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  • 22/11/2023 19:38 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We Are All Monsters cover

    We Are All Monsters—How Deviant Organisms Came To Define Us by Andrew Mangham

    (The MIT Press, 2023)

    Reviewed by John Dodd

    I love Monsters. I love the weird and wonderful nature of them. I love creatures that cannot exist in the realms of reality and that have powers and abilities well beyond the nature of the real world in which we live in.

    This book isn’t about those sorts of Monsters…

    I’m always interested to hear the different nature of how things are described, and I’m fascinated to see how monsters came to be from what was thought about years ago.

    This book wasn’t about that either…

    Continue reading…

    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 20/11/2023 16:38 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Phantom Scientist cover

    The Phantom Scientist by Robin Cousin, translated by Edward Gauvin

    (The MIT Press, 2023)

    Reviewed by Steven French

    Strikingly illustrated and thoughtfully written, this is a story about an isolated but lavishly funded institute for the study of complex and dynamic systems. It begins with the new Director, Sorokin, greeted at the gates by a balaclava wearing security agent with a rifle strapped across their back. As it turns out, this is the fourth iteration of the institute and as the previous Director explains via video, like the dynamic systems under study, it too tends towards chaos and increasing entropy. That’s why a new resident is selected every three months in order to ‘rebalance’ the system, each one a researcher in some field covered by systems theory, until all twenty-four labs are occupied. By that point their research is expected to yield results, despite the inevitable spread of disorder.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 17/11/2023 09:03 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Chinese Time Machine cover

    The Chinese Time Machine by Ian Watson

    (NewCon Press, 2023)

    Reviewed by Stuart Carter

    Despite my last review of an Ian Watson book being Mockymen in 2005, I still have fond memories of that book. So, I jumped at the chance when offered a copy of The Chinese Time Machine, his latest short story collection.

    Of the eleven stories here, four are set in the near-future and involve the voyages of—you guessed it—a ‘Chinese Time Machine’. What you probably didn’t guess is that the eponymous craft is based in Oxford, and crewed by two English academics, Mason and Sharma. Although invented by an ascendant Chinese government, it is the British who pilot her back in time, to rescue a famous tragic figure here (Oscar Wilde) and tweak a timeline there (by delaying the adoption of Arabic numerals).

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 15/11/2023 17:01 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    End of Story cover

    End of Story by Louise Swanson

    (Hodder & Stoughton, 2023)

    Reviewed by Shellie Horst

    Louise Beech has been writing emotionally powerful, award-winning novels for years. End of Story, written under her pen-name Louise Swanson, is her first foray into speculative fiction. Sitting at the thriller end of the genre, End of Story is set in 2035, five years after the government banned fiction.

    Our lead character is Fern Dostoy, a big list author. A problem when fiction is taboo. Made up anythings, and creative practices have re-invented themselves for fear of persecution. Even the diary Fern uses to chronicle her days is subject to prosecution. Understandably, it’s an absolutely terrifying idea for anyone in the creative arts. We are subjected to a hopeless society. With the criminalisation of storytelling, Fern’s career crumbled, losing her wonderful home and everything she holds precious. Fern finds herself isolated, bereft of family, and immensely distrusting, leaving her writing life behind as a cleaner.

    Continue reading…

    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 13/11/2023 16:53 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Wormhole cover

    Wormhole by Keith Brooke and Eric Brown

    (Angry Robot, 2023)

    Reviewed by Ben Jeapes

    Tragically, this is presumably the last original piece of work by Eric Brown that will be reviewed, the author having died in March. Keith Brooke thankfully is still with us. Both excellent writers in their own right, they blazed their reputations with a series of collaborations, and here they are together with their only one-off long-form collaboration.

    Eighty years ago, the European slower-than-light starship Strasbourg set off for Carrasco, an Earth-type planet orbiting the star Mu Arae, with the crew in suspended animation. Soon after launch it exploded with the loss of all hands.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 10/11/2023 09:59 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Strange cover

    The Strange by Nathan Ballingrud

    (Titan Books, 2023)

    Reviewed by Andy Sawyer

    Galaxy magazine used to promote their kind of sf by stating exactly what kind of sf it wasn’t. The example was the “space western” in which “Hoofs drumming, Bat Durston came galloping down through the narrow pass at Eagle Gulch, a tiny gold colony 400 miles north of Tombstone” is simply transcribed into “Jets blasting, Bat Durston came screeching down through the atmosphere of Bbllzznaj, a tiny planet seven billion light years from Sol.” After a few pages, or possibly even paragraphs, it’s quite clear that the Martian colony of New Brunswick, from where 14-year-old Anabelle Crisp sets out to retrieve the recording of her mother’s voice which is among the loot taken when their diner is robbed, is a small town in the American West. The recording is all that she and her father are left with after “the Silence” cuts all contact with Earth. Anabelle “persuades” the shunned spaceship pilot Joe, stranded on Mars, and the outlaw Sally Milkwood to join her and her dishwasher “Engine” Watson to follow the thieves to Dig Town and Peabody Crater where the mineral aptly called “the Strange” is mined. It doesn’t take much time to work out that “Dig Town” is any western mining community, Watson is the trusty Native American servant (though he is programmed with an “English butler” voice and vocabulary), and the “recording” is, say, a picture or memento left by Anabel’s mother who has “gone East” to civilisation and never come back. There is even a sheriff; that staple diet in Westerns, beans; and ambushes and shoot-outs aplenty. There is even a (threatened) hanging.

