“The Apologists” by Tade Thompson
Reviewed by Kevin P Hallett
The 266th issue of the magazine has five original stories, three novelettes and two short stories.
“The Apologists” by Tade Thompson
This science fiction novelette revealed one way humanity can go out with a whimper. A highly advanced race blundered onto the Earth, unaware a sentient life already lived there. The aliens accidentally wiped out all but five humans. This story then dealt with how these five lived out their existence on a planet where the aliens apologized to them for one hour every day.
The apologists encouraged the five humans to recreate London, populated by human simulants, using the aliens’ advanced technologies. But to what end? If you were one of the very last humans in the universe, what would you do? How would you feel towards those that had wiped out your family, albeit by accident?
An engaging tale that explores what it means to be human and how different individuals can be. Nicely crafted, the story keeps drawing in the reader as the main character struggles with his new reality.
“Extraterrestrial Folk Metal Fusion” by Georgina Bruce
Bruce’s short science fiction tale is about Jane Lovage, a professor who has discovered a signal from space that proves the existence of intelligent life. Distracted by her own desires, she finds herself tangled in a three-woman love circle where each chases another who in turn chases the third member. The alien signal or message itself was from a distant part of the universe, one where the sender’s world would have perished long ago. Translating the message, without any context, was beyond human capabilities.
The story bounces between Jane’s actual interactions and her imagined exchanges. It is a story that waits to take-off, but remains on the ground. By the end of the story, not much happens.
“Sideways” by Ray Cluley
Sam was a jet test pilot in this horror story novelette. One of those with the ‘right stuff’ who could fly almost anything until it killed them. He was the only one who could fly the new Arrow, an experimental jet that looked like a rocket and flew ‘sideways’.
Told through the eyes of his friend Tom, Sam faced down his greatest fear. Locked into a jet he cannot eject from, he flew it sideways into another dimension. What he saw there was more than most could bare. Yet he agreed to fly the Arrow a second time, certain it would be his last, certain that the creatures he saw there would consume him from the inside out this time.
A long story for what it has to reveal. This is a story that will appeal to some, and repel others. The writing style is engaging, but the material too drawn out for my satisfaction.
“Three Love Letters from an Unrepeatable Garden” by Aliya Whiteley
A gardener was tending to a unique flower in this short science fiction story set in a distant future. As he worked, he sent three letters to the lover he’d abandoned when he chose to dedicate his life to this unreproducible flower.
Outside the garden, people waited to break in and exploit the flower for their own benefit before it died. After many years, the flower was down to its last petal. The gardener had to decide between using it for himself or letting it die without benefiting anyone.
An unusual story with several layers, it will appeal to a wide range of readers. The style engages the reader quickly and the plot has a sense of mystery and pathos. It is easy to engross yourself in the characters and the fate of the flower itself.
“The End of Hope Street” by Malcolm Devlin
The twelve houses on Hope Street faced a strange blight in this horror mystery novelette. One by one, the sinister blight consumed each house making it unlivable. Failure to leave resulted in death; failure to stay away resulted in death. The displaced residents found temporary sanctuary in the other houses on the street. In all but one, that is. For Daniel Dormer, the patriarch at number twelve, felt that all this had happened to his neighbours for a reason.
When Daniel’s house was the only one still livable, he had to face the consequences of his petty prejudices.
The author develops the characters well and uses the mystery to pull the reader through the story. The enigmatic blight hangs over everything leaving the reader with many questions to answer. A pleasant and intriguing tale.
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