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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.

Shoreline of Infinity 7: Spring 2017

 Shoreline of Infinity 7 cover

Starting with the fiction:-
In The Walls of Tithonia Chasma1 by Tim Major machines imbued via imprints of “human brain patterns” with artificial intelligences and whom a local Reverend asserts may have souls are sculpting Valles Marineris on Mars.
An Infinite Number of Me2 by Dan Grace is narrated by the daughter of a physicist whose work involved the interactions between the many different worlds where they touch each other.
Another take on different realities, or, rather, a possible different future is Brother’s Keeper3 by Shannon Connor Windward.
Message in a Bottle by Davyne DeSye is couched as a series of unreplied-to messages from an artist who seems to have been left totally alone in the world. (Annoyingly, its approach and the style in which it is written reminded me of an unpublished story of my own.)
In Anyone Can Ask About Enhancement4 by Terry Jackman a ”normal” working man tries for Enhancement in order to impress/keep his girlfriend. This story can go in one of two ways. And it does.
3.8 Missions5 by Katie Gray tells of a medtech whose job it is to reach disabled iSoldiers in the field and get them back working again. 3.8 is the average number of such missions completed. Our narrator is on his fifth.
Quantum Flush6 by Daniel Soule is a light-hearted piece about a time travel jaunt to find out the cause of the Alexandria Library fire.
Another light-hearted piece, Something Fishy7 by David L Clements, has an explorer on an alien planet encounter a human-sized fish which is singing arias.
Mark Toner’s The Beachcomber8 continues its graphic story-telling with an account of how Martians have adapted over the years to the many different human ways of viewing them.
In SF Caledonia9 Monica Burns considers That Very Mab10 by May Kendall and Andrew Lang, the first in the series written by two authors and the first to feature a woman. The extract, as might be expected from is 1885 publication date, is very Victorian in nature.

The non-fiction contains an interview with Jane Yolena four of whose poems make up Russell Jones’s MultiVerse section. Ruth E J Boothb’s Noise and Sparks 4: The Work of the Heart discusses the role of the artist in troubled times. Reviews features Iain Maloneyc on Ken Macleod’s The Corporation Wars: Insurgence, Pippa Goldschmidt looks at the collection Thought X: Fictions and Hypotheticals edited by Dr Rob Appleby and Ra Page, Chris Kelsod welcomes the reminder from Iraq + 100: Stories from Another Iraq edited by Hassam Blasim of Britain’s responsibility for the chaos in that country and finds the stories are well written and “beautifully executed,” Chris Heymane likes Luke Rhinehart’s Invasion, Steve Ironsidef sees flaws in T J Zareski’s The Cygnus Virus but looks forward to part two, Katie Gray had a good time reading the clockworkpunk of Stephen Palmer’s The Girl with Two Souls even if the central character(s) remained undeveloped, Thom Dayg liked Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan overall [but his review indicated it would not be my thing,] and Iain Maloney gives a warm thumbs up to Chris Beckett’s Daughter of Eden.

Pedant’s corner:- 1“there are now only a handful of the team” (there is a handful,) “the congregation accept the sculptures as” (the congregation accepts.) 2“down though muscle and bone” (down through.) 3Written in USian. 4“less hours” (fewer.) “Super nova flared” (Supernovae,) “did he need it” (‘had he needed it’ is a more natural formulation.) “They bid him welcome” (bade.) In the author info: “five4 star” (well: was it five or 4?) 5“the dust-cloud than enveloped him” (that.) In the author info: “a master’s in creative writing” (a Master’s.) 6Archimedes’ (Archimedes’s,) “the libraries destruction” (library’s,) and did the Nazi high command really have quilted toilet tissue? 7corps’ (corps is singular, so corps’s; since the word is pronounced “core” it certainly must have the “s” after the apostrophe in its possessive,) “while amino acids, in various configurations, were the building blocks of protein analogues” (but amino acids are the building blocks of protein; so these “analogues” would be molecules of protein,) hanger (hangar,) “after a few moments further thought” (moments’.) “Its voice rose to a crescendo” (no. The crescendo is the rise, not its climax.) In the author info: “other then Earth (than.) 8disasterous (disastrous.) 9“Parliament are debating” (Parliament is debating,) Weslyan (Wesleyan.) 10In the extract printed unwarranted paragraph breaks occur mid-sentence on pages 100, 101 and 105, there is an unfortunate inset which means a semi-colon appears on the next line rather than immediately after a word on page 101, “opinionthe” (opinion the,) fetich (now spelled fetish.)
aThis is a transliteration of an email exchange so perhaps typos can be excused. Nevertheless: “fireflies mating rituals” (fireflies’,) Margulis’ (Margulis’s,) Yeats’ (Yeats’s,) all the times (time,) “I – like many others – are extremely trying” (I … am extremely trying,) selchies (selkies,) “have being accepted” (been,) “head, attorney” (head attorney,) publishers schedules (publishers’.) b“sympathy with her reader allows a storyteller to speak to them” (readers.) c“the freebot known as Baser who is … until its peace is shattered” (either “which” for “who” or “his” for “its”.) dIraqi+ 100 (Iraq + 100,) “that resonates events closer to home” (resonates with,) Bagdad (Baghdad,) Iraqi’s (Iraqis.) e“As the activities amps up” (amp up.) fCygnus’ (Cygnus’s.) gMills & Boone (Mills & Boon,) “there’s plenty of futuristic elements” (there are plenty … elements,) we are told twice each that the characters have 90 minutes of air left and North America and the Middle East have been devastated by nukes.

