On the SF Signal website, author Chris Kelso has written a guest blog in which he identifies 5 Scottish SF writers who might just blow your mind. His “wee list of Scotland’s brightest exemplars that are on the verge of going supernova” includes our very own Douglas Thompson, whose most recent novel The Rhymer, an Heredyssey was published by Elsewhen Press last month.
Chris describes Douglas as a “darling of the indie presses” and “an undeniable master of his craft”. He concludes that: “Thompson is a real ‘writer’s writer’, already loved and admired in the enclaves colonised by underground-SF enthusiasts, but one that will be surely revered on a broader scale in the years to come.”
So, if you haven’t already read any of Douglas’ work, join the underground enclaves and get ahead of the pack by reading Entanglement or The Rhymer now!
You can read the whole of Chris Kelso’s blog here.
On the Murder Mayhem & More website, Rowena Hoseason has reviewed Entanglement by Douglas Thompson. She says that there’s a “hugely nostalgic feel to Entanglement, perhaps because of the stand-alone pulp-fiction style of the off-world adventures” which she says are reminiscent of Astounding Tales but also “HG Wells’ Time Machine – there are echoes of the Morlocks and Eloi. Douglas Thompson seizes this opportunity to carry on where Wells left off, giving us glimpses of strange social systems and convoluted communities.”
Commenting on the episodic nature of the book, with a series of encounters on different worlds, she notes that as “is the way with the very best sci-fi, every encounter says far more about humans than it does about the extra-terrestrial life forms”. Some of these observations are “uplifting and affirming, others are most definitely sobering and poignant”. She continues by pointing out that it’s not all serious, there are, she says, “several moments of wickedly adept humour – not least when the explorers meet the aliens who’ve been abducting humans from Earth for decades, and endure their inevitable invasive probing…”
As for Douglas Thompson, she says he has “a very easy-going writing style which means you can dip in and out… without struggling to get back into the groove.” She says his descriptions of other worlds “are wonderful, but he doesn’t sacrifice the pace of the plot for overblown self-indulgent stunt-writing. My attention was fixed firmly on the page throughout.” She concludes by describing Entanglement as “agreeable, thought-provoking entertainment”.
Describing the episodic nature of the story where each new world is presented as a separate chapter akin to a short story, he says that several of the new worlds that Douglas has envisioned are “a pleasure to discover”. He equates the reader’s role with that of the story’s mission controllers as observers, while commending the dispassionate narrative style and passiveness of voice as a deft accomplishment. He goes on to say it is a book of the “mind rather than the heart, one that enquires rather than arouses. In showing us alien forms, Thompson illuminates human assumptions and limitations whilst offering fresh perspectives on our lives.”
On her blog Vicky Thinks, Victoria Hooper has just reviewed Entanglement by Douglas Thompson. She says she “found most of the stories fun and interesting, with a good mix of tense, thoughtful, dreamy, funny and absurd” and goes on to say that the “technology aspects are written well and not bogged down with too much explanation, and the science and more fantastical elements mix very naturally”.
Vicky liked the idea of the book and the way it is written as a series of short stories, each relating to one of the planets being explored, linked together through the technology and events on Earth. She says that it “asks some fascinating questions about dream and reality, intelligence, and how humans view their world.” She concludes by saying “As ‘philosophical science fiction’, I think it works very well.”
On The Future Fire Reviews website, Terry Grimwood has reviewed Entanglement by Douglas Thompson. He describes it as “an intelligent, adult science fiction novel that blends the new with the old” and goes on to justify that by pointing out that the technologies are “founded on present day developments and theories” while the story is “imbued with a Golden Age sense of wonder”. He says he is reminded of Wells, Swift and Robert Silverberg – great company!
Although encounters with various alien races on their own planets are the key milestones in the story, this is not a heart-warming tale of savages meeting avaricious ‘civilised’ Terrans, but “is far more complex in its moral stance and particularly in its protagonists’ relationships with the alien races they meet”. He goes on to say that despite there being 17 separate planetary visits, Douglas “works hard to keep each encounter fresh and original”.
Terry goes on to expand on his comparison with Wells, who “was a writer in an age when there was still more than enough wonder and original invention to go round. Thompson manages to convey a similar wonder, prevalent in quite a few of his human-alien encounters. It is an innocence I have not seen in a science fiction novel for a long time. Thompson also captures Wells’ ability to transform the encounter between human and non-human into a mirror of our own intra-human relationships.”
