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Shoreline of Infinity 13; Autumn 2018

The New Curiosity Shop, 2018.

 Shoreline of Infinity 13 cover

In Pull up a Loga Noel Chidwick says that the tradition and sense of myth in Scottish story-telling underlies Shoreline of Infinity, tales of wonder told round the fire as the cold swirls around, and invites us in. Reviewsb has Katy Lennon finding the worlds depicted in the anthology Improbable Botany edited by Gary Dalkin feeling “real and conscious”, Samantha Dolan is impressed by Cat Hellisen’s collection Learning How to Drown, Steve Ironside appreciates rather than enjoys the lampoon The Church of Latter-Day Eugenics by Chris Kelso and Tom Bradley, but still tilts his crown to it, Rachel Hill finds Autonomous by Annalee Newitz to be an accomplished thriller, tackling thorny contemporary issues without offering simple solutions, Callum McSorley welcomes us to the Wild East of the collected novellas of Apocalypse Nyx by Kameron Hurley, formula plotting and all, Marija Smits says Sealed by Naomi Booth is a powerful book with an original, hard-hitting premise, Lucy Powell describes The Freeze-Frame Revolution as hard and fast-paced narrative that really makes you think, gripping till the last page, Georgina Merry defines Fifty-One by Chris Barnham as a fun read – with flaws.
Multiverse has poems by Tris Crestd, Charlotte Ozment and Nate Maxson, while a total of three 6 word stories (written respectively by Gregg Chamberlain, Dane Divine and Michael Stroh) appear, one each, at the bottoms of pages 44, 71 and 131.

In the fiction:-
Harry’s Shiver* by Esme Carpenter. A man commissioned to steal some sort of (unspecified) valuable raids the ‘unbreachable’ Caste Arco. To aid him he makes use of devices he calls Shivers. I’m afraid for me this story was marred by far too much obtrusive info dumping, some unnecessary phrases, the occasional odd word choice and more than a smattering of cliché.

In The Time Between Time*2 by Premee Mohamed windows onto another planet have begun appearing all over Earth. Eleven year-old Dalton finds one in her back garden and tries to keep it secret.

Daughter3 by Laura Young is narrated by a woman taking her terminally ill mother from Japan to her home in San Francisco to care for her. Things turn strange during the flight and even stranger when they land.

Splitting Up*4 by Bo Balder is narrated by a Split – a part of someone’s personality which by medical intervention has been reduced to only restricted access to that person’s body but takes over for designated purposes – in this case interacting/having sex with a boyfriend.

In Goodnight Rosemarinus5 by Caroline Grebell a future human, evolved into a sea-dweller, is held captive by an alien Observer. This story is followed by a one page article “We Have a Winner”d on the artist, Jimmy McGregor, who won the competition to illustrate the story.

Tim Major’s Cast in the Same Mould* describes the peculiar circumstances in which life is discovered on Mars.

The Beachcomber Presents Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein6 by Mark Toner, Stephen Pickering & Tsu Beel discusses Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the original and its various adulterated adaptations.

Next comes an interview with the authore (conducted by Noel Chidwick) and extracts from the novel Origamy7 by Rachel Armstrong.

Preceded by a very short author intervewf (by Chris Kelso,) The Silk Tower of Beijing8 by Preston Grassman is dedicated to the late Iain M Banks. Seeming to take inspiration from that author’s A Gift From the Culture an inhabitant of an Earth taken over by aliens strikes at the core of their hold over humans

Pedant’s corner:- I proofread the stories marked* before publication so assume there are no remaining errata there. Otherwise; aHanks’ (Hanks’s.) b“made up of diverse range” (made up of a diverse range,) pays of (pays off,) “an authors motivation” (author’s,) “each … aren’t window dressing” (each isn’t,) “this editions extra interview material” (edition’s,) “the majority of the public are unconcerned” (the majority … is unconcerned,) Watts’ (Watts’s,) eons (aeons,) “the inherently claustrophobia nature” (the inherently claustrophobic nature,) “where the human’s sleep” (humans,) “the twists and turns … is at times genuinely shocking” (are genuinely shocking,) “the ultimate climax of the book and the afterword to is one that is” (that ‘and’ requires a plural verb, ‘are ones that are’,) “one could be forgiven into thinking they were reading sections” (again, ‘one’ is a singular antecedent and should not be followed by a plural pronoun,) “the group split” (splits.) cIn the author blurb “bird nests” (normally ‘birds’ nests’.) dfocussed (focused.) eMobius’ (Mobius’s.) f“the nations arts” (nation’s,) skillful (skilful,) Ian M Banks (x2, Iain,) Banks’ (Banks’s.)
1Written in USian. 2Written in USian. Or is it Canadian? Instantly dated by its mention of Stephen Hawking. 3Written in USian. 4 Written in USian. “The uited people” (The suited people.) 5focussed (focused.) 6“ice flow” (ice floe that would be,) “whom in turn draughts it” (who in turn drafts it,) “as Victor grew as did his love for Science” (as Victor grew so did his love for..) Victors’ (Victor’s,) “evidence there of” (thereof,) Victor breaths his last” (breathes his last,) “There’s very few movies” (there are very few movies,) “near all of” (nearly all of.) 7haurspicy (haruspicy,) auger (after the previous page’s mention of four types of divination I strongly suggest this is intended to be ‘augur’. An auger is a different thing entirely.) 8Written in USian, “a flock of drone-birds hover” (a flock hovers,) a missing full stop (x 4.) “The cross-hatched ruins of the Bird’s Nest appears” (the .. ruins… appear,) “none of them are as monumental” (none .. is as monumental.) “As I think of the world as I want to be” (‘as I want it to be’ makes more sense.)

