Retro Space Digest 2589 is a wild ride of non-stop satirical comedy reminiscent of Monty Python Flying Circus meets National Lampoon. Presented as four seasonal editions of the Retro Space Digest periodical in the year 2589 (passed back in time to 2019), each edition contains editorials, reviews, ads (commercial and personal), weather reports, and short stories with a science fiction theme. Eagle Monsoon has artfully placed continuing subject threads between editions, e.g. the shift in political winds from a “Dear Leader” regime to regular kinder-gentler tyranny along the way. Each edition features a lead story as well as numerous supporting snippets. The featured short story plots include a high-stakes gauntlet run, runaway AI, dual citizenship in one head, and dual unscheduled gender transitions.
The author promises sex, spaceships, and swearing; any one of which would have had me through the door in a trice normally regardless. Eagle Monsoon writes very well and conveys a full impression of varied staff member writing styles, many of whom appear to have substance abuse issues. I especially enjoyed the fine details such as writer/character names, personal ads, liberal use of legal disclaimers illustrating the timeless idiocy of liability lawyers, and not to forget creative use of profanity in the higher service of low comedy. Retro Space Digest 2589 reminds me more than a little of National Lampoon’s High School Yearbook and Sunday Paper satires, where you had to read every word to fully appreciate the embedded humor. The situations and characters had me laughing so much, others wondered if my meds needed adjustment. The short stories are not nominally comedic, but each would be worthy of any science fiction anthology on their own merit. I highly recommend Retro Space Digest 2589 without reservation.
Fable is an anthology of short tales with a fairy tale theme, and the stipulation they are not quite the ones we all grew up on. From the beauty who is a beast to a different kind of songbird, the stories cover a lot of entertaining waterfront. I was surprised by the alacrity with which my mind accepted the concept of a gruff heavy metal goat band (why not I suppose; after all, a goat filled in for Stevie Nicks on a USO tour and no one even noticed. “Ree-baaaah-in…” No, I can’t back that up.) My two favorite stories were “Take it From the Bridge” and “Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother Tells All”, but most of the remaining 14 were very close. The book pulls you in and I found myself saying “I’ll read just one more..” until quite finished.
In summary, Fable is a worthy addition to your summer reading list and I recommend it highly.
The 13 starts with portrayal of a late stage colony-ship mission which has gone dystopian. Crew members must maintain public control of their emotions or risk the perils of counseling (a euphemism for lobotomy). The protagonist, Naomi Tesla, is an engineer on the Magellan; which is beginning to show signs of age and mishap. The thirteen refers to the number of ships being sent to the target world as part of a fleet. Naomi becomes part of a mission to obtain spare parts from a sister ship, the Tereshkova, which has gone strangely silent. There she learns not everything she has been taught is true and those in charge on Magellan might have other reasons than the mission itself for the harsh conditions the crew experience every day.
The first part of the book was difficult to read for me, due to the tyranny involved. I like to think society would rebel before accepting such measures, but taking it as written is an important part of the story development. I eventually found myself fully engaged and enjoying the plot as it unfolded. The characters could use a little more depth, but it doesn’t detract much from the overall experience. Author Perry writes well and the editing was competent. I recommend The 13 for science fiction fans who enjoy political themes. I’m sure the subsequent books in the series will be entertaining as well as thought provoking.
I received a free copy through Veracious Readers Only)