‘Alien Dimensions’ is another of those small magazines from tiny publishers that provide a market for writers at the beginning of their career or for part-time writers who have a different career or for writers who just do it for fun. It’s all fiction.
First up is ‘Rootless’, which combines far future space voyagers exploring a new planet with a story of unrequited love. I won’t give away the plot. Author Sean Mulroy’s style is reminiscent of 1930s SF. He isn’t frightened of adjectives or viewpoint switches or blocks of text with no dialogue, all of which are forbidden nowadays. Silly. Frank Herbert switched viewpoint every other sentence in ‘Dune’ but it was still a great story and the presumption that readers can‘t cope with more than three lines unbroken by dialogue is insulting. ’Rootless’ has a rich vocabulary, hard science underpinnings, an original slant on an old premise and sympathetic characters. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
‘The Sardovian Fly Trap’ by James Armer features more space exploration, this time in a tropical setting. Whilst scouting a newly discovered planet that was sending out a distress signal, the crew of a ship vanish. So the ship’s A.I. downloads into an avatar and sets off to rescue them in a jungle adventure story rich with original flora and fauna.
‘Motherboard’ by Nicky Martin is about a future where everyone’s wired. Poor old Jerry Doctorow (a tribute surely?) has his mother to contend with for the rest of his days as she downloaded herself into a computer and literally runs the house. When he meets a single mother, whose kid has been augmented by implants, things get pretty chaotic. I liked that Jena Bates, the mother, had grown up using the Internet but only used it to check rare knowledge like the date and how to boil water. A smart comedy story about the shape of things to come.
Even better than the foregoing and they were all clever is ‘Shifting Sands’ by Olga Werby. Hugh and Enry-O set out to repair a wind turbine on a sandy desert world being slowly colonised by man and find hexagonal shapes that may be evidence of intelligent design. Hugh once found a small rock that seemed carved but everyone else thinks it was probably formed by wind and erosion. This tale had clarity and ‘clarity’, as Stephen King and Isaac Asimov both pointed out, tends to get taken for granted but is not easily achieved. Hugh and Enry-O went through various physical manoeuvres, not the easiest thing to describe, and it was always obvious what they were doing. The characters were likeable and the final revelation was original.
‘Prospector Of The Silica Seas’ by Shashi Kadapa and ‘Space Trash’ by La Va Payne are very alien, as I’m sure is the intent. The prospector is Shiva, a born complete non-carbon life-form, who is mining Archisanium on a molten silica sea because it’s needed for power back home.
The environmental watchdog in ‘Space Trash’ is Tavid, a Trunktoparishie. Their homeworld has become uninhabitable, so they have taken up the job of patrolling the galaxies to catch cosmic ‘fly-tippers’ dumping waste. Both of these stories were highly imaginative.
This is very much 1930s SF and ‘Prospector Of The Silica Seas’ even has footnotes in the style of Golden Age comicbook writer Gardner Fox. He was a pulp Science Fiction author in the 1930s before recycling the ideas of that era in Green Lantern.
‘First Interdimensional Contact’ by Neil A. Hogan is ‘For Younger Readers.’ Not too young, I hope. It’s a big stretch from ‘Run spot, run. See spot run’ to ‘The electromagnetic sphere fluoresced and coruscated in the centre of the bubble reality’. In fact, it was another clever piece of work with the spheres encountering lines, triangles and rectangles for the first time when a being from another universe comes to visit. This older reader enjoyed it.
‘Tiara And The Comet Apocalypse Part 4’, also by Neil A. Hogan and also for younger readers, does a better job of meeting the needs of the target audience. A bunch of aliens in a 1600km long spaceship called the Celestial Breeze which has come from the Large Magellanic Cloud Galaxy are trying to save Earth from a deadly asteroid storm. One alien looks a bit like a hammerhead shark, another is ant-like and another resembles a dinosaur. To be fair, this is neat shorthand form for describing characters in a story for children. The pseudo-science does get a bit complicated later on.
‘Alien Dimensions’ seems to feature two styles, 1930s and 1940s, but the former takes precedence. It’s old style sense of wonder SF with new creatures and ideas on every page in a grand cavalcade of marvels. There’s a bit of emotion but in general, it’s the world of pre-Campbell SF and pre-Stan Lee comics. It reminded me of ‘Before The Golden Age’ edited by Isaac Asimov which I went on-line and bought in hardback, three volumes collected, for 49p! The price is probably a sign of how popular 1930s Science Fiction is nowadays, except in movies where it’s all the rage.
Happily, SF is still a broad church and ‘Alien Dimensions’ is certainly worth trying for a change of pace. I doff my cap to editor Neil A. Hogan for giving writers a chance to stretch their imaginative muscles and give the readership something exciting and different. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but why not try it and see?
(pub: Maldek House. 101 page ebook 2788kB. Price: £ 2.99 (UK), $ 2.99 (US). ASIN: B0748J4NB7)
check out websites: http://maldekhouse.com/ and https://www.amazon.co.uk/Alien-Dimensions-Science-Metaphysical-Magazine/dp/1973955725/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1502136116&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=Alien+Dimensions%3A+Science+Fiction%2C+Fantasy+Abnd+Metaphysical+Short+Stories+Anthology+Series+%23+11+by+Neil+A.+Hogan%2C+Sean+Mulroy+and+James+Armer