    Continue reading…

    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 08/11/2023 19:07 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Time Portals of Norwich cover

    Time Portals of Norwich by David Viner

    (Viva Djinn Publishing, 2023)

    Reviewed by Gene Rowe

    We first meet Cassie—a young girl from Norwich—at her mother’s funeral. Well, not just one Cassie but, as it turns out, three…although ‘our’ Cassie doesn’t realise who these other two are until she becomes one of them years later. Uh-huh, it’s that sort of story.

    What follows is an adventure in which multiple Cassies flit backwards and forwards through time as our heroine (in all her manifestations) attempts to unravel the supernatural mystery of her family and escape her malign and ancient father, who wants to use her body as a vessel for his own devilish soul. In the course of her complicated journey, Cassie encounters various famous episodes from the city’s past—in some cases being implicated in their happenings. Thus, she narrowly avoids being fried in a bomber attack during one of the Baedeker Raids of WW2; another time, she escapes (and perhaps inadvertently causes) a fire in the old Norwich library; and elsewhen, she is nearly squashed by a double-decker falling down a sinkhole (an event that actually occurred in the 1970s just down the road from where I live).

    Continue reading…

    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 06/11/2023 16:44 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Roamers cover

    The Roamers by Francesco Verso

    (Flame Tree Press, 2023)

    Reviewed by Stuart Carter

    Long, long ago, back in the nineties before I’d written a single review for Vector, it felt like a boom time for nanotechnology in science fiction: Neal Stephenson’s whimsical The Diamond Age, Kathleen Ann Goonan’s jazz-heavy ,Nanontech Quartet, Wil McCarthy’s vertiginous Bloom, and the grandaddy of them all, Greg Bear’s magnificent Blood Music.

    So, I felt a Proustian rush on reading this new nanotech novel: The Roamers, by Francesco Verso. Set in Rome, and translated from the original Italian, The Roamers follows a group who “…altered their bodies, changed the way they eat and liberated themselves from the need for food” (back cover). The blurb mixes the terrifying onrush of transformation in Blood Music with the hard work of grasping and maintaining freedom seen in much of Cory Doctorow’s work.

    Continue reading…

    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 04/11/2023 09:02 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Ava’s Demon Book One cover

    Ava’s Demon, Book One: Reborn by Michelle Fus

    (Skybound Comet, 2023)

    Reviewed by Phil Nicholls

    Ava’s Demon is a YA graphic novel published by Skybound Comet, adapted from a web comic. As the title suggests, young Ava has a Demon. More precisely, the demon is trapped within Ava and often communicates with her via a rotary telephone kept within a compartment in Ava’s torso.

    The Demon has made Ava’s life in school a misery by taking command at inappropriate times. However, once Ava agrees to a pact with her Demon, she is launched on a quest to recruit an army. It turns out that the Demon is an alien called Wrathia and was formally a queen, so needs an army to be restored to her throne.

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    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.

  • 01/11/2023 17:15 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Two Pendants cover

    The Two Pendants: The Children of Pisces, Book 1 by R.E. Lewin

    (Matador, 2022)

    Reviewed by Steven French

    This is a YA novel aimed at a 10–18 year-old readership, although I think it is best suited for those at the lower end of that range. It opens with a pregnant woman being pursued by remorseless hunters, before skipping ahead to the same woman leaving each of her four babies in different locations in hopes that they can find safety. The story proper begins with one of the four, Tammy, sneaking into the office of the orphanage where she has ended up and discovering a curious pendant left to her by her mum. On a trip to an island Noah’s Ark where at least two of every species of animal have been saved after the deadly Pisces virus swept over the planet, Tammy displays an extraordinary affinity with the animals that allows her to climb into the pen with one of the jaguars and befriend it (here the author might have included a warning: Kids! Don’t try this at your local zoo!!). After she’s adopted by the owners of the reserve, Ed and Jude, Tammy begins to explore her powers and while on a trip to Africa, not only saves some lions from hunters but also a small child from crocodiles, creatures who prove strangely resistant to her abilities.

    Continue reading…

    Review from BSFA Review 21 - Download your copy here.


19 Beech Green




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