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Percivious Escape by J J Cook and A J Cook MD

AJ JJ Publishing, 2022, 269 p.  Reviewed for ParSec 6.

This is the third in a trilogy, a fact of which I was unaware when, drawn by the premise, I requested the book for review. (The previous two instalments, Percivious Insomnia and Percivious Origins, were not, I think, reviewed in ParSec.) Mea culpa, for not researching the authors beforehand.

Coming in only for the last part of any book sequence is problematic – especially for a reviewer. Not all the background to the text is available; though the author(s) ought to provide enough to give any new reader a fair shout. Still, a book is a book, and must be considered on its own merits.

The scenario here is that an outbreak of insomnia has hit Earth. We are told people stagger around like zombies, transport – personal and public – has all but ceased, society has broken down. A drug called Noctural has been peddled as a cure but is ineffective, a fact of which its makers are well aware. In addition, the XYZ, a group of aliens capable of instant communication with each other by a form of emotional telepathy and apparently descended from whales who lived on Earth millions of years ago but now taking the shape of outsize humans, have been on an unsuccessful interstellar odyssey to find a new home but failing to settle (and incidentally forced into making a kind of slingshot around a black hole in transit) have returned to Earth intent on helping to find a cure for the pandemic of sleeplessness and making us all kinder into the bargain.

It gives me no pleasure to write this but if this all seems like a bit much for the authors to juggle with successfully, well it is. Chapters are relatively short and each is narrated from one of at least twenty different viewpoints which tends to make the reading experience bitty. Far too much is told to us, not shown, information dumping is profuse, clumsy and intrusive, with overuse of the pluperfect tense and a frequent resort to cliché. The process of discovering an effective serum against the insomnia pandemic, Noctural 2.0, is not dramatised and it seems to have been found absurdly easily. The text is sometimes couched as journalese, the characters do not come across as rounded and their dialogue is wooden.

At the climax it all descends into Bond villainy: that the villain has been given the name Khalid Al Gamdi leaves a sour taste. In addition, after that dénouement there are no less than nine chapters clearing up loose ends (while ironically introducing a new one.)

Alarm bells about all this had been ringing from before the start – which itself has the galloping hiccups, with both an Introduction and a Prologue. On the title page there is that MD after the name of the second co-author. But why is it there? Is it to lend an air of scientific credibility? In which case it is spurious, since this is a work of fiction not an academic tract and ought to need no outside props. In any case such a claim is thoroughly undercut by multiple appearances in the text of the non-metaphorical use of the phrase “the dark side of the moon” (which is an elegant description of madness but not of reality. Both “sides” of the Moon, far and near, are bathed in fourteen continuous Earth days of sunlight – and another fourteen of darkness – per lunar cycle. If you are striving for scientific verisimilitude at least get the details right. See also the ancient whales above.)

The overall feel of the text is that of authors so enamoured with their vision that they indulged the need to put every last little aspect of it down on paper (or screen.) Unfortunately, fiction doesn’t succeed under those conditions. Certainly there has to be enough detail to convince the reader the authors have a consistent world in their heads. Too much however, tends to give the opposite impression. Moreover, it gets in the way of the story. And it is story that readers of Science Fiction primarily search for. There is story here but the authors’ avowed intention in the accompanying blurb and the ‘About the Authors’ page of reviving what they describe as forgotten altruism led them to stray into didacticism.

Pedant’s corner:- human’s vast and varied pastimes (humans’,) “the prime minister” (Prime Minister,) “‘Your safety, our safety, as well as the safety of many others depend on it’2 (depends on it,) “the dark side of the moon” (there is no such thing – see above – and it’s Moon,) “that was provided there were enough insomnia-resilient staff on duty” (provided there was enough staff.) “Fifty suicide STARLINK satellites composed the payload” (the satellites created the payload? – comprised,) “what drew his attention were her photos” (was her photos,) one ‘it’s’ that ought to have been ‘its’, “something cold crossed his gaze upon her face” (needs its syntax sorted out,) “regardless the cost” (regardless of the cost,) “risen to a crescendo” (to a climax,) “careful to cover their interaction with his torso from the cameras” (opaque syntax again,) “returning from whence he had come” (whence = ‘from where’ so this is equivalent to ‘from from where he had come’,) another “rose to a crescendo”, “the two crafts” (the plural of craft [as in conveyance] is ‘craft’,) “desperate to clear its path” (‘his’-  or ‘their’ – path,) “despite the unforeseen danger that undoubtedly lay ahead” (if it undoubtedly lay ahead then it was not unforeseen; ‘unknown’ perhaps,) “and good thing” (an interpolation that has no sense at all,) “Cooper’s gaze – abducted by a long black, illuminated gown” (how can a gaze be abducted?) many new paragraphs are unindented, “the reason his kiss had fallen on deaf lips” (a tin-eared construction, ‘unresponsive lips’,) “than he had ever felt had before” (one ‘had’ too many,) “the only options to negate it was to swallow Noctural 2.0 .. or they could go off planet” (is missing an ‘either’ before what then should be ‘were to swallow’; otherwise ‘the only option was to swallow’,) “had rode up in” (had ridden,) “the tallest thing standing on the island were the trees in Central Park” (was the trees.)


