Music For Another World edited by Mark Harding

Mutation Press, 2010. 270 p.

This is a collection of “Strange Fiction” with music as the linking theme. The stories range through various different types of SF and fantasy with some diversions into Horror. The authors mostly have low profiles though they all seem to have previous publications. In at least some of their contributions the relationship of the tale to the theme was tangential and most did not depend on music for their resolution. That is how it should be, though; a story has to work as a story after all, not fit an arbitrary arrangement.

To my mind the most successful tales were Richard J Goldstein’s Dybbuk Blues, concerning a charmed cornet and the fates of its players, Susan Lanigan’s The Accompanist, where the spirits of Robert and Clara Schumann inhabit the bodies of a teacher and pupil in a Music College, L L Hannett’s Breathing Life Into The Dead, about err…. breathing life into the dead and Gavin Inglis’s Fugue, where a driver crashes on a lonely road and hears a choir singing. Special mentions too to Jim Steel’s The Shostakovich Ensemble, a discography of a rock group from a Stalinist Britain, and Neil Williamson’s Arrhythmia, a kind of 1984 with added songs.

Nothing to do with the quality of the collection or its execution but one thing which irritated me was the occasional tendency for the font size to alter and then soon revert. I found it very distracting trying to decipher what the reason for this might be before concluding there was none.

As in all anthologies, or indeed collections, the quality was variable, but the stories here were never less than readable.

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