Shoreline of Infinity 6: Winter 2016/17

The New Curiosity Shop

Shoreline of Infinity 6 cover

Noel Chidwick’s Editorial ponders the 2016 US Presidential Election as a Jonbar Point for future fictions. SF Caledoniaa discusses Andrew Blair’s Annals of the Twenty-Ninth Century. Gary Dalkin interviewsb Stephen Palmer. In Noise and Sparksc Ruth E J Booth ruminates on how illness steals time, and the year ending is full of both reflection and hope. In Reviews Chris Heymand looks at The Augur’s Gambit/The King’s Justice by Stephen Donaldson (though the book cover shown has the order of titles reversed,) Chris Kelsoe delights in Thirty Years of Rain the anthology celebrating the anniversary of the Glasgow Science Fiction Writers’ Circle and edited by Neil Williamson, Elaine Gallagher and Cameron Johnston, Ian Hunterf enthuses over James Barclay’s Heart of Granite, Henry Northmore recognises some merit in The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone while acknowledging it’s not high art, Nik Abnett’s Savant is reviewed by Steve Ironsideg who found it unsatisfying and Noel Chidwickh thoroughly welcomes Charles Stross’s Empire Games. Multiversei contains poems by Grahaeme Barrasford Young and J S Watts. Parabolic Puzzlesj has two parts both about variously encumbered musicians crossing a dangerous bridge.

In the fiction, Other Colours1 by Michael F Russell features the intrusion by a strange figure, a kind of interdimensional policeman into the laboratory of an over-dedicated nuclear physicist. It reads a bit like a mash-up between my own Closing Time (Interzone 89,) and Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.
In Shaker Loop2 by Bo Balder a family heirloom makes objects appear and disappear.
A Visit at Saint Nick’s by Gregg Chamberlain sees one of Santa’s elf helpers give comfort to a harassed woman.
In Spaceman3 by Florence Vincent the titular perennially inebriated alien is to be found alone and eyeless in a bar on Christmas Eve after closing time. A doctor comes in to assuage his angst at losing a patient.
Tales of the Beachcomber by Mark Toner is another edition – with a slight Christmas theme and nod to the team bringing us the magazine – of the strip familiar from earlier issues of Shoreline of Infinity, but this time seems more light-hearted than before.
Six4 by Hannah Lackoff is a tale of six successive clones of a girl and a boy and their creator.
In Goodnight New York, New York5 by Victoria Zelvin a suitably biologically enhanced woman goes illegal deep-sea diving in a flooded New York.
The narrator of The Descendant6 by Katy Lennon is a Plaisim 0200, a robot recommended for young families. It accompanies its owner – who calls it his son, only one manifestation of his psychological instability – on a government mandated trip out of Edinburgh beyond the wall into “the Vastus”. The other humans on the bus resent the Plaisim’s presence.
The Worm7 by Russell Jones considers the ramifications of an educational tool ingested by placing it under the tongue.
Annals of the Twenty-Ninth Century8 by Andrew Blair (Chapter XVII. Between Heaven and Earth) is an extract from the named chapter.

