Floatation Device: A Charity Anthology by Scottish authors (charity ebook review).

April 24, 2020 | By | 1 Reply More

Beyond Hadrian’s Wall in the cold, savage windswept north, a group of nice authors in the Glasgow SF Writers Circle have banded together to produce a fantasy anthology in aid of some charities that help the neediest in our current crisis. There’s a variety of jolly good fiction, some very short, so I’ll pick out a few personal highlights from the 20 stories.

Typical! Just when Princess Rosalva is due to set off on an epic three year quest to slay the dark god of the Orcs and save her kingdom, she gets pregnant by the Chosen One, a gawky farm boy called Ben. The mighty wizard Farigh isn’t pleased at his plans being ruined but the Princess has a plan B. Cameron Johnston skilfully mocks secondary fantasy fiction in ‘Of Gods And Monsters’. Epic Pooh, anyone?

‘Some Of The Great Old Ones Are On The Pitch’ by Brian M. Milton is pretty much summed up in the title but it’s well done.

‘Sugar Coated’ by Don Redwood is a Christmas story. Sabrina Knight goes to her cousins every year to play with their wonderful toys for they are very rich. They ask her the question every poor kid hates: what did you get for Christmas? Lying, she invents the most wonderful PlayStation ever. Her cousin says they got that, too, and goes off to fetch it. Not sure if this is fantasy or Science Fiction but I enjoyed the premise.

‘Threnody’ by Hal Duncan is a sort of prose poem about a bee on Mars in which words fall over themselves to delight in ‘the infinitesimally fine frolicking of quarks those monkeys prattle of as reality.’ Duncan wrote ‘The Land Of Somewhere Safe’ which I reviewed for SFCrowsnest and enjoyed enormously, despite the profane language.

‘Nelson’s Blood’ by Richard Mosses is a slightly mad story of rough Glasgow youths drinking the potion in the title and having a sailing ship/shopping trolley battle with a rival gang. Different and great fun.

‘The Snow Baby’ by Jenni Coutts is the story of Aari, his younger brother Lumi and their pet wolf, Talvi, who live in a Trullo in a village in the mountains where their tribe keeps yaks. Lumi was born a snow baby, an albino, and should have been cast out as, according to legend as they bring the wolves. Written in a clean, simple style, this charming fairy tale passed a pleasant half-hour and would make a nice Disney film.

People go to fantasy conventions in all kinds of costumes nowadays so it would be easy for real pagan deities to turn up and not be noticed, which is exactly what they do in ‘All The Way To The Dead Dog Party’ by E.M. Faulds. An enjoyable yarn told almost entirely in dialogue and I never guessed who the saint was until the reveal when it was obvious.

‘The Worms Of Talay’ by T.H. Dray is a prose poem in the mode of Hal Duncan’s piece with rich descriptions in the style of Jack Vance, poetic turns of phrase and even the odd rhyme. It makes for a pleasant read.

Filmland is a DVD store-cum-cafe and our hero works the evening shift there. The trouble starts when a strange girl comes in. After I had finished ‘Filmland’ by Stewart Horn, I realised that it was a pretty straightforward scary horror story but the first-person narration makes it so immersive you get carried along.

Allie is a student in Glasgow and her main aim in life is not to be what her family expects ie the same as them, single mothers with a few brats in tow or ‘normal’. Her life is complicated by something haunting her, something terrifying and the urban fox which seems to be keeping it away. ‘Ancient History’ by Elaine Gallagher is an effective fantasy where the back story hinted at in the title is cleverly revealed at the right time.

I enjoyed ‘The Sea Calls Its Own’ by Christopher Napier because the relationship between son and father struck a chord. Our hero has his PhD and is soon flying off to Australia to work but pays a last visit to his old Dad on the Scottish coast. His mother, a mysterious character, died long ago. The fantasy element was predictable, at least to me because I’ve read something similar before. The slightly strained conversations between a son and his stoic old father, a Celt not given to showing emotion, were well done and a refreshing change. I find the modern trend for wearing your heart on your sleeve and talking about how you ‘feel’ rather tiresome and much prefer the old way. Keep a stiff upper, chaps!

The book closes with ‘Where I Went On My Holidays’ by Ian Hunter in which a boy tells of the adventure he and his sister Ellie had with their Uncle Jack, an old fool who hints that he’s centuries old and has fought mummies and zombies. He takes them to the seaside in this likeable romp. Ah, the seaside. Will we ever see it again?

Many of these stories have not appeared elsewhere before, a few have. Like all anthologies, it’s a mixed bag but on the whole an enjoyable one and, like all anthologies, it gives you a chance to sample new writers and chase up further works by the ones you like and it’s for charity.

Eamonn Murphy

April 2020

ebook direct from http://flotationdevicebook.co.uk/ so that all the money goes to charity. Price: £ 5.99 (UK).

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Category: Books, Fantasy, Horror, Scifi

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