ParSec 8

I believe ParSec’s issue 8 has now gone live:-

I’ve not yet delved into this issue but it ought to contain my reviews of Beethoven’s Assassins by Andrew Crumey, Chimera by Alice Thompson, and Umbilical by Teika Marija Smits.


Three for ParSec

You may have noticed on my sidebar that I am reading Stephen Baxter’s Creation Node. This is his latest novel and I will be reviewing it for ParSec.

In the same package Mindbreaker by Kate Dylan arrived. I’ll get onto that next. The author is new to me.

In a subsequent list of potential review books I couldn’t resist asking for My Brother’s Keeper by Tim Powers. This is a fantasy centred round the Brontë family and also awaits a read.

ParSec Update

I have finished Gary Gibson’s Europa Deep and sent the review off to ParSec.

In the meantime two further review books have arrived for me to peruse.

These are Mindbreaker by Kate Dylan, an author new to me, and Creation Node by Stephen Baxter of whom that can not be said.

Those two should keep me busy.

Beyond the Burn Line by Paul McAuley

Gollancz, 2022, 459 p. Reviewed for ParSec 6.

The burn line is a geological stratum of scorched remains marking where a catastrophe – partly of their own making – befell what the inhabitants of a far future Earth remember as ogres. After the ogres’ demise a civilisation of intelligent bears developed, bears who enslaved Pilgrim Saltmire’s people before the bears in turn lost sway and regressed to feral habits. But the people’s memories of enslavement are long and bitter. The society in which Pilgrim lives is at a more or less agrarian level, transport is typically by four-legged animal known as a mara, though a slow growth is occurring of techne inspired by artefacts dug up from archaeological sites, for example messages are being sent by tapcode. The prevailing religion’s deity is referred to as Mother, a mother who could at first be interpreted as Mother Earth but turns out not to be.

Saltmire has a gammy leg, is an albino and a pure – a person who doesn’t feel the effect of the yearly Season, and is pitied for it. We follow his story after the death of his mentor, the scholar Master Able, who spent his time trying to elucidate whether accounts of strange visitors accompanied by lights in the sky had any truth to them. Saltmire’s wish is to carry on Able’s work but all his writings were returned to Able’s family on his death and Saltmire is forced to go back to his own tribe to try to obtain funding to carry on the work. It does not go well and he is exiled for a year for a violent, though in self-defence, attack. In exile, he is charged with setting to rights a neglected library. One day he discovers a map which appears to show a visitor beside a hitherto unknown bear city. Unfortunately, he falls foul of the local law enforcement officer and loses the map to him. Thereafter, the remainder of Part One of the book, Archaeologies of Memory, lies in his attempts, along with members of The Invisible College, a group of female activists, to regain the map via a prophet, Foeless Landwalker, who claims the coming of the visitors is imminent and has gathered a cohort of adherents to call them down. Like all such, Landwalker’s connection to the object of his obsessions is negligible. When the visitors reveal themselves, it is not to him.

There is then a sudden jump to Part Two, The Other Mother. Pilgrim Saltmire is fourteen years dead, the visitors, descendants of ogres – humans sent out in seedships in a failed attempt to colonise other planets but now returned – live openly with, but separate from, the people (who are much smaller in stature, being descended from racoons) with treaties regulating their interactions. The controlling intelligence of the returned seedship, an AI, is referred to as Mother and has an array of advanced technologies at her disposal.

