Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #60


My previous reviews of TQF publications HERE

Stories: “The Lost Testament” by Rafe McGregor, “Turning Point” by Nicki Robson, “Yttrium, Part One” by Douglas Thompson, “Amongst the Urlap” by Andrew Peters, and “Doggerland” by Jule Owen

When I review this fiction, my thoughts will appear in the comments stream below… (My reviewing queue of purchased publications is growing longer and I don’t expect to catch up until late October).

7 thoughts on “Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #60

  1. The Lost Testament
    An Intermezzo by Rafe McGregor

    “There is nothing more disgusting than an officer who fails to recognise the humanity of the men under his command, whatever their colour or creed.”

    A wild, seemingly well-written, mini-chaptered account amid the crawling chaos of history and war, tribes and ghoorkas, muskets and wrong decisions, miscegenation and loyalty, white and black, and I tried to work out which war, which geography and which lessons learnt other than my being convalesced out of reviewing books on the foreign hoof, then to find another job beyond the simple retirement that is probably for what I am best suited being without, as I am, much historical knowledge or memory for things. I sense I have lost the gestalt. Intermezzo? In media res, more like!

  2. Turning Point by Nicki Robson

    “He spoke out loud but his rhetoric was entirely for his own benefit.”

    I go to many pub quizzes. But I have never left a pub quiz as Jake leaves it, a cross between second chances by frozen time, regret that his team JUST won the quiz based on a religiously themed tie-break measurement against a team of grizzly thugs, like that frozen moment now bifurcated, that painting of the Last Supper become a tableau of statues, a trestle of quizzers, then a series of such frozen moments. And an ending where I was kissed by the Judas of Time? Or did I imagine that last bit? Was it me or not-me? Or was it Jake or not-Jake? Was this story’s language so utterly simple and mundane that it could not possibly have produced such split second clinches of desperate u-turns or such moments of broken brinkmanship that eventually made this story not a narrative disaster but a last minute success? I’ll get my coat.

  3. Yttrium
    Part One by Douglas Thompson

    “I watched them make indifferent love afterwards as I clung to the ceiling with the detachment of an alien insect.”

    This is great stuff, with Thompson’s sparkling SF style I have loved in the past. Part One not an Intermezzo, but satisfying enough, as long as I get back my memory-coat when reading Part Two, if I do. Five variegated humans connived into colonising this well-geniuslocated planet world – with permutations of potential paired mating, leaving one a bit askew at loose end, the narrator, who returns disembodied to earth – as synchro-emotionally duplinauted as last night’s TV Channel 4 Philip K Dick electric dream – and he tries to link up with others on his mission in their old earth lives as well as his own sex-seeking wife, legs akimbo, who’s still there. Intriguing and cliffhanging. Frozen on the cusp of the Judas-kiss of time? Storey One as mezzanine?

  4. Amongst the Urlap by Andrew Peters

    “preprogged to avoid syntactical lunacy,”

    This is a sort of tour de force, disarmingly lengthy, written in a mind-brexiting word-priapic flow over you with the feel of its having been written by one of the participatory aliens themselves pretending to be one of the humans in the story. If a successful withdrawal from the EU (forgive the paradox) requires Trade Deals with foreigners beyond Europe, this is a wild envisaging, to my mind, of such deals extended to the universe’s human antique-acquisitive copulation pits themselves. Including a marriage of surround-screen cinematiic convenience. Except that tells you nothing of the various paths of the plot or the semantic-phonetic nature of this story that I have just foolhardily allowed into my mind, to flow over me like a Finnegans Wake of SF but with mostly real dictionary words & with a sense I understood everything in a part of my lingual-erotic body where the brain hardly reaches. It is either a potentially embryonic classic or something to worry about it ever being considered publishable or safe to publish. Yet in no way wishable-away, now it is here, whatever you decide to call it. Existence is only half the battle, I fear.

  5. Doggerland by Jule Owen

    “A central corridor connects the hubs for each section of habitation, stretching the full length of Doggerland, from Britain to mainland Europe, a chain of communal space. […] He is on the mezzanine level of a vast atrium and high above him there are windows beaming down natural light.”

    I know it wasn’t, but this inspiring, if narratively methodical, story of the Pangean ‘Unity’ or Gaian gestalt could have been written with this my real-time review already in its Jungian authorial mind, i.e. my comments above about contiguity or not with Europe and the intermezzo/mezzanine and the jelly parts of human bodies seen in Urlap, here a visionary Jellyfish, like Powys’ Great Tench? Here on this far future earth, the seas the world over have become structures such as Doggerland, a single world City following the ancient flooding of previous cities we know today, but the question is how Sim is this resultant single City? The protagonist is Marsh followed by a number, who is a continuity but not with the memories of the previous Marshes and he rarely meets another human being, but today it is a woman called Baker Five, instead of just mixing with programmed directors and servants and testing drones and tactile holograms or AIs. Are the windows real windows or digital screens? Everyone is optimised to look in their mid twenties however many centuries they have lived. It is as if the duplinauts of Thompson have now again visualised their own Dickian electric dream of an idyllic Earth where we all once fell in love and swam naked together…? Or, at my advanced age, named Lewis-God-knows-what-number, and I can dream …. and this story on its own and in its context here allows me to dream…. optimised, too, however Sim-ple.
    Despite everything, I think I have just regained the plot…despite losing it at one turning point above.

    The remaining 30% of TQF 60 opens other windows ….in addition to its fiction reviewed above in its other 70%.


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