Wednesday, 2 December 2015
Outliers of Speculative Fiction
No Other is a sci-fi/horror mix and concerns two people - Dawn and Nishi - lone survivors of a deadly disease which has decimated mankind. The theme of the story is a familiar one in my work - the increasingly mad lengths people will go to when they fall in love. I won't dwell too much on No Other here, as I'd like to discuss some of the other stories in the anthology. All the stories in the book were of a high-standard, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading them. Each story offered something new and surprising. Here, though, are some of my favourites:
Stepping On Sand & Gods by Cory Skerry gets things off to a fine and unexpected start. This is an excellent magic-realist tale set in a South American desert littered with lost gods, and where an expectant mother goes to birth her child in honour of ancient traditions. This leads to the mother encountering some of those immortal beings and having to fight not only for her own life but that of her newborn baby. I found this a convincing, beautifully-written tale; enigmatic but satisfying.
When We Go Flying by Kama Post is another enjoyable story; although as a frequent-flyer myself I found it equally disturbing. The author imagines air travel as are place where travellers no longer sit politely in their seats for the duration of the flight, but instead indulge in all manner of debauchery. In this tale, the sky is a consequence free zone, and all is forgiven and forgotten - even death and destruction - once the plane touches down on the runway. This is a well-written story that grips the reader. I was also impressed by the way this female author managed to write such a convincing male first person narrator.
Somnambulant by L.A Little is a clever take on the idea of a dealer who can't help getting high off his own supply. The dealer in this case is The Sandman, the supply being the grains of sand he doles out to make people sleep. Horrified by the brutal realities of human life and hurting from a failed love affair, The Sandman turns to his own stash for solace. There was an emotional resonance to this story. I found this tale both thought-provoking and oddly moving.
Meanwhile on a Different Earth by Anya Penfold is a tale about people forced to make bombs taking the threat of apocalypse into their own hands. Though a quick read, this carries a strong message and left me with a smile on my face.