Human Ysbel Moonsdaughter of the Bureau of Indigenous Affairs is sent to investigate the deaths of two of the people as a result of a speedboat race between two humans, Trina Mersdaughter and Joyous Hightower. The local bailiff she is dealing with, Goodwill Saltmire, is Pilgrim’s nephew and he realises that the map, the prize Mersdaughter and Hightower were racing for, is the same one his uncle had lost. Its hint of a possible connection between humans and bears long before the recent supposed First Contact combined with a possible re-emergence of intelligent bears has potentially threatening consequences for relations between humans and the people. Ysbel’s investigations delve into the map’s background, unfold the history and antagonisms of both Mothers – and the possible existence of a third. During them she meets numerous setbacks, betrayals and agents acting in bad faith. At one point her commlink to the Mother’s network is memorably described by one of the people as a “telephone in her head.”

It is not often that a work of Science Fiction has as its central focus, its plot driver, a historical artefact. (Of course, to us readers in 2022 it is in effect a contingent future one.) The blending of far future SF with a quest for a defiantly mundane document works well here and the notion of a reverse First Contact is a neat twist to that trope. The main characters are depicted acting in recognisable ways (sometimes all too recognisable) but nevertheless have individuality.

Some may complain this is all too narrowly drawn, that the First Contact is witnessed but its immediate ramifications are not. That the climactic battle between the two Mothers occurs off-stage. But the stories of individuals caught up in larger events are as, if not more, worthy of depiction as those events themselves. It is, after all, as individuals that we live our lives.

Pedant’s corner:- “‘where you’re planning to go, someone like you is you’re going to need someone like me’” (doesn’t need the ‘you’re’,)  “reached a brief crescendo” (brief climax,) “jutting at at different levels and angles” (either no first [or second] ‘at’, or, ‘jutting out at’.) “ ‘So far no one will tell me who am I supposed to be co-operating with’” (who I am supposed to be co-operating with,) “when it came of matters of trust” (when it came to matters of trust,) “the map had once been belonged to his tribe” (no need for that ‘been’,) “‘and return it my tribe’” (return it to my tribe,) make sure that that neither the humans nor native authorities” (no second ‘that’,) accidently “accidentally,) oughten’t (oughtn’t.)


Europa Deep

You may have noticed on my sidebar the book Europa Deep by Gary Gibson.

This is to be the latest of my reviews for ParSec online magazine.

I know Gary, at least to talk to at conventions. It’s been a long time since I did though. He now lives in Taipei. The book was mailed to me all the way from there.

The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia

Tachyon, 2022, 177 p, plus 5 p Afterword and 4 p Acknowledgements.  $15.95. Reviewed for ParSec 5.

Qilwa is an island lately having become independent of the mainland Queendom of Dilmun after previously being conquered by Sassanid, which in its turn was taken over by Dilmun. A plague has been raging through Qilwa, blamed unofficially (but with nods and winks from the authorities) on an influx of refugees of Sassanian heritage from Dilmun, fleeing both from the depredations of the sky-borne Homa bird and the fear by Qilmunis of Sassanian blood magic. The flight has been such that during the novel the last Sassanian people that were left in Dilmun arrive in Qilwa.

Viewpoint character Firuz-e Jafari, a user of blood magic, has not been in Qilwa long and still cannot get used to the local failure to designate chosen pronouns on being introduced to someone. When meeting a local healer, Kofi Nadifa, a man who is also able to control breezes, he says, “I’m they-Firuz” and throughout the book is described by the pronouns they, them and themself. When Firuz rescues another Sassanian, she introduces herself to them as she-Afsoneh. We never see other characters, like Firuz’s brother Parviz, and his friend Ahmed, or indeed any Dilmunis, barring Kofi, introduced. Except for the occasional other pronouns such as zhe, zher and hu, usually used for incidental characters, those whom Firuz interacts with are designated either by name or the more traditional singular pronouns.

In Dilmun, Sassanians are definitely second-class citizens, kept more or less segregated. In this fantasy world, as in the real, colonialism exerts a dark shadow. Kofi tells Firuz, “It’s said when your people took ours over they made a pact with a dark god to gain powers over life,” a phrase which has echoes of the blood libel. Firuz’s family at first had to live in an area known as the Underdock before his work at Kofi’s clinic allows them to move to a slightly better neighbourhood and such is the fear in which blood magic is held that Firuz has to keep their abilities secret. They worry in particular about Afsoneh, who has an innate facility for blood magic but is totally untrained and thus a danger not only to anyone she might try to heal but to herself and her associates. Firuz agrees to train her and says, “‘Really all magic works on this principle, pulling energy from a source in order to manipulate it. But for us, for blood magic users, we have to pull from our own life force.’” Blood magic users are practiced in the science, those in training or without the control are adepts.

