Monday, September 28, 2015

Poelsma, Fly (2015)

Anneliese Poelsma, Fly and other stories. Self-published, 2015. Pp. 68. ASIN B00S5Z5XUE. $3.99.

Reviewed by Djibril al-Ayad

This short collection of dark stories by Australian artist and writer Poelsma, touches on several themes including domestic horror, delusion and mental illness, queer characters, and the unreliable narrator, or narrative as seen from inside the protagonist’s head, rather than objective reality. While the six stories themselves are rather mixed in quality, there is a coherence of theme, combined with fiction that cosily hugs the border between genre horror and literary. This collection sometimes edges dangerously close to exploitation and stigmatization of mental illness, but is written with a crystal-clear competence and control of prose, and an uncommon sensitivity to character, especially marginalized or self-loathing personalities. Some of these stories made me uncomfortable with the subject matter, but all made me uncomfortable with the wider world, which is an achievement of the writer, especially in a somewhat risky crossover of genres like this one.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Öberg (ed.), Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep (2015)

Peter Öberg (ed.), Waiting for the Machines to Fall Asleep. Affront Publishing, 2015. Pp. 324. ISBN 978-91-87585-31-9. $17.50.

Reviewed by Margrét Helgadóttir

This anthology, edited by Peter Öberg and published by Affront Publishing in 2015, is a collection of twenty-six stories within the speculative genres, all written by authors from Sweden. As the title of the collection indicates, you will find plenty of stories in it about robots, cyborgs and machines, but the book actually covers quite a broad range of themes, plots and subgenres, stretching from steampunk, horror, fantasy, weird, post apocalypse to space colonies and space travelling. Many of the tales circle around ethical questions connected to the relationship between humans and machines. Though there is disappointingly little about this book that screams “Swedish”, except for the nationality of the authors and the editor, I would still recommend the book for all lovers of science fiction, because the tales told are a really good read.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ashley (ed.), Sensorama (2015)

Allen Ashley (ed.), Sensorama. Eibonvale Press, 2015. Pp. 290. ISBN 978-1-9081-2537-8. £9.50.

Reviewed by Wendy Bousfield

Sensorama’s twenty-one original stories, mostly by British contributors, extrapolate changes in the human (or humanoid) sensory apparatus. Though he does not describe the book’s origins, editor Allen Ashley must have given would-be contributors a writing prompt: What if touch, sight, taste, smell, or hearing were augmented, blocked, or altered? Set in the near future, Sensorama stories have no alien extra-terrestrials. With three exceptions, discussed below, characters are human beings like ourselves.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Rauch, What if I got down on my knees? (2015)

Tony Rauch, What if I got down on my knees? Whistling Shade Press, 2015. Pp. 200. ISBN 978-0-9829335-5-8. $12.00.

Reviewed by Kate Onyett

Rauch is a name not unknown on the speculative fiction circuit, where he publishes in anthologies and magazines. He has, to my knowledge, tackled morality and fairy tale formats with great aplomb, creating an interrogative space of uncompromisingly active engagement between story and reader. His stories will make you think, whether you realise it or not. As the master Terry Pratchett said, “fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can.” Rauch may move into out-and-out surrealism on occasion, but his stories remain true to Pratchett’s idea: they work mental muscles, and blessedly, it is a highly satisfying exercise to be put through.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Nayman, What the Hell Were You Thinking (2015)

Ira Nayman, What the Hell Were You Thinking?: Good Advice for People Who Make Bad Decisions: volume 6 (Alternate Reality News Service). Aardvarks Eyes Press, 2015. Pp 362. ISBN 978-1-9276-4506-2. $14.99.

Reviewed by Ashley O'Brien

What the Hell Were You Thinking? Good Advice for People Who Make Bad Decisions! is a curious and fanciful good time. The book consists of a collection of advice columns in an alternate science fiction universe, where the greatest technological feats and most unusual discoveries have already taken place: virtual consciences, genetically modified beings, aliens, and more. The advice columns showcase a complex and rich world of scientific achievement and exploration, the stories in the letters range from bizarre to ludicrous, while always being fun or funny.