Shoreline of Infinity 12: Summer 2018

The New Curiosity Shop, 134 p

In Pull up a Log Iain Maloney reflects on his time as Shoreline’s reviews editor.

In the fiction we have Do Not Pass GO by Helen Jackson, a light-hearted time-travelling story which tells how the board game “Property Is Best!” became “Monopoly” and conquered the world.
This is followed by Aeaea by Robert Gordon where day by day a man’s consciousness passes between bodies working on a production line of some sort. The workers are overseen by robots. He knows little of his past but occasional dreams let him know he had one. He instigates a revolution but there is still time for an ending which, despite some foreshadowing, is still a deus ex machina.
In Jammers by Anton Rose a young Max is recruited into a gang which remotely hi-jacks self-driving cars in order to rob their passengers. His junkie mother is disgusted by his new-found occupation.
Paradise Bird by J S Richardson features an exotic alien – a male – from an almost forgotten far-flung outpost of humanity come to visit the Habs on the fringe of the asteroid belt and charm one of the hermaphroditic inhabitants.
In Sand and Rust by W G White the entirety of human civilisation wanders through a relentless desert landscape in a caravan guided by a machine called The Chaperone. The caravan’s First Rider has to induct his replacement before entering The Chaperone, never to re-emerge. I did wonder how, in the midst of all this desert, the people in the caravan obtained food.
Sleeping Fire by Elvira Hills is a tale of haves and have nots, the desert people left without regeneration technology, those in Rejensy exploiting them to secure their own longevity. New recruit Resa determines to redress things. The pacing here is a little too breathless at times and the action sequence borders on cliché.
The Beachcomber Presents graphic strip literally depicts people living in social bubbles, escaping their confines to find the richness outside.
SF Caledonia: Crossing the Starfield by Chris Kelsoa relates how he stumbled on a copy of Starfield, the first ever anthology of Scottish Science Fiction, in a Glasgow second-hand bookshopb. He goes on to wonder how it has been so forgotten (not by those of a certain age, mate) and to eulogise the contents.
The Square Fella1 by Duncan Lunan is one of the stories from that collection and describes the first manned rocket mission out of the bowl of the world in which its protagonist lives.

There is a page introducing a flash fiction competition for SoI readers on the subject of the Moonc followed by an interview with Ada Palmer conducted by Eris Young.
Ruth E J Booth’s Noise and Sparks column Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Genred discusses the ongoing disparagement of SF by some academics.

Reviews sees Eris Young finding new depth in Ada Palmer’s Terra Incognita trilogy as books 2 and 3 Seven Surrenders and The Will to Battle roll on, Steve Ironsidee confesses to not being armoured enough to cope with the rhythm and narrative of Hal Duncan’s A Scruffian Survival Guide, Katy Lennon delights in the intricacies of M John Harrison’s You Should Come with Me Nowf, Georgina Merryg appreciates the gorgeous writing and unpredictable story line of Sarah Maria Griffin’s Spare and Found Parts, Callum McSorley feels the mix of action thriller and political drama in Null States by Malka Older doesn’t quite mesh, Lucy Powellh describes Eric Brown’s Binary System as a colourful romp.
MultiVerse has poems by Caroline Haker, Ken Poyner and Elizabeth Dulemba (whose three very short pieces are illustrated.) Replacing Parabolic Puzzles we have Spot the Difference by Tsu.

Pedant’s corner:- I proofread the fiction original to this issue before publication so assume there are no remaining errata there. 1“at its comers” (‘corners’ makes sense, ‘comers’ doesn’t,) “on one side that the other” (than,) “but if was less massive” (if it was less massive,) “the last chance to bum him with his knowledge” (burn. This – as with comers above – is a manifestation of the problem in some fonts of distinguishing the letter pairing ‘rn’ from the single letter ‘m’.)
a“There is a notable contributions” (contribution,) David Crooks’ (Crooks’s,) “of it’s achievements” (its.) bSaid in the introduction to be in Glasgow’s Merchant City but it’s in the West end. c“on the the theme of the Moon” (only one ‘the’ needed.) d“the kind of the impact” (the kind of impact,) “startling out of depth” (startlingly.) e“but the challenges I faced in getting to grips with Duncan’s writing means …” (the challenges mean….) 3272 pags apparently (pages,) clamor (is the reviewer USian?) “twisting the reader’s expectations, forcing them…” (that ‘them’ means its noun antecedent ought to be “readers’”,) maw (it’s a stomach, not a mouth.) g“merely part of the characters’ identity” (characters, plural, therefore ‘identities’.) h“for all intents and purposes” (it’s ‘to all intents and purposes’.)

Shoreline of Infinity 11½: Edinburgh International Science Festival 2018

Shoreline of Infinity 11½ cover

In “Pull up a Log” editor Noel Chidwick puts the case for SF as a way to fulfil the question, “Can Science Fiction save us?” posed as the title of the spoken word Event Horizon the magazine was invited by the International Science Festival to put on in connection with the festival.

Some of the contents have appeared in previous issues. Charlie: A Projecting Prestidigitator by Megan Neumann and the poem The Morlock’s Arms by Ken McLeod appeared in Shoreline of Infinity (SoI) 2, We Have Magnetic Trees by Iain Maloney, Pigeon by Guy Stewart and the poem South by Marge Simon in SoI 3, Goodnight New York, New York by Victoria Zevlin and the poem Starscape by J S Watts in SoI 6, Message in a Bottle by Davyne DeSye in SoI 7, the poem Spring Offensive by Colin McGuire in SoI 8, while The Sky is Alive by Michael F Russell, The Last Days of the Lotus Eaters by Leigh Harlen and the poem the evening after by Peter Roberts in SoI 9.

