Science fiction and fantasy
Across The Event Horizon
by Mercurio D. Rivera
A lot of the stories look to shiny, star-faring futures full of technological wonders and freaky creatures. It's not always an optimistic view, but it's certainly exuberant: after the first few stories I felt that I had no idea what was coming next, except that it would be unexpected. Misunderstanding between species is a common theme, and this makes for some clever twists. In fact all the stories were well-constructed, but the tone varies. Longing For Langalana is poignant, Dear Annabehls is amusing and absurd, The Scent Of Their Arrival is sinister, and Bargonns Can Swizzle is quite sweet. But the tales are all unified by a certain humanity, even when there are no humans in them.
However there's one story that seems out of place in the collection: Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us. This is supernatural horror rather than science fiction, and it's hardcore. It starts with some kinky sex, and quickly gets very, very dark. It's extremely effective as horror, not just in terms of how frightening it is, but also due to the sick feeling of unease it left me with. This was one surprise I wasn't prepared for, and the tone of the story is unlike anything else in the book.
Overall I was impressed by Across The Event Horizon. It's fresh, inventive, and sometimes disturbing, because the author is always questioning things. If you're after quirky science fiction that goes beyond the usual tropes and features interesting characters, I highly recommend this.
3rd April 2013
If you like this, try:The Gabble And Other Stories by Neal Asher
This collection of short stories set in the Polity universe features man, machine and alien testing the limits of what they will do to survive.
Entanglement by Douglas Thompson
Quantum entanglement allows astronauts to explore the galaxy and make first contact with bizarre extraterrestrial civilisations.
Away And Beyond by A. E. van Vogt
Aliens, time travel and fantastic machines feature in this collection of short stories.
Review © Ros Jackson