Thursday, March 18, 2010

Edison`s Frankenstein: Postscripts 20\21

Edison`s Frankenstein: Postscripts 20\21
(Edited by Peter Crowther & Nick Gevers)

Postscripts is no more a magazine, now it`s a bi-annual anthology but it will have the same goal is publish high quality science fiction and fantasy.
The double issue of the magazine (published in the late 2009) consists 26 stories from already established writers, as well as relatively newcomers. To write a review on an collection like this with making focus on each story is long, tiresome and unnecessary work, the more important is to point the most impressive ones out. Pieces of fiction by well-known writers somehow will get readers who will love that if even a reviewer didn`t find any memorable and striking places in those stories. Opening story «Edison`s Frankenstein» by Chris Roberson is, perhaps, the strongest piece in this issue (the subtitle of the issue has the same name). Alternative history in Roberson`s story is based on the seemingly small difference from our reality: instead of electricity people use prometheic energy. James Clark Ross, an explorer, returned from an expedition to the South Seas and brought a piece of some broken automaton created by an alien culture. Thus, electricity is pushed aside, and people everywhere are using prometheum. Roberson puts murder in the story but mystery and investigation moves into the background , by the way all is obvious enough (although the author hid something by the end ). The author doesn`t confined himself by just a description of America, industry of which is based on prometheum , although the way he draws the features of Chicago, its large exhibitions, that both areas, and shelter for all sorts of migrants from all over the world, is delighted, and sometimes even makes to forget about the plot, which, basically, develops slow.
Melancholic and nostalgic, Algerian Shaban, translator and bodyguard for his boss, who took Shaban in their teens to the States, is the point Roberson has succeeded in. Shaban remembers how he had lived there, over the ocean, and in his memoirs seems to slip the memory of how might have been looked the world where the electricity dominates, and prometheum were never found.
Edison and Frankenstein in the title are mentioned on purpose: they are two guns on the wall that possible to shoot at the end of the story.
Some more exhibitions appear in an elegant story of Alex Irwin «The Dream Curator».
His exhibition is a collection of strange dreams, and diffident man yearning for a girl from sleep is in charge of the exhibition. Irwin weaves verbal lace in the story not worse than the curator does their exhibition.
«Vampire Electric» by Tony Ballantyne operates two already pretty bored topics: vampires and rock music. A rock band, a pretty lady-vampire (V - so they are called there), the enslavement of people - Ballantyne mixes the cocktail with blood, which is still not too thirsty, however the writer is trying to refresh the vampire problem.
In her «Denny» Keet Reed is trying to show the situation with the murders of the parents by their children from all sides: the father`s, the mother`s and the son`s, Denny. Reed masterfully portrays a complex situation, when no one understands no one, but everyone thinks they do. The only thing that is not entirely clear with this story is its science fiction elements. It differs from a mainstream story with only some hints of not entirely explainable epidemic of the teenage aggression, otherwise it is a great psychological prose.
«Unreasonable Doubt» by Simon Strantzas is initially exciting story about once known candidate for mayor returning to his native town. He is nowhere to go, and he seeks shelter at his old friend Dr. Reilley. However, the middle of the story is not well-written, the characters are behaving abnormally, and the ending crosses everything: ghost story is too made by GOST {State Standard in Russia}.
“Snowman's Chance in Hell” from newcomer Robert T. Jeschonek is a funny story about how people began to sculpt snowmen. Stuck in the memory, but not required reading.
Lavie Tidhar, in his “The Love-Craft” wrote a short script about people abduction by aliens. Cruel, but little interest story.
Another significant story in the magazine is "Tests" by Robert Reed. A chamber story, which nearly consists of conversations only, played on the border between banality about contacts with UFOs and a sad story about how lonely one can be and how important is to believe in the possibility of meeting stranger to each other minds.
Reed is not very well in describing people, but he is master in creation of the situation. Paul Park gave an amazingly light, tricky story to this issue of the magazine.
In “The Persistence of Memory, Or, This Space For Sale” Park made the writer a hero of the story, to whom he gave his own name and add to that some embellishment by his nearly autobiographical details. Everything starts with an auction, where the narrator of the story, science fiction writer, exposes a couple of lots, have won them one can become the character of Park has not yet written story. Flawless humor, charming hero, an unexpected ending makes the story undoubtedly one of the best in the collection. And if it comes to literary games, then do not forget, you can expect anything.
Very short horror story "Time Changes" by David T. Wilbanks is pleasant, unhorror-y and funny, but it could have been in the issue or could not: the detachment would not notice the loss of a fighter.
The story about a trip to Eden length in 10 years, told by Lisa Tuttle in her "Ragged Claws", echoes the old story by Stephen King's, “The Jaunt”.
Really, the flight in King`s story lasted a moment, but if people do not fall asleep at the time of the jaunt, then it lasted for decades, and the traveller during that time even can turn gray (besides, it remains unknown what one sees during the flight). The narrator of the story is a man who tested these flights. During the trip the man lives in a certain box and has the unlimited possibilities within his own consciousness. At the bar, he meets young people: two young men and a girl, and tells them about all that he experienced during the flight. A strong story about the desires and the nature of man.
"Number One Fan" by Eric Schaller is another story that has similarities with the work of King, as if in explanation of his father King`s son, Joe Hill, wrote. Science fiction writer comes to the godforsaken convention, where there is no soul, and his only listener is just a fan number one. Exciting story, which may particularly appeal to those who goes to all kinds of convention.
The culmination of this issue has become yet another alternative history, based, like the story of Chris Roberson, on the change of energy sources, “The Phoebean Egg” by Stephen Baxter. Young man Cedric Stout comes to study in some semblance of Cadet College, the Imperial Academy of the UK in XIX century. Britain, thanks to technology Anti-ice, has a distinct advantage over the world and almost became the ruling power around the globe. Cedric and his friend Merrell and the girl Verity Fletcher suddenly grasp the essence of a conspiracy involving Phoebean egg and beginning a new war. England is though shown here as a global hegemon, yet not cause undue comparisons with the Nazi Germany. Young heroes are smart, passionate and resourceful. Baxter, in addition to well-developed details of the Anti-ice, and even touched on the gender topic: Verity Fletcher in the Academy plays the role of a servant, while only boys can learn and be a mainstay and hope of the nation. But Verity's not a simpleton, and shows itself in the knowledge and ability to fight and achieve the desired even greater than boys .
Definitely a strong collection of short prose, in which everyone will find something to one`s taste, and a few stories from there are worth to including in year`s best anthologies.

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