Two authors are featured in this issue: Cixin Liu, with reviews of his novels The Three-Body Problem and The Dark Forest; and David Mitchell, also concerning two books: The Bone Clocks and Slade House. Cixin Liu's stories certainly sound different, but I wasn't prompted to rush out and buy them. I haven't read anything by Mitchell (or even seen the film of Cloud Atlas) but these stories sound appealing, especially The Bone Clocks. Film reviews include The Martian (I wasn't that attracted to the story initially, but the reviews are so good that I'll have to see it); and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (not such a good review, but after the unexpectedly good first film I'll give it a spin)
On to the short stories:
Five Conversations with my Daughter (Who Travels in Time) by Malcolm Devlin, illustrated by Richard Wagner. A father is surprised to find his six-year-old daughter talking to him as if she were an adult. She tells him that a method of time-travelling is to be invented decades into the future which enables some people, in some circumstances, to temporarily send their minds back to occupy the bodies of their younger selves. In several subsequent visits his daughter's older self tries to guide her father. An intriguing and moving story.
We Might Be Sims by Rich Larson. Three criminals choose a reduced sentence – crewing a spaceship on a trial run to Europa – and find themselves doubting the reality of the situation, or even of themselves.
Heartsick by Greg Kurzawa, illustrated by Ben Baldwin. Suppose you could have your heart removed in order to avoid all emotional problems, would it be worth it?
Florida Miracles by Julie C Day, illustrated by Richard Wagner. A difficult relationship played out in a strange present-day fantasy; what if those childhood "imaginary friends" turned out to be real?
Scienceville by Gary Gibson, illustrated by Vince Haig. Scienceville – a fictional utopian city invented by a young man who spends his spare time drawing elaborately detailed maps of the place. Until letters start arriving from people who share his dreams about the place – or even claim that Scienceville is real, somewhere – and tell him that it is important that he finishes the map in order to bring the city into their world. Reminiscent of Tomorrowland in the film I reviewed recently.
Laika by Ken Altabef. Laika was the first dog into space, before Gargarin's historic flight. She died on the mission – or did she? This is the kicking off point for a strange little story about alien contact.
The stories by Devlin (in particular) and Gibson are the stand-out ones for me, good enough to merit places in book anthologies.