We start with the poem Can Sci-Fi Save Us? by Jane Yolen and then the fiction kicks off with A Cure for Homesickness by Anne Charnock in which a contract employee ponders whether to extend her time.
Winter in the Vivarium1 by Tim Major is set in a future ice age. Ice statues suddenly start to appear outside the Vivarium for the rich and privileged whose upkeep is seen to by viewpoint character, the much less privileged Byron.
Charlie’s Ant2 by Adrian Tchaikovsky is about the dispute between Central Control and the ants of Charlie field over how maintain a farm’s production of grain. (Unbeknownst to both, the human society they were set up to service has broken down.)
In Candlemaker Row3 by Jane Alexander an unspecified disaster has hit Edinburgh. Our narrator is a woman who once lived there, now employed to verify its digital reconstruction – especially its aromas.
The titular Mémé of Juliana Rew’s story is one of the few survivors of her age group left after a flu epidemic wiped out older people. She becomes venerated and an influencer.
Monoliths4 by Paul McAuley looks to have been inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey and the phenomenon of crop circles. Set in the author’s Quiet War universe three conspirators contrive to build a monolith on the far side of the Moon. When touched it will activate a radio signal beamed at the galaxy’s centre. Thirty-six years later more such unattributed monoliths begin to spring up all over the Solar System.
In A Distant Honk by Holly Schofield, a research biologist is tracking the behaviour and habitat of the wild clown population, which is dying out.
The Day it all Ended5 by Charlie Jane Anders shows a worker for a producer of useless but made highly desirable items deciding to tell his boss where to stuff it all only to find that was what the company had been waiting for to put into effect its real plan.
The narrator of Last of the Guerilla Gardeners6 by David L Clements is exactly that. Big agribusiness corporations have taken over seed distribution with only a dedicated few guerrilla gardeners left to scatter wild seed about. And there has been a crackdown on them. This story does for plants what Number Ten Q Street did for food.
This is followed by the poem: Now a Ragged Breeze by Jane Yolen.
Then in “Working the High Steel”7 by Jennifer R Povey, Malisse is a female Mohawk used to being told to get back to the reservation. But she is a construction worker, on a kind of space elevator. The finished project is being tested when one of the transit pods hits a problem. She goes out to try to fix it. After all, “‘Mohawks don’t fall.’”
The Rest is Speculation8 by Eric Brown is set over two million years in the future when representatives of all the sentient species which have populated Earth are brought to witness the planet’s last moments. The story nods to James Blish’s Surface Tension.

Pedant’s corner:- 1“Bryan dropped down from gantry” (from the gantry,) “the ha-ha that obstructed views of the town” (obscured is more usual,) jerry-rig (jury-rig.) 2Despite the author being British we have fit as a past tense (fitted,) “sufficient to even take the ants aback” (since this was about the ants’ attitudes this should be ‘sufficient to take even the ants aback,’) “I have had to considerable increase” (considerably.) 3“the skin team are working on it” (strictly ‘the skin team is working on it’,) “the Nor” Loch” (x2, Nor’ requires only an inverted comma, not an end quotation mark.) “Architects drawings” (strictly, Architects’.) “His team have been running behind” (his team has been.) 4 “ratio of 1:4:9, the square of the first three integers” (the squares of the first three.) 5ne280ws (???) CO2 (CO2, x 3,) a missing comma before a piece of direct speech. 6lept (leapt,) unlisenced (unlicenced,) gardner (gardener.) 7two odd line breaks on page 147, “a 140-pound woman could not hold a 230- pound man” (either both, or neither, should have a space after the 140 or 230,) “ I don’t really see she could have stayed on when the passenger pod after it started moving’” (no ‘when’ required,) “‘when the pod is stationery’” (stationary.) 8“this lacunae in our memories” (lacunae is plural. Either ‘these lacunae’ or, ‘this lacuna’. The first would make more sense,) eyes-stalks (eye-stalks – unless the stocks had more than one eye each,) “‘And they?’ I Kamis asked?” (The ‘I’ is redundant.) “Time interval later” count; 2.

Shoreline of Infinity 11: Spring 2018

The New Curiosity Shop, 134 p.

All-women issue published on International Women’s Day.

 Shoreline of Infinity 11 cover

In Pull up a Log,a Guest Editors Pippa Goldschmidt, Caroline Grebell and Monica Burns note that some potential contributors to this special issue did not want to be cordoned off in such a way, bemoaning the general lack of submissions to SF markets by women writers, but rejoice in the many good submissions received – too many for this one edition, and lament the passing of Ursula Le Guin to whom they dedicate the issue.