Pedant’s corner:- a“The amount of inventions and concepts are staggering.” (The amount is staggering,) “the way history often relayed to us – the ways in which often a country’s national narrative, the stories it tells itself about its own history – are often distorted” (is surely missing “is” between “history” and “often” and that “are” ought to be “is”, the verb’s subject is “history” not “ways”) “with such shaky foundations like this” (as this,) “but for a someone writing” (omit the “a”,) “on the short time he lived” (in the short time,) Coupar-Angus (Coupar Angus isn’t hyphenated,) Strathkinnes (Strathkiness,) enormity = hugeness (I prefer to reserve this word for a great wickedness,) “implications of in space travel” (does that need the “in”?) b“a single isolated baby who had their every physical need cared for” (baby, singular; so, its every need.) c”a difference nuance” (different,) “snuck up” (sneaked up.) d“palette cleanser” (palate,) focussed (focused,) “ne’er do wells” (ne’er-do-wells,) “portend to” (just portend, no “to”.) e“a writers group” (arguably writers’,) a missing full stop after “Phil Raynes” (which is, I believe, spelled Raines,) “the illusive Amanda” (elusive?) f“jammed packed” (jammed, packed, or jam-packed, not jammed packed.) g “puts the whole system gets put at risk” (puts the whole system at risk, or, means the whole system gets put at risk,) “outside of” (x2, just outside, no “of”,) “there are a couple” (a couple is singular.) h“the Clan .. are also building up their power” (is also building up its power – later we had “its host world” and “itself” referring to the Clan,) “as we go” (x2.) ihuman-kind’s (humankind’s.) “The speaker … their” (his or her.) jThe second paragraph is a single quote but its full stop has been placed after the end quote mark.

1”there’s no klaxon, no flashing lights” (I can’t help feeling there ought to be a plural verb in there somewhere,) “clatteringglassshattering” (this was intended, though,) “tailor you response” (your,) “Homo Sapiens do not evolve” (Homo Sapiens is a single species; ‘does not evolve’,) “…broken into with this,” he gestures at the frozen on-screen display,” crude attempt” (misplaced quote mark [… on-screen display, “crude attempt].) “This place is a great death. The song of life had been muted to stillness here. Silence had condensed to a singularity..” (The rest of the passage is in present tense; so, ‘has been muted’, ‘has condensed’.) 2Written in USian (the author is Dutch,) “When the last uncle had left, back to their normal lives” (‘uncle’ is singular, ‘their’ isn’t.) In the author info ‘The Wan”’ (I’ve no idea why that end quotation mark is there.) sup>3species’ (it was species singular; so, species’s.) 4lays (lies,) lay (x2, lie,) but despite these instances we had “lying”, not “laying”,) elasticy (elasticky??) “there is whole fridge” (a whole fridge.) 5Written in USian, “her myoglobin in her muscle tissue” (the myoglobin in her muscle tissue is a more natural construction,) “the kayak taken paddled out from the larger boat” (the kayak taken from; or, the kayak paddled out from. Not both,) VHF’s (an inverted comma signals missing letters, there are none here; VHFs,) “as few drowning deaths as could be possible” (as few drowning deaths as possible.) “She walked on the girder out to the window and hopped out the window” (‘on the girder to the window and hopped out’ would far more elegant phraseology.) “They scarce looked real” (scarcely,) “a spot she>d had picked out for herself” (possibly ‘a spot she’d had picked out for her’, more likely given what follows, ‘a spot she’d picked out for herself’; or, a spot she had picked out for herself’,) “freezing waist deep water” (waist-deep,) “discovered upon investigation that a family of crabs that had moved inside” (either ‘that a family of crabs had moved inside’ or ‘a family of crabs that had moved inside’,) “she smiled see this shark” (smiled to see this,) “she doubted the photo of would live up to” (the photo of it,) ambiance (ambience,) laying (I know USians use “lay” this way but it’s still totally wrong, the correct usage is lying,) didn>t (didn’t.) In the author blurb; program (it’s a perfectly reasonable decision to have all the authors’ stories in their original form and that Zelvin will have provided this information herself, but this is really an editorial segment, hence, programme.) 6IRREPERABLE HARM (IRREPAIRABLE or IRREPARABLE,) “off of” (just off; no “of”,) unrea-formaldehyde (urea-formaldehyde,) “Johm’s clothing and skin was covered in blood” (that “and requires a plural verb; so, “were”.) 7“They probably know more than me now, having had the worm their whole life” (lives,) woops (whoops makes more sense,) “Doctor Sabre leans my door” (leans on my door,) “‘MediGov have vital new information’” (MediGov has,) a missing start quote before “Please vacate. Biohazard.” Another missing before “Stick to the path…” 8 “thousands of trans-atmospheric apparatus” (“apparatuses” is the more usual plural in English but the Latin one is “apparatus” with a longer sounded “us”, Blair probably knew that,) “spoke with an inspiration which have endowed his words into the classics” (an inspiration which has endowed,) the piece has day and night in space (there would be perpetual daylight if not in a planet’s or moon’s shadow.)

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