Friday 17 June 2016

Review - Neil Williamson's Secret Language

Secret Language by Neil Williamson

I thoroughly enjoyed The Moon King, Williamson's novel published in 2014 and eagerly awaited more from the author. So when I saw that he was bringing out a collection of shorts I jumped at the chance to grab an ARC in return for a review. Sadly my own writing has mean that this review is coming slightly later than planned, but not because I had any problems with the book, just purely time to put my thoughts in order.

Williamson says that he was obsessed with secret languages as a child and some of that has obviously bled into his prose. No more than in The secret language of stamps a very effective and menacing tale about stamp collecting. He also mentions that he's a musician and music plays in the background of many of his stories and takes centre stage for stories such as Arrhythmia which was shortlisted for the BSFA award.

But there is much more to enjoy with these stories than these obvious notes. Williamson has a knack for effective prose and le mot juste and for that alone his stories are a pleasure to read. However it is in the realm of ideas that any true writer of speculative fiction will be judged, and if this collection is anything to go by Williamson passes judgement, with flying colours.

I think my favourite in this collection if I can be so crass to pick a favourite amongst so many quality stories, is Lost Sheep. With a few deft swipes of the writing brush Williamson conjures an entire universe. And you don't see many stories that feature a spaceship full of ruminant nuns!

I enjoyed it so much I'm going to buy it in hard copy. If Williamson is speaking a secret language it is one that resonates, surprises and entertains and one that it would be worth your while learning by picking up a copy.


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