Thursday, 2 February 2012

Various Authors

Various Authors
Edited by Rob Redman
Reviewed by Peter Coleborn

Sometimes one has to read outside the confines of genre. And as much as I love fantasy/horror short stories there are times when I need to go off at a tangent. This is where Various Authors comes in. (Of course, one could argue that all fiction is just a bunch of lies and is, ergo, a form of fantasy fiction, but I’ll not go that route today.) Anyway, this anthology features twelve new stories from authors I’m not familiar with but, judging from their contributions, writers I’d like to encounter again.

One writer I should’ve recognised is Patrick Whittaker, he won the BFS short story competition a year or two back with Dead Astronauts. I dug out that issue of Dark Horizons and re-read and thoroughly enjoyed the quirky, surreal and humorous account of astronauts falling from the sky littering up the lawn. Whittaker’s story in Various Authors is Celia and Harold, equally strange and weird. It’s a horror story (can’t get away from them) about being trapped, unable to avoid the inevitable.

Other contributions include stories that touch on frustrating lives, on coincidences perceived or actual, on aspirations. It’s difficult to pick highlights: probably How to Fall in Love with an Air Hostess by Harvey Marcus and Crannock House by Ben Lyle, although, to be honest, I enjoyed them all. I imagine, however, that these stories won’t appeal to everyone because often they end unresolved; they are snippets of a larger story that continues after the final full stop. And yes, that can be frustrating but the quality of writing makes up for this. The characters feel just right and the narrative flows seamlessly.

Various Authors is volume one in an intended series published by The Fiction Desk which began life as a blog. Well worth getting hold of and reading.

(This review originally published on the BFS website)

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