Breach – Issue #02: NZ and Australian SF, Horror and Dark Fantasy
Like the first issue of Breach, the second is a collection of short stories and one poem. The stories are all in the science fiction genre, with touches of horror and humor. The poem is a tale that could have been told of the sea but instead is set in space.
The three of the four stories take normal activities: grocery shopping, reporting an illness, and the search for a sunken ship, and push them beyond the boundaries of reality. The poem, “Force Fired Figurehead” is the story of a ship lost not at sea but in space and of those crew lost and those who possibly survive. All five entries share this unreality, this breaking of the boundaries between what is ‘normal’ or expected and what could happen.
What I Liked about the book
The first story in the issue, The Free Range Option by Jessica Nelson-Tyres, is by far the best entry. It pokes gentle fun at the issue of organic, free-range shopping and of people’s extreme concerns about the food they buy and eat. It is full of humor and has a horrifying twist at the end. Ms. Nelson-Tyres first entertains us with a picture of two “housewives” doing the shopping and the competitive nature of extreme concern about nutrition. Eating well is, of course, a serious issue, but Ms. Nelson-Tyres reminds us that food fads are usually something to laugh at. It is not until the end of the story that the reader will gasp.
Two other stories, Blue by Lucy-Jane Walsh and The Endless Below by Alfie Sampson, are entertaining and well-written. In the short biographical note before Blue we learn that Ms. Walsh is a great fan of Ray Bradbury and this is evident in her story. It is the type of low-key science fiction that Bradbury is known for. Blue is a well-written picture of a dystopian world where all inhabitants are always happy.
The Endless Below on the other hand is not low-key at all. It is reminiscent of a horror/science fiction movie set in an undersea location. It has the necessary elements: a lost ship, tiny flesh-consuming animals, and a forest of ‘arms’ ready to capture unsuspecting divers or seamen. Mr. Sampson is very good at building tension in the story, though not particularly original in his plot.
What I didn’t Like about the book
I found the story by Carlington Black, Strings of Love confusing and overly abstract. The narration alternates between two pairs, Aeon and Stevie who create stars while on their way to the edge of the universe, and Augustine and Alfie, a retired couple on a vacation trip to Macau. When Stevie wants to end the trip to the Edge, she decides to observe life on Earth, including Augustine and Alfie. What happens next is strange, confusing, and does not seem to have a real point.
It is certainly possible that I have missed the point of the story, but it should not be so difficult for the reader to figure out.
Both issues of Breach have provided entertaining and thought-provoking stories that will appeal to most fans of science fiction. It will be interesting to see if the project continues.