A Practical Guide For The Resurrected By Gavin Miller and Anna McFarlane
Freight books, Pbk, £10
Reviewer H T Scott
The twenty short stories in this anthology are the result of a competition run by the University of Glasgow which ‘aimed to investigate how science fiction and medicine worked together in the public imagination’. The result or rather the stories in this collection are of a very high standard and all have a very different take on the premise of the competition. I would have found it very difficult to choose a winner but Adam Roberts, one of the judges (who also contributes a story) had that difficult task. There are without a doubt some up-and-coming very talented writers, whom I’m sure we will hear more from in the future. However, as I don’t want to spoil your enjoyment, I’m just going to highlight a couple of my favourite stories.
Transplant by Krishan Coupland – In this version of the future you can buy the face of someone else. What I mean by that is, a face can be synthesised/ imitated and sold to others, who then have it ‘applied’ with surgery. Essentially, if you have a pleasing visage you can put it on the market for copying. That is exactly what the narrator’s father has done. His father is described as having ‘a wholesome face’ and consequently sells the rights to it three times throughout different stages of his life. It’s used by a famous athlete, Dean Bowman and that makes it popular. As a result of its popularity, the narrator sees his father’s face everywhere and at different stages of life, long after he is dead.
A real food- for- thought story that got my brain straying back to it long after I had read it.
Spider Hearted by Suzanne Hodsden. Nineteen-year-old Joanna has been waiting for a heart transplant for such a long time that she is now bedridden in the hospital. Not that different from our reality is it? Except in the future, her doctor has pioneered a way to use spiders silk to weave a heart. Horrified by the suggestion Joanna rejects the possibility of allowing the heart to be transplanted in her body. That is until a male nurse takes it upon himself to befriend her and take her to see the spiders spinning her heart. Once implanted Joanna begins to see and experience the world differently.
With today’s modern technologies and medical research, not to mention 3D printers, it’s not hard to imagine a world where some version of this may be true.
The Anthalopus Cure by EA Fow. Cancer is something that we all live with in today’s society. We all know someone who has it, had it or been a victim of it. But what lengths would we go to in order to help a loved one with it? In this story, the cure involves the metamorphosis of the patient into another animal, just for a short while. Also, the animal you become is one that suits your personality. The patient in this story, Ann becomes an impala. Her husband, Tom finds it difficult to accept her in this form but knows that it is the only way to help her. So he takes her home and watches the skittish creature she has become from the kitchen window.
A truly thought-provoking story because of the actions /lengths it suggests we will go to in order to survive.
I truly enjoyed this book. The stories in it made me think about the future and my mortality. Not in a grim sense but more with a pondering fascination at how humans are determined to survive at any cost. A great book full of original and diverse science fiction. One that I would recommend.