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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spotlight on Alternative Coordinates #1 (by Liviu Suciu)

Edited by Jeff Cochran, the new online sff zine Alternative Coordinates has just launched its debut issue available online for a very modest fee. For now the zine is online only with downloadable issues to come shortly.

I am always eager to try new and promising sff zines and this one surpassed my expectations since I liked almost all the stories, with some quite a lot. The first story Bedbugs is free and gives a taste of what's to come, while the rest of the stories have generous free excerpts. The stories range from planet adventures to near future ones with one fantasy like offering for good measure too.

Bedbugs by Edward McKeown - a team of explorers need the mechanical skills of a less educated youngster to build and maintain mini-weapon systems for protection against nasty local fauna. Enjoyable adventure story.

Before the End by Abby "Merc" Rustad - in a dystopian future people need to keep a "humanity quota" to escape forced euthanasia and when turning 65, they need to buy it from less fortunate souls if they can afford it since that's the mandatory euthanasia date otherwise. Turning 65, Darlene's dad refuses to buy "life" from someone else and together with his daughter he has a last day to remember. Very moving and well written, one the two highlights of the zine.

Displaced by Doug Hewitt - a recently widowed man with an active disbelief of the supernatural and religion finds that reality is stranger than he thinks. An average story, it worked only ok for me, but it was readable to the end due to good style.

The Pressure of Ectasy by T.D. Edge - a new virtual reality system can recreate lost loved ones; but is there a glitch? reporter Marian investigates recreating her long lost lover John. Another very good story making a clear point.

The Sentinels by T.M. Crane - this is a planet adventure story with murderous aliens and several human groups. Sort of failed on suspension of disbelief for me but acceptable enough, though it was the least successful story for me style-wise too.

City of the Gods by Aliette de Bodard - this is a fantasy offering with a traveler in search for atonement; great atmosphere and world building in only few pages; I would enjoy a novel based on it. The other highlight of the zine for me.

Mirror of My Mind by Z.S. Adani - another near future dystopia, this time with an intrusive government, cloning and space colonization; I liked the writing and the premise but the author tried to cram too much into not enough pages and it shows; this one would work much better at greater length and I would not mind a novel based on its premise. Still above average due to very good style.

So with 2 very strong stories, 3 pretty good ones and only one that I found considerably inferior to the rest, I found the first issue of Alternative Coordinates a very good read and I strongly recommend it.


James said...

Thanks for the review. I checked out the site and like what I see. I'll definitely keep an eye on it.

Liviu said...

Thank you for your kind words; I like short fiction and trying new zines, so I will keep posting about the ones that attract my attention.

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