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      Runcible Tales
Malcolm Twigg
      Neil Asher
      David Murphy
Pipers' Ash Limited, 62 pages
      Pipers' Ash Limited, 62 pages
      Pipers' Ash Limited, 62 pages

Pipers' Ash Limited
Pipers' Ash Limited publishes a broad range of books including Biographies, Children's Literature, Contemporary Short Stories Fantasy, Local Histories, Philosophy, Plays and Scripts and Poetry Collections.

David Murphy says:
"What makes me tick? I haven't a clue! Except that I dislike a lot of what I see in modern life and so tend to write about what the world might be like if the worst things come to pass. Lately, I seem to write a lot about an Ireland that might yet be: an island of rampant materialism where political correctness rules and we all go around slapping ourselves on the back for our wonderful economy which makes maybe ten thousand people very rich yet mentally and spiritually impoverishes the rest of us. What all that might lead society into is what really interests me. As you might guess(!) I tend to write about the dark side of things though I've been trying to write in a more upbeat manner recently."

Malcolm Twigg says:
"As far as I go, I think what really pushes my buttons is the fallibility -- and gullibility -- of mankind. I will go to any lengths, in print, to hack the legs off extremism in any form, particularly blind adherence to religious dogma, political chicanery and manipulation of the guy in the street. Which is why I write humour. There is no more fitting treatment for the madness of humanity than to make it look ridiculous. In my book, the underdog is king."

Pipers' Ash Limited

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

If you been scanning my reviews for awhile, Malcolm Twigg is no stranger to you. His hilarious and acidic take on the end of the world, To Hell With The Harp!, is one of the highlights of the year. The other names above may be new to you, but after winning the quarter-finals in the Writer of the Future contest (no connection to L. Ron Hubbard, living or dead), you should prepare to hear their names bandied about.

Now, To Hell With The Harp! could well have you believing that humour is Twigg's one track. Kismet will disabuse you of that notion pretty quickly. A heartbreaking tale of unconditional love and loss in a far-distant place opens up the volume. "Troubled Waters" spotlights the very emotions that most men (and not a few women) work desperately to hide; that alone makes the impact more direct. "Floater" takes us into life on the wrong side of the law, in a future where it's a fine line between criminal and crime-stopper. Those longing for the sly wit of Twigg's novel can get their fix with "Overdue" and "Smile Please." You'll appreciate a laugh after the tragic and horrifying "Pacificalia," "For What We Are About To Receive," and "Swamp Fever."

New face Neil Asher's collection centres on the Runcible, a futuristic mechanism for almost instantaneous transport to any other point in the universe, provided it already has a functioning Runcible to 'catch' travellers. A thread winds through all of the stories, bringing us from the tense mission to stop a 'planet-breaker' in "Always With You" to the strange relationship of "Walking John & Bird." Stranger creatures occupy the space in between -- bibrats, dragons, blue-hole dwellers -- and often prove to be more than the equal of the humans. Asher's stories maintain an emotional distance, never quite allowing the reader into his fictional worlds.

The biggest surprise of the trio of chapbooks awaits in Alienations. Pipers' Ash has excellent judgment in selecting material for publication, so you can expect good things. David Murphy's fiction is so much more than promised. Stories too complex and too delicate to be explained away with a quick sentence, these are for quiet, uninterrupted reading late at night when everyone else is lost in sleep. "Overload," the first entry in the collection is the match of any short fiction that has been honoured with Hugos, or Nebulas, or Stokers. Every story carries its own, unique brand of sorrow and regret. These are characters with no place to call home, nowhere to truly belong -- the effect is devastating and arresting. Long after you set the chapbook aside, the stories and people return to your thoughts time and again.

Three authors -- all talented, all extremely different -- and an array of short fiction to entice any palate. You may never find a better introduction, or a collection more impossible to forget.

Copyright © 1999 Lisa DuMond

Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. She co-authored the 45th anniversary issue cover of MAD Magazine. Previews of her latest, as yet unpublished, novel are available at Hades Online.

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