Future Science Fiction Digest Issue 2 Paperback – 21 Mar 2019 by Alex Shvartsman, Mike Resnick, Beth Cato and David Walton (magazine review)

April 16, 2019 | By | Reply More

‘Future Science Fiction Digest’ features a mixture of native English and translated stories. First up is ‘Tideline Treasures, Or Growing Up Along The Mile High Dyke’ by Tais Teng and Jaap Boekstein. In future Holland, humans live on The Dyke, a strip of land projecting above the flooded world. It’s a hierarchical society. The adventurous young are scavengers down at the beach. The Parents live a clean, sober life at a higher level, making children to fill the empty world. The Elders live at the top. It’s a high-tech society, not a primitive dystopia. To add to the fun, some sort of plague has made certain animals intelligent. The authors use this setting for a story of love and discovery. A canny publisher could issue it as a small book with widely spaced type and plenty of pictures entitled ‘Albert Einstein Seagull’. It’s great.

Smart birds feature again in ‘The Roost Of Ash And Fire’ by David Walton, which could be set in the future of the last story but it isn’t. Easy Prey is a male of low cast in a female-dominated society of birds. Communicating complex messages via scent and pheromones, they are smart and have clever biotechnology, including a telescope. Prey is small with drab plumage and a tiny wingspan, so no one will mate with him but he is smart. One day, his laboratory is due an exalted visitor and he is tasked with preparing a report. In the course of doing so he makes an exciting discovery which has dire consequences for his society. Walton makes the scenario entirely convincing and it’s another excellent Science Fiction story.

‘The Lord Of Rivers’ is about West Station AI who runs a rail terminus in busy Beijing. The story cuts back and forth between its interesting job and a far future setting where the universe is dying and entropy finally winding down. The AI perceives the flows of people through the railway system as a river which he must control, hence the title. It’s the kind of story you can’t say too much about without giving the game away but it should achieve classic status. Wanxiang Fengnian is a Chinese Science Fiction author who has won several awards.

No one is alone in ‘No Body Enough’ by Dantzel Cherry. They are all connected in groups of two or more and one primary leads the group. Usually, the primary is determined by socio-economic status and the unnamed genderless protagonist is a low level worker. However, after losing one of her avatars in a poker game, she goes to the Department of Connection to get another and is hooked up with a wealthy, intelligent man who wants to become primary and sort out her messed up life. I suppose this warm, fluffy feeling and never being alone is what some people want but it sounds like Hell to me. Good story, though.

IT IS NO SHAME TO KILL THAT WHICH HAS NO FISH’. Adam is an android with a sledgehammer arm who kills cows for a living. His dream is one day to own a fish but they cost a fortune. Then a man makes him an offer he can’t refuse, but should. ‘An Actual Fish’ is a short, surreal story by Natalia Theodoridou with a neat ending. I loved it.

‘The Peculiar Gravity Of Home’ by Beth Cato is set on a small Lunar Base mostly inhabited by miners with a military command structure for efficiency. Mrs. Harrington was one of the founders of the colony but is now old and looks after the necessary cats. On Earth, Yellowstone has erupted and the sky is filled with ash. Aeroships can’t get through and they are running out of food on the Moon. This might have been written by Heinlein in the 1940s back when he plotted instead of preached. Very good and the Yellowstone eruption event is a doomsday scenario that bears thinking about.

Another surreal story is ‘The Zest For Life’ by N.M.R. Roshak. Aliens come to Earth and bob about on the oceans for a spell in ships we cannot harm. They leave behind a recipe for salad dressing, written on several major mountains. Soon dubbed Zesty Alien, the concoction has the peculiar quality of making plastic both edible and delicious. This leads to odd developments in the catering and food production industries. The premise is odd but each plot development is perfectly logical and it’s a fun yarn with normal unlovable characters.

Mike Resnick is the most awarded SF writer in history according to the blurb and has written many short stories. ‘The Token’ is not original in its premise, I think Asimov did something similar, but the development is different. In the far future, humanity has expanded into space and tangled with the Sett Empire. Bob graduates from military college and is sent off to war but leaves a perfect android replica of himself to take care of girlfriend, Trina, who he will marry on his return. Perfect is the key word. What happens next isn’t really a surprise but what happens after that makes up for it.

It’s another far future setting for ‘To Save A Human’ by Svyatoslav Loginov. Mowgli is a natural boy who crashed near the Emitter on Earth and was raised by Amma, so he knows the way of the jungle. When another ship crashes, a human ranger is sent to the rescue, all fitted out with high-tech exoskeleton and fabulous weapons. However, the jungle isn’t Tarzan’s but a mess of bio-technology, nanotechnology and mutations, so the ranger needs help. The complex background is revealed slowly so I won’t give it away but this is another intelligent tale.

The best thing about this magazine is that it’s proper Science Fiction. Not near future stuff with a few SF elements thrown in but what Asimov called ‘milk and water Science Fiction’, real high grade material based on interesting ideas. The authors have all done great work but the translators deserve a cheer too, unsung heroes who make it possible for English speakers to read these great works. If ‘’Future Science Fiction Digest’ continues this level of quality, it will soon be counted among the giants in the field.

Eamonn Murphy

April 2019

(pub: UFO Publishing. 178 page e-book. Price: £ 2.99 (UK). ASIN: B07PT36Y32)

check out website: www.ufopub.com

Category: Magazines, Scifi

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