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Infinity Plus: Quintet (SF) - Keith Brooke (Ed.) ****

When I was younger there was nothing I liked better than a good, deep, dark (frankly, often downright miserable) science fiction story, and this collection delivers excellent modern examples that would have fit easily into a thoughtful if downbeat 70s collection such as the 'New Writing in SF' or the Interzone magazine of the day (one was actually first published in Interzone, in 1987 - the rest date between 1989 and 2010).

If I'm honest, I prefer more upbeat fiction now, but that doesn't stop me appreciating the quality of these five stories, put together by the SF website and publisher Infinity Plus. I've rarely seen a better contradiction of Margaret Atwood's putdown of science fiction as being limited to 'talking squids in outer space.' What we have here is pure character-driven storytelling with not a mention of space, spaceships, ray guns or aliens. It's the inner world, not the outer trappings of sci fi tropes that interest these writers.

One of the stories, Flying to Byzantium by Lisa Tuttle, is more fantasy with a touch of horror than SF, but the others would be ideal examples to inspire anyone who has a clich├ęd view of SF based on the cinema to have their mind expanded. I particularly liked the lyrically dark Arrhythmia by Neil Williamson and the touching The Girl Who Died for Art and Lived by Eric Brown.

It's a short collection, easily readable in one go, but with plenty to get your teeth and brain into, and a good opener for anyone exploring the titles available from Infinity Plus. You can buy the book (and many other titles) on the publisher's website or from the links below.
Kindle 
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Review by Brian Clegg

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