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Future Science Fiction Digest Issue 4 (e-mag review).

September 28, 2019 | By | Reply More

‘Future Science Fiction Digest Issue 4’ features fifty thousand words of new Science Fiction from the ‘United’ Kingdom (we still call it that), the ‘United’ States of America (don’t laugh), Russia, China, Sweden and Italy.

It opens with ‘They Are Coming’ by Paul R. Hardy. ‘They’ are aliens, for alien invasion is the theme of this issue. ‘They Are Coming’ takes a political approach. When alien spaceships are spotted near Pluto, mass panic ensues. Darlene McKinnon is a US politician mildly notorious because she once claimed a UFO sighting when working as a helicopter pilot.

Now she climbs the greasy pole with the slogan ‘They are coming’, her rise tracked by her nemesis and our narrator, ace reporter Teshana Wright. Darlene presses for an armed response to the pending invasion and, with a simple slogan, an enemy and plenty of funding from the arms industry gets the population on her side. That’s democracy for you. As ‘They’ come very slowly, she has plenty of time. ‘They Are Coming’ melds the themes of popular politics and alien invasion in an entertaining and thought-provoking manner.

‘The Building Atop The Hill’ by Alexander Bachilo, translated by Alex Shvartsman, was a moving refugee story with a Pinter-esque sense of hidden menace but, for my taste, had only light Science Fiction trappings.

‘You Came To The Tower’ by Shaenon K. Garrity, on the other hand, is hardcore SF. It’s narrated by Cat, who lives in an orbiting habitat called the Tower with her slightly older companion Kaida and Uncle the Computer. Cat is of a poetic nature and comes up with the ceremonies that make their daily life more interesting for it is a round of tasks maintaining the station and ensuring they have food, water and air supplies for the future. She is steeped in romantic fiction and classic literature.

Their routine contented life changes when two men arrive at the docking bay. To say more would give away the plot but this is a chilling vision of the future rendered in sweet, innocent tones. A beautiful, subtle piece of work.

‘A Typical Tale Of Bloodlust And Conquest’ is an amusing snippet by Mike Resnick. Bloodlust the Conqueror follows in his mighty father’s footsteps by taking control of a little known human colony in the Baroti Sector with scarcely a shot fired, then finds out that conquering is more complicated than he thought.

‘Through The Fog, A Distant Land Appears’ is written by award-winning Chinese author Wanxiang Fengnian and translated by Nathan Faries. Gu Huilan lives in a village but sometimes goes to the city to work. She loves the city. One day, when she is looking after her sick daughter, the television goes off in the middle of an urgent news bulletin, a mist descends and all the villagers leave to walk into it.

Gu watches them but doubles back to check on her daughter and son but they have vanished! Shortly, after the villagers reappear, briefly, as insubstantial blue ghosts. This alien contact story is strange, oddly moving and solidly Science Fiction.

Swedish SF is next with ‘Yi’ from Oskar Källner, translated by Gordon Jones. An alien race called the Yi, colloquially known as cockroaches, have grown a forest on the Moon and taken it over to launch an invasion of Earth. Our heroes are Rickard, Clarissa and Tim, their leader, equipped with an atom bomb strapped to his back. They must penetrate the forest to Yi headquarters and blow it to Hell. This works as military SF with cybernetics and nanobots and then develops into something richer and deeper. It’s an action-adventure with meaning and it’s terrific.

I would call ‘The Messiah Of The Thirteenth Colony’ a science-fantasy because Martian colonist Joseph Synczlowieczy, the only survivor of a cargo ship destroyed by Earth forces, exhibits healing powers that have no scientific explanation. He’s in the hospital dying of a brain tumour which gives him plenty of chances to exercise his talent. I liked the characters and the conclusion. A Martian Messiah has inevitable echoes of ‘Stranger In A Strange Land’ but this is very different.

Finally, an honourable mention for ‘The Last Trial’ by Stephen S. Power in which man competes against machine at packing goods for dispatch, perhaps the only job left for us lower orders in the near future. Skilfully done but perhaps the protagonist should have been a big strong woman. You know, an amazon.

‘Future Science Fiction Digest’ continues to be excellent, up there with the cream of current SF magazines. I think the quality comes from the diversity, not in the politically correct sense but in the translations from authors with different cultural viewpoints. Keep up the good work, guys!

Eamonn Murphy

September 2019

(pub: UFO Publishing. 232 page e-book. Price: £ 3.99 (kindle ebook- UK), $ 3.99 (kindle ebook – US). Download options: EPUB 3 (DRM-Free). ISBN: 1-2-3000341-127-8)

check out website: www.ufopub.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 for the small press. He saves his old short stories and gives them away in free collections. See https://eamonnmurphyblog.wordpress.com/

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