Sunday, 19 June 2011

Ovolution by JJ Toner

If you liked those yellow Gollanz Science Fiction of the Year collections that brightened the middle of the 20th century, you'll love JJ Toner's Ovolution.
This collection of 10 stories brings us back to the world fondly evoked by Mad Men: a world of suited men who are still boyish, with short-back-and-sides haircuts - a world where mad scientists design the perfect woman, and aliens lurk.
Toner's edgy sense of humour lightens this world. In the best of the stories - Short Back and Sides, in which a barber describes an encounter with DNA-hungry aliens; the title story, Ovolution, in which a suburban wife absconds with her newborn egg - reality teeters on an edge of dry wit.
Dancing is great exercise, the sprightly barber tells his customer, not that you need it of course, lovely figure, very Brad Pitt if I may say so. He chats on about the bus journey, his colleague's varicose veins, and of course his abduction by aliens and release. Somehow, it's all horribly believable, and horribly funny.
The warmongers of the army - whose army? doesn't matter - rejig a dead scientist to turn him into a killing machine, but the machine turns out to have more morals than its makers, in Bartlett Rebooted.
In Ooze, humans scouting a new planet and aliens are uncertain about each other, each wondering: are they intelligent? Are they good to eat?
In Scouting Party the shoe is on the other tentacle; the aliens are scouting Earth, but a hideous confluence of golf, tape recording technology and American driving is set to foil their plan for world domination.
A Smashwords collection to while away a rainy day - while keeping a nervy eye out the window for silver spaceships.

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