“Body Politic” by Philip J. Lees
“The Mix-in” by Resa Nelson
“The Thirteenth City” by Terry Dartnall
“The Athame of Odin” by Cherith Baldry
“Eddie’s Record” by Doc Finch
“Gross Bodies and Light Convertible” by Mark A. Rayner
In “Body Politic” by Philip J. Lees, an anonymous narrator wakes up in another body with a new identity after a mission for the mysterious Company. Marylise is happy to experiment with her new identity after her memory has been erased. However, someone seems to know more about her than he’s supposed to.
Lees indulges in the fun of imagining what it would be like to have a new body. Then things become complicated, and the fun turns into a problematic matter of identity. Unfortunately, just when things get interesting, the story abruptly ends.
“The Mix-in” incorporates many tried-and-true science fiction themes such as fear of other as embodied by aliens and the problems of a society that hasn’t learned to accept new members. These are blended with an unusual setting and issues. While the result is original, the story tinges toward shallow as a result of these overdone conceits and is overly pedagogic at the end.
“The Thirteenth City” captures the reader at the start and proceeds to strengthen its hold until its wonderful end. The arcane elements stay arcane, without the reader ever getting a sense of laboring over a tiresome jigsaw puzzle which frequently characterizes stories of this type. Here, the pieces fall into place with ease and grace. The engaging plot, which alternates from tense suspense to grim surprises, is fittingly complemented by a wonderfully dark atmosphere bordering on the apocalyptic.
The little clues that tell of a futuristic setting are somewhat superfluous here; a classic mystery, “The Athame of Odin” could be set in any time period. I must confess to being partial to stories with ritual murders and an atmosphere of mystery, so I was thrilled by the beginning of “The Athame of Odin.” My delight was diminished by how predictable the end turned out to be.
Finch successfully blends science fiction concepts with a realistic setting, but Eddie’s lively personality, with its charming and eccentric ambitions, is what drives “Eddie’s Record.” A light and pleasant story.
Rayner succeeds in evoking a foggy, nineteenth-century London in the grip of an epidemic of illnesses and terror. Breathtaking pursuits, tense encounters, and narrow escapes are skillfully narrated, resulting is a Sherlock Holmesish atmosphere that grips the reader and holds on tight until the end. “Gross Bodies and Light Convertible” is lively and enjoyable.