01/06/2010. Contributed by Rod MacDonald
pub: Peggy Bright Books. 288 page paperback. Price: $ 30.00 AUS) including overseas postage. Offer available until the end of August 2010 with PayPal payment. ISBN: 978-0-9806-998-1-4.
check out websites: www.peggybrightbooks.comand http://simonpetrie.wordpress.com/
This is a collection of short stories and other items by Australian author Simon Petrie. It's quite a big collection at that with about 40 stories which will keep everyone entertained. Don't forget the Sudoku puzzles if you're psychic! The title suggests an element of comedy which is certainly in abundance but there is also a touch of the serious side of Science Fiction, chilling in nature and deadly.
The first story tells of a giant carrot and the attempts of an unfortunate individual and his team to extract it from the ground. The hilarity is abruptly cut short with the next story, 'Fomalhaut 451', where an intrepid woman tries to discover the reasons why a space colony has been abandoned. However, most of the stories are witty and funny. There are some side-splitting shorts, the following being an example:-
'Candi pulled to a halt behind the other vehicle. Her amplified voice boomed from the front speaker. "Please exit the vehicle, place your hands on your head, and await further instructions.
The accused driver opened his door, stepped out, and plummeted to certain death.
Candi thumped the dashboard. Dammit, another one. She'd have to get used to these newfangled flying cars, or the chief would have her hide.'
What would you do if, while eating your breakfast one morning, you saw a triceratops in the back garden? Simon Petrie has the ability to imagine unusual, to say the least, situations and then make a story out of them. What would you say to the authorities? Would you be believed? What next, a tyrannosaurus at McDonald's?
Difficult to find a favourite because the reader is spoilt for choice, I would possibly choose 'Podcast'. An unfortunate man finds himself in a rescue pod stranded in hyperspace. The computer keeps him company but the entertainment files on offer are not very interesting. It gets worse when he discovers the possibility of supplies running out which would then involve eating himself in order to survive. Escaping would mean coming out of hyperspace but that doesn't seem to be an option and the female computer gets a bit shifty about the truth. It goes from bad to worse. There are lots of unfortunate individuals in this book!
I was most impressed by the quality of the stories, both in content and writing ability. They are all intriguing, immediately infectious to the extent that you want to read more. Thoroughly entertaining and a very good read I could definitely recommended this book.
Anyway, who exactly is Simon Petrie? Judging from his website, he seems to have some undisclosed plan to be emperor of the galaxy. Besides this, he is a research chemist who also writes Science Fiction. As a chemist in a previous life, I have some sympathy but I never got past phlogiston theory myself. His writing is concise and scientifically accurate though don't confuse this with boring hard science stuff akin to watching paint dry. There's nothing like that here! He is also associated with the long-running and popular 'Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine'.
Returning to the fiction, 'Scuttle' told of an encounter between the Earth Federation and telepathic crab-like creatures. The Earth people were undone by their own ineptitude in more ways than one. Another question: What happens when you are confronted by an assailant with a talking Deadly-Sirius 357 Needle Gun? Find out when you read 'Murder On The Zenith Express!' There are also variations on the theme of A Guy Walks Into A Bar with a cosmic twist.
All in all, a very entertaining and readable book. There's plenty of interesting material here with lots to laugh about and let's face it, with the economy suffering severe cutbacks in every direction we need something to cheer us up. This book from the other side of the planet could do just that!
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA