Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

In this issue of On Spec there is an interview with David Mitchell which concerns issues surrounding one of his pet projects that has been close to his heart for a while, the environment. As an author, he can get away with pointing out how we can best help it when most can’t. Here Mitchell expands on the matter of overcrowding on the planet and how we as a people should think before we have children.

Freedom of speech is another issue this already established magazine wants to point out. After the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, there are a further two interviews with cover artist Billy Toufexis and author Krista D. Ball which do a lot to open the eyes. The cover has a lot going for it and to be honest is the best one so far with a fun image of a futuristic hobo holding a sign saying “Will make war for food.” Beside him sits an alien who looks quite indifferent. This cover goes far toward it looking like a more professional publication and it’s great to find out more on the artist and his experiences of being a sci-fi artist of today.

For those who like reading the fiction section, there are stories for everyone no matter what their personal taste. All are ideas that you would like to think have been done before, but most are written with a nice twist that leads me to believe the writers we have here are some of the more inventive I have come across in ages.

Just when you thought that all of the vampire stories had already been done, it’s ‘In you to Give’ by Tyler Keevil goes to prove a skilled writer can take a popular horror baddie and write a different story around it that doesn’t tire the reader with the usual clichés. Writers here have taken a once overused idea and turned it on its head which makes for a much interesting and engaging story. Keevil’s vampire, unlike most in the genre is a decent one and the mere fact it’s about vampires acting as blood donors is as unusual as it gets. ‘To the Farm’ by Aliya Whiteley gives us a future where babies are commodities for us humans, being synthetic, they have no real needs and are easily discarded by those who own them. The main problem in this story is that some can see the humanity in even synthetic objects as the main protagonist in this story does. It goes to prove that money still can’t buy you everything, even in the future. ‘Demonic Intervention’ by Peter Charron is a comic interlude from some of the seriousness of the other stories, and works well as a horror comedy while ‘Ink Skin’ by Michael Wojcik is a story that is pure fantasy with nice touches thrown in. It’s about a man who finds a girl who has the power to send other people to new dimensions, the reason why being quite vague. This volume is compact, thick enough to keep with you, and easy to read on the go and it’s recommended by me as well worth the read time given to it.