Flights of Fantasy by Mary Joyce Baxter. Book review

flightsFLIGHTS OF FANTASY by Mary Joyce Baxter, Matador Press, P/B, £7.99

Reviewed by Steve Dean

Now, Mary Joyce Baxter is a lovely old lady, at least she looks that way on her website. She paid to get this book published, and if she’d given it as a gift to friends and relations, all would be well. But she’s sent a copy for review by a major genre society, and it falls to me to give my honest opinion on her work.

You have probably already guessed the way this is going to go, but for those who haven’t woken up yet, here’s the skinny.

The book is a collection of short stories, some fantasy, some science fiction, some…not. The first story, ‘More Things In Heaven‘ has all the cats on Earth disappearing, taken to the planet Arvonia. The Arvonians, it seems, are a little worried about our wildlife, so they take all the cats as a test to see whether Earth creatures can survive on their world. But the cats are unhappy on Arvonia, so they bring them all back. That’s basically it.

The rest of the stories, some longer, some shorter, carry on in the same vein. There’s little characterisation, the plots are flimsy and trite, the writing twee. And the author seems to know very little about science, frequently treating the words ‘universe’ and ‘galaxy’ as synonyms, for example. And her view of black holes is a little…old school.

Overall, the stories are barely that, vignettes of scant ideas, with no pacing, suspense, plot, logic or characterisation. They read like a child’s first school work, what children think of as stories when they first learn of the idea.

That this is vanity published I’ve already mentioned, and I wish people would learn there’s a reason they can’t get their work published through the usual channels. The world’s trees, and my eyes, would be spared if the vanity industry disappeared overnight.

I have searched for a positive to end on, and the only thing I can come up with is there aren’t many typos.