01/11/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: NewCon Press. 233 page signed limited edition small hardback. Price: GBP 19.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-907069-25-3).
check out website: www.NewConPress.com
As I haven’t read any of other NewCon Press anthologies, I can’t compare between volumes. With thirteen short stories by authors of whom I’ve only read a few, there is no way to gauge whether or not this is their best or atypical work. As most of them write novels now, there is a feeling that they are forgetting a useful cardinal law when it comes to short stories and have a punchy ending. Too often here, they peter out with no strong will to make them memorable. As editor Ian Whates points out in his introduction, he likes to meet or know the writers he invites into his anthologies and it is all fresh material, not gleaned from other sources which is in its favour.
Anthologies tend to be a mixed bag these days. They allow you to sample a variety of authors and you can’t guarantee if all the stories will be to your taste. I was several stories in before I found any that I actually liked, which is a worry and hoping that that is just me.
Andy Remic’s ‘Yakker Snak’ is certainly a more traditional short story with strong first person characterization and Annie is someone you think you should support. A new couple move next door to her with two singing dogs who won’t shut up at night. Annie’s tolerance is a joy to behold until she reaches the end of her tether. Remic ups the emotional content of this story by plying on how everyone reacts to noisy neighbours although I doubt if you’d go quite as far as she did. As it is, this story is really head and shoulders above everything else in this book and worth the buying price on its own.
‘The Legend Of Sharrock’ by Philip Palmer also uses something that can be remotely familiar even if it’s set in the future with a Native American tribe. The chief and father is extremely abusive, although it’s reported more than seen, and his son challenges him to a fight to the death with dire consequences. In many regards, this story would work well in general genre as much as SF but it does work effectively.
So, too, does Adam Roberts’ ‘The Ice Submarine’ where an Islamic crew are seeking a prey in the Antarctic Ocean. The effectiveness of the story is Roberts’ use of their faith, having the submarine at rest re-orientated to face Mecca is a nice twist and the inner crew rivalry as much. The story elements could be stronger but this is more of a character piece.
For the record, the other authors are Dan Abnett, Tony Ballantyne, Lauren Beukes, Eric Brown,Gareth L. Powelll, Kim Lakin-Smith, Stephen Palmer, Colin Harvey, Steve Longworth and Tim C. Turner. If you belong to any of their fan bases then these will draw you to this book.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA