Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Isolation Space Reviewed

What Hungur has to say about Isolation Space
Review by Terrie Leigh Relf, editor, Hungur Magazine

Mark Cantrell’s Isolation Space: A Melange of Short Fiction, is, as its title and content reveals, a medley of twenty short stories that will challenge, disturb, fascinate, provoke, sicken, and otherwise engross readers. They may even incite you to foment change!

If you love tales of horror and the supernatural, fantasy and the fantastic, speculative and science fiction, then this book belongs on your shelf. There are monsters of various persuasions. . .those that suck blood as well as those who consume a person’s soul. Since I could not possibly do justice to this mind-expanding tome in such a short space, here are a few of my favorites.

First of all, there are flash pieces such as “Window Gazers”, which opens the collection with a disturbing shiver: an exhausted writer sitting at his desk who believes he’s being watched by creatures outside his window. Then there’s “Affordable Housing”, a cautionary tale where we meet two men who are about to lose their “estate”—to a demolition crew. Next time you are faced with taking a stand on fair housing, I suggest you rise to the occasion. Another one of my favorite flash pieces is “Brain Drain”; just imagine a violent sneeze, your brain landing in your pint. . .

In the oxymoronic longer short story category, my favorites include “Sinners In Streaming Video”, “Shopping For Katie”, and “An Englishman’s Home Is A. . .”. All three of these stories catapult this reader into an imagined, but chillingly possible future—and ironically, that future is NOW.

In “Sinners In Streaming Video”, Earth has been re-terraformed, and a new religion has emerged—or is it a return to olden days where the Fisher King was sacrificed for the weal of the land? This time, the sacrifice will be broadcast throughout the galaxy. . .but will there be a resurrection? If you are fascinated by the nuances of betrayal, you won’t be disappointed.

In “Shopping For Katie”, another “cautionary” tale (and yes, there are quite a few of these), we visit a future where designer babies are a reality for childless couples—and if you sign up with Wonder Child, you’ll have your very own “client advisor” who doubles as an honorary uncle. This story gives new meaning to the cliché, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”—and with agonizing results.

Cantrell’s experience as a journalist, combined with his social conscience and political savvy, is quite evident in “An Englishman’s Home Is A. . .”. This tale is an all-too-real visit to a 1984-esque “future” in the 21st century, where The Archipelago Project’s Containment Facility 1.01 is nearing completion. Meet Tony Lubyanka, Chief Executive for Drezhinsky Square Housing Trust and his assorted colleagues as they wrestle with the proverbial “problem of the poor”.  

There are fourteen more tales in this fine collection, and this reader is looking forward to his next one.

February 2010

The paperback edition, available from Lulu, was the subject of the above review, however the anthology has since been released in e-book format for the Amazon Kindle, the Sony Reader and other popular devices. Check out the following links to get hold of your copy:

Category: REVIEWS



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