Archive for November, 2011

Fickle Feather…

Posted: November 25, 2011 by douglasthompson in Reviews


Ros Jackson at Warpcore SF has reviewed David Rix’s short story collection Feather, warming to the enigmatic and multi-faceted aspects of Feather’s character, giving the book a sound 4 out of 5 stars:

“Feather is a collection of linked short stories which feature an enigmatic wild girl who flits in and out of the narratives. Underfed and barely educated, Feather is emotionally and physically scarred by her experiences, and apt to question everything. She’s also quite strange, rather like the stories she’s involved in…

…The tales are framed by a couple of short narratives in which the author appears as himself, contemplating his creation in conversations with his imaginary sister. This device gets to the heart of Feather: Rix is thinking about what it means to create something, and about fantasy and reality, and about isolation and the search for meaning…

…The author has a very visual and engaging prose style that drew me right in. A lot of the settings are quite bleak: isolated beaches, concrete jungle cityscapes, the loneliness of Dartmoor, or half-empty halls of residence occupied by dirty, impoverished art students, for instance. There’s a touch of melancholy about these places, yet the descriptions of them are vivid and realistic so there isn’t an off-putting atmosphere of gloom. Instead there’s always the feeling that something interesting is about to happen on the next page…

…But these stories portray the world as largely unknowable. Meaning seems elusive and perhaps even impossible to find, and it’s certainly futile to search for it. It’s almost like reading anti-stories. I found this interesting and frustrating in equal measure. Because what is fiction for if not to help us make sense of an irreducibly complex world? Of course we know that life can’t be broken down to a few simple themes and moral lessons, but doing exactly that is part of the charm of stories…

…Feather is a mind-boggle. I can’t decide whether David Rix is being really smart or just annoying when he plays with the concept of the search for understanding. However it’s an entertaining kind of boggling, and I warmed to the character of Feather with her scarred innocence and cheerful practicality, whilst the stories themselves are colourful, strange and surprising.”

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Silver Wind reviewed in Interzone

Posted: November 21, 2011 by douglasthompson in Reviews


Paul Kincaid has reviewed Nina Allan’s The Silver Wind in the lastest edition of Interzone (No.237), and seems to really appreciate how the five stories lock together and become something greater than the sum of their parts, tending to the theory that this book is really a novel more than it is a collection. Paul writes:

” …Individually, there is one overtly science fictional story, and three others that are, to all intents and purposes, mainstream except for a subtle temporal quirk that perhaps shifts them towards the fantastic. But collectively, taking account of the interconnections and resonances that run between them, it is impossible to read this book as other than science fiction. That delicacy of tone, that subtlety of intent, is what makes this such an arresting volume…

…Time is an old standby in science fiction, of course, but what is interesting about Allan’s use of the theme is that it is not time as a dimension that is being explored, but the more common or garden mystery that we all experience every day, what we measure when we look at our wristwatches and yet what cannot be measured.

Only one of the stories, “The Silver Wind’, uses time in an overtly science fictional manner. It is an alternate history, in this case Martin is a salesman in a run-down, dystopian England, its characteristics sketched in briefly but effectively. In this world Circus Man is Andrew Owens, who makes devices that really can control time, and by chance Martin finds himself transposed into an England that more closely resembles our own. In this new world he goes regularly to Paddington Station where, he is confident, he will one day run into Andrew Owens again. This is significant, because in the next story, ‘Rewind’, Martin is an estate agent in a contemporary England who takes his new girlfriend to Hastings looking into memories of his childhood there (a childhood that recalls aspects of the first two stories without precisely matching them). Here he encounters Owens, ‘this little circus freak who had somehow learned to stop the clock, or turn it back’, and Owens mentions their meeting at Paddington, which Martin no longer recalls. It is this reference, late in the last story, that somehow turns a collection of linked stories into a novel: that makes the dissonances and dislocations between the various versions of Martin’s life so telling.

These are good stories, but their sum is far greater than their individual parts.”

Tickled by Feather…

Posted: November 11, 2011 by douglasthompson in Reviews


Sami Airola over at Rising Shadow has given a rave review to David Rix’s Feather. Sami writes:

“… David Rix’s writing style reminds me a bit of Clive Barker. He has the same kind of a sense of style and depth as Barker, and he’s capable of shocking his readers with psychologically and violently horrifying scenes, which reveal the almost animalistic behaviour of human beings (he isn’t as explicit as Barker, but he can shock his readers when he wants to and he does it skilfully). The dreamlike and a bit weird atmosphere also reminds me a bit of Clive Barker. There’s also a touch of Laird Barron’s sense of style in his stories…
…David Rix also has an uncanny sense of grotesqueness, which manifests itself in fascinating and unexpected ways. I have always loved grotesque and unsettling stories, so I was thrilled when I noticed that the author seems to be able to create an unsettling atmosphere with just a few paragraphs and carefully chosen words. This is one of the reasons why it’s possible that some readers may compare him to old masters like Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood and M. R. James…”

Silver Wind blows again…

Posted: November 4, 2011 by douglasthompson in Reviews

Sami Airola over at the Rising Shadow website enjoyed Nina Allan’s Silver Wind, writing:

“Nina Allan is clearly an author to watch, because she has her own unique writing style and she dares to try different kinds of storytelling techniques. The Silver Wind is a powerful and thought-provoking collection of science fiction stories… one of the best short story collections I’ve read this year, because it makes its reader think about things. I’m sure that everybody who likes literary and thought-provoking science fiction will love this collection.”

Meanwhile, Ros Jackson over at Warpcore SF was worried that all this talk of plot “complications” would make for a pretentious read, but on the contrary found much to praise in the end, writing:

“These stories aren’t simple time travel adventures, however. They’re much subtler, and they tend to focus on the mundane lives of the characters as much as on any weird stuff that’s going on. Time’s Chariot is as much about love, grief, and difficult family relationships as it is about the possibility of time travel…
…a strong collection of intriguing linked stories. It’s perceptive and serious, and not too dense although it left me feeling that a re-read would uncover hidden nuggets…”

Thanks to both these, and indeed all reviewers, who have taken the time to read and comment on Eibonvale Books. Please check out their websites and explore their views in depth.