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  • 19/01/2023 19:14 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Truth of the Divine cover

    Truth of the Divine by Lindsay Ellis

    (Titan Books, 2021)

    Reviewed by John Dodd

    If you haven’t read Axiom’s End, there are things discussed in this review that will reveal parts of the plot, take the time to go and read that book before looking at this review.

    What if aliens existed and they came down to Earth, what would first contact really be like? This was the question that was answered in Axiom’s End, the first book in this series.

    Where this goes, is what happens after first contact, when you know aliens exist, but the truth of who and what they truly are is still unknown. At the end of the first book, when Ampersand bonds with Cora, a new perspective of life begins, where what was just a story of physicality goes further into the psyche than the first book ever considered to do.

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    Review from BSFA Review 18 - Download your copy here.

  • 12/01/2023 19:12 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Space Between Worlds cover

    The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

    (Hodder & Stoughton, 2022)

    Reviewed by Jamie Mollart

    The Space Between Worlds was a Sunday Times bestseller, the winner of the Kitschies Golden Tentacle award and a New York Times Book review editor’s choice, so the question I asked myself as I settled down to read it was ‘does it live up to the hype?’.

    Firstly, it doesn’t feel like the sort of book that gets this sort of fanfare. The blurb suggests space opera and deep sci-fi, but it is far from that. It’s actually an intimate novel with a small cast, exploring identity, class and family. It might be set in effectively a high concept situation, but the situation is the background, not the driving force.

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    Review from BSFA Review 18 - Download your copy here.

  • 06/01/2023 20:48 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Saved From The Fire cover

    Saved From The Fire by Mark Gallacher

    (Ringwood Publishing, 2022)

    Reviewed by Finn Dempster

    Mark Gallacher’s debut, for all its flaws, never lacks ambition. We begin in a small village community, but the scale of the story is quickly set. This is a society rebuilding from the ashes of our own, having been knocked back to a second Neolithic era by a variety of disasters: the Culling, The Fire, and some dark era where knowledge in general and books in particular were blamed for humanity’s woes and destroyed in The Fire. But the written word is still alive, with the few surviving books carefully horded and protected by those who recognize their value. In an inviting twist, the narrator tells us we’re about to read some of the titular saved books—a history of those dark times.

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    Review from BSFA Review 18 - Download your copy here.

  • 30/12/2022 09:13 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Last Adventure of Constance Verity cover

    The Last Adventure of Constance Verity, Constance Verity Saves The World and Constance Verity Destroys The Universe by A. Lee Martinez

    (Jo Fletcher Books, 2022)

    Reviewed by Dave M. Roberts

    Constance Verity saves the world. A lot. It’s something she’s been doing since she was seven years old, and after twenty-seven years she’s really had enough. This is not unreasonable, as she can barely even go out for a coffee without encountering some evil mastermind wanting to dominate the world or aliens bent on global destruction. Nowadays, she would give almost anything for a normal life and a dull office job. The Last Adventure of Constance Verity describes her efforts to throw off the demands of the universe and become what she perceives as a normal person. Unfortunately, this involves tracking down and killing the fairy godmother who cast a spell on her when she was born making her the carrier of a ‘caretaker’ spell. As could be expected, it was never going to be as simple as that. The nature of the caretaker spell and its purpose provide much of the unstated impetus for the books. As one adventure ends, the controlling power the spell has over Constance and her group of friends is ultimately what is driving the plot. Indeed, the fact it has been removed and part is lodged in one of the other characters becomes key as the trilogy progresses.

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    Review from BSFA Review 18 - Download your copy here.

  • 22/12/2022 09:10 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Clockwork Man cover

    The Clockwork Man by E.V. Odle

    (MIT Press, 2022)

    Reviewed by Andy Sawyer

    A never-used Douglas Adams Doctor Who script (later adapted into a novel) featured a cricket match interrupted by aliens. E.V. Odle’s 1923 novel The Clockwork Man begins similarly, with Dr Allingham’s determination to improve his declining batting average blown to pieces by the sudden appearance of a strange gesticulating figure. Concentration gone, Allingham loses his wicket. Meanwhile, young Arthur, nervously awaiting his turn in a game for which he is temperamentally unsuited, tries to start up conversation with the new arrival, struck by his odd appearance—red wig, brown bowler hat, flapping ears—without even the “vaguest marks of homely origin”. The “Clockwork Man” (as he introduces himself) invites himself into the game, knocks the ball all over the place, fails to run when called on, eventually does so in such a chaotic fashion that he is eventually run out, and whacks the umpire when ordered to leave the field, astonishing Allingham, Arthur, Gregg (the team captain) and the rest of the players and spectators.

    There is something very English about the disruption of this cosy scene, and, given that Odle’s novel has been out of print for some time, we have no idea if Adams had ever read it.

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    Review from BSFA Review 18 - Download your copy here.

