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Spectrum SF #3
Spectrum SF #3
Spectrum SF
Spectrum SF is edited by Paul Fraser. Issues can be ordered from:
Spectrum Publishing, PO Box 10308, Aberdeen, AB116ZR, United Kingdom. £3.99 per issue, £14 for a 4 issue subscription

Spectrum Publishing

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

Spectrum SF is a magazine published in Scotland that has a clean and dignified look to it. In addition to running a handful of stories, the magazine also includes a letters column, occasional contests and a brief rundown of some of the science fiction available, along with brief reviews of some of the items listed. The focus of the magazine, of course, is the fiction, which, in this issue, includes three stories and the concluding part of a serial.

"A Colder War" is a secret history by Charles Stross that takes place during the Reagan administration with Oliver North given a completely different covert assignment from the President. Although Stross tells the story from the point of view of an insider, a CIA agent assigned to work closely with North, the story lacks any insight into the events or emotional tie. It isn't until halfway through the story that it becomes entirely clear what North and company are doing, and when it does, the mood of the story is clearly the wrong one.

"A Colder War" is in strict contrast to Jack Deighton's emotionally charged story about the launch of a colony's final starship in "Shift." Throughout the story, Deighton hints that although the crew who have built the last starship is saddened because of it, the launch is actually bittersweet because something new is just over the horizon which will permit them to continue towards the future. Despite this hope, "Shift" is essentially about nostalgia as Deighton's character tries to figure out what to do with his life now that he is no longer working on building starships.

"The Miracle at Kallithéa" is the second multi-worlds story in this issue of Spectrum SF. Author Eric Brown uses the idea of a multitude of realities to examine the grief which the artist Edward Sinclair still feels eight years after the death of his daughter, Rachel. While the story is touching, Brown never successfully describes the reasons behind Pierre Deauchamps's altruism in allowing Sinclair the ability to regain some of what he has lost.

"Drek Yarman" is clearly described as the third part of a serial by Keith Roberts set in the same world as his novel Kiteworld. Editor Paul Fraser notes that the two earlier segments in the story are still available by back-ordering the first two issues of Spectrum SF, but he fails to provide any sort of recap of the earlier portion of the story, making it difficult to start for people who do not have the earlier issues at hand, and almost forcing people to re-read the earlier stories to remember what has happened so far. This is, of course, a natural problem when publishing a story as a serial; however, the form does allow Fraser to include works which he otherwise would not be able to publish. Nevertheless, a synopsis of the earlier installments would have been nice.


Charles Stross, "A Colder War"
Jack Deighton, "Shift"
Eric Brown, "The Miracle at Kallithéa"
Keith Roberts, "Drek Yarman"

Copyright © 2001 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He sits on concoms for Windycon, Chicon 2000 and Clavius in 2001 and is co-chair of Picnicon 1998. Steven will be serving as the Programming Chairman for Chicon 2000. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. He lives at home with his wife and 3200 books. He is available for convention panels.

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