Saturday 28 March 2015

Paul Levinson

A new author to me but with this taster I know I'll be reading more. The cover is stunning too!

The Other Car The Other Car

My review - 

This, though only a short story, asks the classic question, ‘what would happen if…?’  James Oleson sees a car identical to his own, down to the bumper scratches. That’s how it begins. Other inexplicable duplicates occur in the course of the day. The author makes us think in this little tale. Could there be genuine, coincidental duplicates? Has the mailman always had a twin? Or is there some kind of fission beginning in which the world, reality, or at least his part of it, is splitting? I found that an amazing question. We are all aware, possibly obsessed, with our own unique individuality. In the case of parallel realities, what happens to our self-awareness? Which is the me I know?

The story is well written, engrossing, and opens up possibilities which could easily be explored in a novel. I thought the end was stunning. Short it may be, but I’m giving this five stars. My rules for deciding are these –
Did I enjoy the story? Yes
Were there no downsides? Yes

Would I read more by this author? Absolutely yes!

Friday 13 March 2015

G J Reilly

I love finding a new author and I enjoy YA fantasy - I've got them both here!

Inquisitor Inquisitor

My review -

Any story of an eleven-year-old boy which takes place in a boarding school where children with special powers learn how to use their gifts is inevitably going to invite comparisons. Don’t do it. Read this on its own merits. Michael’s uncle died when he was born, leaving him an old, locked book in his grandmother’s safe keeping. Michael was the first baby born in the new millennium, a fact of significance. There are two secret groups here, the group which runs the school, searching for its new Grand Inquisitor, and another, called the Elder Council. Michael has been taught to distrust the Council but should he? Who is telling him the truth?

This story’s strengths are that Michael is a believable character and is faced with puzzles and trials, both physical and mental, which test his mettle. Nothing comes easily to him and though we are willing him on, we don’t know who he can trust either. He is faced with a great conflict which sees him fighting his best friend. I felt that sometimes his, and others’, feelings were a little adult for children of that age but the story carried me along with it. I’m pleased to say that this is the first of a series. I’m sure I’ll read the others.

Monday 2 March 2015

Various Authors

This is an anthology of very different stories interpreting the theme of 'stranded'. Very enjoyable for any lover of science fiction or speculative fiction.

No Way Home No Way Home

My review - 

This anthology of stories on the theme of being stranded shows how differently a group of authors can deal with a subject. From the title and the cover image I envisaged a clutch of tales about people left behind on alien planets but the authors interpreted the brief far more widely than that. There were inter-planetary stories of course, and a favourite of mine was XE, or People are Crazy. This was a really exciting adventure story with a great twist. I also particularly liked The Happy Place which took place on the planet Mars. Other stories involved time rather than place or didn’t treat the planet earth as ‘home’ – a good twist. Revolver took place in a very nasty future and again, had a climactic ending. There must be a name for a phobia about abandoned buildings or massive industrial machinery – I have it myself. It meant that the final story really gave me the creeps, and that’s quite apart from the story itself which is quite a twist on the theme.

Although any reader is bound to have favourites there wasn’t a duff story in this collection and I found the length of the stories particularly successful. It allowed the reader to engage with the plot and characters in greater depth than is usual in short stories. I hope there will be more of these collections of themed speculative fiction. As long as authors who write good quality fiction are chosen, as in this book, then they can’t fail. I received and Advance Reader Copy of this book in order to review it.