Reviews
(Other People's Work)

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“Are you ready for another adventure, story lady?”

Imaginary Friends.

Stories by Arlene F. Marks

(Brain Lag Publishing)

Available for pre-order at http://www.brain-lag.com/books/imaginary-friends.php

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The words above are from Marks' second book from Brain Lag Publishing; a collection of original and previously published short stories and a brand spanking new novella. 

The imaginary friends are the characters in her stories who take us on journeys that range from planets where our muses are very real (artists proceed with caution); cookies that, besides tasting really great, provide bliss and enlightenment (apparently no THC products are involved); and generations of friendly neighbourhood witches (who may be looking out for you right now).

There’s much to be explored in these pages, including an installment of Marks' fantastical, yet very credible, Sic Transit Terra universe, as well as “Manua’s Children”, a highly original and touching work of rural SF. This novella reminds one of Zenna Henderson’s tales of
The People, but Marks pushes the envelope even further and explores the possible impacts of terraforming on human evolution and how that in turn will shape our relationship with intelligences other than our own.

You really have to read it to get it. And it’s rather mind-bending when you do.

Marks and her imaginary friends take us on some pretty fantastic voyages – ones that make even the most jaded of SF reader thing they are back reading that first paperback full of really great stories!

March 2022Also by Arlene F. Marks:
Adventures in Godhood (http://www.brain-lag.com/books/adventures-in-godhood.php)

“Postmodern. Post-nuclear and post-truth.” (and some post-human)

 

The Sisters Sputnik
A novel by Terri Favro.

(ECW Press)

https://ecwpress.com/collections/science-fiction/products/sisters-sputnik

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If switching to Daily Savings Time is disorienting for you, how do you think you could handle jumping between Earth Standard Time, Earth Zeroth Time, Earth Shadow Time, and Atomic Mean Time? These are just a few of the alternate realities created each time we set off a nuclear detonation. Yet another hazard of the nuclear arms race.

 

Getting to know people in all these worlds can also be a challenge – there’s multiple identities in those multiple worlds. You get to meet Debbie Reynolds Biondi AKA Gloria McDonald AKA Stan Lee AKA The Storyteller, plus Bum Bum Pesce AKA Holly plus Duffy AKA The Trespasser AKA The Intern AKA Unicorn Girl. There’s also a few somewhat modified historical figures in the mix as well.

 

Events are told by Debbie Reynolds Biondi, The Storyteller, who describes herself as “...a one-woman wrecking crew. A polite Canadian version of Galactus, comic eater of worlds, from the Silver Surfer comics.” Biondi is being a bit hard on herself because she spends much of the novel trying to save worlds and a pack of inter-dimensional refugees.

 

But it’s very appropriate that The Storyteller is our focal character, as she leaps, shuffles and more or less plummets between alternate Earths, we discover the transformative powers of such graphic novels as Sputnik Chick: The Girl with No Past; The History of the Known World, and The Adventures of Futureman. The Sisters Sputnik is a story about stories and how they profoundly shape our selves and our realities.

 

There’s a playful use of science fiction, comic book memories and pop-culture throughout the book, but Favro amazingly and effectively connects all this nostalgia with dead-serious, world-shattering events like eugenics, immigration, toxic chemical wastelands, and the Manhattan Project. Favro’s writing is witty, effective and incredibly accessible, which makes The Sisters Sputnik work as a science fiction adventure that’s also a significant exploration of the relationships between identity, history and the imagination. This novel may be the most original and thought-provoking alternate history since Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle.