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Future Science Fiction Digest #8 (e-mag review).

September 20, 2020 | By | Reply More

Future Science Fiction Digest’ continues its mission to bring exciting SF from other cultures to anglophone readers. Aptly, for a plague year, this issue’s theme is medical Science Fiction and it’s guest edited by RM Ambrose. It’s all fiction apart from ‘Another Reel’ by Paul Levinson, a review of Netflix production ‘Twice Upon A Time’.

‘Second Generation’ by Czech author Julie Nováková is an old-fashioned scientific detective story in which something is going wrong and our heroes need to find out why it’s happening. Second generation humans on a Mars colony are dying shortly after birth and they shouldn’t be. Hard science is involved but the relationships are well-drawn and blessedly free of romance.

Joanne is stuck on a bus in a traffic jam and they can last five days. The future world in ‘Panoptes’ by Eliza Victoria has advantages, though, like biomedical implants such as the one in another passenger’s head. ‘Her right eye was milky-white. Raised blue lines like the circuits of a microchip or the tendrils of an otherworldly plant, crawled up from her right eyebrow to her scalp where a portion of her head was shaved.’ The lady so blessed is supervised and handcuffed by a stern older woman. Joanne has some knowledge of tech but maybe she should mind her own business here. Eliza Victoria is from the Philippines.

‘Keloid Dreams’ by Simone Heller from Germany features a former warbot now reconditioned, employed as a medical carer and assigned to an old soldier who hates warbots. Their shared history makes for an uneasy relationship but the old man’s insurance only covers a recycled machine so he has to put up with it. The story is told from the point of view of the bot but near the end, they get into a closer relationship almost reminiscent of Bester’s classic ‘Fondly Fahrenheit’.

Next is ‘Chrysalis’ by David Brin, an American. In the near future, the capacity of organ transplants to preserve life has led to unscrupulous practices in some countries, like prisoners getting the death penalty to gain access to their viscera. It’s a question of supply and demand and there’s plenty of demand. Scientists Beverley Wang and George Stimson, once married but now just colleagues, work at growing organs from stem cells so that the patients’ needs can be met in better ways. It seems complicated but turns out to be easier than expected due to a latent reptilian ability in the genes that mammals were thought to have lost. Success begets an even more revolutionary idea. Another great story but I would have preferred a less mysterious ending. On the other hand, it leaves room for the readers’ imagination to work.

‘The Post-Conscious Age’ by Su Min is a scary tale from China about a new mode of consciousness taking hold of humanity. Wen is a therapist and a new patient, a businessman, comes to her believing that some other force is taking control of him. While doing a presentation, he cannot stop, no matter what happens. A salesman falls past the window while he’s talking, plunging to his death, but both he and Wen take no notice. Further investigation reveals that the salesman, one Shen Xin, had the habit of launching his sales pitch at anyone and everyone, no matter how inappropriately. He couldn’t stop himself. Then he jumped. Wen investigates this spreading phenomenon. Here’s a fitting story for the age of the mental health crisis and another example of the exciting Science Fiction coming out of China.

In the age of fantasy, it’s good to have a magazine of pure Science Fiction unsullied by dragons, elves and orcs. The SF short story is all about ideas and there are plenty here to mull over. I hope ‘Future Science Fiction Digest’ will live long and prosper.

Eamonn Murphy

September 2020

(pub: UFO Publishing, 2020. 123 page e-magazine. File Size: 1425kB. Price: $ 3.83 (US), £ 2.99 (UK).

check out website: https://future-sf.com/

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Category: Magazines, Scifi

About the Author ()

Eamonn Murphy is a science fiction, fantasy, horror and graphic novel reviewer who writes a bit. See https://eamonnmurphybooks.wordpress.com His latest book 'Federation and Empire' is out now - links here https://nomadicdelirium.wordpress.com/

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