A BRILLIANT VOID BY JACK FENNELL

 
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This collection of resurrected short stories is a part of Ireland's literary culture, and reaffirms our place in the history of science fiction.

Jack Fennell clearly has a passion from the genre, and Irish fiction in general. His Masters in Comparative Literature and PhD in both Irish Literature and Science Fiction Studies is a testament to that. And thus, perhaps there are few better qualified to undertake this task.

While the stories might not be called “Sci-Fi” in the entirely modern sense of the word, they are not modern stories, they come from an era of science fiction where the “science” was just as improbable as in fantasy or horror genre. Nowadays we judge things by the context of what we are familiar with. The Jetsons thought that we would be in flying cars by this century. And even just half way through the last century American presidents were claiming we be living on the moon by now. So it is important to note that these stories are science fiction. They are what science fiction began life as, and their part in the heritage of the genre cannot be overlooked.

As with most stories collections there are some that will not be for everyone, but there is absolutely something for everyone in it. Ranging from complex ideas of time travel and precognition, to so called “mad scientist” narratives; the often Gothic stories entertain and delight while holding an odd sort of mirror up to where people 100 years ago believed we would be, and demonstrating the unpredictability of what the next 100 years of our time could evolve into. There is an amazing range to the works, and it demonstrates the powerful story telling ability which has blessed Irish literature for centuries and goes even reaches even further back.

Fennell begins by making intelligent parallels between the legacy of Irish myth and the science fiction genre, Which, once said, is hard to ignore while digesting the stories. There is a clear literary legacy, and the laying of the ground work for the direction the genre would eventually go in. With similar connotations as Lovecraft and Huxley; theses stories are an attempt to make sense of our world through the lens of the fantastical. (Particularly I was captivated by the idea, suggested in one story, that dreams exist outside of time, and therefore we dream of events that haven't happened yet, as dreams process our daily lives while we sleep).

We are lucky to have this collection presented so, and even luckier still that these stories have been saved from the clutches of time. Fennell proves wrong many falsehoods associated with the genre. The concept that the Irish don't write Sci-Fi or have no tradition of it is immediately quashed. But he goes further still, with a majority of the stories originating from female authors, proving wrong the common held believe that women don't write/read Sci-Fi, which is a gross misconception that Fennell happily dismantles.

Often entertaining and sometimes chilling, these storiese establish the Irish role on the origins of the genre, and secure another rung for our writers (past and present) on the ladder of literary history. Excellently chosen and well packaged, this book is great for hardcore readers of the genre and for newcomers dipping their toes in the ever growing pool of science fiction.