Some intriguing book reviews in the Jan/Feb issue of the SFF magazine, two of which prompted me to place immediate orders. One is The Eidolon by Libby McGugan who is also the featured author. Experiments into advanced physics at CERN raise fears of an uncontrollable chain reaction if they are not stopped, and one of the scientists there is recruited by a shadowy organisation to achieve just that. The other is Dream London by Tony Ballantyne: something very strange has happened to the City of London and to those living in it; is it a dream or a nightmare? Another couple of books I noted as sounding very promising were Drakenfeld by Mark Charan Newton (a combination of historical fantasy and detective story, set in the late Roman Empire and reminiscent of Guy Gavriel Kay), and On the Steel Breeze by Alastair Reynolds (part of the Poseidon's Children sequence). It's a long time since I read anything by Reynolds and I have some catching up to do.
Seven short stories this time:
The Damaged by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, illustrated by Ben Baldwin. A woman who works at a factory making life-like androids finds herself fascinated by the damaged rejects she collects from the street, and in what causes them to stop functioning after a few years.
Bad Times to be in the Wrong Place by David Tallerman, illustrated by Richard Wagner. A man dissatisfied with his life is perturbed when he meets some people who appear to be from another reality; is our Earth real, or just a temporary back-up copy?
The Labyrinth of Thorns by C Allegra Hawksmoor, illustrated by Dave Senecal. An investigator infiltrating an illegal organisation undergoes a memory implant. What effect will this have on his sanity?
Beneath the Willow Branches by Caroline M Yoachim, illustrated by Martin Hanford. A neurosurgeon tries to revive his wife, who is in a coma as a result of a problem with a memory implant (again!). But to try to retrieve her consciousness involves meddling with time.
Predvestniki by Greg Kurzawa, illustrated by Richard Wagner. A visitor to Moscow notices strange towers beginning to appear in the view from his bedroom window, but somehow he can never quite locate them on foot. There is something ominous about them….
Lilacs and Daffodils by Rebecca Campbell. Contrasting takes on elements of a child's memories at different stages of her life; are these real, or an artificial construct?
Wake Up, Phil by Georgina Bruce, illustrated by Richard Wagner. A woman in a dystopian world divided into two totally opposed commercial forces is startled by the nature of her neighbour. Or is her perception being changed by the dieting pills her employer has given her to test?
Memory, time, reality and states of consciousness are the themes of these stories, which make them rather dreamlike (or nightmarish). I can't say that these are especially to my taste, but Kurzawa's story stuck in my mind and is the one I'd choose to read again.