Sunday, 24 July 2011

Further Conflicts - Edited by Ian Whates

Title: Further Conflicts
Author: Various (Edited by Ian Whates)
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published: 2011
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
Amazon UK

Further Conflicts is an anthology of Sci-Fi short stories that are thematically linked by various forms of conflict. However, don't think that this is just a selection of the usual military sci-fi stories full of explosions and space battles. Many of the stories are actually low on the action front and instead focus on being thought provoking and subtle in their depiction of conflict. The range and breadth of stories held in this collection was a pleasure to see as there was stories involving AIs fleeing servitude, mutants stealing children in a decaying future, dead soldiers returning to life, the interrogation of a political prisoner, etc.

I will admit that I have actually never read any of the other work created by the authors in this collection but I actually think that is one of the main reasons why people should read anthologies such as this. It opens up some new and contemporary writers to the reader, which considering most of us can end up reading the same type of things over and over again has to be a good thing. All I know is that after reading the stories in this collection and being impressed by the high standard they all were I will be sure to pick up some of the various authors' more lengthy work in the future.

In regards to the stories themselves, it is actually hard to specify a favourite because they are all enjoyable but yet very different from each other. However, I will highlight a few because it will help show the range of stories actually present.

"The Wake" by Dan Abnett is a story full of testosterone and camaraderie as we witness a group of tough soldiers watching over the body of a fallen brother in arms and drinking to his memory. The story does involve some action though as strange happenings occur and the soldiers respond in a paranoid and cynical manner. Overall, I liked how we got to see behind the mask of a hardened solder and witnessed the brotherhood and friendship they all shared.

The next story I will highlight is "The War Artist" by Tony Ballantyne which takes us into the world of propaganda and the manipulation of information flow. It is set in a world where countries have had their infrastructures torn apart by hackers. We follow a journalist embedded with a group of soldiers who go in to secure a country that has descended into chaos following a hacking attack. It progresses at a good pace and I found the ending to be very satisfying.

The final story I am going to mention is "Extraordinary Rendition" by Steve Longworth which is set in a prison on the Moon. The back and forth discussion as an interrogator tries to obtain information from his political prisoner is thought provoking and enjoyable to read. The story is completed though by a superbly delivered ending that had an unexpected twist.

The only sad feeling I had when reading this anthology was when I finished some of the stories. The worlds created were very interesting and I really wish they could have been explored more. This however isn't anything new from many other short story anthologies that aren't set in an already developed world and to be honest I think it shows how good the stories were that I wanted more.

All in all, I enjoyed all the stories in the collection and liked the fact that each one was so very different. This book is a good way to explore and immerse yourself in the writings of various authors and hopefully find someone whose work you want to read more of. If you enjoy reading sci-fi stories set around conflict, threats and danger then I think you will enjoy this collection. In addition, if you have never tried reading conflict driven stories but are curious in giving it a try then I think this book would also be a good way to explore some of the options available.