Featured author in the July-August issue of this British SFF magazine is Jeff VanderMeer, with both an interview and a review of his book Finch. I've only read one of his books - Veniss Underground, reviewed on this blog in December 2007 - and was quite impressed by it, but I did skip over the more gruesome bits. I probably won't read Finch, since it seems to be a similar blend of horror set in a dystopian future and therefore not really to my taste, but VanderMeer's story-telling skills are such that I suspect I would enjoy it if I read it. However, I have too many books to read already, and not enough time.
The usual book, film, TV and DVD reviews included the final series of BBC TV's Ashes to Ashes. I was pleased to see that the reviewer liked it too. There are five short stories this time:
Mannikin by Paul Evanby, illustrated by Ben Baldwin. During an alternative American War of Independence, a scientist on the Dutch West Indian island of Saint Eustatius works to replace slaves by developing artificial humanoids. A bizarre plot and a story strong on atmosphere.
Candy Moments by Antony Mann, illustrated by Richard Wagner. Some time in the future, a mysterious organisation begins offering a unique service to unhappy people; a process which removes the pain of such memories. The after-care treatment consists of a particularly enticing brand of chocolate. One man is tempted to participate because of the guilt and grief he feels over his wife's death, but is there more to this than meets the eye?
The Melancholy by Toby Litt, illustrated by Paul Drummond. Even an intelligent computer programme, switched from machine to machine as different tasks require, feels a need for a home.
Alternate Girl's Expatriate Life by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, illustrated by David Senecal. An artificially constructed girl from a land of robots tries to settle in a human area. A surreal take on identity and belonging.
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark Matter by Jim Hawkins, illustrated by Richard Wagner. A more conventional SF tale of an orchestra of expert killers which tours rebellious worlds, wooing them with music; but if that doesn't work….
Being something of a traditionalist I enjoyed Hawkins' story the most, although Mannikin was also memorable.
Sad news this week, of the death of Colleen Morse at the age of 60. Often using the name Ms TigerHawk, she was the founder of both the Classic Science Fiction and Modern Science Fiction Yahoo discussion groups, plus several others. Despite her poor health in recent years, she seemed to have boundless energy, reading a phenomenal number of books, writing a couple of novels of which one has been published to date (using the name April Knight) and also taking part in a variety of social and political activities. She will be missed.