Thirty Years of Rain

By Neil Williamson

Rating: 3 stars

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that a book called “Thirty Years of Rain” tends to the depressing side. It appears that the prevailing weather in my favourite city has affected its writers. Those of speculative fiction, at least. The stories for this anthology were collected from the Glasgow SF Writers’ Circle, celebrating its 30th anniversary and while I thought that most of them were good, blimey, so many of them were depressing! Starting with a man in mourning for his recently deceased wife (and the substitute that he finds of her), leading straight into a story about a soldier who can be wired directly into a military aircraft and what happens when he’s let loose into civilian life with no support.

On and on they go, but, again like the city they’re inspired by, when the sun does break out, it’s glorious. For me the highlight of this book is Brian Milton’s The Lodger consisting of letters from a Certain Sort of lady to various destinations about the alien refugee who she has agreed to (temporarily) rehouse. Whimsical and often very funny, it still left me with a lump in my throat.

Back in chilling as *cough* territory, Headkiller is terrifying but very effective. Similar in theme, if not extreme violence is Crowd Control, about rubbernecking and social media in a world where personal teleportation is commonplace. There are other lighter stories in there as well. I enjoyed Duncan Lunan’s alt-hist I Believe That This Nation Should Commit Itself and Jim Steel’s self-aware Fritz Leiber pastiche The Crock of Shet. Neil Williamson’s Foreign Bodies was interesting and engaging, but I completely failed to understand the ending and Phil Raines’ The Circle closes things off with a story about a writers’ circle (very meta).

So a nice showcase for the authors, if rather tending to the darker side of the spectrum for my tastes. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to re-read The Lodger.

Book details

ISBN: 9781326753429
Year of publication: 2016

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