  • 19/11/2022 10:21 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Villa and The Vortex cover

    The Villa and The Vortex: Supernatural Stories, 1916–1924 by Elinor Mordaunt

    (Handheld Press, 2021)

    Reviewed by L.J. Hurst

    Handheld Press have a small but significant list of re-discovered classics. One of their specialities is weird fiction, and within that is ‘women’s weird’ (the title of two of their theme anthologies). Elinor Mordaunt’s life (1872-1942) was extraordinarily varied, from a middle-class childhood through fiancés dying in Africa to actual marriage in the Indian Ocean to someone who proved to be a brute and subsequent escape to Australia. Somewhere in those last two events Mordaunt began to write.

    The stories collected here are in chronological order and the first, ‘The Weakening Point’, about a boy born to die and reminded of it every birthday does not seem to have a strong feminine viewpoint. The next, ‘The Country-side’ (1917), about a parson’s wife who is driven to investigate a villager who is both a crone and a wise-woman, while simultaneously her husband is being unfaithful, concentrates on the women’s perspective. Mary Webb’s 1924 novel Precious Bane has a lot in common with the story. Then ‘Hodge’ (1921) will provoke comparisons with a more modern book: after many mournful wanderings on the Somerset Levels a brother and sister release a caveman from the mud and realise that he is lost: the sea is not where it was in his antediluvian lifetime. Once Hodge, the name given to the caveman, appears I couldn't help thinking of Stig of the Dump, though Mordaunt is far more downbeat. The penultimate story, ‘The Four Wallpapers’ (1924) again has a known theme but played in an unusual way: the layers of wallpaper in a Spanish villa have recorded the shocking events of their time, but peeling them back from the outside in, because the most recent layer was put on last, means Eva Erskine learns the denouement before she has perceived the cause.

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    Review from BSFA Review 17 - Download your copy here.

  • 12/11/2022 16:33 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Witch Bottle cover

    Witch Bottle by Tom Fletcher

    (Joe Fletcher Books, 2021)

    Reviewed by Kate Onyett

    A witch bottle is a protection against evil that is buried at the doorway to secure the home. This is old belief and older magic, and with these Fletcher weaves a strange, folkloric horror tale through the surprisingly claustrophobic byways of the north country. Despite a wilderness as wide and wild as any viewed by the Romantics, dread comes clenching along the miles of walled-lined lanes, and we cannot look away.

    Like rats running a maze, watched by some lurking presence, the narrow streets are a metaphor for life; the repetitive journeys, keeping heads down, just ‘getting by’. We rarely break out of our rut unless challenged by something extraordinary. Even without the supernatural, Fletcher shows the waste and sadness of lives lived on just one looping pattern with few rewards.

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    Review from BSFA Review 17 - Download your copy here.

  • 09/11/2022 22:17 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    When Things Get Dark cover

    When Things Get Dark edited by Ellen Datlow

    (Titan Books, 2021)

    Reviewed by Jeremy Nelson

    Jackson’s work has undergone a much-deserved renaissance in the world of film. The critical success of Netflix’s 2018 miniseries The Haunting of Hill House has opened the doors to a number of projects inspired by Shirley Jackson’s work and life. When Things Get Dark brings the same spirit to the short story form, with a table of contents brimming with talent.

    Datlow makes it clear in her introduction that she sought more than mere pastiches of Jackson’s work and wanted contributors to “distill the essence of Jackson’s work into their own work, to reflect her sensibility.” In that spirit, none of the stories draw from Jackson’s personal life.

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    Review from BSFA Review 17 - Download your copy here.

  • 05/11/2022 09:12 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Coffinmaker's Blues cover

    Coffinmaker’s Blues: Collected Writings on Terror by Stephen Volk

    (Electric Dreamhouse, 2019)

    Reviewed by Geoff Ryman

    I was sent this book to review by the publishers at the author’s request.

    When I was 12, like Stephen King, I graduated from Famous Monsters of Filmland to another newsstand journal, Castle of Frankenstein. The photos may not have been as good, and the text looked like it had been typed not typeset, but it was a satisfying read. Contributors like Lin Carter or Richard Lupoff wrote like horror films and fiction had value.

    Coffinmaker’s Blues by Stephen Volk may feel for some like a collection of good blogposts. For me, the collection re-created the sensation of reading my favourite mag—respectful writing about something people disrespect.

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    Review from BSFA Review 17 - Download your copy here.

  • 01/11/2022 17:12 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Book of the Baku cover

    The Book of the Baku by R.L. Boyle

    (Titan Books, 2021)

    Reviewed by Steven Doran

    R.L. Boyle was born in Leeds. She studied there (Classical Civilisation), sang, played football, and today still lives in Yorkshire where she enjoys genre fiction, 80s movies and countryside comforts. Her debut novel mixes dark, social realism with YA horror, written in the great tradition of children going to live with estranged family and discovering something supernatural.

    Sean is the book’s young hero. He leaves behind a children’s home and the poor estate he grew up on to live in with his wealthy grandfather. Years earlier Sean’s mother died in circumstances we’re left to wonder about, and which left him unable to speak. Yet his grandfather’s home—carpeted, smelling of home-cooked lasagne and stocked with books and art supplies—promises safety and comfort, and a chance to recover from trauma in his past.

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    Review from BSFA Review 17 - Download your copy here.


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