Redsine Seven, edited by Trent Jamieson and Garry Nurrish

redsine-7-edited-by-trent-jamieson-and-garry-nurrishGenre: Mixed Genre Anthology
Publisher: Prime
Published: 2002
Reviewer Rating: fourstars
Book Review by Paul Kane

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After a spell in cyberspace, Redsine returns to a print format with issue seven – although you may be forgiven for not recognizing it at first. You see, it’s not so much a magazine now as a full-blown trade paperback anthology from Prime, with a color cover and a selection of fiction from well-known and up-and-coming writers.

The first story ‘Detectives and Cadavers’ is by TT regular Jeff VanderMeer, and involves the discovery of a strange washed up body that may or may not be a ‘muttie’. Set in a near future where dabbling in the birth process is a given, this chilling little tale really kicks into high gear when the body starts to regenerate.

Possibly my favorite story of the collection is Kirstyn McDermott’s ‘Louisa’, in which a man gets to know the seven-year-old girl living next door to him. Suspecting that her father might be abusing her, he gets involved – with very serious repercussions. Believe me when I say the twist is a totally original and very frightening one.

Next is ‘What She Wanted’ by Keith Brooke, a literally rambling tale about a couple on a hiking holiday. The descriptions of the surrounding locales are faultless, ‘The woods thinned at the foot of the gorge, scrubby gorse and grass replacing the trees’, but do threaten to bury the plot at certain points, and I found a couple of readings were necessary to fully grasp what the author had in mind.

Not so for Punktown author Jeffrey Thomas’ ‘Mrs Weekes’, a short, sharp shock to the system. Strange goings on at a nursing home are the basis for this one: ‘”Watch her!” the old woman whispered. “Watch her!”‘ Whereas ‘Bride Sniping’ by Paul Hassing is everything the title suggests – being about a sniper graduating from taking photographs of weddings to taking pot-shots at the happy couple.

‘Fuchsia Spins by Moonlight’ is Cat Sparks’ unusual story about a dance class teacher who has a hidden agenda. I really liked this one because of its fascinating premise, not to mention the ending you’ll never see coming in a million years. Following this closely is Brendan Connell’s ‘Mesh of Veins’, a body horror tale that you could envisage Cronenberg making as a film some day.

‘The Silent People’, Stepan Chapman’s contribution, is a fairly standard sf frightener about future experiments with telepaths and telekinesis (‘”Well,” he’d answer, “these new-type people are bound to seem strange to the rest of us.”‘). Outer Limits stuff told in the first person, it is nevertheless an enjoyable yarn and another prophetic warning about tampering with nature.

However Nathan Burrage’s ‘A Message to Medicare’ is a truly exceptional piece pulled off with great style and aplomb. The monologue builds up the back-story and eventually we find out why the man involved is so desperate to have a rather extreme operation (‘Now, the first thing I want to tell you is I am not insane…’).

Scott Thomas’ ‘The Tale of Wolf Storm Hill’ wasn’t really to my taste, but it is a good mystical fantasy about an adopted wolf child. The prose has a lyrical lilt to it that gives it a style all its own. Next comes ‘Sacrifice of the Pig’ from Simon Logan, drawing on the peculiarities of foreign cultures and festivals – in this case those of San Figuerdo in Brazil. This had a touch of Barker’s ‘In the Hills, the Cities’ about it that I really admired, leading up to a cracking twist ending.

Then Deborah Biancotti’s ‘Silicon Cast’ reveals the dangers of tinkering with the body and trying to elongate life…while the always-impressive Brian Stableford delivers the coup de grace with his ‘Nobody Else to Blame’. Any story that starts with the main character discovering his hanged daughter then making a cup of tea has got to be a classic in my opinion.

So that covers the 13 stories (unlucky for some, though not for readers of the collection). But this being Redsine, we’re not finished quite yet. Tucked away at the back there’s also an informative interview with Elizabeth Hand, author of Winterlong and Icarus Descending, in which she tells us about why she uses apocalyptic settings (‘I was imprinted at an early age with the idea of The End of the World – this was courtesy of the Catholic Church.’) then goes into her background and influences (‘I loved ghost stories, especially the classic Victorian antiquated stories of people like M.R. James and Sheridan Lefanu.’). To round it all off, we’re given a few in-depth book reviews as well.

Put simply, Redsine is continuing to build on the reputation it has already gained in the genre, and now has a chance to spread the word to a much larger audience than ever before. There are even plans for a ‘best of’ bumper trade paperback for 2002, gathering together the finest of the online stories and articles. Along with publications like Darkness Rising, Redsine looks set to corner the market on dark fantasy and deserves to go from strength to strength.

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