Good Reading : February 2005
32 goodreading science fiction fantasy word of mouth Nocturnes John Connolly You will find this short story col- lection wrongly placed in the crime section of most bookshops, right next to the author’s criti- cally acclaimed Charlie Parker thrillers, but there is only one crime story within. The main theme throughout is the super natural – ghosts and demons, dark pixies and even a vampire. Most of the stories were written for radio after the author was commissioned by the BBC, following the success of his first novel Every Dead Thing. Readers who have read his crime novels will be familiar with Connolly’s deceptively easy style, which makes the supernatural elements all the more scary. As a father of two young children, it was the story called ‘The New Daugh- ter’ that gave me the most goosebumps, where a man’s eldest child is replaced by something otherworldly that tells him she is his ‘New Daughter’, and one day soon, he will have a new son. Two novellas bracket the collection, ‘The Cancer Cowboy Rides’, tells the story of a walking talking cancer, infecting all that he touches, and ‘The Reflecting Eye’, a rather creepy story about the house a serial child killer once lived in, which stars the author’s regular character Charlie Parker. While Noctur nes is a mixed bag in ter ms of quality, all the stories are enjoy- able and engaging, but it is Connolly’s longer works that will truly scare read- ers the most. ★★★ Hodder & Stoughton $32.95 Reviewed by Phillip Knowles The Companions Sheri S Tepper In the distant future, humanity has expanded to the stars, but here on Earth, life is not great. Over-popu - lated and under-resourced, people are crammed into large indoor communi- ties.Therefore, a new law has been passed – as it has been decided that animals use up far too much of earth’s remaining resources – all creatures, great and small, are to be destroyed. Jewel Delis is an arkist – a member of a fairly large, but secretive organisa- tion, working to save what animals they can, and desperately trying to find a planet which could act as a sanctuary for those animals that remain. Enter Moss, one planet of a triplanetary system, which despite the gover nment’s best efforts to study it, remains a mystery. Moss, named for the widely varying, moss-like growth that covers its surface, cannot be colonised by the aliens who discovered it, if it supports native intelligent life. Jewel along with her linguist brother Paul, is sent there to investigate, her alterna - tive mission: to discover whether Moss would be an appropriate sanctuary. In the meantime, it becomes obvious that someone (or some alien) is conspiring to obliterate humanity. This is certainly not one of Tepper’s strongest novels, but it is nevertheless both intriguing and compelling, and like many of her previous novels, poses a number of questions, both religious and moral. ★★★ Gollancz $32.95 Reviewed by Johanne Knowles Worldstorm James Lovegrove Worldstor m is set on a far-future earth, which has been ripped apart by the Worldstor m, an eter nal stor m that constantly circles the planet, bringing death and devastation wherever it goes. For no discer nible reason, it appears to have been responsible for engendering humanity with a range of psychic talents, its variants named for the four elements: earth, fire, water and air. Our narrator, Elder Ayn, is air- inclined, and can see certain events of the future, which render life eter nally boring – it also means he knows the exact time and nature of his death. Other characters include a young man, who comes from a prominent fire-inclined family, and whose emerging talent, marks him as earth- inclined, and a young woman who thinks she is extraordinary – a person who has no talent at all. All of these characters are about to be drawn into a tragic war between earth- and fire-inclined, and all of them are pawns in prophecy that only Elder Ayn really has any know- ledge of. The concepts presented in this novel intrigued me, but unfortunately, the execution just didn’t quite do it. For the most part, I blame the lack of charac- terisation, and the fact that the majority of the book is nar rated by a thoroughly dislikeable character. ★★ Gollancz $32.95 Reviewed by Johanne Knowles Have you visited www.goodreadingmagazine.com.au lately? Our website has many exciting new features including being able to search for titles or authors, browse through our review section, and now you can even purchase books! Why not check it out today.
December January 2005