Unusually we start with a poem, Speculative Fiction by Katherine McMahon. Later on the non-fiction has S J McGeachy’s “Frankenstein: the Nuts and Bolts of Genre Mash-up”b wherein the essayist feels Mary Shelley’s greatest achievement wasn’t so much the invention of a new genre but in ignoring the constraints of a previous one where in effect women didn’t matter. “Confessions of a Science Fiction She-nerd” by Jonatha Kottler tells us how the author got into SF, there is an interview with Lisanne Normann conducted by Caroline Grebell, “Noise and Sparks: Beyond the Mountains” by Ruth E J Booth finds the author disappointed in the Wonder Woman film’s failure to resonate with her personally while recognising it did with others, and arguing for more diverse stories on the mainstream. Reviews has only books by female authors all reviewed by women. Marija Smitsc finds Helen Segdwick’s The Growing Season slightly flawed, Eris Youngd looks at Lidia Yulnavitch’s Book of Joan,e Shelly Bryant’s collection Launch Pad lacks dynamism made up for by ambition according to Georgina Murray,f Samantha Dolang appreciates N K Jemisin’s The Fifth Season and Lucy Powellh calls The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers a tour de force. To that last I can only say, “What?” Multiversei has six poems by three poets, Catherine Edmunds, Paige Smith and Katie Fanthorpe.
As to the fiction:
A Slow Unfurling of Truth1 by Aliette de Bodard is a human tale of betrayal, filial duty and redemption wound round a memory encoding device in a colonially exploited setting.
In Write ME2 by Emily Bowles women’s bodies are being adapted to service the preservation of language in order to maintain male privilege and power.
Heading for the Border3 by Karen Heuler is set in a post-apocalyptic world invaded by aliens who bombed a nuclear reactor. Two women scratch a living selling cosmetics from the back of a truck to help improve the survivors’ morale.
Lith Amenti’s Sacrifice for a Broken Sky4 has a father about to sacrifice his daughter to placate what appears to be a black hole tearing at the fabric of the world. It isn’t, quite, and the story’s resolution doesn’t fit with its beginning.
In Do No Harm5 by Anna Ibbotson the reward for coming in the top two in an online virtual reality cancer eradicating game is to treat patients in the real world. The top guy is very casual about the process.
#No Bad Vibes6 by Katy Lemon is narrated via alien edited audio transcripts of and commentary on posts by an internet influencer. The aliens are using her to promote their message. Misunderstandings are mutual.
Sim Bajwa’s HR Confidential7 is a set of recorded exchanges between an employee and Human Resources along with their accompanying memos. The employee’s complaints relate to an overbearing line manager and the company’s subsequent efforts to improve productivity.
In Pearls That Were His Eyes8 by Jen Downes, a soldier conscripted due to bankruptcy is injured in an attack but the ocean into which he falls, apparently to his death, is riddled with downed military medical bots.

Pedant’s corner:- two of the responses to Caroline Grebell’s Twitter requests, ‘Why do you read SciFi?’ ‘Your favourite female SciFi author?’ are printed twice – and I hate the contraction SciFi. It’s SF. a“there are a plethora of voices” (a plethora is singular, so ‘there is a plethora of voices’.) bH G Wells’ (Wells’s.) c“the brief mention to epigenetics” (mention of.) d‘geocatacysm’ (later in the review it’s ‘geocataclysm’,) ethe book’s cover – illustrated on the page – has The Book of Joan. f“For all intents and purposes” (is this USian? It’s ‘to all intents and purposes’,) sat (sitting,) “out with” (outwith.) gpalette (palate.) hChambers’ (Chambers’s,) Jenks’ (Jenks’s,) Chambers’ (this one wasn’t a possessive, so, Chambers.) iIn the author information; Edmunds’ (Edmunds’s,) “where she feel most at home” (feels.)
1“the back of their hands” (strictly that should be backs,) [“We should “] (that second quote mark is inverted in the text – an opening mark rather than a closing one – no doubt due to the character space between itself and ‘should’,) “Too young for everything that had might have happened off-world to him” (either ‘had’ or ‘might have’, not both,) “had insisted to come” (is not an English construction, ‘had insisted on coming’ is,) “she’d return the capital with one more authentication” (return to the capital,) “the man who pretended himself Simalli Fargeau” (again isn’t an English construction, ‘presented himself as’ or ‘pretended to be’.) 2written in USian, “a few strings savaged from a piano” (salvaged? Though, given the story’s premise savaged makes sense,) spit (the past tense is ‘spat’. I don’t care how USians say or spell it, it just is,) sprung (sprang.) “I on the other had simply gave him back one word at a time” (on the other hand.) 3Written in USian, Ikea (IKEA.) 4Written in USian, “Before, he thought before that he had prepared” (one ‘before’ too many I’d have thought,) “Hedda holds very last of her treasures” (holds the very last.) 5James’ (James’s,) “‘for hells sake’” (hell’s.) 6“individual specie traits” (‘specie’ means ‘in kind’ and hence ‘coins’. It is not the singular of species.) 7“‘For fucks suck’” (suck? And it should be fuck’s.) 8“this damn’ battle” (I fail to see the necessity of the apostrophe.)

Shoreline of Infinity 10: Winter 2017/18

The New Curiosity Shop, 132 p

 Shoreline of Infinity 10 cover

In Pull up a Log Editor-in-Chief Noel Chidwick rightly notes the achievement of the magazine reaching its tenth edition. There are Judge’s Reports by Eric Brown and Pippa Goldsmith on Shoreline’s flash fiction competition followed by a celebration of The Worthy Winners and shortlisteesb. Three of these stories appear in this edition (see *.) Tales From the Beachcomber riffs on the human fascination with powers of ten via the life and works of Arthur C Clarke, there’s an interview with Helen Sedgwick by Pippa Goldschmidtc, in Noise and Sparks: The Company of Bears, Ruth E J Booth lauds the interactions and memories convention going brings, the tolerance it fosters. Reviewsd considers Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning, the Jonathan Strahan edited Infinity Wars, Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140, The Death and Life of Schneider Wrack by Nate Crowley, 2084 edited by George Sandison, and The Clockwork Dynasty: A Novel by Daniel H Wilson. Multiverse has poems by Rachel Plummer, Jo-Ella Sarich and Rosemary Badcoe. Parabolic Puzzlese challenges the reader to identify twelve SF writers from their photographs and very brief information about them.

