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  • 24/09/2022 20:23 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Emerald to Ice cover

    Emerald to Ice by Matt Colborn

    (Independently published, 2021)

    Reviewed by Phil Nicholls

    Emerald to Ice revolves around an anthropology mission to the planet Nyuki. The novel’s binary star setting is one of its best features. Nyuki orbits the smaller star Biloko, which in turn orbits the much larger Asali. This combination produces dramatic climate shifts on Nyuki, from verdant emerald to thick ice. Nyuki's climate is similar to Bran Aldiss’ Helliconia, although on a shorter timeframe.

    The planets Xue and Leng orbit within the system’s Exo Kuiper belt. Six Abode space stations orbit Leng, home to the resident human population. Colborn thankfully includes a helpful diagram of this system.

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    Review from BSFA Review 17 - Download your copy here.

  • 21/09/2022 19:26 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Even Greater Mistakes cover

    Even Greater Mistakes by Charlie Jane Anders

    (Titan Books, 2021)

    Reviewed by John Dodd

    When reviewing anthologies, the problem is that it’s impossible to write something concise that manages to encompass all the stories in the book, and you don’t want to miss anyone out. When the anthology is all one person’s work, it becomes easier.

    Or so you’d think…

    These are nineteen different stories that run the gamut of styles and subjects from time travellers who might not be time travellers, to mystical fights between mythical creatures, and cities that now lay underwater where once they were high and dry.

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    Review from BSFA Review 17 - Download your copy here.

  • 19/09/2022 08:58 | Anonymous

    The British Science Fiction Association is very sad to hear that Maureen Kincaid Speller has passed away.

    Maureen was a BSFA member and an integral part of the association. She served as editor of Matrix and Vector, but contributed much more than that. Her diligence, wisdom and vision were instrumental in the BSFA's continuance for several years.  

    A special  newsletter will be sent to members later this week with a tribute to Maureen.

  • 18/09/2022 11:38 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Voices from the Radium Age cover

    Voices from the Radium Age edited by Joshua Glenn

    (MIT, 2022)

    Reviewed by Duncan Lawie

    I am deeply grateful to this volume for presenting me with ‘The Machine Stops’ by E. M. Forster. Yes, the author of those Edwardian classics adapted in the late twentieth century into gorgeous films. I have been hearing, ever since those movies were released, that he had also written a prescient piece of science fiction. It seems even more prescient now. The story describes an atomised society, each person interacting through virtual connections, isolated from every other in their own space and awkward when forced into physical interaction. How of the moment can a setting get? The story centres on a mother who is totally at home in this world and her son, living far away, who wants to break free. Their interactions and the increasing strictures of “the Machine” are used to build a detailed picture of an all too believable future.

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    Review from BSFA Review 17 - Download your copy here.

  • 15/09/2022 20:35 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Art of Space Travel cover

    The Art of Space Travel by Nina Allan

    (Titan Books, 2021)

    Reviewed by Paul Graham Raven

    Some day in the not-too-distant future, a scholarly monologue will pick up the gauntlet which Nina Allan offers in her introduction to The Art of Space Travel, where she mentions the unreliability of memory as a thematic of her work, and a sort of counter-motivation for her being a writer at all. I have neither the word-count nor the talent to do so here, which is one reason that I’m going to talk about these short stories in terms of estrangement.

    Now, come along, no eye-rolling at the back of the room! Yes, yes, the critical cliché that is Suvinian estrangement is the move of making the strange ordinary—but there’s also a mirror-version (more common to horror and “weird” fiction, perhaps?) of making the ordinary strange. Running both algorithms simultaneously seems to be Allan’s program: hence very ordinary people living very humdrum lives in worlds that just happen to have fairies (albeit ones that Conan Doyle would have found unphotogenic) or regenerative shapeshifters who take human form (albeit as quietly clever girls with reclusive tendencies) or space travellers (albeit by way of a chemical-surgical preparatory procedure that turns them somewhat cockroach-like, mostly but not exclusively in metabolic terms). Moreover, Allan’s POV characters are very rarely themselves the magical or fantastic or technologically transformed persons (at least not at first); they’re more often someone who knows (or knew) or loves (or loved) them, or lost them, or lives down the road from them in a liminal pit-village somewhere in the East Midlands. Indeed, this book is all but devoid of heroes, as if quietly dedicated to Le Guin’s “carrier bag theory” of fiction without being at all like Le Guin in terms of style or topic: Allan’s POVs are rarely real protagonists, and they’re definitely not anthropologists, even by proxy.

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    Review from BSFA Review 17 - Download your copy here.

  • 10/09/2022 20:01 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Stars and Bones cover

    Stars and Bones by Gareth L. Powell

    (Titan Books, 2022)

    Reviewed by Stuart Carter

    Gareth L. Powell has, it seems, spent his pandemic rewatching some classic science fiction cinema, in particular Alien, Aliens, Battlestar Galactica, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, to come up with his own unique remix. Beginning with a classic horror opener (but it is only an opener!) when a spaceship detects a strange signal and impetuous humans land to investigate, only to wake something not only unpleasant but eager to spread, using the vector of those impetuous humans.

