Monday, December 31, 2012

Hartmann, AfroSF (2012)

Ivor W. Hartmann (ed.), AfroSF: Science Fiction by African Writers. Story Time, 2012. Pp. 390. ISBN 978-0-9870089-5-4. $9.99.

Reviewed by Margrét Helgadóttir

This anthology is edited by Zimbabwean author, editor and publisher Ivor W. Hartmann and published as an e-book by the small press Story Time in the beginning of December 2012. Hartmann writes in the introduction that the publisher will consider a print version to follow in 2013. The anthology contains twenty-one short stories of various lengths (I found out later that the Zimbabwean author Tendai Huchu is also contributing to the anthology, but the story unfortunately wasn’t in the version I received) in addition to one novelette, and a broad range of themes that will make any fan of science fiction happy. You get such subgenres as Cyberpunk, Biopunk, Military, Hard, Soft, Apocalyptic, Comic. You get stories that range from the darkest dystopian high-tech society to space opera, the aliens’ invasion of Earth or humans’ colonisation of other planets, time travel and pharmaceutical corporations’ grip on mankind.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Jamneck (ed.), Periphery (2012)

Lynne Jamneck (ed.), Periphery. Untreed Reads, 2012. Pp. 149. ISBN 9781611873368. $4.99.

Reviewed by Djibril al-Ayad

This is the e-book version, published by Untreed Reads, of Periphery, originally published in print four years ago by Lethe Press, and edited by Lynne Jamneck, a New Zealand-based writer. This anthology contains twelve stories, ranging in length from short to very short (although nothing is technically flash), with a wide range of science fictional and technophilic themes, all of which contain lesbian protagonists and a romantic or erotic flavour. Like the best of themed anthologies, this volume very much has a coherent feel to it; despite the wide variety of story types (and to some extent quality) this never becomes a random collection of stories, but rather there is a strong sense of the editor’s vision and influence throughout. At least half of the stories in Periphery are in the very-good-to-excellent category, and Jamneck has pulled in some wonderful talent for this project.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Zendell, Wednesday’s Child (2010)

Alan Zendell, Wednesday’s Child., 2010. Pp. 291. ISBN 978-1-6115604-3-5. $14.00 (print)/$7.99 (e-book).

Reviewed by Kip Manley

Technothrillers, the ubiquitous “they” say, are just science fiction novels in which the president’s a character; science fiction, the critic Farah Mendlesohn has said, can be seen as an argument with the universe. The president doesn’t appear in Wednesday’s Child, the second novel from Alan Zendell, and what arguments it makes are hectoring at best—but with its present-day setting, its spies and terrorist threats, this competently written wish-fulfillment wants very much to be a technothriller when it grows up.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Time Travelers (2012)

Time Travelers. dir Joe Cristiana, 2012. Starring Elliot Kotek, Gabe Bettio. Christiana Productions. 29 minutes.

Reviewed by Candra K. Gill

Time Travelers is a short, low-budget film by “guerrilla filmmaking” outfit Christiana Productions. It’s the story of two old friends who’ve drifted apart over the years. When they run into each other by chance, one of the friends invites the other to his home to catch up over drinks. We soon find that there’s a difficult history between the two, that there are ulterior motives at play, and that “chance” might not be the right word for their reunion after all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Haloupek, Far-called (2011)

William Haloupek, Far-called. Smashwords, 2011. 75k words. ISBN 978-1-4660-2935-4. $3.99.

Reviewed by RJ Blain

Far-Called by William Haloupek is a hard science fiction novel that pursues so many ‘what-if’ questions that it is as much just pure ‘speculative fiction’ as it is a hard scifi. This blend is what makes this book stand out. If you’re a fan of questioning society and ‘what would happen if’ scenarios, all of which are founded in a great deal of science and research, this is very likely a book that you will enjoy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Jackson, Secret Life of the Panda (2011)

Nick Jackson, The Secret Life of the Panda. Chomu Press, 2011. Pp. 190. ISBN 978-1907681134. £9.00.

Reviewed by Aishwarya Subramanian

Rather unusually, the cover of Nick Jackson’s collection The Secret Life of the Panda bears no mention of either author or title. Instead, what we get is a grid, blue-grey, with its cells filled with sketches of natural objects; small animals, insects, shells and teeth, feathers and bones. It’s sparse, and unusual, and vaguely scientific.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Bartlett, Royal Flush (2011)

Scott Bartlett, Royal Flush. Mirth Publishing, 2011. Pp. 198. ISBN 978-0981286709. $3.99.

Reviewed by Kate Onyett

A Royal Flush is a hand of cards in poker of an Ace, a King, Queen, Jack and a ten all of a suit. It’s the highest set, the dog’s particulars, the absolute best. And it’s the name of the short novella by Scott Bartlett. Which is four chapters long, each based around a different suit, and which, in the final reading, is not, unfortunately, the absolute best. Poker is a game of bluff, chance, scheming and calculation. Arguably authors play similar games with their readers; they bluff us into suspending disbelief, draw us along with narrative scheming, calculate their target audience reaction, and we take a chance on them by deciding to read their work. By comparison, Royal Flush is in-your-face, abrasive, often irrational and unstable.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Walton, Invocation (2012)

Jo L Walton, Invocation. Critical Documents, 2012. Pp. 90. ASIN B0091H7DP8. £0.99.

Reviewed by Kate Onyett

Invocation: a spoken or sung charm to concentrate focus and energies towards a desired alteration of state or change of direction; to draw something towards oneself. For such a highfalutin title, suggestive of mystique and quite possibly something occult, this little e-book (a slim 90 pages) is something of a narrative joke; if anything, it’s a little anticlimactic. Not to say I do not enjoy it—I did, a lot—but I was somewhat racking my brain to determine what the invocation in question was. I’m still trying to decide if the title was a clever or lazy choice; is this anticlimax of expectation a deliberate joke, or is the author trying to garner more ground for their story than it holds on its own?

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Karey, Lilith's Reflection (2012)

Brigitte Wynn Karey, Lilith's Reflection: The Unseen. Trafford Publishing, 2012. Pp. 316. ISBN 978-1466936430. $18.70.

Reviewed by Martha Hubbard

Lilith's Reflection: The Unseen, self-published through the pay-to-publish Trafford Publishing by Brigitte Wynn Karey, author of two previous novels (including Lilith [2008], to which this is sequel), is a re-telling of the contentious story of Lilith, one of the fallen angels. While this is a promising backdrop for a story examining human relationships and the possibility of forgiveness, it falls badly short of its potential because of some deeply implausible plotting, and the terrible state of the writing.