Little Freedoms by Ephiny Gale1 is set in a closed room where some sort of endurance test of nine characters is taking place with various tasks to be undertaken – such as not touching, not speaking, not breathing. The winner gains freedom (from an unspecified but clearly onerous existence.) The others are restored to their former state.
Sweet Compulsion by Chris Bailey is told to us rather than shown and overall feels more like a sketch of a story than the complete article. Riddled with quotations from Paradise Lost it features a world in which people’s thoughts are etched onto others’ skins.
In Junk Medicine2 by Die Booth plastic ownership is outlawed but there are still people willing to pay over the odds for items made from it. This story does for plastic what Number Ten Q Street did for real food.
ATU334 The Wise*3 by Marija Smits is a future tale of Baba Yaga and an importuner, the titular ATU334.
If Thine Eyes Offend Thee4 by Daniel Rosen is narrated by Elsa whose ambition was always to be a mermaid. We see the lengths of body reconstruction and skulduggery she will go to to win the Miss Cosmos competition.
Pauline and the Bahnians*5 by S K Farrell is set on a demilitarised outpost turned into a – possibly illegal – smallholding. Its weapons are still there though.
The narrator of The Apple Bee6 by K E McPhee is marooned on an island on a mostly water planet, with no communication with the rest of humanity and only potatoes, apples and corn as a food supply.
Don’t Speak; Don’t Listen7 by Serena Johe explores the ramifications of an implant that prevents the speaker insulting or denigrating anyone.
A Choice for the Golden Age* by Matthew Castle was the overall winner of the flash fiction competition. It’s set on a generation starship which rotates its crew (and holds its genetic cargo permanently) in suspended animation.

Pedant’s corner:- aIn the cover artist’s (Dave Alexander) information paragraph; “His biggest claim to fame were the two front covers he painted for DC Thomson’s Starblazer series” (His biggest claim to fame was the two front covers.) b“As economical a tone-poem … it’s” (As economical as a tone-poem.) cnot mentioned on the contents page. d“if the government get wind of him” (gets,) “while others featuring AIs and a couple are” (the rest of the verb forms in this sentence are indicative so ‘feature’,) “take several different aspects … and extrapolated them” (extrapolate them,) “how will it effect you” (affect was meant,) Watts’ (Watts’s,) a missing full stop at the end of a review, bail out (bail-out,) counsellors (as I remember the book it was councillors,) Eric Morecombe (Morecambe,) political dissension (dissent I would think.) “Although, some readers have taken issue with” (no comma after ‘although’,) as though there maybe” (as though there may be,) “into this under ground world” (underground.) e“The winning team …. were amply rewarded” (The winning team was amply rewarded.)
1“a couple of pair of trousers” (a couple of pairs of trousers.) 2whinging (whingeing,) there’s a missing full stop, “Carbonari’s” (earlier it was Carboneri’s.) 3Written in USian. 4Written in USian – though curiously we have manoeuvre instead of maneuver – there is a full stop instead of a comma at the end of piece of direct speech embedded in a longer sentence. “Scales in every spectrum of the rainbow” (suggests the author doesn’t know what spectrum means.) “I let her wheel me all the way back to my room and offered me another drag of her vaporiser” (offer.) “Auroras antennae flickered” (Aurora’s.) “The voice rumbles like through the water in a sticky molasses bass.” (The only way I can make sense of this sentence is if the ‘like’ is redundant.) 5“(what is a Bahnian, please?).” (doesn’t need the full stop.) 6“Quite early on he’d abandoned the neatly organised rows and began planting” (begun is more grammatical,) we have ‘gotten’ and ‘maneuvered’ (the author is Aussie which wil possibly explain these.) 7“someone shined a light” (shone. It’s shone a light.)

BSFA Awards Nominees for this Year

This year’s short list has been announced.

Best Novel:-

Dave Hutchinson – Europe at Dawn

Yoon Ha Lee – Revenant Gun

Emma Newman – Before Mars

Gareth L Powell – Embers of War

Tade Thompson – Rosewater

I’ve not yet read any of these, I’m afraid.

Best Shorter Fiction:-

Nina Allan – The Gift of Angels: an Introduction

Malcolm Devlin – The Purpose of the Dodo is to be Extinct

Hal Duncan – The Land of Somewhere Safe

Ian McDonald – Time Was

Martha Wells – Exit Strategy

Liz Williams – Phosphorus

Marian Womack – Kingfisher

The Purpose of the Dodo is to be Extinct appeared in Interzone 275 (I reviewed that issue here) and I read Time Was in September.

Best Non-Fiction:-

Nina Allan – Time Pieces column 2018 articles

Ruth EJ Booth – Noise and Sparks column 2018 articles

Liz Bourke – Sleeps With Monsters column 2018 articles

Aliette de Bodard – On motherhood and erasure: people-shaped holes, hollow characters and the illusion of impossible adventures

Adam Roberts – Publishing the Science Fiction Canon: The Case of Scientific Romance

Of these I have of course read Nina Allan’s “Time Pieces” from Interzone and (some of) Ruth EJ Booth’s “Noise and Sparks” columns in Shoreline of Infinity.

I’m assuming the usual BSFA Booklet will be forthcoming giving me a chance to catch up on the shorter fiction, non-fiction and artwork. First I’ll need to get to tracking down the novels…..

Shoreline of Infinity 9: Autumn 2017

The New Curiosity Shop, 2017, 132 p.

