August’s books

Fully expected this month’s reading to be curtailed by other activities, but as it turns out I managed a couple of enjoyable (albeit with a slightly higher than usual incidence of author/reader nark) novels and the usual interesting array of shorts.

Rule 34  by Charles Stross (Orbit)   You know you’ve read a good thriller when you find yourself cramming the last few pages on your morning walk to work. And Rule 34 is a good thriller – indeed, a good SF thriller, with a heavy dose of typically Strossian extrapolation applied to the near future of crime and crime-fighting. The projections and innovations are scarily plausible, the scam at the heart of the story audacious, and the humour very, very dark. Charlie Stross novels come in many flavours – this is my favourite.

The Stately Pantheon by Kirsty Neary (Wild Wolf)   I bought this slim novel after hearing the author reading from it, and I’m glad I did. The intriguing story revolves around a theatre that is used for unusual activities, and drops the characters who frequent it into a whole pot of weirdness. Enjoyable, but too slight for me. Wanted more.

Unspoken Water #1 edited by Ian Hunter   My short story reading was diminished this month but I did manage to read the first issue of Unspoken Water, a new magazine edited by Ian Hunter.  Describing itself as a magazine of the strange, the weird and the uncanny, Unspoken Water is a jump back to the thriving small press horror zines of the nineties. A5, black and white, minimal illustration and full of strange stories and poems that all skirt the badlands between realism, fantasy and horror. Even some of the names (Joel Lane, Andrew Hook, Steve Rasnic Tem) are the same.  In this issue I enjoyed Hook’s “On The Beach” best, and I look forward to more of the same in the next issue.

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