A Conversation With James Barclay
Part 1 of an interview with John Berlyne
On his career in the theatre:
"Always liked to act, it has to be said. I've always done the old 'am-dram', schools plays, things like
that. Like most of us who want to act, I expect. The thing was that when I actually left college I had no idea
what I wanted to do but because I quite liked acting, I thought, bugger it -- I'll think I'll stay in education
and do a year's training. I did a one-year post-grad course at The London and International School of
Acting. Some of the teachers were great, some were horrible but that's life for you!"
Nightchild by James Barclay
reviewed by John Berlyne
5 years have passed since the events in Noonshade, and The Raven have gone their
separate ways. War-ravaged Balia is slowly healing, but this process is being hampered by freak
weather conditions that are battering the land, conditions attributed to disturbances in the mana
field that runs through all things. It becomes clear that Lyanna is the cause of all this, the product
of a union between two of the great colleges and the likely focus of a daunting prophesy that will
bring about the end of the collegiate system that has been in place for hundreds of years.
Passage by Connie Willis
reviewed by Rich Horton
Her new novel concerns Near Death Experiences (NDEs), and the attempts of
a couple of researchers to explain them as the reaction of the brain and body to the physical
conditions of dying -- with a glimmer of hope that such understanding might even lead to a means
of bringing more people back from the brink of death. As such, the book deals with several
people on the verge of dying -- including some who have, as it were, been there and back.
Time Gifts by Zoran Zivkovic
reviewed by William Thompson
This collection of 4 short stories, which together form a larger whole, at surface seem deceptively simple and
direct. All tell the story of apparently different people in different circumstances -- an astronomer, a
paleolinguist, a watchmaker and an artist -- separated temporally and by profession who are granted gifts of time
by a mysterious stranger: opportunities to see into the future, verify beliefs lost in the far past, alter a
tragedy or measure the span of their own mortality. And all are enacted within a setting and interaction that
would have delighted Rod Serling.
a column by Gabriel Chouinard
Gabriel Chouinard's column is dedicated to exposing the risk-takers working in SF and fantasy. He
calls them the Next Wave, in a nod to the obvious influences that the New Wave writers had upon them.
Here, he gives us some thoughts on 'escapism' as the antithesis of fantastic literature rather than its
synonym. Here too are Gabe's views of Anselm Audley's Heresy and The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany.
The Beasts of Barakhai by Mickey Zucker Reichert
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
Consider Benton Collins, mild-mannered graduate student in biology, not your typical hero-type, maybe not
even your average second-banana. One inhabitant of the strange world of Barakhai thinks that Ben is the
deliverer the citizens have been waiting for. Zylas, the recruiter of this unlikely champion, doesn't give
him much of a chance to say no; instead, he tricks Ben into following him through a bolt-hole into a
place no human ever envisioned.
Outlaw School by Rebecca Ore
reviewed by David Soyka
Jayne's problem as a child is that she doesn't fit in. For one thing, she's smarter than she's supposed
to be for her social class. For another, Jayne's unhappy mother doesn't think her daughter fully
appreciates her. While Jayne's step-father is sympathetic to her plight and tries to help in his own fumbling way, he is basically powerless.
The author takes these archetypical female coming-of-age conditions and casts them in a near-future world in
which drugs and technology are used to coerce conformity to social norms rooted in a 50s suburbia zeitgeist.
Oxygen by John B.Olson and Randall Ingermanson
reviewed by Suzanne Krein
Life can hold many kinds of crises. Physical crises can include natural disasters or serious
illnesses. Emotional crises may be created by broken relationships or by personality conflicts. Crises of
faith can arise when these other kinds of predicaments cause us to question or doubt our faith. This novel contains
all of these types. As the title suggests, there is one basic emergency that we all fear:
the lack of oxygen.
Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
Sorcha has returned home to Erin with her husband, Briton Hugh of Harrowfield. Together
they've become stewards of Sorcha's ancestral estate of Sevenwaters, with its magical forest and strong
ties to the old, druidic faith. They've been blessed with happiness, prosperity, and 3 children.
But this time of peace can't last. There's a fated relationship between Sevenwaters and the capricious
Fair Folk. And the old evil that ensnared Sorcha isn't gone, but only waiting.
Origin by Stephen Baxter
The Man of Maybe Half-A-Dozen Faces by Ray Vukcevich
reviewed by Nick Gevers
This is the conclusion of one of the most ingeniously conceived sequences of novels SF has
yet seen, a trilogy of cosmic iterations in furious revelatory dispute. The template is probably
Kim Stanley Robinson's Three Californias series (1984-1990), which imagined three
contrasting futures for the same section of California, embodied each in a novel with characters
and situations mapped to those in the others, and allowed echoes to ring and dissonances to sound,
all that utopia might take shape in the reader's mind. In the Manifold novels,
the author is about a similar parallelism of scenarios, but he is too ruthless an ironist
for utopia, preferring cosmological debate; and his Big Issue is the Fermi Paradox...
The Wolf King by Alice Borchardt
reviewed by William Thompson
A snowdrift, an Alpine blizzard, a runaway Saxon slave finds a woman near
frozen. The wind howls around them and the dark shadow of a bell tower in
the distance can be seen through the snow. Stumbling into the monastery,
they are set upon by undead brigands and a mad abbot, whose demonic master
rises from an alter as a monstrous, flaming bear. Through desperate courage
and quick wits, the Saxon and his new-found companion manage to beat back
the attack, only to find shape-shifting wolves awaiting them outside...
Vox: SF For Your Ears
a column by Scott Danielson
Scott Danielson is looking at audio SF -- on tape, on CD, on whatever. This
time out, he's listened to a course on tape, Science Fiction: The Literature of the Technological Imagination
and relaxed with On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King and Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.
Journey Into Dandelion Wine Country by Alan Ira Gordon
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
There are as many theories about what makes Ray Bradbury's work exceptional as there are Bradbury
fans. One aspect of his fiction that shines out is his insight into human nature and his endless fascination
with every day people in sometimes extraordinary circumstances. It is this priceless quality that Gordon shares with one of the great
masters of speculative fiction. How appropriate that he should pay homage to Bradbury with this collection.
The Glasswrights' Progress by Mindy L. Klasky
reviewed by Steven H Silver
In this sequel to The Glasswrights' Apprentice, we are introduced to the world beyond the
walls from the first page, when Rani and Bashi leave the city to go hawking. We explore
the expansionist kingdom of Amanthia, which has its own complex social structure based on a mixture
of castes and guilds which look to astronomical signs to determine the totem to which a person belongs.
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
In his column, Rick offers us some thoughts on the new Star Trek series Enterprise
and some memories of past series.
reviewed by Neil Walsh
Is there a sub-genre for off-the-wall, funny, SF detective mystery stories?
This novel definitely fits that mould. It's very off-the-wall
and very funny (although not even nearly as surreal as those of Steve Aylett). Neil's first
impression of this novel was kind of Jonathan Lethem meets Robert Anton
Wilson in a parody of a film noir that Philip K. Dick in one of his lighter moments tossed into the near
future, only his aim was off and it didn't end up precisely where he thought it would.
Best of the Web 2000
reviewed by Trent Walters
The Web is in dire need of a critical foundation, lest it risk no one taking it seriously. The Preditors and
Editors website has attempted to settle that with a poll based on popular vote. It's excellent in idea, valiant in
the attempt and much needed to dredge through the sludge of written Web material, but the present system is flawed.