 Shoreline of Infinity 9 cover

Noel Chidwick’s Editorial riffs on the importance of SF as an admonitory undertaking. In SF Caledonia1 Monica Burns discusses the Victorian Robert Ellis Dudgeon (who also greatly improved the predecessor of the device used to measure blood pressure.) The Beachcomber Presents2 (Where Have all the Time Machines Gone) continues our four page graphic stories. There is an Interview with Cory Doctorow.3
Reviews has Eris Young praising Shattered Minds by Laura Lam,4 Neil Williamson describing Nina Allan’s The Rift as “a high class piece of fiction and a triumph of styorytelling”, Katie Gray in the end dislikes Sirens by Simon Messingham, Marija Smits5 casts a welcoming eye over Jeanette Ng’s Under the Pendulum Sun, Steve Ironside recommends Carapace by Davyne DeSye to lovers of bleak and gritty SF,6 Benjamin Thomas7 reviews the anthology Off Beat: Nine Spins on Song, Cory Doctorow’s Walkaway is appreciated by his interviewer Joanna McLaughlin, while The Delirium Brief by Charles Stross is assessed by Duncan Lunan.8
Multiverse9 features poems by Marise Morland, Bill Herbert and Peter Roberts. Paul Holmes’s Parabolic Puzzles10 updates the old what happened to the missing change conundrum.
As to the fiction:-
In The Last Days of the Lotus Eatersa by Leigh Harlen the universe is dying. The last humans inhabit a small village in a cooling world under a starless sky. One girl reads about the past and questions their straitened existence. For this heresy she is sacrificed; but her essence lives on in a tree.
Keeping the Peaceb by father and daughter pair Catriona Butler and Rob Butler is set in a world where sentients predict how long people will live. Narla is upset by the preferential treatment her brother receives as the result of his short projected life-span.
In Death Acceptancec by Tony Clavelli a funeral director receives a call from an unusual client, one of the community of NextState androids who wants to die: because if it doesn’t end it isn’t a story.
The unusual one sentence story, APOCALYPSE BETA TEST SURVEY by Gregg Chamberlain, consists of the pitch for custom – complete with disclaimers – by Armageddon Inc, whose motto is, “The Horsemen are always ready to ride.”
The spires in Spirejackd by Patrick Warner are huge towers propping up cities in the skies. The titular spirejack finds himself under investigation after his wife gets involved with subversives. The writing shows signs of the author’s lack of experience.
A young girl is obsessed by getting to the Moon (again) in Vaughan Stanger’s The Last Moonshot.e
Lowland Clearances by Pippa Goldschmidt is the same story that appeared in Shoreline of Infinity’s special Edinburgh Book Festival edition, issue 8½.
In The Sky is Alive by Michael F Russell, a settler on Gliese 581 has found life not so congenial as he had hoped. There, the threat of cloud is of them absorbing water – from anything.
The Useless Citizen Actf by Ellis SJ Sangster sees a woman faced with being culled because she’s jobless in a harsh 2107, locking herself in a cupboard to escape her fate. Or is her subjective experience just a metaphor for her depression?
In the extract for SF Caledonia from Colymbia by Robert Ellis Dudgeon our narrator joins a white shark hunt.

Pedant’s corner:- aWritten in USian, make-up (is cosmetics; the sense was “imagined”, so, make up,) sooth (soothe,) “there were less and less of them” (plural; so, fewer and fewer.) b“the family sit quietly” (the family sits.) cWritten in USian, “in a shock” (the phrase is “in shock”,) “give you creeps” (the phrase is “the creeps”,) “each of the Guillorys comment” (each comments.) dWhat‘s (the inverted comma was the mirror image of what it ought to have been,) a missing comma before a piece of direct speech (twice,) “’Wait, what you mean?’” (has a “do” missing.) eLamber2033 (previously always Lambert2033.) f“I listen to rapid beat of the pulse” (the rapid beat.)
1“designed restore perfect vision” (designed to restore,) homeopathy/ic, (I prefer homoeopathy/ic, or, better still, homœopathy/ic.) 2The Beachcomber Presents is missing from the contents page (as is the Interview with Cory Doctorow.) 3focussing (x 2, focusing,) half an hours (hour’s.) 4“people the company think no one will miss” (people the company thinks no one will miss,) “occur to to” (omit a “to”,) “easily elided; Indigenous …” (It wasn’t a new sentence, hence no capital I needed at indigenous.) 5milieus (milieux.) 6sci-fi. (SF. Please.) 7“starts off strong” (strongly,) “there a two or three” (there were two or three; or, if Scottish, there were a two-three,) “provided in extended depth” (an extended depth?) “Each song effecting us in a way” (affecting us.) 8mediaeval (hurrah!) “lack if manpower” (lack of.) 9Roberts’ (Roberts’s.) 10“Bud-Eyed Monster” (Bug-Eyed?)

Shoreline of Infinity 8½: Special edition; Edinburgh Book Festival 2017

The New Curiosity Shop, 2017, 222 p.

