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  • 20/02/2023 19:03 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Cosmogramma cover

    Cosmogramma by Courttia Newland

    (Canongate, 2021)

    Reviewed by Ksenia Shcherbino

    Cosmogramma is a kaleidoscope of a book, or rather, a kaleidoscope of worlds fuelled by sadness, and alienation, and hope that, against all odds, we will somehow make it all work. The settings of his stories are all very different, but the main themes are repeated over and over: dislocation, displacement, non-belonging, marginalisation, self-destruction, (self)-rejection and a vehement, almost frantic, wish to be understood—and to understand how you and your world came around. There are no answers in this book, yet it asks the right type of questions, questions that, even in a democratic society, we rarely ask out aloud. Who are we? Where do we belong? What if we do not fit in? Where do we go? And who comes after us? In the post-Brexit, post-pandemic world, with the raging war between Russia and Ukraine that bares—again—very inconvenient truths about human beings, Newland stories, though post-apocalyptic and clearly speculative, hit a nerve.

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    Review from BSFA Review 18 - Download your copy here.

  • 17/02/2023 20:42 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Out of the Ruins cover

    Out of the Ruins edited by Preston Grassmann

    (Titan Books, 2021)

    Reviewed by Andy Sawyer

    Apocalypses and end-times are among the most popular sf subjects, but there’s always something slightly odd about the combination of anxiety and pleasure in reading them. “Apocalypse” is more than “disaster” or even “catastrophe”. It really is the underlining finality of everything. Hence, a collection of “apocalypse” stories is bound to be uneven and challenging. There is almost certainly going to be an overload in a series of stories which rip up and throw away human history in inventive ways.

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    Review from BSFA Review 18 - Download your copy here.

  • 14/02/2023 19:42 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Randalls Round: Nine Nightmares cover

    Randalls Round: Nine Nightmares by Eleanor Scott

    (British Library, 2021)

    Reviewed by Maureen Kincaid Speller

    The 1920s were a rich period for ghost story writing, exemplified by the stories that appeared in Cynthia Asquith’s Ghost Book series, the first volume of which came out in 1927. That featured work from familiar names, such as Algernon Blackwood, Oliver Onions, Hugh Walpole, and May Sinclair. Other writers producing work at this time included E.F. Benson, H. Russell Wakefield, and William Fryer Harvey. M.R. James himself was still occasionally publishing short stories, and a collected edition of his short stories would appear in 1931.

    In the midst of all this, in 1929, without much fanfare, the publisher Ernest Benn issued a collection of nine short stories by Helen Leys, writing as Eleanor Scott. Randalls Round was described as a collection of ‘weird and uncanny’ stories but marketed very poorly so that it sank almost without trace. Needless to say, copies of that edition are not easily come by. Scott’s fortunes were revived, to a degree, in the 1970s and 1980s, when Hugh Lamb and Richard Dalby included some of her stories in their anthologies but it was not until 1996, when Ash-Tree Press produced a new hardback edition of the collection, that it was possible to properly see what the fuss was all about. Now, nearly thirty years later, the British Library has published a reasonably priced paperback edition and a new generation of ghost-story aficionados can see what the fuss is all about.

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    Review from BSFA Review 18 - Download your copy here.

  • 11/02/2023 11:16 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Moonday Letters cover

    The Moonday Letters by Emmi Itäranta

    (Titan Books, 2022)

    Reviewed by Dave M. Roberts

    When Lumi travels back to Mars after a break, she is to meet up with her spouse Sol who has been working on a major clandestine project. This doesn’t go to plan, as Sol doesn’t show up at the hotel as expected. The only clues that Lumi has are a few short and faintly cryptic messages from Sol, implying their work is proving more demanding than expected but they should meet up shortly. Told as an epistolary novel, the bulk of the narrative consists of letters from Lumi to Sol, exploring the possibilities of what has happened to them. At the same time, she is going back over their relationship in an effort to understand what may have happened, but possibly just as importantly why.

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    Review from BSFA Review 18 - Download your copy here.

  • 08/02/2023 19:24 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The 22 Murders of Madison May cover

    The 22 Murders of Madison May by Max Berry

    (Hodder & Stoughton, 2021)

    Reviewed by John Dodd

    How do you kill the same person 22 times?

    Usually with a knife it seems…

    This starts with a reporter covering the death of an actress at the hands of an obsessive fan, a case that seems unremarkable, until a chance encounter with someone from another universe gives them the power to move between universes. But the first they know of this is when one day they come home and they find out that the person they live with is the same person, but they’re not the same person.

    Others who do monitor the different universes make contact, and from there it’s established that this does happen, but there aren’t mechanisms in place to stop the movement from universe to universe. When Felicity, our heroine, finds out what’s happening, she’s new to everything, and she hasn’t developed the same lack of empathy demonstrated by most of those who know the truth. So begins a game of cat and mouse, not just one killer with one target, one killer with many targets.

