The featured author is Neil Williamson, with an interview alongside a review of his first novel, The Moon King. This sounds very interesting, with echoes of Gormenghast and the classic TV series The Prisoner, and is set on an isolated island state with a tradition-bound culture, kept going by ancient machines. One for my reading pile.
Another of the books reviewed appealed to me enough to want to read it: The Three by Sarah Lotz (another debut novel from an established short-story writer). On one day, four passenger planes crash on four different continents, each leaving one survivor, one of whom (the only adult) dies shortly afterwards, leaving a strange message. The story then focuses on the three child survivors, and is a mixture of fantasy and SF.
Of the films and DVDs reviewed, Ice Soldiers seems to be a promising addition to the superhero genre, the new Robocop also gets a good review and Noah sounds as if it might be fun.
On to the stories:
The Posset Pot by Neil Williamson, illustrated by Richard Wagner. A near future in which strange bubbles keep forming and then suddenly disappearing – replacing whatever part of our world is caught inside them (including people) with material from a different universe. The result is a pock-marked planet and a destroyed civilisation, with survivors scrabbling to live while avoiding the bubbles. Sounds grim, but is actually quite intriguing.
The Mortuaries by Katherine E.K. Duckett, illustrated by Warwick Fraser-Coombe. Another dystopian tale of the future, this one a long "novelette". Two huge towers hold the plasticised remains of the dead, set in tableaux, for family members to visit. Their isolated location is about to be ended by the slow-motion collapse of civilisation. Bizarre.
Diving into the Wreck by Val Nolan, illustrated by Wayne Haag. A psychological drama played out during the search for the Eagle, the ascent stage of Apollo 11, which crashed somewhere on the Moon.
Two Truths and a Lie by Oliver Buckram. An odd little two-page game. Baffling.
A Brief Light by Claire Humphrey, illustrated by Richard Wagner. Ghosts are real, everyone can see them, and they have become a considerable nuisance.
Sleepers by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, illustrated by Martin Hanford. Strange horse-like beasts called sleepers keep appearing in the dead of night before disappearing again. A troubled young woman finds peace of mind after meeting them.
Not a particularly memorable crop this time, but my choice for a second reading would definitely be the first story, by Williamson. I've only just noticed that it was written by the author featured elsewhere in this magazine, so that's a good omen for his novel!