine in your hand, but the editors are maintaining the standard of fiction established in their first two print editions.

The first and longest story is An Act of Mercy by Sarah Hughes. It’s a multi-stranded story that initially left me confused due to the similarity of character’s names in different threads (Ryan, Rayne, Reuben). This meant that I had to keep checking back , breaking the flow of the story. Several typos didn’t help too. Getting past these problems, it was an interesting story of viruses, nanobots, androids and a sprinkling of very diverse characters to add to the interest. I’m tempted to say it was almost too ambitious, introducing enough characters to sustain a much longer piece. The complex plot was entertaining though and the android characters were particularly well developed.

Fellow Flash Fictioneer Gareth L Powell’s contribution is A Necklace of Ivy, a realistically rendered tale set against the backdrop of a mysterious alien plague sweeping through Cornwall. A young couple are making their way out of the county in advance of an army curfew, but make the mistake of stopping for one last break. The realistic dialogue and briefly sketched description make it a compelling little tale.

Andrew Knighton’s The Secret in the Sewers is great fun, a cross between Alan Quartermain and The Wild, Wild West in which two intrepid, presumably Victorian, explorers discover something unusual beneath the city of Venice. It’s written with flair and charisma and is very entertaining.

The old question of Artificial Intelligence and self awareness is given an intelligent outing in Bob Lock’s Do We Not Bleed? A hung-over scientist is excited at the prospect of solving the aforementioned problem, but discovers something rather startling. Again the characterisation and dialogue are realistically portrayed and result in an intriguing story.

I still like my magazines to arrive in the post though.

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