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New Wave of Speculative Fiction: The What If Factor
edited by Sean Wright
Crows Wing Books, 212 pages

New Wave of Speculative Fiction: The What If Factor
Sean Wright
In October 2005, Sean Wright's critically acclaimed debut SFF work The Twisted Root of Jaarfindor was a short-listed finalist for a British Fantasy Award for Best Novella. In 2005, he was named as one of Hatchard's Authors of the Year, along with Susanna Clarke, V.S. Naipaul, and other bestselling authors of the official Royal bookshop, Piccadilly, London. His books have featured prominently at the world's largest independent bookstore, Foyle's, London, too, as a continuing favourite bestseller. His second sci-fi/fantasy title -- Dark Tales of Time and Space was nominated for the 2006 Lancashire Children's Book of the Year Award in the UK.

Sean Wright Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Jonathan Fesmire

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Writers have strange minds. Sometimes, I feel alone in this, but after reading New Wave of Speculative Fiction: The What If Factor, I am assured that not only am I in good company, but also my creative mind isn't as strange as some. Thirteen speculative fiction writers contributed to this anthology of stories that will make you pause in your seat, deep in thought, having just glimpsed something stranger than most would imagine.

In New Wave of Speculative Fiction, some of the stories are like fine art. Michael Mirolla's "Inside/Out" and Sean Wright's "The Numberist" come to mind. To me, they were like paintings you have to stare at for awhile to start to grasp their depth. Mirolla's story deals with a family in a fluid, dangerous reality (or unreality). Wright's story presents and unpredictably strange future in which God, in his anger, revealed the bizarre nature of the universe.

This collection presents a future Eden where hunting is banned and carries severe punishment (Sian Orthello's "Treasure Island"), one in which the British government purposefully spreads Foot and Mouth disease, with ghastly results (Paul Finch's "And the Rivers Ran Red to the Sea"), and another in which scientists travel back in time to detonate nuclear bombs (Andrew Hook's "Fen Shue").

I have two favorite stories from this collection. First is Lisa DuMond's "Star Child," the heartbreaking story of parents who adopt an alien baby, only to learn that all the infants in that group are dying in childhood. The other is Gary Moeser's "As Time Goes By." It's a twist on mad scientists, a murder story with a time dilation angle.

The stories seem to have been chosen for their intellectual maturity and strangeness. That suits this reviewer fine. They're glimpses into worlds beside and askew to our own. Some even blur the boundaries of fantasy, SF, and horror, creating something new.

This is literature for speculative fiction fans who want to expand their minds as well as be entertained. The authors break conventions with great success. If you're reading has gotten into a rut, this book may just snap you out of it.

Copyright © 2006 by Jonathan Fesmire

Jonathan Fesmire has travelled to France, Germany, Estonia, Finland, and Ireland. He enjoys speaking French and learning bits of other foreign languages, but most of all, he loves writing, and has sold fiction to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, SpaceWays Weekly, Jackhammer, and others.


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