Some healing magic is acceptable in Dilmun, though. Environmental magic involves equivalent exchange (akin to the First Law of Thermodynamics,) and structural magic uses runes or words to channel energy.

When cases of blood-bruising begin to arise, brought to their clinic’s attention by a local undertaker showing them bodies strangely preserved after death, Firuz is at first baffled by the phenomenon but its possible ramifications for Sassanians in Qilmun after the only recently subsided plague are not lost on them. It takes a while for them to work out its possible cause, bone marrow increasing its output of blood cells to an unsustainable level. This faulty blood, leading to lack of clotting and subsequent bruising, its lack of oxygen carrying capacity giving unwarranted fatigue, is redolent of someone searching for blood that attacks illness and wipes it out without a trace by magical means instead of natural. Firuz’s suspicions initially fall on Afsoneh who is covertly attempting to carry out an alignment, a redistribution of tissue to other areas or a breakdown of tissue for the body to repurpose, on Parviz before Firuz prevails on her to stop. The true culprit for the altered blood is more surprising.

The background colouring to the story (the author is the child of Persians who emigrated to the US) is out of the ordinary for modern fantasy but not too unfamiliar historically. However, this is Jamnia’s first novel and sometimes that shows. Relationships tend to be sketched rather than fleshed out, the concept of the Homa bird is sorely underdeveloped and the climactic scene feels rushed. Then there is the use of the somewhat coy “muck” or “mud” as expletives. The prejudice in Qilwan society is mostly mentioned rather than shown and sits a little uneasily with the book’s other elements. In scenes where more than one person is present that usage of plural pronouns for Firuz is liable to be misread.

Twice it is emphasised that “Magic is mostly a working of the will.” Jamnia’s will is strong but perhaps their magic isn’t quite fully controlled as yet. Overall, though, The Bruising of Qilwa is an interesting read.

Pedant’s corner:- Afosneh (elsewhere Afsoneh.) “It annoyed Firuz to no end” (no, it did not annoy Firuz ‘for no purpose,’ it annoyed Firuz no end, ie it annoyed Firuz immensely, “the warm towel with the runes sewn into them” (sewn into it.) “Had he been in a chair, Ahmed would have likely sunk into it. As it were, he cradled his head in his hands.” (As it was, he cradled,) “the minutia of the shifts” (this read as plural, minutiae,) “on the governor’s behest” (at the governor’s behest,) sunk (sank.) “This would make the day to day of running of the clinic” (no need for the ‘of’.) “It was so nice someone around their age to talk with” (so nice to have someone,) sprung (sprang.) “a density separator” (a centrifuge to give it its proper name,) “a yellowish-clear layer” (implies a yellow liquid cannot be clear; it can: ‘a clear [pale?] yellow layer’,) “Afsoneh squirmed of reach” (out of reach.) In the Afterword; “the storming of the White House” (the Capitol,) “to use my background a scientist” (as a scientist,) “the people from whom my parents came from” (has one ‘from’ too many.)

Best of British Science Fiction 2021 Edited by Donna Scott  

NewCon Press, 2022, p. Reviewed for ParSec 5.

In her introduction to this collection of twenty-three stories taken from various sources, editor Donna Scott wonders about the shadow the Covid pandemic will cast over Science Fiction. Though few of the submissions to her had addressed it directly she sees its influence as being present in subtler ways – isolation being one of the themes. The book’s contents cover a relatively wide spectrum of SF tropes (the generation starship seems to be making a comeback, though time travel continues to be somewhat out of vogue.)

As to the stories themselves….

In ‘Distribution’ by Paul Cornell a local authority operative investigates a man who has divided his consciousness among parts of himself that he now keeps in tubes.

‘Stealthcare’ by Liz Williams focuses on an insurance assessor investigating possible fraud in a future where health is expensively monitored by interactive wrist band.

‘Down and Out Under the Tannhauser Gate’ by David Gullen centres on an old soldier eking out her existence by the interstellar gate where she was the only human survivor of the last battle and waiting for her chance to pass through to its imagined delights.

The superbly written ‘Me Two’ by Keith Brooke and Eric Brown is a poignant tale relating the connection, from first awareness(es) to death, of a consciousness switching daily between Danny Madison in London and Cristina Velásquez in Barcelona.

In Tim Major’s ‘The Andraiad,’ Martin is the andraiad replacement for a man who committed a violent crime, and is determined to be a better person than his predecessor.