Ken Macleod takes the editorial slot as he curated the SF strand in 2017’s Edinburgh Book Festival. He cautions that SF does not predict the future but can warn of it and notes Scotland’s present flourishing SF and fantasy scene inspired by its distinguished history. In From the Editor’s Log, Noel Chidwick introduces the authors and stories.
Some of the fiction has appeared previously, The Great Golden Fish by Dee Raspin in Shoreline of Infinity 3; The Stilt-Men of the Lunar Swamps by Andrew J Wilson, Model Organisms by Caroline Grebell, Senseless by Gary Gibson and SF Caledonia by Monica Burns with an extract from Gay Hunter by James Leslie Mitchell (Lewis Grassic Gibbon) were in Shoreline of Infinity 4; The Revolution Will be Catered by Iain Maloney and Incoming by Thomas Clark in Shoreline of Infinity 5; The Worm by Russell Jones in Shoreline of Infinity 6 while 3.8 Missions by Katie Gray and The Beachcomber Mutable Martians graced the magazine’s 7th issue.
In Edinburgh Masks1 by Adam Roberts a mediocre jobbing actor playing Iago in Edinburgh is given a gift of two theatrical masks, Comedy and Tragedy. They speak to him and he agrees to seven great performances in exchange for his soul, meaning to cheat his fate by retiring before the seventh. Whether by accident or design Roberts has mined one of the rich seams of Scottish literature, the meeting with the devil story.
The Last Word2 of Ken MacLeod’s story is produced by a meme generator coupled with a learning algorithm using out-of-copyright texts to combine phrases with ostensible meaning; a future equivalent of a million monkeys with typewriters.
Lowland Clearances by Pippa Goldschmidt is a neat inversion of a piece of Scottish history. Here people are cleared from Glasgow to the Highlands in order to make way for rubbish-eating sheep from ‘Dolly Enterprises’.
Ruth E J Booth’s The Honey Trap3 is a reprint from Le Femme, NewCon Press, of her BSFA award winning story. Agriculture has been thoroughly collectivised. A representative at a Faire is intrigued by an ugly but utterly delicious apple variety brought to him by a young girl in a hoodie.
Whimper4 by Nalo Hopkinson is a reprint from the very last edition of Clock magazine wherein each story was entitled either Bang or Whimper and ended in the middle of a sentence. Here people are being pursued to their death by things called leggobeasts. Our narrator claims she dreamed them all.
New Gray Ring to Join Olympic Five by Ada Palmer reads like a newspaper report of the addition of a sixth ring to the Olympic flag.
In the non-fiction:- Imagining Possible Futuresa by Charles Stross addresses the problem of writing optimistic futures in pessimistic times by pointing to the positive developments in the non-Western world. The following, Tomorrow Never Knows, written by Iain Malone follows on from Stross’s short essay by discussing recent examples of Scottish dystopian fiction. Russell Jones outlines the genesis of Shoreline of Infinity’s monthly “sci-fi”b cabaret: Event Horizon. Mark Toner in Making Art on the Shoreline of Infinity describes the magazine’s evolving policy on art work. Multiverse is introduced by Russell Jones making the case for SF poetry and showcases poems by Jo Waltonc, Iain M Banks, Ken MacLeod, Jane Yolend, Marge Simon, Shelly Bryant, Benjamin Dodds and Grahaeme Barrasford Young.

Pedant’s corner:- 1Leith Way (Leith Walk certainly, but there is no Leith Way in Edinburgh,) “liquorish-coloured wood” (liquorish – or lickerish – means fond of alcohol. I have no idea how that could translate to colour. I suppose Roberts meant liquorice,) “‘that would be a cheap of me’” (that would be cheap of me,) hiccough (hiccup, any comparison to a cough is misplaced,) an indent carried on from a quote to the next line of text, “in the stage” (on the stage is more usual,) “they too had had words” (the two is more natural,) “on Lothian road” (Lothian Road,) Wesminster (Westminster,) “audiences gasped and clutched their hands to their chest” (to their chests.) “A new generation of actors were being celebrated” (a new generation was,) “to hold the crowd’s attention, to manipulate their emotions” (its emotions,) “no more than and flotsam” (has an extraneous “and”.) “Attempting a cheat the Prince of Darkness”. (Attempting to cheat,) “brooding over the one great performance that still left in him” (that was still left in him,) “who had a better grounds” (who had better grounds,) bakelite (Bakelite, which wasn’t in any case in widespread use during the Great War where it appears here,) the story ends with a piece of dialogue but its end quote mark is missing. 2Kirkaldy (Kirkcaldy.) 3“‘none of the growers have seen you before’” (none has seen you.) It stunk like … (It stank like …) 4leggobeastst (leggobeasts.) Some of the author info blurbs end with a full stop others (including Multiverse) don’t.
a“Big Carbon … trying to monetize their assets” (its assets, and while we’re about it, monetise.) bsci-fi (I hate this usage. It’s SF,) “but we’ve even more pleased” (we’re even more pleased,) a missing full stop at the piece’s end. cIn the author blurb she has a novel due out in Fenruary 2018 (February.) d“with it fierce seers” (its.)

