PREMONITIONS 2004

Reviewed by Terry Gates-Grimwood

Brian Aldiss, or was it J G Ballard (sorry, can't remember), said in a recent Radio 4 interview that science fiction has been made pointless by the fact that we were now in the science fiction century. How wrong he is. If the first issue of Premonitions is anything to go by, science fiction is very much alive and extremely well.

Published by Tony Lee's Pigasus Press, previously known for The Zone and Strange Adventures, Premonitions promises an 'eerie look at the future'--a promise that it fulfils with great élan. It's an attractively packaged publication, with striking art on both front and back covers. There is little artwork inside, however, although this is not a problem because the writing itself is startling, visual, and crammed with new ideas and new twists on old ones.

This is not a collection of hardware-extolling, astrophysics lectures, but an explosion of nightmarish futures and disturbing presents. A lot of the work is intensely character-based, some subtle and personal, such as Phil Emery's lightly brush-stroked iD, made frighteningly relevant by the imminent imposition of ID cards on our own society, and Tim Clare's Rise of the Ancestors. In contrast you have sense-slammers such as Station to Station by David Hudson, and Two Heads Are by Mark Mellon, each a breathlessly described explosion of technological nightmares and wonders, that take you tumbling through a wild sleigh ride of action without becoming bogged down by the usual techno-clichés that could so easily have submerged them.

Old ideas given a fresh twist include Andrew Darlington's The Doom That came To Xanthus, redolent of Bradbury's lost Mars but a new and quite moving Martian experience. Cyber wives are dusted down and filled with spark and vigour by John Paul Catton in his Ayumi-Chan in Wireless Heaven and the Men in Black seem set to return, but not as we know them, in Debbie Moon's darkly humorous 1950's tale, Are You Now..?. Another dash of humour is provided by Antony Mann in Sex and the Single Xanthrocite in which the love lives of human and alien are placed under the microscope...or rather the hidden camera.

But star of the issue is Restless by K Bannerman, an emotive piece about a man 'cursed' with immortality by Jesus Christ as He is on His way to Golgotha. The sense of time and place, the necessary explanatory text and the agonising reality of everlasting life are concisely delivered and the conclusion is satisfyingly neat.

There is a healthy sprinkling of poetry, which is always fresh and surprising, always subtle, often demanding. The themes are vast, and the wordplay sophisticated and often very moving. Steven Hampton's Sid's Death takes you on a journey from birth to death, in an explosion of emotion and sensory impression. Telepath by John Francis Haines is the cry of a telepath tormented by the ceaseless mind-babble with which his gift has afflicted him. In fact, many other poems here, such as Don Webb's The Experiment, Afterwards, look at the downside of superior power or intelligence. Another of his poems, Psychotronic Heroes, puts a surprising spin on the creation of a super-race and what they think of the humanity they have been created to dominate. My own favourite is Gulliver's Travails by Ed Blundell, which is an interplanetary pen pal romance with a wonderfully sad twist in its tale.

I've only mentioned a few of the delights to be found in this magazine. It's packed to the gunnels with fiction and poetry, and in this issue at least, enough high quality writing to make it a worthwhile investment.

Premonitions, A4, 60pp, single or sample copy £4.50 (UK only), cheque/PO payable to 'Tony Lee'. All overseas customers please send £9.50 (in pounds Sterling only, for Airmail delivery) via International Postal Order payable to 'Tony Lee'. Full ordering details at the website.

Address: - Premonitions, 13 Hazely Combe, Arreton, Isle of Wight, PO30 3AJ

Order your copy online or just check out the website.

Website:- www.pigasuspress.co.uk


Return to Whispers review archive