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Year Zero
Brian Stableford
Five Star, 313 pages

Year Zero
Brian Stableford
Brian Stableford was born in 1948 at Shipley, Yorkshire. He graduated with a B.A. in Biology from the University of York, going on to do postgraduate research, first in Biology then in Sociology. In 1979 he received a D. Phil. Until 1998 he worked as a Lecturer in the Sociology Department of the University of Reading. Since then he has been a full-time writer and a part-time Lecturer at several universities.

Brian Stableford Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Swan Songs
SF Site Review: The Fountains of Youth
SF Site Review: The Dictionary of Science Fiction Places
SF Site Review: Inherit the Earth

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Ian Nichols

There are sufficient resonances in Year Zero to please the most demanding musician, and sufficient icons to populate an Orthodox church. Elvis Presley, Men in Black, Grey Aliens, Angels, Demons, and the Devil himself, all dressed in their garb of late 20th century finery, the tatterdemalion glory in which their billions of believers dressed them. It is the year 2000, and they're still hanging around like Banquo's ghost. Somebody has to sort it all out before the Satan's plan comes to fruition and the world ends, so to speak, on New Year's Eve, 2000, the real end of the 20th century. The job falls to Molly.

Molly is just trying to get her life together, after a career of sex, drugs and more sex and drugs. She wants to get off the game, she wants to give up drugs and she wants her two kids back from the foster home. She doesn't want to meet Elvis in a supermarket, be abducted by aliens, become a Typhoid Molly for an alien virus designed to save the world, turn into a guinea pig for scientific experiments, move into an apartment block across from some demons who are hiding out from the Devil, save a daughter from the Queen of the Fairies and save the world. Molly would settle for a three-bedroom semi-detached in a suburb you can walk about in after sundown and a job that doesn't require her to take off her clothes. But heroes come about by resisting the circumstances in which they find themselves, and Molly is a great little resister. She's had so much shit in her own life she can take in her stride all the temptations of the natural, the supernatural and the alien. She can even take in her stride, although it wobbles a little at the time, the discovery that she is the alter-ego of a giant squid that created the universe, when she recognises what she wrote on the Moon.

All in all, Year Zero is a sprawling fun-fair of a book, full of wild and weird rides, and the music never stops. It reminds me of Michael Moorcock at his very best, with the scientific nous of Isaac Asimov thrown in for stamps. It harks back to the glorious heyday of New Wave writings in the 60s and 70s, before it all became inscrutable, when writers of serious intent could have fun. And make no mistake, this is a novel of serious intent.

It is a celebration of humanity, triumphant in the face of all the forces of lightness and dark that attempt to render it more or less than human. Ultimately, it is a story of love. It has no platitudes about love conquering all. It is gritty stubbornness that conquers all, in fact. What it does say is that love doesn't give up, even shot and bleeding, love doesn't give up. It's pretty worthwhile to say that.

Copyright © 2003 Ian Nichols

Ian Nichols is studying for his Masters degree at the University of Western Australia, and is fortunate enough to be studying in the area he most enjoys; Fantasy and Science Fiction.

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