Absolute Visions Edited by MacAllister Stone
Review by D.A Lascelles
By rights I should hate this book and every writer in it. You see, one of my stories was up for inclusion in this anthology and missed out, by the merest gnat’s whisker, from being added to the final line up. However, on reading the stories that did make it I can understand the editors’ dilemma. They simply had far too many excellent stories to choose from and those that were included were merely a small selection of the many eligible ones that were submitted.
Some background… over a year ago, the moderators of a rather large internet writers’ forum (the Absolute Write Water Cooler ) had a momentary lapse in sanity and decided to announce they were going to organise an anthology of short stories from members. They asked for submissions. On a writers’ forum… Opening the floodgates is an analogy which does not go far enough towards describing what they received. They made some aspects of the process of putting together the anthology public to members in what became possibly the longest forum thread in history* and thereby allowed a lot of new writers the chance to learn about the process of submission both from the point of view of a writer who has submitted and that of a editor on the other side.
The result was an anthology of short speculative fiction, lovingly illustrated throughout by members of the forum with experience in graphic design and representing some of the key tales. The stories themselves are a mixed bag of genres and concepts – ranging from pulpy SF to contemporary fantasy – but cleverly arranged in ‘themes’ showing common concepts that transcend genre. For example; part one is called ‘Discovery’, part two ‘Exploration’, part three ‘Darkness’ and part four ‘Beyond’. On the whole the stories are excellent. There is a lot of imagination here from what are largely inexperienced writers and the anthology easily demonstrates the massive range possible in the rather loose definitions of ‘speculative fiction’. Here we have poor women benefiting from a lucky find only to lose it when they make a mistake in all the best traditions of fairy tales translated to the modern day, pulpy SF adventures of manual labourers in space and the concerns of a young teenager in the future discovering his growing homosexuality in the face of being separated from his love by his parents’ relocation to a coveted off-world base. In terms of influences you can see hints of William Gibson, Neil Gaiman and early 2000AD all rubbing shoulders with each other and many other authors in comfort. You might not enjoy every story but that is an issue of personal taste rather than the quality of the writing. Chances are, everyone will find something to enjoy in here.
In all, this is an anthology well worth picking up in order to see if you like any of the writers within. Of course, if you do discover any new talent, you may have to wait in some cases for them to publish anything of their own to enjoy them again. Or maybe wait for another lapse of sanity to occur among the moderators of the Water Cooler leading to the release of ‘Absolute Visions part 2’. I know I am waiting eagerly for this as it means my own story will get its second chance…