    However, Stars and Bones does a lot of heavy world-building before the unpleasantness properly kicks off. For instance, 200 years before the events of Stars and Bones, on late 21st century Earth, World War 3 had broken out. We were only rescued by the intervention of omniscient aliens, who stopped the rain of deadly nuclear missiles when, literally at the very last moment, they detected a Zefram Cochrane-style invention of warp drive. Impressed by our human smarts, they saved the planet. Despite our impressive brains (or, rather, one brain), they were deeply unhappy with the attempted global suicide, and so humanity, although saved, was banished from Earth. The entire population (along with some domestic pets) was moved into hundreds of gigantic space arks and set to travel the cosmos until such time as we might again be trusted to take proper care of a proper planet.

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    Review from BSFA Review 17 - Download your copy here.

  • 07/09/2022 21:00 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Braking Day cover

    Braking Day by Adam Oyebanji

    (Jo Fletcher Books, 2022)

    Reviewed by Phil Nicholls

    Scottish author Adam Oyebanji makes a strong impression with his debut novel. Midshipman Ravi MacLeod is training to be an officer aboard the colony ship Archimedes. The voyage to Destination World, Tau Ceti, has taken five generations and Braking Day is approaching. This is the day when the Archimedes, along with her companion vessels Bohr and Chandrasekhar, will begin deceleration as a prelude to orbiting their intended colony planet.

    The detailed setting aboard Ravi’s ship is fascinating. The Archimedes has eight habitation rings, rotating in opposing pairs. However, the seventh, Ghana, is showing wear from the long journey and the eighth, Hungary, is a burnt-out wreck. While both rings appear in the plot, Oyebanji does not feel the need to provide the full backstory for their history. Instead, a few snippets of detail are scattered through the book and the setting feels so much more real for Oyebanji’s light touch.

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    Review from BSFA Review 17 - Download your copy here.

  • 04/09/2022 14:08 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Kings of a Dead World cover

    Kings of a Dead World by Jamie Mollart

    (Sandstone Press, 2021)

    Reviewed by John Dodd

    What would happen if the governments of the world accepted that there were too many people on the planet and took measures to reduce the population by any means? They started by killing the criminals, then euthanising those with terminal diseases, then euthanising anyone older than a certain age. At this point, you’re fairly sure that you’re in a really dark world where there’s not going to be much in the way of happy endings. Then they decide that there’s still too many people, so huge buildings are made to put people to sleep for a long time, which allows the minimal resources that are available to be used as they need to be.

    There’s a lot to take in from the start, it’s a cross between the Matrix and Dark City, where the sleeping pods are looked over by Janitors, who have a massive responsibility in watching over those who are in their block of pods, but literally no oversight, they can do as they wish, when they wish, how they wish.

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    Review from BSFA Review 17 - Download your copy here.

  • 02/09/2022 11:35 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Kairos cover

    Kairos by Gwyneth Jones

    (Gollancz SF Masterworks, 2021)

    Reviewed by Nick Hubble

    It’s fantastic to see Gollancz reissuing so many of Gwyneth Jones’s novels in the, ahem, ‘Masterworks’ series. Whether one should wish classic status on any author is a moot point, but I can’t think of many writers in the SF field whose work over the last four decades is as distinctively personal and yet as universal in its significance. While the Clarke-Award-winning Bold as Love (2001) and Life (2004), previously unpublished in the UK, are perhaps the most obvious selections for this series, the inclusion of Kairos is the one that gives me the greatest joy. This is in part because some of it is set in Brighton, where Jones lives, in areas well known to me such as the wasteland near the racecourse and the Whitehawk neolithic camp. Generally, the ambience is evocative of the rundown alternative Brighton, rather than the developers’ nightmare which has emerged in recent years. However, more importantly, Kairos is the novel which best captures the magnitude of the change during that strange period in the 1980s when British history was to jump track so catastrophically.

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    Review from BSFA Review 17 - Download your copy here.

  • 10/07/2022 11:09 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Anthropocene Unconscious cover

    The Anthropocene Unconscious by Mark Bould

    (Verso Books, 2021)

    Reviewed by Jamie Mollart

    In 2016 the acclaimed Indian author, Amitav Ghosh, wrote ‘The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable’, widely considered to be one of the most important books to address the way Climate Change is approached in literature.

    He argues future generations will be amazed at the way in which we have collectively ignored the most pressing threat to our species within our collective art and literature. He uses the term ‘Anthropocene’ specifically in reference to our attempt at terrestrial destruction rather than the literal definition of ‘age of man’.

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    Review from BSFA Review 16 - Download your copy here.


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