Zenith Edited by David S.Garnett
Unlike many other collections of SF short stories, David Garnett's "Zenith" anthologies contain only original works and he limits himself to tales written by authors with a British connection. This book, the first of a very short series contains 12 stories all written in 1989.

Almost as interesting as the stories and occasionally more so, are the Editor's introductions which dispense with the usual reverence and make do instead with a refreshing mixture of wit, bile and sarcasm.

The real problem with this book is that only half of the stories in this collection really merited publication and nothing stood out as being especially good.

Storm Constantine's "The Pleasure Giver Taken", Gary Kilworth's "White Noise" and William King's "Skyrider" were all interesting and well written tales. (For more information on the stories, please see below.) Unfortunately, they were rubbing shoulders with pieces such as Robert Holdstock's "Time of the Tree" which was no more than an idea described and not a story.

I do not expect any collection of SF short stories to be perfect but I am afraid that this one has too few gems in the dross for me to recommend it.

rating
Five out of ten. Don't bother.
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Detailed contents.
Tuttle, Lisa: "In Translation"
Aliens come to the present day Earth. They do no come to conquer or even to trade. They just set up small outposts and seem to do little more than try to observe and experience. Some humans have the ability to translate for them. This is a process which seems more akin to a medium channelling for the dead than normal translation. They also accept a small number of humans as companions. This story is about the fate of a man who applies to be a companion and the translator whom he meets. 6/10

Holdstock, Robert: "Time of the Tree"
A man, a former scientist lies supine while his body turns into the surface of a world on which life, people and civilisation evolve. It was an idea but it was not really a story. 3/10

Bayley, Barrington J.: "Death Ship"
A sort of time and dimension ship is constructed by scientists in a future European superstate. The travellers on the first voyage see the future but then they forget it as they return to their present. 4/10

Greenland, Colin: "The Traveller"
Apparently drawing from H.G.Wells, this story tells of a man in the past who invents a time machine and travels to the future. One trip unhinges his mind and he is murdered by his daughter who then uses his machine to escape the reach of justice. 5/10

Stephenson, Andrew: "Cinema Altere"
A combination of time travel and the exploitation of alternative worlds allows a movie director to create films in which the disasters, deaths, mayhem and carnage are real but the people who suffer continue to live in "our world." The story raised some interesting issues but then didn't really deal with them. 6/10

Constantine, Storm: "The Pleasure Giver Taken"
Halfway through the book and we finally get a decent story! The Pleasure Giver in the story is rather more Geisha than whore and here is called upon to carry out an unusual commission which involves subverting a newly emerging religion on an isolated planet. 7/10

Kilworth,Gary: "White Noise"
This is a tale of telecoms engineers in Arabia who make a frightening discovery. Strange ocean currents have the ability to preserve sounds from the past and carry then through to the future. Interference picked up on a submarine cable crossing the Red Sea appears to convey the sounds of Moses leading the Israelites through the Biblical parting of the waters. 7/10

McDonald, Ian: "Gardinias"
Set in a future Brazil in which the gulf between rich and poor has grown even greater, a scientist has constructed a machine that allows the bored rich thrill seekers to descend to the poor areas and seek enlightenment through his invention. In return, they supply him with immortality serum. 6/10

Sourbut, Elizabeth: "Feminopolis"
Space travellers arrive on an idyllic world run by women for the reason that men are only needed for breeding and on this planet, men have never become sentient. I'd like to see the author try to get away with a story which substitutes Africans, or some other racial group, for men like this. It is a shame that a story such as this was given space in this book. 1/10

Aldiss, Brian W.: "Days in the Life of a Galactic Empire"
A rather facile tale of intrigue in the inner circle of the Galactic Emperor. 4/10

King, William: "Skyrider"
An ex-military pilot, still wired up with implants to allow him to control a combat aircraft is recruited by the underworld to fly drugs and other contraband. One day, he is double crossed because his new masters find him inconvenient and need to sacrifice one of their number to the authorities. He escapes and sets about getting revenge. 7/10

Evans, Christopher: "The Bridge"
This story is part of the author's "Vendavo" series. Vendavo is an artist living on a low technology planet. He creates art by causing spirit creatures to take on real form. While Vendavo is working on a commission for the ruler, his brother is part of a conspiracy to kill the ruler at the ceremony at which Vendavo will present his art. 6/10