Reviewed by Steve Dean
The Future Fire is a speculative fiction magazine published about four times a year. This is an anthology of collected stories from the last ten years of the magazine, with some new stuff thrown into the mix. The stories are of different lengths, some a page or less, some a few pages, but nothing of any great length. As this is speculative fiction and not science fiction, there’s a mix of genres, although some of them are science fiction.
The problem I have with speculative fiction is that it rarely works as worthwhile reading material. This proves to be the case here, on every occasion. There’s nothing I’d call a story here, with a beginning, a middle and an end, some kind of plot, some characters and a result of some kind. The book does contain all of those things, but not all in the same story. There are stories that start well and fizzle out, there are character studies and vignettes, there are plots of various kinds, but nothing that works from beginning to end.
You could argue that speculative fiction doesn’t work that way, and these authors are exploring the boundaries, which might be the case, but they still need to produce something that can be read, i.e. a story. Applied to other disciplines, would you buy a speculative car that didn’t actually run, or a speculative cake you couldn’t eat. I know I wouldn’t.
Overall, I can’t believe anyone would choose to publish these works once, never mind gather them together and publish them a second time. They don’t work as fiction, and often come across as pretentious. You might want to read a few samples before taking the plunge.