Top positive review
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A few rough edges, but generally an excellent collection
on 23 August 2009
The content of the best of the stories in this collection has stayed with me since I read them a couple of weeks ago. In "Dark Eden", an incompatible couple find themselves stranded on a sun-less planet and are forced to consider their own insignificance - and that of humanity - in the context of a vast universe. In "Karel's Prayer", Beckett plays with the idea of "field induced copies" (created from "the precise imprint of [the] body on the suface of space time"), and whether the copy, who has no rights, has any responsibilities to the original. And in "The Marriage of Sea and Sky" an arrogant author, part anthropologist and part travel writer, sets down on a new planet which he intends to exploit for further fame. In his quest for new material and his desire to make all he encounters fit his theories, he grossly misreads a social situation and finds himself forced to go native...
I saw a positive review of Chris Beckett's collection in one of the broadsheet weekend sections and ordered myself a copy with high expectations, which have on the whole been met. The collection includes a few loosely linked stories set in future Londons with recurring characters, interspersed with standalone works, and fuse the sociological/psychological though-experiment elements of what is sometimes referred to as "speculative fiction" with the harder, cyber elements of specific techologies of the future. Most are generally well-executed, but I had the feeling that a more literary-minded editor might have polished them into truely five star works of fiction. The collection is also slightly let down by some poor proof-reading. But I have no doubt that I will be re-reading it, and will seek out more of Beckett's work.