He sums up: “Entanglement is a compelling tour de force, a brave attempt, painted on a vast, interstellar canvas, a novel that manages to maintain a startling imaginative variety as we visit world after world.” Then concludes with a return to his Swiftian comparison, and a finale that I won’t spoil by repeating here – go and read it for yourself!
In the REviews section of the website of the Sein und Werden literary magazine, Mat Joiner has written about Entanglement by Douglas Thompson. After outlining the structure of the book and noting that it “can be read as either an episodic novel, or a collection of short stories, but needs to be followed in chronological order” he highlights some of the worlds that are visited by the explorers.
“Thompson doesn’t waste time on technobabble” he says, “like Ursula Le Guin (who he pays homage to by using the term “Ansible”) he’s more interested in humans than machinery.” Of those humans he says, “Thompson doesn’t give us stock heroes, just flawed men and women who drift into meaningless affairs, doubt their own actions, make mistakes that will be their undoing. He gives us recognisable human beings.” He adds that there’s “plenty of a good old fashioned sense of wonder here too. None of Entanglement’s travellers lack curiosity, even though it might result in transformation or death.” But, he says, the book “argues that in meeting the alien, we meet ourselves; that to ask questions is better than presenting glib solutions. If anything, it’s a novel that pleads the case for cautious optimism.”
He concludes by saying “It’s a thoughtful, ambivalent, compassionate novel. I wish there were more science fiction like it.”
Charles Packer reviewed Entanglement by Douglas Thompson on the sci-fi online website, describing it as “shot through with dry wit”. Remarking that any reader of Douglas’ previous work will be prepared for a multi-layered experience, he says “each story illuminates as much about the human condition in all its glory and hubris as it does the varied and imaginative alien environments.” He goes on to say that this book “represents as much a philosophical discussion on the human condition as it does enthralling science fiction.” He concludes that it is “well worth picking up.”
Over on The Horror Zine, Ian Hunter has reviewed Entanglement by Douglas Thompson. He describes it as “a novel that will live inside the mind of the reader long after the back cover has been closed”. Although Entanglement is categorised by us and Douglas as philosophical science fiction, Ian says it deserves a review in The Horror Zine because “there is much to be horrified about within the 336 pages”. He goes on to say that apart from the “effortlessly engaging writing style that sucks the reader into the plot like a black hole lined with teeth” – (lovely image there Ian!) – and the “thoughtful, intelligent plotting” there is “a rich seam of horror” running through the various encounters between the human explorers and the aliens they discover.
Ros Jackson reviewed Entanglement by Douglas Thompson on Warpcore SF. She says there’s “something very Golden Age” about it, capturing “that sense of wide-eyed wonder and endless possibilities”. As the astronauts (or, in the terminology of the story, duplinauts) make first contact on a variety of new worlds the aliens are “breathtakingly weird”, and the stories are a “philosophical examination” of different ways of life. She is concerned that many of the astronauts meet “creatively horrible fates”. However she says “all of the strangeness makes sense by the end” and she concludes by describing the tone of the story as one of “bizarreness, wonder, and occasional viciousness”.
Our final postcard from the future comes from Professor Saul Deveraux himself, inventor of the Retro-Temporal acceleration technology being deployed at Geneva’s ‘Even Larger Hadron Collider’ to send messages back in time…
I hope you’ve enjoyed the previous nine messages over the last nine months. The same time as the gestation of a human child, perhaps not coincidentally. You see, the Retro-Temporal Postcard Program is very much my baby, my lifetime’s work, albeit so well assisted by thousands of other dedicated scientists, the world over. I thank them all.
Will you people of the early twenty-first century believe that these messages are real? –That we in the 23rd century, really have mastered such incredible technology as to be able to send information back in time to you? As I write, there is no evidence in any of our libraries or history annals that these attempts were successful. But I confidently expect to go to the same data sources tomorrow and find that history has updated itself. Of course it will. But will I know? This paper I write on would have to disappear into thin air, in order for me not to know, and that seems unlikely. So history is going to change and we’re going to see it change, almost instantly before our eyes. How extraordinary. That has never happened before in the history of our planet. Or has it? You see the irony? Continue reading “Postcard From The Future #10”