Incremental: 25 Tales Of Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Speculative, And Bizarre Fiction Kindle Edition by Geoff Nelder (ebook review).

October 10, 2018 | By | Reply More

I’ve reviewed a few of Geoff Nelder’s SF stories in ‘Perihelion SF’ and liked them so he felt emboldened to send me an advance copy of his new collection, ‘Incremental’. I’m glad he did. The blurb says: ‘These twenty-five tales from Geoff Nelder have increment as a theme.

The meaning of: Increment: Noun – an increase or addition, especially one of a series on a fixed scale. I didn’t always see this theme in the stories but they were so good I didn’t care.

The opening yarn is ‘Pothole’. In Madrid, cyclist Mateo comes across a small pothole on a minor road. He goes back the next day to cover it or put up a warning sign for others and finds that it has doubled in size. What’s more, it keeps doubling in size. He contacts his clever friend Zoe for help and she calculates that the whole of Spain will fall into it in a matter of weeks.

Doubling a number to see how quickly it gets huge is an old kids game and Nelder even finds a scientific rationale for the hole. This could have changed into one of those fifties SF disaster movies with a learned young professor (pipe and spectacles) a stupid general and a beautiful girl but Nelder stayed with the kids’ story.

The theme of little people affected by big events shows up again in ‘Wrong Number’ in which Ken gets a call on his thirtieth birthday. The phone is a cheap knock-off given by his brother and the call is surprising because no one has his number yet. The call is either gibberish or details of a radio frequency. Another clever idea and well realised.

When the Perseid meteor shower is somehow diverted and several strike the Earth in ‘Gravity’s Tears’, it’s another big event and again we see it through the eyes of ordinary characters. Emma and Quil are driving on the unlit Manitoba Highway over undulating prairies towing a two-bed trailer. Towing it too fast as far as she’s concerned. It’s early days in their relationship and she’s not sure about him. As in all good stories, events illuminate character. Another good one.

One of my favourites was ‘Tumbler’s Gift’. Tumbler Recks has the power to unlock anything, just by being near it. His courtship of cute redhead Ember is interrupted when the authorities grab him for an important mission. One of the Portals has somehow become locked and they hope he can fix it. Portals are gateways that lead instantly to Mars or other cities. There are few of them. Like so many of the stories, this twists in an unexpected direction. Tumbler is from a near future which is cleverly put across by a variety of new words with meanings you can infer: Citzen, Crimpolice, cofftea and so on.

Sticking with SF, which forms a large part of the book, there’s ‘The Judgement Rock’. Jed is spaced for trying to steal an asteroid from a mining corporation. He’s wearing a spacesuit but that won’t keep him alive for long. However, the suit has a built-in AI which converses with him and it’s quite droll and Jed has a plan. I first read this excellent story in ‘Perihelion SF April 2017’ and it’s just as much fun revisited.

There are quirky fantasies here, too. In ‘View From’, a teacher not looking forward to his day of ‘wild animal management’ wakes to find himself stuck to the ceiling, looking down. ‘Mind Of Its Own’ has Merlin casting a spell that goes wrong. ‘In Absentia’ starts with an old man trying to figure out who he is while ten year-old Amy chatters away at him. This was a great idea and turned in a totally unexpected direction. Straight fiction features in ‘Dummies Guide To Saving Lives’ where a nice man tries to persuade someone from jumping off a bridge in Chester. This won the Cafe Doom Story Contest in 2004.

Nelder writes well and even has bursts of poetic description in certain passages. These ruffles and flourishes add to the flavour but the meat of the thing is the story. Much of what Geoff Nelder does is like 1950s SF, those clever shorts by the likes of Phillip K Dick and Robert Sheckley. Although his characters have feelings and are affected by events, he eschews the modern misery and sense of futility that has become such a part of English Science Fiction. His stories are entertaining and include a bit of hard science, too. All in all, this collection is a treat.

Eamonn Murphy

October 2018

(pub: LL-Publications. 256 page ebook. File Size: 1109kB. Price: £ 2.99 (UK). ASIN: B07HGK4DVG)

check out website: www.amazon.co.uk/Incremental-fantasy-speculative-bizarre-fiction-ebook/dp/B07HGK4DVG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1539113472&sr=1-1&keywords=Incremental%3A+25+Tales+Of+Fantasy%2C+Sci-Fi%2C+Speculative%2C+And+Bizarre+Fiction+Kindle+Edition+by+Geoff+Nelder

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Category: Books, Scifi

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About the Author ()

Eamonn Murphy is a science fiction and fantasy writer and reviewer who lives in the south west of England. If you want to know more visit his website: https://eamonnmurphyblog.wordpress.com/

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