Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The First Ravensmoot: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction edited by Marius du Plessis #review

Title: The First Ravensmoot: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction
Edited by: Marius du Plessis
Publisher: Fox & Raven Publishing, 2013

With the publishing industry in such a state of flux, it’s lovely to see South African small presses step forward to take an active interest in speculative fiction. In this anthology, Marius du Plessis has gathered six outstanding authors from around the globe, including South Africa, each with a strong voice and vision.

“Passing Visions” by Martin John Stokes introduces us to a clinical psychologist named Indiana Golding whose patient proves to be troubled by something way beyond Golding’s ken. It was clear from the start that the man’s arrogance was going to prove his downfall.

I’m no stranger to Nyki Blatchley’s writing and in “The Triarchy’s Emissary”, we follow the female warrior Edralit’s quest to protect an empress. What I love about Blatchley’s writing is that he often features strong female leads and isn’t afraid to treat LGBT themes in a fantasy setting.

“The Dead City Blues” by Yelena Calavera takes us to a changed Joburg where only the Dreamers have survived the apocalypse – and the big dangers lies with nightmares yet to be confronted, which if you’re not careful, take on tangible and dangerous forms.

“Pigs in Golfs” by Mia Arderne juxtaposes a vicious serial sexual predator’s doings with the lives of a couple, and mixes in a whiff of illegal street racing. I must admit I was put off by what I felt to be the almost gratuitous violence against women, and this story didn’t work for me though it was well written.

“The Terminal Move” by Dilman Dila reads like the kind of story you’d hear an old shaman share by the fireside, and tells us about Laceng, who helps his tribe overcome evil, zombie-like creatures and a race of giants in order to claim a new homeland.

Anton Sim’s “Project Hydra” is a suitably creepy offering and very little becomes more nightmarish than a dystopian corporate hell. Sim writes with an underlying touch of dark humour that left me wanting more – a perfect way to conclude this anthology.

Overall, Du Plessis has proved to have a keen eye for high-quality material and has presented a diverse selection that is well worth adding to any serious lover of speculative fiction’s collection. This is a publisher worth keeping an eye out for.

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