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Terry Dowling

mp Books (1999)

ISBN: 0-646-37533-4

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack (this review was first published in March 2007)

Terry Dowling has often struck me as one of the most distinctively Australian speculative fiction writers around. In large part, this is because of his Captain Tom Rynosseros stories. It’s not just the setting that makes these so distinctive; Dowling has also extrapolated what’s happening between Indigenous and White Australians to create a very believable political future. The result is memorable, unique stories with a strong Australian flavour.

Although I associate Dowling strongly with those stories, he has written a great many other stories on a wide variety of themes. Antique Futures collects a selection of these. It’s a whopping great book, and as a result I dipped into it over the space of a couple of weeks, rather than attempting to read that many short stories in a sitting or two. I think this may be the best way to read this collection; it’s powerful and challenging, and some space between stories to digest them was good. Although Dowling is a writer I have long enjoyed, I had not fully realised either the length (years) or breadth (styles) of his writing. One of the very good things about this book is that both readers unfamiliar with Dowling and those who know his work are likely to find stories they haven’t read before.

As a collection, I’m not sure that Antique Futures has a theme, other than excellence. The stories are diverse, and range from quite hard science fiction to at least one story that wouldn’t look out of place in a crime anthology. The stories do share things in common, though. Although this anthology includes stories published over a twenty year span, none have dated noticeably. All include strong and interesting characters; and every one was worth reading. Although I enjoyed some stories more than others, that’s primarily a matter of taste. They’re all of remarkably consistent quality. It makes it a little challenging to write a review – I couldn’t possibly mention all the stories, and in my opinion none are weak. Read the rest of this entry »

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