Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #47


Having just purchased its latest paperback edition from Amazon, I am pleased to be in a position to start a real-time review of the fiction in TQF#47: edited by Stephen Theaker & John Greenwood.

TQF website

Stories by Mitchell Edgeworth, Antonella Coriander, Chris Roper, Anthony Malone.

My previous reviews of TQF publications: Real-Time Review of TQF #37 & Real-Time Review of TQF #39 & Real-Time Review of TQF #40 & Real-Time Review of TQF #41 & Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #43 & Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #44 & The Mercury Annual / Pilgrims at the White Horizon by Michael Wyndham Thomas & Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #45 & Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #46.


5 thoughts on “Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #47

  1. Abandon by Mitchell Edgeworth
    “It felt a little bit like a Mystery in Space, yet it was too easily explained with a string of coincidences -“
    An engaging continuation, it seems to me, of other stories by this TQF regular. The well-characterised conscientiousness and argumentativeness of three semi-official salvage-drifters trekking the calendars of space in 2192, a page-turner of a story in fact, as they discover a Mary Celeste-type space yacht to investigate – and I definitely had a low-key frisson at the subtle shifts of what broke the captain’s line of suspense (to get any frisson into my system is good) and I relished the ‘unrequited love’ of the story’s own conclusion that had been foreshadowed earlier. And, for me, a nicely bespoke sense of an old ‘song’ we learned when kids wayback stowing away as a mnemonic for erstwhile earthware months now.

  2. imageBike Ride to Peril by Antonella Coriander
    “Beatrice turned to see her seven brave colleagues, none of whom was showing the slightest sign of abandoning the pursuit…”
    An enchanting story that filled the pages with a weirdly paradoxical mix of explicit authorial intrusive powers like being able to talk directly to the reader and a seeming authorial lack of any power to control events. To give just one example, a storm over the sea once it sets in becomes an autonomous power with intent. There are policemen on flying bicycles across the English Channel, policemen led by Beatrice chasing Veronique on her own flying bicycle who has stolen something valuable. But stolen what? The story is a mix of a manga-like Tintin, TV’s ‘Lost’, a Sinbad fantasy, an old-fashioned girl’s comic, infused with a unique flavour of its own. The two girls’ outcome seems perfect for that paradoxical mix of powers I mentioned earlier. I wonder if the author herself is a bit like Beatrice and Veronique? A ground spice and a leaf herb with the same name and from the same source. Something to give that unique flavour to a soap opera and a nice cup of tea. I thoroughly enjoyed this runaway escapade of a story.
    “…like the planets in an orrery spun too hard.”

  3. Witchinga by Chris Roper
    “…I used to see things in the corner of my room. Shadows.” Perhaps Jerry saw what Steve saw at the end. And what Edgeworth’s Captain saw on the abandoned spacecraft. Later, here, “…the outline of a diamond” but it’s just the fact that the Coriander story found something random coming out of its diamond… And on another day, that story might have found something different coming out if it. No such chance here, though, with this story’s diamond. This story – in telling contrast to the more laissez-faire tone of the previous two – heads for “…anything other than coincidence”.
    Steve, deprived of his job, follows an old nightmare to its root, via ‘déjà-vu’, and the dark vision of a journey through cornfields and an ending that is not surprising, but somehow shocking in its inevitability. The previous two stories had ‘unrequited’ endings, where new cycles are even now still being created. Here, in this haunting Roper story, the only cycle is to be broken. But, even then, we can never be sure. The reader might be the next to arrive at Witchinga? The last word you read is “Goodbye”. Followed, perhaps, by another retrocausal ‘unpicking of the pattern’? Like this review?

  4. Zombie & Son by Anthony Malone
    “‘Mm. I wonder, Tigh, have you ever thought whether her Majesty the Queen might be a zombie?’
    Charles didn’t say that, of course -“

    Shades of a similar authorial retraction or intrusion in Coriander and (quoting from her story) her attempt to “figure out what was what, who was who, and what the who should do about the who with the what.”
    Or Malone’s reference to the ‘wild uncomprehending eyes’ of those in the phone-hacking trial, as they would be if they read his genuinely laugh-out-loud Zombie & Son story, and the world would indeed be advised to read this story as its intrinsic truth is made even intrinsicker by a believably cumulative Royal audit-trail based on already public evidence – and by its extremely convincing and well-written text that transcends its otherwise seeming absurdity of subject matter. And it includes the best and seemingly original rationale for the existence of Zombies in general that I have ever encountered. In fact it provides a ratcheting rationale for the Roper story, too!
    The Malone story, meanwhile, is full of recognisable, if caricatured, incidents and well-observed cameos. Just as one of many examples, I loved the image of Charles’s simple pleasures like having his corns buffed by the drop-dead-gorgeous Duchess of Cornwall.

    So this set of fictions ends with a genuine classic that is bound to cause a stir, a good stir, I estimate, to which nobody could object, even those involved by name. The first story ended with what it foreshadowed itself to be: an ‘unrequited love’ conclusion, while the whole gestalt of fiction in this book ends with a now requited climax. And, for full effect, the text needs, of course, to be read, as I have done, in a real physical book, to make the zombies stand up. And to enable human love for each other and for good literature to be requited. See my The Transfiguration Of An Unchanged Text blog post from a while ago, especially, now, vis-a-vis this book’s retractionary authorial intrusions…

    The fiction that I have reviewed above takes place from pages 11 to 118, and from pages 119 to 178 there are TQF’s latest book reviews.

    Now, I shall plough my furrow. And like Voltaire, Cultivate my Garden.


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