Zenith 2 Edited by David S.Garnett
This was the second, and last, of the Zenith series which were collections of original British SF. As with the first book, this contains twelve stories written by authors with some kind of British connection though that connection was rather thin at times.

This is a better collection tha the first one. In fact, most of the stories are well worth reading but the editor did dredge up a couple of pieces of real rubbish to go along with the decent stuff.

The top story here is the last and longest. "The Cairene Purse" by Michael Moorcock is a tale of a man's serach or his missing sister in a post energy crisis Egypt. It is novella length and worth the price of the book by itself.

John Gribbin's "Insight" and Simon Ings' "Different Cities" also deserve mention. Each is set on a world very different from our own and each tells a compelling tale.

This volume is out of print but, it you see it in a second hand shop, it is well worth getting as the majority of the stories merit reading. It's not worth hunting out the other book in the series unless you are the sort of person who could not bear to have one without the other.

Six out of ten. Worth getting secondhand.
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Detailed contents.

MacDonald, Ian: "Winning"
A young boy, a Muslim, is trained by his father to run. He gains a sponsorship deal from a corporation who reengineer his body to make him a super athlete. He goes along with it until finally he realises how he is being manipulated and quits the sport. He still wants to run for the joy of it though. 6/10

Constantine, Storm: "The Time She Became"
This tale is set on a surreal world where a city migrates across a great plain. The bricks and stones of the buildings themselves move across the land. Sometimes, they are visited by insubstantial beings from another dimension or time. One such visitor fully materialises and is trapped. She is taken in by a couple who care for her. 6/10

Baxter, S.M.: "Journey to the King Planet"
Stephen Baxter tends to write either Wellsian retro SF or ultra hard far future SF. This tale is of the former type. An evil Frenchman steals a British spaceship. Two Brits are on board and they manage to overpower him before returning the craft to earth. The craft is made of wood and ice and uses anti-ice as its fuel. 6/10

Kilworth, Gary: "X-calibre"
Try this. Rewrite the Arthurian legend on modern Wallstreet while totally out of your head on the substance of your choice. The result is rubbish. 2/10

Greenland, Colin: "A Passion for Lord Pierrot"
A powerful man lives in great luxury on an obscure planet. He has a wife who lives in the same building but with whom he has little contact. He also has a lover who lives in a small house on the far side of a lake. He visits her but there is a terrible secret abour where she came from and what will be her fate. 6/10

Brown, Eric: "The Death of Cassandra Quebec"
An artist returns to Earth to visit the site of the death of Cassandra Quebec, her gay lover whose death, assumed to be a bizarre accident, was captured on an emotion recording crystal by Quebec's husband. The story unfolds in a series of flash backs and revelations assisted by technology selectively to erase and restore memory. The artist discovers that her lover was in fact murdered her jealous husband who then went on to make career out of mutilating other women in the name of art. The artist then has an affair with her dead lovers daughter who the goes on to murder her father. There is also a semi telepathic Pterodactyl involved too. I'm afraid that it is too full of plot twists and coincidence to be convincing. 5/10

Bling, Jojo: "The Pill"
It's not so much a story as, well, drivel. It includes words such as Whackos, Evolvers and The Pill. The editor must have been desperate. 1/10

Stableford, Brian: "The Furniture of Life's Ambition"
A brilliant biotech designer gets bored with creating steaks that grow by themselves without a cow. He gets financial backing and starts a new line growing living furniture. Then he discovers that his backer is sleeping with his wife. He turs them ito armchairs. 6/10

Tuttle, Lise: "Dead Television"
An inventor fnds out that the dead can speak to us through televisions. At first this is a great novelty but eventually, there being a lot of them, the dead swamp all television and then they lear how to phone people up adn speak and finally they an posess the living at will. 6/10

Gribbin, John: "Insight"
Gribbin invents a fine world for this tale. It is set on the inner surface of a vast sphere. The world is almost all water. It's one huge concave surfaced ocean with a few islands here and there. Low technology civilisations have developed on most of the islands which have no contact with each other. One nation has developed sailing ships and primitive navigation skills. They send a ship out ad encounter another civilisation which has rowing boats and hang gliders. 7/10

Ings, Simon D.: "Different Cities"
The world is a series of layers. Each layer is a city with its own rules and people. The layers are connected to eah other by a tube but very few people use it to travel from one place to another. This is the tale of one traveller who arrives in a place where the people can disintegrate and reassemble their bodies at will. 7/10

Moorock, Michael: "The Cairene Purse"
Set in Egypt in a near future post energy crisi world, this is a story of a man who travels to Egypt in search of his sister who has vaished while working as an archaeologist. She hinted of a great discovery in the desert but whe he gets there, the locals tell him that his sister has gone away on a spaceship. 9/10