Synthesis, Published by Fantastic Books Publishing, Reviewed.


This anthology of science fiction stories by many different authors is a fantastic collection of disparate views of the future presented by creative talents. I must, however, before I expand on that summary, confess to my vested interest: I’m one of the authors. But, as a single voice among 27 stories, I feel justified in commenting on the other tales simply as a reader.

The anthology includes dark humour, dystopian fiction, crime in a future setting, AI and its potential consequences for humanity, and surreal stories of imagination. What ties the collection together is the excellent quality of the writing and storytelling. That the anthology has a Foreword by none other than Robert Llewellyn (Kryten from Red Dwarf for those unfamiliar with the name) gives some indication of that quality.

Dan Grubb, owner of Fantastic Books Publishing, explains that his early inspiration for the book was a collection of stories by Ray Bradbury, an author who also inspired me when in my twenties. And you’ll find here great variety in subject matter and treatment, much as is evident in Bradbury’s work.

The compilation begins with A Cosmic Dilemma, a poetic and surreal fantasy tale, by Boris Glikman, with a suitably enigmatic ending.

In Alice, by David Styles, we are immersed into a future world where population has reduced to a small number of mostly ignorant peasants facing uncertainty. The ending is clever.

All in the Mind, by John Hoggard opens with the most impressive and haunting description of a car crash I’ve ever read. The story continues through a dreamlike unsettling fantasy: that box and those aliens…

Amerika in the Sky, by Boris Glikman, is a strange, eerie, nightmarish fantasy that uses great imagination and portrays a fate at once inexplicable and unexpected.

Marko Susimetsa gives us Dying Star, an end of the world story where the last curator of man’s history walks through a dying environment noting the folly of humankind.

Eternal, by Shaun Gibson tells an amazing and magical story of a journey into a black hole.

Pierre le Gue presents Fastbreeder, a humorous tale of cheese mites and radiation set in northern UK after the strontium 90 fallout from the 1961 Soviet atom bomb. It brought back memories of schooldays bereft of the usual free bottle of milk!

In Hope, by David Styles, the hope for humanity lies in an untested theory and the vague expectations of possible life on planets orbiting distant stars.

Hybrid Dreams is my contribution. It’s a version of an event added to my novella, The Methuselah Strain, when Dan decided to produce the original ebook in hardback form. Androids bring pleasure in a world under the absolute control of technology and a scientist discovers, through a rogue artist, that nature has much to offer.

Ulla Susimetsa presents If We Start Killing as a moral parable set in a world where species destruction seems inevitable, and gives us a surprise ending.

John Harper’s Indirect Harm gives us action in a world dominated by unfeeling robots. A tale of hunter and hunted: but which is which?

In Anthony M Olver’s Lisa Lives, we find a crime story with a difference.

Man-akin, by Nici Lilley is set in an unexpected future and tells a moral tale with a sting and great tension.

Night Monsters – A Tale of the Golf Planets, by Pierre le Gue, is an amusing tale of illicit golf on distant planets. I loved the ending.

Thomas Pitts treats us to a horrifying future, as applied to writers, in Noble Savage. Literature in the hands of AI; a terrifying prospect exposed with tongue in cheek.

Private Show by DK Paterson is a darkly humorous parable on addiction and the desire for fame.

Colin Ford’s Regen is a dark satirical piece written around the transference of consciousness and highlighting the dangers inherent in allowing deals when improperly prepared.

Starburst by Andrew Wright tells an end of the world story that takes a poke at commercial greed and incompetence.

Pierre le Gue’s Steam Punk Striker is a darkly comic take on the way that profit before everything else has overtaken the world of professional sport. Dire consequences dripping in black humour.

The Curious Story of Frank and his Friend, Mr Stims, the Hydrophobe, by Boris Glikman, is dark humour at its most effective. A highly amusing tale about the sometimes unforeseen consequences of scientific endeavour.

John Goh’s The Everything Equation, where Groundhog Day meets Alice Through the Looking Glass meets the complexities of quantum physics, presents us with some startling results.

The Moon a Balloon, by Rose Thurlbeck is a fairytale along the lines of H.G. Wells’ The First Man in the Moon. As funny as it is absurd, this is a story with a satisfyingly equivocal ending.

Aaron Miles gives us The Package, where we discover through the action that gangland morality doesn’t change with the passage of time. I enjoyed the clever ending of this one.

In, The House, John Hoggard combines time travel and quantum physics with references to religion to give us an intriguing and entertaining tale.

Three Second War, by Darren Grey, was, for me the most disturbing story in the collection. A potentially real future in which AI and human arrogance combine to form… read it to find out.

In Two Reviews, by Thomas Pitts, we are treated to a deep and strangely disturbing pair of faux reviews that analyse and expose the species specificity of human art. Written with irony and dark humour, it’s a fascinating read.

The end piece is Drew Wagar’s Written in the Stars. This is great fantasy science fiction full of action and black humour with a clever reference to the self-fulfilling story.

So, there you have it: my brief assessment of the tales within this eclectic and high quality collection. There’s something for everyone here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

At present, the book is available as an ebook and can be obtained through this link. However, there will be a paperback version soon. I’ll let you know when on this blog.


6 thoughts on “Synthesis, Published by Fantastic Books Publishing, Reviewed.

  1. Pingback: My Stories in a Sci-Fi Anthology | Boris' Corner

      1. oops sorry my mistake Stuart. Don’t know why I wrote Peter.

        Thank you for the spelling correction too – it happens all the time with my surname, so it’s ok!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. thank you Peter, this is a great review! Thank you for giving such insight into the stories in this anthology! It’s a pleasure and an honour to be in it together with you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John Hoggard

    I agree Stuart, a brilliant collection. I also agree about Darren Grey’s story – terrifying stuff.

    Thank you for the comment about the opening of ‘All in the mind’.

    Liked by 1 person

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