S J MacDonald
on Oct. 17, 2011 :
I liked the idea of a collection of stories about possible futures. They were actually all in some way about either the end of the world or near world-ending disaster. I’d have liked to see that reflected in either the title or the blurb.
Enhancement – what would you do if a mysterious alien being gave you superhuman powers? Get rich? Become powerful? Find yourself with dead bodies to dispose of? Brodrick, the main character in this story, does all of the above. An entertaining story. (****)
Blackness – when a mysterious blackness appears over Earth and starts planting alien seeds, humanity has to figure out what’s going on and what to do about it. I liked the “bright young man, determined to go down in history as someone with more than one brain cell”. (****)
Brightlight – This was my favourite of the stories. It’s reminiscent of classic 50s sci fi and even has an alien called Blob. Brilliant! (*****)
The Factory – in a world that mankind has virtually destroyed with pollution, are the machines working to their own agenda? This is a familiar plot, though well presented here. (****)
Time Trip – Ellis can travel in time to visualise the future. The environments are vividly described and the gradual coming back towards the present works well for holding suspense. Without giving away any spoilers, I enjoyed the story right up till the last part. I found the insane irresponsibility of the people bringing about the end of the world just too incredible. (***)
The Chill - I liked the concept of this story, the lone man Gleeson fighting against the elements. However, he was described as never having seen the sea. When he found himself in a warm ocean he didn’t react to the sight of it at all and evidently knew about tides. Then I got to the part about the undersea volcano. I’m an amateur volcanologist and did howl at that bit. Readers who don’t know about pillow lava, hot spots and basalt flood plains may accept it as credible. Since I do, the story lost me at that point. (**)
The first story appears to be indented, which made it a little odd to read on the kindle. There are a few typos of the kind not picked up by spellcheckers, like “grizzly” instead of “grisly”, bodies/body’s. I didn’t find that they impaired my enjoyment of the stories.
In any collection of short stories there are going to be ones you like more than others. I really loved “Brightlight” and would recommend this book even for that story alone. “The Chill” left me cold (sorry, had to be done) but only because I’m a science geek and volcano nut so was spluttering protests at my kindle over the volcanology. The characters don’t have any great emotional depth but in plot-driven short stories they don’t need to, really. All the stories are well written with amusing lines and well structured plots. One to enjoy!
(reviewed 62 days after purchase)