Sunday, May 31, 2015

Book Review: Resonance by John Meaney

‘Resonance’ brings John Meaney’s ‘Ragnarok’ trilogy to a conclusion – a multi-stranded historical, contemporary, space opera and far-future epic tying together several viewpoint characters in disparate times and locations.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Book Review: Dark Eden by Chris Beckett

In my 2008 review of Chris Beckett’s Edge Hill prize-winning collection ‘The Turing Test’ I described the short story ‘Dark Eden’ thus:
 ‘…one of the best short stories I have ever read...'

‘Dark Eden’ the novel was released in 2012 and, with the imminent release of the sequel ‘Mother of Eden’, now seems an opportune time to reminisce about the book of one of my favourite short stories.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Return to Reviewing

It's almost 4 years since I stopped regularly reviewing books at SF Crowsnest. Since then I've posted the occasional review when I've been sent something independently. And each time I do there's a polite invitation to return to the fold...

So finally I've decided it's time. My first selection of books to review for SF Crowsnest has arrived and reviews will be appearing in the coming weeks...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Rose Coloured Tentacles

My flash fiction octopus story Rose Coloured Tentacles is on-line today at Perihilion. This is one of those stories where I thought of the title first, then spent several months mulling ideas over to find a story to go with it.

This is my second story at Perihilion, following last year's multi-author collaboration Crowd Control.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Book Review: The Best Japanese Science Fiction

This anthology of Japanese science fiction was first published in 1988 and is comprised of stories dating back to the 60’s, so in terms of my interest in comparing SF from other cultures, it doesn’t really give me an idea of what contemporary Japanese SF is like. What I did find interesting is that, similar to Anglophone SF of the same period, the protagonists are all male, and female characters play little, if any, active roles in the stories. I can only assume that this has changed with time as it has done to some degree in English SF.


Many of the stories are set in contemporary or near-future Japan, and even where aspects of society are obviously futuristic, the settings themselves are not startlingly different from today. I found several of the stories to be rather, I don’t know, na├»ve? They told stories of things that were intended to be amazing, but were not at all surprising.  Again, I’m assuming this is due to the age of the stories, and to the fact that I’m very well read in SF.
One thing that stood out is that the stories are often narrated in the style of a parable rather than from an individual point of view. Another thing that particularly struck me is that none of the protagonists have names. They are always referred to as ‘the young man’, ‘the father’, ‘the boy’ etc. In fact the only characters who are named are the non-humans. Again, I wonder if this is typical of Japanese fiction, or just of that time period?

Two stories: ‘The Road to the Sea’ and ‘Fnifmum’ stood out among the collection, the kind of tales that leave you feeling satisfied at have read them. Then I came to the final entry, ‘The Legend of the Paper Spaceship’, a novelette by Tetsu Yano, described as ‘the dean of Japanese SF writers’. For this story, ignore everything else I have written. This is a classic in any time and place.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Book Review: The World and the Stars, Edited by Chris Butler

I’m sure I won’t be the first person to tell you that anthologies and short story collections are very rarely produced by the big publishers any more. This is partly because the average reader is more interested in novels, so short story collections sell much fewer copies, making them less viable for big publishers. Of course, people like you and me enjoy our short stories, so we’re always happy when another anthology comes along.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.