Future Science Fiction Digest #7 June 2020 (e-magazine review).

The summer 2020 issue of ‘Future Science Fiction Digest features three original short stories from Canada, Pakistan and Sweden and a film and TV review column titled ‘The Other Reel’ by Paul Levinson.

The fiction starts strongly with ‘Cousin Entropy’ by Michèle Laframboise, translated by N. R. M. Roshak. In the tradition of Olaf Stapledon, it tells the story over a long, long span of time, from the beginning of the universe to the end of our galaxy. The narrator, a human intelligence that developed after we had rid ourselves of weak, fleshy bodies, doesn’t remember the beginning of time but narrates it amusingly by anthropomorphising natural forces as Cousin Enthalpy and Cousin Entropy. Later, Aunty Gravity merits a mention. This is a wonderful piece of Science Fiction, full of physics and feeling.

The next narrative takes you back to Earth with a bump. Well, not back to Earth exactly but to the planet Sunstrewn in another star system where a pair of mineral prospectors continue their lifelong contest and a centuries old racial conflict. One is a Hindu, the other a Muslim and they compete to find new resources for space mining companies, staking claims. They also fight, often, but not to the death. On Sunstrewn, another force intervenes. Can they work together to survive despite all those ancestors demanding revenge? ‘Sunstrewn’ is by Murtaza Mohsin, his first published story but probably not his last.

‘Twenty-Seven Gifts I Saved For You’ by Filip Wiltgren takes the odd form of a list of gifts. It’s written by the widow of a missing astronaut, presumed dead. At a steady rate of one gift per year on the anniversary of his disappearance, the widow/wife buys a gift to keep for when he comes back. The gifts both paint a picture of the world she lives in, one on the verge of ecological catastrophe and her own life with her daughter, Kira. It works well. I once reviewed a great horror story told in shopping lists. This is the kind of experiment you can do with short stories and part of their attraction.

All these fictions have first-person narration which is often the best method, depending on the story, but seems to be prevalent now. None of them actually give the narrator a name. Oh well. Despite this niggle, they’re all excellent Science Fiction and recommended. Editor Alex Shvartsman wants to expand the magazine and bring us more international works but needs more funding. Meanwhile, he’s going for quality over quantity. I hope it works out.

Eamonn Murphy

June 2020

(pub: UFO Publishing, 2020. Price: £ 2.99 (UK), $ 2.99 (US). ISBN: 1-23000375-175-6)

check out website: https://future-sf.com/issues/issue-7/

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