My life in outer space

Yondering – The First Borgo Book of SF Stories – Jack Dann (Ed) – (2011)


It’s a disappointing collection this, comprised mainly of Borgo authors, along with several quite old reprints. This would be no problem if there were a thematic connection between the stories, but if there is, I’m not seeing it.
The standout stories are Sheila Finch’s ‘Miles to Go’ which is borderline SF at best, albeit an excellent story, the editor’s own story ‘Mohammed’s Angel’ and ‘Evergreen’ by Arthur Jean Cox.
Plus, the stories are printed alphabetically by author, which seems a somewhat lackadaisical way of doing things.

The Quills of Henry Thomas, – W. C. and Aja Bamberger (The Yondering 2011)

A somewhat confusing story involving producing music by employing DNA as information storage.

The Gizzard Wizard – Rory Barnes (The Yondering 2011)

An entertaining tale featuring an young man exiled from Earth and escaping on a ship as an Ambassador of Yoof. It’s a sequel to the novel ‘Space Junk’. Witty.

The Darkfishers – John Gregory Betancourt (Aboriginal Science Fiction July/August 1987)

The survivors of a shipcrash on a waterworld have survived by living on the back of an enormous sea-dwelling beast, where a young man is undergoing a rite of passage ritual. It’s atmospheric, but doesn’t break any boundaries.

Guinea Pigs – Sydney J. Bounds (Fantasy Adventures 13 – 2008)

Sydney J Bounds is probably best known for his novel, the fabulously titled ‘The Robot Brains’ from back in the day. This is a moral tale about the use of athletes as guinea pigs to test experimental performance enhancement drugs.
It has a very dated feel to it, and one gets the impression it was written a good deal earlier than 2008. Would it have been published if it was not a Sydney J Bounds story?
I’m thinking not.

Outside Looking In – Mark E. Burgess (The Yondering 2011)

Another story which a certain retro feel to it, although it is published here for the first time. Invaders from another dimension are draining energy from our universe, and when an agent is sent through the dimensional gateway to investigate, he finds that our universe is trapped in a big box. Reminiscent of the early days of Astounding.

Siegfried – Victor Cilinca (Atlantida #1 1991)

A very badly translated story from the original Romanian, about the Catholic Church having indoctrinated aliens with the cult of Death, in that the aliens are desperate to die to achieve honour and glory. It should I suspect have a humourous edge but that seems to have been lost in translation.

The Calling of Iam’Kendron – Michael R. Collings (Three Tales of Omne: A Companion to Wordsmith 2010)

A prequel to the fantasy novel ‘Wordsmith’ about a teenage boy who discovers he has psychic powers.

Evergreen – Arthur Jean Cox (Universe #15 – Ed Terry Carr 1985)

One of the better stories in this volume features a cabal of Evergreens, those who have been chosen to receive longevity treatment. Their dismissive word for ordinary mortals is Mayflies. Well thought through, with a twist in the tail.

Mohammed’s Angel – Jack Dann (Overland #196 2009)

I’m not overfond of editors who include their own stories in anthologies, although it has to be said that this is one of the better offerings in a somewhat lacklustre collection. This features a very convincing call between a Jewish mother and daughter, and suicide bombers who may have – for once – connected with something real, but who call themselves angels.

Ultra Evolution – John Russell Fearn, (as Polton Cross, Startling Stories, Jan 1948)

Interesting, if only for the very skewed view of the Theory of Evolution. It’s from 1948, which may go some way to explaining the dated setting and the cod science, but really, HG Wells had a perfect grasp of evolutionary principles in the 1890s. There’s no excuse for it really.

Miles to Go – Sheila Finch (F&SF June 2002)

Is it SF? A Paralympic champion is given the chance to regain the use of his legs, which he lost in his late teens. Does he accept and possibly lose his privileged position as celebrity and champion, to go back to being an anonymous able bodied man?
Very good. Nicely judged.

The Little Finger of the Left Hand – Mel Gilden (Bruce Coville’s Alien Visitors 1999)

A grandfather, living with his family on the moon, tells the tall tale of when he met aliens on Earth, who left him a special gift. A little obvious, but well-written with a sense of humour.

The Next Generation – Ardath Mayhar (Fantastic Collectibles #117 – July 1993)

A post apocalyptic tale in which a small number of humans have survived. Their children are born dead however, and their brains transplanted into android bodies. Twenty years later, the last child is born and transplanted…


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