Top critical review
Beyond the rift
on 23 December 2013
This collection of SF shorts can read as very difficult to get into. In particular the first story is about a space travelling being from a distant world which crashes in Antarctica and consumes any life forms it finds, making use of people as hosts to get it to safety until it can leave. As the story is told from this organism's viewpoint it is an unappealing start so maybe this should have been later in the collection.
The second story is not much more friendly as two deep space explorers come across a Dyson sphere (though that term is not used) made of a thin flesh membrane surrounding a red dwarf star to suck up all the energy output. They conjecture that this is aware and intelligent but as they have so little regard for other forms of intellect sharing their spaceship, is this a good thing?
Bio mechanics and advances are to the fore in all stories from neuro adaptors for gamers to giant hungry fishes at the bottom of the ocean rift, where divers spend a year at a time in a habitat studying the bizarre lifeforms.
At the end is a lengthy comment from the Canadian author, in which he says that critics call his work dark, depressing and dystopian. He argues that it cannot be otherwise as environmental despoliation leaves him a bleak future to write about; and eighty-five percent of Americans believe in a sky fairy who will take them to space Disneyland after they die, so they are not concerned about extinctions, whereas a tiny minority of people control and profit from the world's resources without thought for anyone else. Having read this, we can understand his concerns better and realise that the first two stories may be seen as allegories of Earth's past projected outward and into the future.
As I say this is not an easy read in terms of language, characters or situations and if the stories read as a little more accessible the author might find a wider audience for his concerns. This is why I am not giving it more stars, while another reader might like the book better.