Dark Eden by Chris Beckett (Corvus)
In SF they tell you that one of the great cliches is the Adam-and-Eve-on-a-new-planet story. You just don’t do it. Ever. Chris Beckett has, however, done exactly that, and Dark Eden is a simple, beautiful triumph of a book. His Adam and Eve are several generations dead, and their descendants – the Family – scraping out an almost stone-age existence on a sunless world with its weird bioluminescent ecology, have become genetically and linguistically degenerate. The setting is exquisitely rendered and the story of one boy’s attempts to forge a different life, and the disruptions his actions cause in Family, is a surprisingly affecting one. In Dark Eden Becket tells a most human of stories against the most outlandish of settings. I absolutely loved this book.
The Animator by Chris Butler (Interzone #245)
This is the second story I’ve read in Butler’s strange “mood spores” setting, and I think I liked it even better than it’s Interzone predecessor. In this one he investigates the terror the ruling classes have of entertainments that might unite the populace into resisting their natural spore-borne dominance. The invention of projected animation was a lovely way to explore this, although I wished we’d been taken to the hinted-at secret theatres too. Maybe next time?
The Circle Of Least Confusion by Martin Sketchley (Solaris Rising 2)
This story begins with two radically different threads – one mundane and contemporary, the other high-paced and exotic – but they are quickly and skilfully merged into a sensitively portrayed tale centred around how the ability to see the consequences of choices that couples sometimes have to make might colour those decisions. A really thoughtful piece.
Cannibals With Cutlery by To Kill A King
Circumstances prevented me catching To Kill A King at last year’s Stag & Dagger in Glasgow, and listening to this album, I’ve really started to regret that. Cannibals With Cutlery is packed with good tunes, indie anthems and more subtle, personal pieces too. The arrangements are textured and gorgeous, and the songs are both uplifting and reflective. Children Who Start Fires is probably my favourite song of the year so far.
And wouldn’t you know, a year after I missed them the first time, TKAK play Glasgow in a week or so. No way I’m going to miss them a second time.
8SquaredCon, Eastercon 2013
I’ve already written about this year’s Eastercon. But it bears repeating: relaxed, good humoured, impeccably organised – one of the best I’ve been to in some years.