Wednesday 22 October 2014

Review - David Gullen's Open Waters

Open Waters

Mr Gullen has collected together 11 stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies (and 5 that haven’t) into this, his first short story collection. The earliest published in 1998, the latest in 2011. It’s a wide mix of speculative stories of varying length, a few flash, a few longer pieces, many in between. With the majority of stories Gullen explains the genesis, with many stemming from challenges created by the T party, the writing group Mr Gullen is part of. 

There is a lot to like in here and the quality is, in the main, very high. I dipped in and out in between other projects - my own writing and reading for reviews. The first and last stories are very good, both about war, a subject Gullen tells us he often writes about, – the first a ‘what if’, what if the invasion by tourists every year was just that, an invasion, this one stuck with me long after reading it. The last with humanity getting caught up in a galactic war as auxillaries and a small army of humans are abandoned on an alien world and left to conquer it. I was also taken by Gullen’s re-imagining of the lady in the lake in Come the Hour which, he tells us, had a rejection because the editor thought her readers would like to keep their lunches, which Gullen takes as a compliment. My favourite though must be Fade a post-apocalyptic story about us and Them and the Difference, one of those stories that lights up the creative part of your brain and therefore makes the world contained seem much larger than what is on the page. I wish I’d written something as cool as this story. There were a few misses, not poorly written, just didn’t do it for me, but that’s natural in any collection, but they were very few.

These are stories about war, about relationships, about humans, sometimes in alien situations. It is a collection with heart and imagination. Besides, where else would you go for your walrus porn and cowboy Cthulhu erotica?

Overall – An excellent read, recommended.

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