I gathered two things from the varied book and film reviews in this issue of the SFF magazine: first, that none of the films is really worth my time to watch, either due to their quality or to the fact that the plots don't interest me; second, that one of the books reviewed does look intriguing: The Curve of the Earth, by Simon Morden. Another one to add to the reading pile…
This issue sadly notes the passing of two very different authors: Jack Vance, a master of a golden age of SF, whose first published work emerged in 1945, and Iain M. Banks, who wasn't even born until nine years after that but still established a high reputation as an imaginative and literary writer.
Six short stories, as follows:
The Pursuit of the Whole is Called Love by L.S. Johnson, illustrated by Wayne Haag. A very strange story of two itinerant people who are different aspects of the same person.
Automatic Diamanté by Philip Suggars, illustrated by Richard Sampson. A tactical AI needs psychiatric treatment as a result of its war experiences.
Just as Good by Jacob A. Boyd, illustrated by Richard Wagner. Another bizarre tale, with irresistible aliens who only seem interested in exchanging people's possessions.
The Cloud Cartographer by V.H. Leslie, illustrated by Martin Hanford. Clouds covering the Earth have become so dense that in some places it is possible to walk on them. One man is sent on a voyage of exploration.
Futile the Winds by Rebecca Schwarz, illustrated by Daniel Bristow-Bailey. Martian colonists sent on a one-way trip are reaching the limits of their survival.
The Frog King's Daughter by Russ Colson, illustrated by Richard Wagner. A successful businessman has himself transported into the body of a frog in a bet that goes wrong – but can he save his daughter from the threat to her life?
All of these stories are very much at the peculiar end of the SFF spectrum and certainly won't be to everyone's taste (including mine). The stories by Leslie and Colson appealed to me the most and seem likely to stick in my memory.
Finally in a second essay, Jonathan McCalmont continues his theme of arguing that new SF should be looking forward, not back, and should not be bound by its traditions. Judging by the apparently endless series of remakes and remixes of superhero, vampire and zombie films pouring out of Hollywood, it would seem that the producers of the visual versions of SFF don't agree.