I seem to be getting a hell of a lot of short story compilations sent to me these days. This can only be a good thing, especially for new authors who want to test the waters and show their wares to an ever-expanding ebook audience. Where the collection is by one author alone however, the stakes are raised slightly. Part of the attraction of short story anthologies to many readers is the variation and originality of the different authors featured. Any author wanting to release an anthology solely of their work has a lot of work to do to keep readers interested.
The Dimension Scales and Other Stories, a collection of fourteen sci-fi shorts from new indie author Garry Abbott does just that. The opener The Diary Of Derek Froggat, The Accidental Time Traveller , a sporadic account of a man thrown through time against his will, echoes cleverly through the final story The Voice Of Strad. Indeed, one of the great features of this collection is discovering how interconnected many of the stories are, some obvious, others requiring a second read for the penny to drop.
Black Swarm is a chilling take on the old b-movie style ant invasion story which, once reading will send shivers down your spine upon hearing a West Country accent in the future.
Given recent claims of a computer passing the Turing test it’s pretty apt that I was reading Love In The Shell when the news broke, as it deals precisely with that issue, where a family intervenes when their daughter becomes obsessed with an online friend they believe to be a bot.
Cry Again Army, is a thrilling dystopian tale of a woman coerced in to first teaching and then becoming the lover of a rich couple’s creepy son, the main advantage being granted access to a cryogenics program which will change her life and the future of humanity forever. This is one of the bigger stories in the series and there’s plenty of room for expansion of this tale.
As the collection continues, there are lots of nods to The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits and a few more bizarre stories that would be more at home in a Roald Dahl collection. Some of the really short stories work very well, such as The Drawing Room, where a man finds himself lured into a strange trap by a flyer (did Derek Froggat escape a similar fate?) and the title story The Dimension Scales, a cheeky nod to classic sci-fi and The Day The Stars Moved is a short, simple and sweet story of a teenager staring at the night sky and noticing something odd.
One of the standouts for me was Animals Attack: Parts I-IV an apocalyptic tale of murderous animals which has great potential for a novel or series. It’s got some great characters and a solid plot and I’d love to hear more from this story.
There are also plenty of cautionary tales, such as Alex, Boudicca and Benny the Bear, and Newsbot Serial One well as the more horror-oriented Scalp.
As a debut, The Dimension Scales and Other Stories is a strong, imaginative, thought-provoking collection which accomplishes a great deal in establishing Garry Abbott as an author with a great future and I look forward to seeing what he can do with a full novel. He’s got a great writing style, an eye for detail and some great ideas and as a self-published author, he has taken the time to produce a well-packaged product with a great cover that’s also well-edited and formatted.
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