Rustblind and Silver Bright: A Slipstream Anthology of Railway Stories. Book Review


Eibon Vale Press, p/b, £9.99, LINK

Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

Anthologies of stories have probably reached the thousands, maybe more by now, but there aren’t many original ones. I like original, and this anthology was unusual enough to keep my interest as I read through its pages. It isn’t like other anthologies, Rustblind and Silver Bright is a series of stories that can be horror, science fiction or fantasy. In the two pages of contents they are written as Acts 1, 2, and 3 and on the back cover of the book there is more to be seen.

In between the stories David Rix tells readers a little of what he thinks on certain topics, whether it’s Japan’s love of robots, Hitler’s Railway, or the rather unnerving if humorous London Underground Mosquito. In the stories everyone has a goal in mind to do with trains. In ‘Tedsudo Fan’ by Andrew Hook, Kunihiro wants to “ride every line of every railway company in the country,” while in ‘Vivian Guppy and the Brighton Belle’ by Nina Allan, Clive is mad on model trains, setting up a track in his room.

Editor David Rix treats readers to his collection of railway stories from some of the best slipstream writers, Steve Rasnic Tem’s ‘Escape on a Train’ seems to stand out from the rest as it’s from an earlier magazine and he is one of the more recognised authors in here. Some may recognise Joel Lane, SJ Fowler, Nina Allan, Charles Wilkinson and Danny Rhodes from other novels and anthologies. Joel Lane had his work published in Wormwood, Foundation and Supernatural Tales. SJ Fowler is the author of four poetry collections and has had his poetry commissioned by the Tate Britain and London Sinfonelta. Nina Allan is a self-confessed train junkie and has been published by TTA Press. Charles Wilkinson had his poems in London Magazine, Supernatural Tales and Theakers Quarterly Fiction while Danny Rhodes is the writer of Asboville and Soldier Boy and his short stories have been in Crimewave 12 and Spectral Press.

The point of the book layout is so that the reader feels as though they are on a train journey around the world. It is a pleasing one as some stories are long while others are short in comparison than you would expect. ‘Northern Line Tube Announcements’ by Anon is a one paragraph witticism while ‘Writer’s Block’ by SJ Fowler is a series of separate sentences that only make sense at the end. Several famous people are mentioned per sentence and most of them are about trains, the fear of missing them or deaths involving them. It is both hopeful and full of despair, but memorable. ‘Embankment’ by Gavin Salisbury is a macabre poem about a dead girl found near a train track and the feelings the people would have experienced at that time. ‘The Engineered Soul’ by Jet McDonald starts out like a normal story and trails off into a poem the likes of which I haven’t read since The Mammoth Book of Extreme Fantasy. One of the other points of this book is to astound and cause strange feelings when the reader takes in each poem and story. It is an enjoyable read and one I would recommend for it being so unusual with its science fiction, horror and fantasy mould of slipstream stories.