THEAKER’S QUARTERLY FICTION #60, Theaker’s Quarterly Publishing, p/b, $6.63,

Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

In a change to the usual editorial section in Theaker’s, Stephen titles it ‘Emergency Questions’ which he learned from Richard Herring’s book of the same name. Here we have a six-page set of questions and answers readers may want to try out at home – I did, and we can glean from Stephen’s that he enjoyed answering them as I felt I got to know more about the sort of bloke he is. He likes cheese and steak and ale pie, so he can’t be all bad.

Fiction is five short stories from regular contributors. First up is The Lost Testament by Rafe McGregor. With Rafe you know what to expect as he likes to cross the weird with the mundane and does so with this story of a man stuck in a jungle scape of Calcutta, though it seems more like it could be from some fantasy land if the character names are anything to go by. Turning Point by Nicki Robson seems a bit creepier than I expected; you don’t associate winning a pub quiz with being beaten-up outside, but Nicki’s story is in that sort of setting where what Jake does at the start can have consequences later when the quiz night has finished, and he and his friends go their separate ways. What surprised me was at a certain moment in time, time froze for Jake and it gave him time enough to choose what he could do next, as if higher powers were giving him a second chance. Yttrium Part One by Douglas Thompson had me pondering about the future, that we think everything will be much better due to advancements in technology, finding new life on planets and making a fresh start, but for a duplinaut on Yttria what he really needed away from Earth was someone to share his life with, dissatisfied that the woman in question isn’t interested in him. He thinks he has problems, but the real problem comes when he kills himself. Amongst the Urlap by Andrew Peters is along the lines of The Lost Testament by Rafe McGregor as it is strange and chronicles humans spending time with this new people, learning their language, understanding their culture, which I won’t mention as it will spoil the story as it is rather naughty. Doggerland by Jule Owen is an interesting story considering Earth was about to be wiped out by Nibiru. Here the belief is to be human is to adapt and survive, with most of the people killed, leaving only 1 million left. High up in the human food chain is Marsh who has an AI wife he grows weary of, but trying to lead a normal life after the Earth’s destruction is a hard ask. In Doggerland everyone lives in tight apartments fitted with the latest tech and gadgets so you never want to leave, but Marsh has a need to see and talk to someone different, if only to get out of the monotony. This with its thought-provoking story was my personal favourite.

In The Quarterly Review, Stephen Theaker, Douglas J. Ogurek and Rafe McGregor review books, audio books and the latest movies to eat popcorn with at the cinema. Book reviews are by Stephen Theaker as All Systems Red by Martha Wells, Closet Dreams by Lisa Tuttle, Final Girls by Mira Grant and Proof of Concept by Gwyneth Jones. The same are reviewing sci-fi, modern horror and VR horror you might want to read. For Movies, the long awaited Alien: Covenant is dissected

for its merits and drawbacks as part of a second series of trilogy movies, acting as prequels. Douglas Ogurek gives a four-star review for the Mummy, staring Scientology’s favourite darling Tom Cruise, which seems like a remake of earlier Mummy from 1999 starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weiss. Russell Crowe is the scene-stealing Dr.Jeckyll while Sofia Boutella is the evil and seductive Ahmanet. Ogurek also gives POTC Dead Men Tell no Tales an equally good review, but he also goes all out to give Wonder Woman a five-star review, citing Gal Gadot as the face of a new and improved Diana. And as I agreed with aspects of the reviews for other books and movies, I had to disagree with Stephen’s review of Iron Fist with its twists and turns, good acting, action and decent special effects, I felt it warranted more than the measly three-stars he gave it.

Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #60 is a much darker issue, largely due to the wraparound cover art featuring two warriors in the thick of misty darkness. The stories, features and reviews all come to make this a monthly favourite for sci-fi, fantasy and horror fans alike.