Shoreline of Infinity 8: Summer 2017

Shoreline of Infinity 8 cover

Starting with the fiction:
In The Pink Life (La Vie En Rose)1 by Nathan Susnik everything is connected. iPerceive mediates Lauren van Kamp’s everyday life, monitoring her serotonin levels and whatnot while overlaying the real world with a “happy” veneer. Only when things go wrong can she begin to forge a human connection.
Laura Duerr’s eponymous The Black Tide2 is an infestation of black jelly-fish every harvest Moon. Ingested, they either kill you or confer immortality. The story is written well enough but as soon as you think about its scenario it instantly falls apart. Our narrator has apparently forgotten the phenomenon before, on just that day, she brings her unknowing college friends to the seaside town where she grew up. Really? And how would such an annual event – and its consequences – ever be kept secret?
The Starchitect by Barry Charman is again eponymous – the woman commissioned to build for a client an environment inside a star.
Goddess with a Human Heart3 by Jeanette Ng takes as its starting point Aztec belief and ceremonial. A young girl awaits the sacrificial donation of her heart to the Goddess. The high priest, whom the girl had earlier saved from drowning, has other ideas.
These Are the Ways by Premee Mohamed is a standard military SF tale which, like so many of these things, valorises a useless death.
In Arthur Kovic’s Days of Change4 by Michael Teasdale the mundane unchanging life of the titular Kovic quietly morphs around him.
Targets5 by Eric Brown presents a solution to any pote ntial problem with overpopulation. People are randomly selected to be tattooed with a hologram that allows police to kill you at their whim. Both the narrator’s wife and his son are so marked.
In SF Caledonia: Chris Kelso, editor Noel Chidwick6 outlines said writer’s output so far and conducts an email interview7 with him by way of introduction to:-
The Folger Variation8 by Chris Kelso an extract from a novella which is a breathless sort of read about a guy being pursued by a murderer but his grandfather’s time machine may allow him to prevent all that.
The Beachcomber9 by Mark Toner and Stephen Pickering (Toner seems to have picked up a co-writer for his graphic story) sees a new recruit to the interplanetary police force undertake his first day.
As to the non-fiction:
In Noise and Sparks: The Legend of the Kick-Arse Wise Woman, Ruth EJ Booth outlines the steps by which she realised she could write now without waiting for permission.
Reviews has Henry Northmorea liking but finding some flaws in All the Galaxies by Philip Miller, Eris Youngb bemoans the novella length of The Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville, wanting more body, and really dislikes the author’s use of an afterword as a mea non culpa, Iain Maloney finds Yoon Ha Lee’s Raven Stratagem better than its predecessor, (in my recollection that wouldn’t be hard,) Benjamin Thomasc delights in Rupert Wong and the Ends of the Earthd, Duncan Lunane says Michael Cobley’s Ancestral Machines is rollicking good fun but perhaps relies too much on knowledge of a TV series called Firefly, Katie Gray is unconvinced by the central premise of The List by Patricia Forde while still enjoying it and Ian Hunterf is “in safe hands” with Tom Lloyd’s Stranger of Tempest (though from the sound of it I would run a mile,) while in Multiverse, Russell Jones welcomes more space in the mag for SF poetry, with two poems each from Lauren Harwyng, Louise Peterkinh and Colin McGuirei.

1Written in USian. “why in God’s name, would you want to turn it off?” (doesn’t need the comma,) Niagra Falls (Niagara,) vactionday (context suggests vacationday,) lay (lie.) “It this some….” (Is this.) St. Johnson (I read this as Saint; it was Sergeant,) wretch (retch,) coco (cocoa – spelled correctly later,) Stg Johnson (Sgt,) “just with different constances” (context implies consistencies.) 2Written in USian. 3“the deities would cast off the mortal skins they wore and revealed themselves to their followers” (reveal; the sense – and tense – of that “would” carries over,) Goddess’ (x 3, Goddess’s,) “I remember the, polluted waters” (that comma has no place there.) “A shock of glass cables and feathers frame the fragmented shapes” (a shock frames the shapes.) “I did not expect that,” “I did not want to use the word” (rest of story is in present tense, “do not,”) “The twinning hold of his legs” (twining?) “so he knocked him from of the firmament” (from of??? Either “from” or “of” not both.) 4Written in USian, mother-in-laws (mothers-in-law,) stationary (stationery,) “a collection of wiggling green beans glare accusingly up at him” (a collection glares,) inside of it (inside it.) “Things that, at first, appear to be a familiar blend and morph into” (at first appear to be familiar, blend and morph into.) “A succession of people wander in and out” (a succession wanders.) 5“Time interval later” count: 1. 6 “(edited with Hal Duncan, ” (this parenthesis should close here but there is no final bracket,) a missing full stop after 2016, Chris’ (x2, Chris’s,) “would lend you to believe” (usually it’s “would lead you to believe”.) 7parents evening (parents’,) bogeys (bogies, as it appeared 12 lines above.) “You get to pick a cool front cover” (Not in my experience, you don’t,) “a real shot to the arm” (the phrase is “shot in the arm”.) “I have a ak of esoteric horror stories” (a ak ???) 8Kelso is Scottish so quite why this seven page extract is riddled with USianisms – railroad, real (really,) ass (arse,) off of – is beyond me, a missing full stop at the end of the first section, protégée (the character is male so protégé.) 9thundered (the other verbs are in present tense; so, thunders.)
aantonymous (autonomous; though I suppose it could have been meant as a portmanteau word with antagonistic,) “devoted his life too” (to,) riveting (rivetting,) bnazi (Nazi,) Jack Parsons’ (Parsons’s.) ccolor (colour.) dIn a quote from the book “a tangle of nerves worm from beneath” (a tangle worms from.) eSlartibardfast (isn’t it Slartibartfast?) amd (and.) f“about to rescue of a damsel” (no “of” required.) g Written in USian. h“sows ears” (sows’,) “Dunes sprawling dynasty” (Dune’s.) igalavant (gallivant.)

Future Reading Delight

No less than three future items of reading came through my letter box between yesterday and today.

 The Book of Hidden Things cover
 Shoreline of Infinity 12 cover

 Interzone 276 cover

Firstly Shoreline of Infinity 12 arrived yesterday – I know I’ve not yet read issues 8-11 but I will get round to them – then both Interzone 276 (which contains my review of Close your Eyes by Paul Jessup) and the latest novel for review in Interzone, The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri. Mr Dimitri is another author new to me. An Italian writer of Fantasy, this is the first book he has written in English.

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