The action of ‘Bloodbirds’ by Martin Sketchley occurs after the Qall have come, used humanity as humans had used other animals, and then gone again, leaving inside people cells which will form Qall embryos, emerge with little warning, and devastate their erstwhile host. Nikki is an Angel, part of the Vanguard who hunt down these surrogates. Then she meets a possible surrogate man who treats her kindly.

In ‘Going Home’ by Martin Westlake a Russian scientist is in effect conscripted to investigate mysterious fragments found in the area where Tunguska was struck by a meteorite              . Or was the devastation there caused by a conflict between angels?

Spookily atmospheric, ‘Okamoto’s Lens’ by A N Myers centres on the eponymous lens which acts a bit like Bob Shaw’s slow glass, only in reverse. It can capture images of the future.

Set in Leith, ‘Love in the Age of Operator Errors’ by Ryan Vance explores the illicit use of memory technology to access the experiences of the narrator’s lost boyfriend.

‘Stone of Sorrow’ by Peter Sutton combines two new technologies, an experimental system for regenerating farm soil and a top secret army transportation system in a story whose focus doesn’t stray from concern for its characters.

Bearing some tonal resemblances to Daniel Keyes’s Flowers for Algernon, ‘Henrietta’ by T H Dray features a retired plastic-eating artificial life-form which wants to see a sunrise.

The light-hearted ‘A History of Food Additives in 22nd Century Britain’ by Emma Levin does what its title promises. The entry for 2150 is especially sardonic.

‘The Trip’ by Michael Crouch has a professor and a newly qualified former student undertake an archaeological expedition on a new planet, where they make a mind-expanding discovery.

‘The Ghosts of Trees’ by Fiona Moore. A plant researcher working in the Nevada desert on plants suitable for use on Mars sees the ghosts of trees, specifically the trees in the footage of 1950s nuclear test explosions.

Russell Hemmell’s ‘The Opaque Mirror of Your Face’ is narrated by a faceless cyborg, part of a human spinal fluid harvesting team, who steals – down to the seventh dermal level – the face of a young woman to use as his own. Her revenge is not what you might expect.

Aliya Whiteley’s ‘More Sea Creatures to See’ features aliens who, unbeknownst to humans, are slowly replacing them in order to turn Earth into a theme park.

Remarkably effective at evoking memories for those of a certain age, ‘The End of All Exploring’ by Gary Couzens is a hymn both to all those unrecorded 1960s TV moments forever lost to the ether and to the man who comes back in time to record them.

David Cleden’s ‘How Does My Garden Grow?’ is set on a generation starship whose occupants are obsessed with keeping the recycling ratio as high as possible.

‘Girls’ Night Out’ by Teika Marija Smits relates an experience of “bottled” memories by hybrids who are used to do the unpleasant jobs necessary for wider society to function.

‘Bar Hopping for Astronauts’ by Leo X Robertson finds a former astronaut who has been locked into his space suit for twenty years having to come to terms with the modern world.

‘In Aeturnus’ by Phillip Irving sees a man trapped in a never-ending cycle of regeneration and disposal.

Emma Johanna Puranen’s ‘A Spark in a Flask’ is set in a moonbase abandoned to robot caretakers supervising a series of experiments set up to engender life. The protocols are not set to cater for the project’s success.

A tale about the survivor of an airlock accident having to overcome her fears, the elegantly allusively titled ‘A Pall of Moondust’ by Nick Wood references other SF stories set on the Moon as well as the Arthur C Clarke story its title echoes.

In summary, there is nothing remarkably new here but all are good examples of the genre, many illustrating what it is best suited to explore, the human condition under stress.

