Saturday, 28 July 2012
The July/August issue of the British SFF magazine includes an interview with fantasy author Juliet E. McKenna plus a review of her novel Darkening Skies, sequel to Dangerous Waters. The other eight books reviewed include A Dance With Dragons, part of George R R Martin's Song of Ice and Fire sequence, which I avoided reading as I'm watching the Game of Thrones TV series; and something quite different, Three Science Fiction Novellas by J H Rosny aïné, the pseudonym of a Belgian writer who is described as belonging "somewhere between Jules Verne and H G Wells". The three stories, published between 1888 and 1910, are set in the distant past, the present day and the far future. I think I'll get this one - it sounds intriguingly different.
The usual extensive film and DVD reviews, one of the consistent highlights of the magazine, include Prometheus (not too complimentary), Iron Sky and John Carter (both quite positive and on my to-watch list).
Five short stories, rather more varied than usual.
Steamgothic by Sean McMullen, illustrated by Jim Burns. The wreck of an unknown Victorian steam-powered flying machine is discovered in an old barn. Had it actually flown, and could it be restored to flying condition? What seems like an interesting but mainstream tale changes into something rather different at the end. An entertaining read.
Ship's Brother by Aliette de Bodard, illustrated by Joe Burns. Another of this author's "Xuya continuity" in which the Chinese discover America before Columbus. A mother's difficult relationship with her son following the birth of a daughter designed to function as a ship's navigator. Strong on atmosphere but doesn't really make much sense on its own.
One Day in Time City, by David Ira Cleary, illustrated by Richard Wagner. An intriguing notion - a linear city in which people's ages change minute by minute, from very young to elderly, as they travel through the age zones from one end to the other (or back again). This is the background to a story of constant infighting between the two-wheel and four-wheel transport factions.
Railroad Angel by Gareth L. Powell. An old hippy, dying of drugs and exposure, has a revelation at the end of his life.
Invocation of the Lurker by C.J.Paget, illustrated by Dave Senecal. A future world in which a woman from the most privileged stratum of society is cast down to the lower orders after committing a terrible crime. What will she - or won't she - do to get back? This is a winner of the James White Award for non-professional writers. I found it a bit confusing as the nature of the society, and of the crime, were none too clear.
For me, McMullen's story was the stand-out one in this issue. Well-written, interesting and enjoyable even before the surprise ending. The kind of story which makes you hope that the author will carry on and write a lot more about the situation the protagonists are left in.