Tides Of Possibility edited by KJ Russell (book review).


‘Tides Of Possibility’ is a fantasy and Science Fiction anthology produced by the Houston Writers Guild. Released during August, it has 30 stories and poems within its pages and is available from Amazon in Kindle format. Actively encouraging writing activities within the community, the 200 strong Guild has taken this step to provide a launching platform for its members and in a city famous for astronautics activities, the subject matter is certainly relevant.


As the editor KJ Russell states, ‘writing Science Fiction is no easy task’. He has collected together a wide range of stories which can broadly be identified as belonging to our genre. Overall, the standard of writing is very good and, while some diverge somewhat from the genre, they are nonetheless enjoyable and interesting to read. I did find some to be disappointing because they were of insufficient length to capture the reader. Just as the stories were beginning to get interesting, they came to an abrupt end! However, there were some really top-class stories in the collection and while time and space doesn’t allow me to mention everyone, I’ll confine my comments to three stories which I found to be the best. This, of course, is only my personal opinion and others would probably choose completely different stories, so if you are a writer I don’t mention, please don’t think that there’s anything wrong with your work.

Mandy Broughton’s ‘The Colour Of Silence’ was centred around a care worker of the future, someone designed to look after people suffering from an illness. AIMii was the robot’s name and is there to help the dying Lucee, a young girl in a family situation with parents. She had a problem with her brain and only experimental surgery would be able to save her but the family were not sure if this was the correct procedure. Then the girl asked the robot a question: what is the colour of silence!

The robot began a quest to find the answer. In a deceptively simple story, you are led to a conclusion which isn’t really surprising but it was so well told and engaging that you had to read through to the end. Maybe the future will be like this, who knows, but what colour the future has is anybody’s guess!

KJ Russell’s ‘A Perfectly Stable Dataglobule’ started off okay but then got bad and ended up completely haywire! Don’t worry, however, because that was the intended plan. What a good story! Expertly written, intriguing and entertaining, its macabre setting was steeped in futuristic horror which was frightening to say the least.

A dataglobule is a floating jellyfish, to give it a description, which along with lots of other similar electronic creatures, organises the lives of space pilots engaged in war. The dataglobule in question has a bit of an attitude problem because it doesn’t really like humans. Treating them with contempt and derision, it went about its programming duties to instil hate into the human pilots preparing to go on five-year missions to fight spider-like creatures in a different star system. When the pilots returned, the dataglobule also had the task of wiping memories clear to set the pilots up for the new mission.

Already a bit peeved, our dataglobule extracts the memories of a psychotic pilot who had brutally murdered a woman while on duty. Not an ordinary murder, it was a psychopathic torture almost unlimited in cruelty. Dataglobule absorbs this and makes a bad situation worse, the end result which will have a detrimental effect on the 20,000 pilots and battleships under artificial intelligence control.

This is a Science Fiction short story which transports the reader to a different reality but it’s a reality which we can still comprehend. It’s all too easy to take, say, a bunch of present-day GIs and put them on another planet fighting spiders but envisaging different life-forms and then getting inside their heads while still making them understandable is a difficult thing to do. KJ Russell has done this really well but be warned, folks, some of his descriptions will make you squirm.

Another example of a really good story in this book is David Conyers’ ‘Downsizing In The Technopoly’. Throughout human history, people basically remain the same but what will happen in a future where some humans have been altered beyond all recognition while others are ostensibly unchanged. It begins with a manager called Yousef, who is busily engaged in sacking people. While he is speaking, semisents float over the ceiling and walls, sniffing out people for some apparent reason. They are just a part of everyday life, a nuisance which people have become grudgingly used to. Technipolists, a weird alien race, exist along with humans and other beings, some altered beyond recognition. However, Yousef is just like everybody else today. He ends up being sacked himself and with no job and means of income, his family is now under pressure.

Returning home, Yousef is approached by a strange individual who offers him a job. Not interested, he pushes him aside but with matters going in a downward spiral at home, he eventually thinks about the proposal which turns out to have very strange conditions attached to it. The weird aliens may be leaving the planet and nobody knows what the outcome will be so Yousef has to make a decision soon.

It definitely is an enjoyable story to read. Full of exotic and wonderful entities which the author makes real to the reader, it is set on a world unlike our own, a world that nevertheless becomes believable because of the skill and dexterity employed in its creation. This is good Science Fiction in action!

The book ‘Tides Of Possibility’ is a good product which shows what can be done by a group of individuals interested in writing. It’s an opportunity to showcase their work and from this there are bound to be countless possibilities for the future. Set at a modest price, it’s a recommended read.

Rod MacDonald

August 2014

(pub: SkipJack Publishing. 285 page ebook. Price: £ 1.70 (UK). ASIN: B00M29IN6K)

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