Pedant’s corner:- In the Introduction: Smits’ (Smits’s,)  Myers’ (Myers’s.) Otherwise; “its” (it’s,) “steps back down them with he sees Shan hasn’t followed” (when he sees Shan hasn’t,) WID (elsewhere WIS, for Wehlberg’s Inflammatory Syndrome,) missing start quotation marks. “‘She said she’d always has this one’” (always had this one.) ‘I thought about it. “some women too.”’ (either; no full stop but a comma; or; ‘Some women too’,) ‘Dumass” brigade’ (Dumas’s brigade,) ;the aliens” stillness’ (the aliens’ stillness,) no capital letters on a new piece of direct speech (x 2,) “you ‘ve done it” (you’ve done it,) “as they set of up the steps” (set off,) “I ‘ll come back” (I’ll come back,) “three Cytheran” (Cytherans,) Louis’ (x 3, Louis’s.) “The nine on the lower deck” (in the previous paragraph we are told there had been sixteen on the lower deck, nine on the upper,) unfocussed (unfocused,) whiskey (x 2. This is set in Birmingham [and not the one in Alabama]: whisky,then,) camelia (x 2, camellia,) Chris’ (Chris’s,) “leaving for her sisters’” (her sister’s.) “The receptionist clicks their tongue” (the receptionist had previously been described as a man; so; ‘clicks his tongue’,) “set him at odds to” (at odds with,) whiskey (in Leith it’s whisky,) “the civil war” (Civil War,) span (x 2, spun,) “porch swing” (for a story set in England a farm having a porch swing is unlikely.) “I acknowledge that the growing inefficiency of my mouth-parts, gut and legs necessitate precautionary measures” (the growing inefficiency ….. necessitates precautionary measures,) McVities’ (McVitie’s,) “meeting up with the one that got away after twenty years ago” (either ‘the one got away after twenty years’ or, ‘the one got away twenty years ago.) “‘That is what you we’re thinking’” (you were thinking,) a paragraph break in the middle of a sentence (x 2.) “The only thing I can seem to see in sharp focus are little bursts of light” (the only thing …. is little bursts.) “There are a mix of colours” (there is a mix,) “the cushioning effect of mycelial layers on the floor become more apparent” (the cushioning effect … becomes more apparent.) “Fungi can eat rock and absorb the mineral content into its own being” (fungi is a plural word; so; ‘into their own being’,) “eager to see what else lay beyond” (the rest of the paragraph is in present tense; ‘what lies beyond’,) “into the gaping maw of the passage entrance” (a maw is a stomach, not a mouth,) “neither of us were in a state” (neither of us was,) “Hangar is just passed the check point” (just past.) “Whatever ripe human muscles a human body owns is at risk” (ripe human muscles …. are at risk.) “‘Healthy for what I can see from a superficial reading’” (Healthy from what I can see,) “he began (rest is in present tense; begins,) “concentrated in listening to” (concentrated on,) “it has the excitement of the novelty” (of the novel,) “as he has done a while ago” (as he had done,) “or we careful avoid developing one” (carefully,) “I’m incapable to get rid of both” (it’s not ‘incapable to’ it’s ‘incapable of’; incapable of getting rid.) “I have to be contented in touching her lips” (contented with touching,) “for what it’s going to happen” (what is going to happen.) “‘Since the first time you’ve screwed me’” (the first time you screwed me,) Woolworth’s (Woolworths,) “<em>TV Time</em>” (<em>TV Times</em>; correctly titled lower down the same page,) “whom I met once I week” (once a week.) “I could day more” (say more?) “He turned to face m.” (to face me.) “I was furious at have been lied to” (at having been.) “I hurried down the stars” (stairs.) “‘I’m the one they’ve come from’” (they’ve come for,) “‘has involved us with us in this matter’” (no need for that ‘with us’,) “photograph if a bride and groom standing hand in hand” (of a bride and groom,) “the fading purple of chive flowers are hung with melancholy” (has something syntactically wrong about it. ‘The fading purple … is hung with melancholy’ is more grammatical but odd. ‘The fading purple chive flowers are hung with melancholy’ just about works,) smartglass’ (smartglass’s,) “open doorways loom dark like maws” (maws are stomachs, not mouths,) descendent (descendant,) “wide as a monster’s maw” (it’s a stomach, not a mouth.) “‘Do we need to titrate your medication and increase your dose?’” (titrate is not the correct verb here,) Baines’ (x 2, Baines’s,) knobkierie (Afrikaans spelling of knobkerrie.)


Books, Books

While we’re on literary matters.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by the author Andrew Crumey who informed me he appreciated my comments on his prevous books, that he had a new one coming out eintitled Beethoven’s Assassins and that I ought to contact the publisher (Dedalus) to obtain a copy. (If they failed to oblige he would send me one himself.) What a nice man.

As you can see from my sidebar Dedalus did indeed oblige and I have started reading it.

Also received, this time from ParSec, is Chimera, a book written by Alice Thompson who was once a member of the band The Woodentops and has eight previous novels to her name. As far as I’m aware none of them was a work of Science Fiction. I confess I have not read any of them. I assume the review (once I write it) will appear in issue 8.


ParSec 7

It’s ParSec time again. The seventh edition of the online SF magazine is now available to purchase.

This issue contains my reviews of The Chinese Time Machine by Ian Watson and Cold Water by Dave Hutchinson.

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