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    Review from BSFA Review 18 - Download your copy here.

  • 05/02/2023 11:25 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Momenticon cover

    Momenticon by Andrew Caldecott

    (Joe Fletcher Books, 2022)

    Reviewed by Susan Peak

    Andrew Caldecott, who is a barrister as well as a writer, published Rotherweird in 2017. This book, a mixture of historical fiction (1558) and a modern setting (the village of Rotherweird), depicted twelve strangely gifted children and the deliberately isolated place in which they and a small number of other people lived. Two characters, whom the story follows, want to reveal its secrets.

    That book was the first of a trilogy, and now Caldecott has written Momenticon, a separate book. It is similar in style, both in terms of Caldecott’s writing, and in terms of the strange location and people.

    Rotherweird reminded many readers of Gormenghast—a complex and fantastical place with odd people carrying out incomprehensible rituals. It also had echoes of The Prisoner TV series, with one of the outsiders, a teacher, trying to find out about the place and about what happened to his predecessor.

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    Review from BSFA Review 18 - Download your copy here.

  • 01/02/2023 21:24 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Nordenholt's Million cover

    Nordenholt’s Million by J.J. Connington

    (MIT Press, 2022)

    Reviewed by John Dodd

    Imagine, if you will, that someone a hundred years ago wrote a book on what would happen if there was a great plague, and the world turned to the super rich as its saviour. Imagine further, that the book then goes on to describe in great detail as to how the aforementioned rich would go about the task, how they would not look to the good of all, but to the preservation of the few, and all in the name of ensuring that everyone went on.

    Imagine, that the only thing required to make the book relevant to these times would be to change the word Millionaire to the word Billionaire

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    Review from BSFA Review 18 - Download your copy here.

  • 29/01/2023 08:57 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    My Mother Murdered The Moon cover

    My Mother Murdered The Moon by Stephen Deas

    (NewCon Press, 2022)

    Reviewed by Stuart Carter

    It’s not an easy life on Saturn’s moon Epimetheus: there are only three of you stationed there, each tour of duty lasts ten years (three years there, three years back and four years in the middle on Epimetheus); plus, it takes an hour for any communications to even reach Earth, let alone get back.

    On the plus side, you’re doing vital and important work, watching over the mass accelerators stationed there ready to deflect any rogue comets or asteroids that might be inclined to pay Earth a visit. And, if you’re Roxy Micah, you’re also glad to be a long way away from your mother, the infamous General Micah, currently on trial for ordering the bombardment, six years ago, of the moon colonies, after they tried to secede from the home world. Or did they? Not everyone’s convinced they really blew up that old SpaceX Station and threatened to attack Earth with their lunar mass drivers, but hopefully the truth will come out during the trial. Hopefully. Anyway, you’ll soon find out: the long-overdue court verdict is due any day, and it’s not as though you’re close to your mother—you haven’t had a proper conversation with her for a long time now, thanks largely, but not entirely, to the time-lag. You were having communication problems with your mother long before that.

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    Review from BSFA Review 18 - Download your copy here.

  • 25/01/2023 19:19 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Vital Signals cover

    Vital Signals: Virtual Futures Near-Future Fictions edited by Dan O’Hara, Tom Ward, Stephen Oram

    (NewCon Press, 2022)

    Reviewed by Duncan Lawie

    The introduction to this collection left me with a heavy heart. It is full of sentences: “We are attempting to provide tentative situations that may be manufactured by the activities of the present.” So academic. Nevertheless, the idea of the book is intriguing. Vital Signals is a compilation of many short, short stories on the near future by writers from a variety of backgrounds, including some familiar SF names.

    One of the advantages of stories of no more than four pages is that they are out of the way quickly. It’s no great effort to read several mediocre stories in a row. However, this also led to my gradual lowering of expectations as I worked my way through this volume. Perhaps tortured sentence structures or passive voice have their own tale to tell about disconnection from reality or the narrator’s own fears, but the multiple stories written in this way were difficult to enjoy or appreciate.

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    Review from BSFA Review 18 - Download your copy here.

  • 22/01/2023 11:18 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Resilient cover

    Resilient by Allen Stroud

    (Flame Tree Press, 2022)

    Reviewed by Dev Agarwal

    My last review of a work by Allen Stroud ended with “And if you like Fearless, more is on its way as Stroud is currently at work on a sequel.” As promised, Stroud now delivers Resilient, second in his Fractal space opera adventure.

    Fearless centred around life onboard the Search and Rescue spaceship Khidr. Its sequel pours kinetic energy into the opening, with a terrorist attack on Earth’s biggest power plant in Atacama, Chile. This is not just political violence, but an act of economic sabotage that imperils Earth’s population and those living off planet as well.

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    Review from BSFA Review 18 - Download your copy here.


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