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Concept SciFi # 2

01/10/2008. Contributed by Gareth D Jones

author pic

pub: Concept. 53 page pdf file. Price: Free.

check out website: www.conceptscifi.com

The particularly striking thing about 'Concept SciFi' is the artwork, both on the cover of the ezine and on the website. It looks cool and SFnal and the kind of art that some venues seem to shy away from in an effort to look more sophisticated or something. I love this kind of art though. It tells you you've found a venue for some honest down-to-earth (if that's not too contradictory) Science Fiction.
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The first story in this issue takes on the familiar concept of an android 'Daniel 7' sent on a secret mission by a shady government agency. Lee Gimenez adds interest to the fairly basic tale by moving the setting to Austria and throwing in some background of the country. It makes a nice change from being stuck in the USA (no offence to any Americans reading this). It's written in the first person present tense, which is quite difficult to do and may explain the occasional lapse into the past tense and even the third person. That kind of mistake tends to interrupt the flow of the tale but still the android develops to a satisfactory conclusion.

'Area 51' is a poem by Aurelio Rico Lopez III that is very brief in its treatment of an old favourite theme. As you know by now, I have absolutely no appreciation of poetry, so I'll let you read it for yourself.

Andrew Males manages to concentrate his whole piece of flash fiction on a single instant in 'Ready Or Not', the account of a scientist about to test his matter transmitter on himself. The question arises as to why he doesn't test it on a mouse first, but ignoring that it manages to convey a massive amount of back story and emotional development into a single page.

Gary Reynolds conducts a lively interview with Marianne De Pierres, author of the 'Parrish Plesis' novels. I always find it interesting to hear other authors' comments on their writing and this one made me feel that the author had something useful to say.

'Darkness To Darkness' is an intriguingly original story by Ben O'Neill. A self-aware tree discovers that he is alone in the world and faces the trials of growing in a forest without any recourse to action. O'Neill has given a lot of thought to how such a plant would feel and what it might go through. It's very well done.

'88 Miles Per Hour' is a new regular column by Andrew Males. In this edition, he makes some pertinent observations on the longevity of SF novels compared to films, contrasting 'Blade Runner' and 'Robocop' with 2 novels written more than a century apart. It's an interesting exercise and well worth a read.

Susan Murray gives us a nice slice of space opera thriller in 'Creeping Justice'. Arriving on a mining colony, Ella soon uncovers corruption and violence among the primitive conditions. There are secret agents and mysterious disappearances and the thing that makes it work so well is that Ella is entirely in the dark, keeping us in suspense, too. In fact, what I found surprising is that Ella is basically a secretary, which is very unusual for these PC times we live in. Usually, she would be a miner or secret agent herself. Having an ordinary office worker adds to the trauma of the circumstances though and makes it a pleasantly engaging tale.

I found 'Writing Realistic Dialogue' to be another interesting article by Gary Reynolds, full of hints and tips for any aspiring writer. One of the website's aims is to collect information of use to the aspiring author and this is one of several now available on the site.

I think you may need to be American and enjoy toilet humour to fully appreciate Michael Kechula's 'Attack From Behind'. I didn't really appreciate the humour, but it's written competently enough and makes use of some original ideas.

The magazine is rounded off with 'Daddy's World' by Walter Jon Williams, an enthralling exploration of virtual reality, artificial intelligence and the way we cope with trauma and bereavement. A young lad growing up in a fantastical world of fable and adventure begins to realise that his family are not all they seem and starts to question his entire existence. It's a moving and thoughtful story to finish an enjoyable magazine.

So the magazine continues to make steady progress, offering a variety of articles and a varied selection of fiction. For a non-paying venue it's looking pretty good and as editor Gary Reynolds has plans to develop the magazine further it'll be worth keeping an eye on.

You can read an interview with Gary Reynolds on my blog 'The Science Of Fiction': http://garethdjones.blogspot.com/2008/08/editors-gary-reynolds.html

Gareth D. Jones

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