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Edited by David Kernot

Andromeda Spaceways Cooperative (2010)

Reviewed by George Ivanoff, July 2010

I’ll be brutally honest here and say that the last time I picked up a copy of ASIM, I was extremely underwhelmed. Mind you, that was a few years back. Anyway, I didn’t have high expectations for this issue. Happily, this issue surprised me. I loved it! It has a terrific mix of excellent stories — from science fiction to horror to fantasy.

For me there were three stand-out stories. First off, there’s Felicity Dowker’s “From Little Things” – a story about a man and a dragon and revenge. How can you resist a story that begins with: “There’s a dragon in my pantry.” Then there’s David I Russell’s “By the Banks of the Nabarra” – a wonderfully atmospheric horror with an Australian feel. Dark, chilling stuff! And finally, there’s David Tallerman’s “The Painted City” – an intriguing science fiction story about the discovery of a new planet and the rather unusual city on its surface.

I’ve singled out three stories, my favourites, but they are all good in this issue. There is no weak link in this chain.

ASIM is an interesting magazine in that it is run by a co-operative and has a different editor from issue to issue. So my previous experience with the mag may simple be put down to having different literary tastes to the editor of that particular issue. The changing editors approach can be seen as either a strength or a weakness, depending on how you look at it. A strength, in that it keeps things fresh from issue to issue. A weakness, in that each editor will have different biases, and so there may be a lack of consistency over the issues. Either way, this issue has convinced me that I should give ASIM a further go. I look forward to reading another issue.

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Angie Sage

Septimus Heap, Book 5

Bloomsbury (2009)

ISBN: 978-0-7475-9415-4

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack, June 2010

This is a novel which is perfectly suited to that awkward part of the young adult audience that’s far too old for some young adult books, but not yet ready to cope with explicit depictions of sex and violence.  Syren handles mature themes openly and without patronising, but also without dwelling too much on certain scenes.  It’s also a good story, and well written.

Syren is book five in the Septimus Heap series.  It’s the first I’ve read, so I can confirm that it’s readable and enjoyable by itself – however, there are some obvious gaping holes, particularly in background and character development, that lead me to suspect you’d get a lot more out of this novel if you read the preceding four in the series first.  This is particularly obvious in the first two or three chapters.  After that, although it still tends to emerge from time to time, you’re likely to be so caught up in the fast moving plot that it will be easier to gloss over a bit of missing background.

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