Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Book Review: 'The Ephialtes Shorts Collection' by Gavin E Parker

British author Gavin E Parker has worked in healthcare, government and education, the impact from those exposures has instilled a skewed view of the human condition, some of which has been relieved by his sidelines of music, film and video. Turning to writing his hypnotic novels about our future at once a bit terrifying but also Gavin’s style of prose infuses humor as comic relief is the perfect outlet for testing his view on the public. He lives in Isle of Thanet in southern England.

From Gavin’s own comments, ‘The Ephialtes Trilogy is a series of three books set in the twenty-third century POST World War IV. The story chronicles the conflict arising between the dominant nation on Earth, the USAN, and their colony on Mars. When the leading industrialist on Mars, Charles Venkdt, polls the Martian population on independence he receives a powerful mandate and proceeds with proclaiming independence. In the USAN this is met with consternation and the president controversially decides to refit the massive orbiting dropship carrier Ephialtes for interplanetary spaceflight. News of the impending arrival of Ephialtes galvanises the Martians, who in turn set about quickly forming an army and building defences. The main novel trilogy is complemented by a series of short stories, THE EPHIALTES SHORTS COLLECTION, set in the same fictional universe. The first four shorts, ‘See the Worlds’, ‘A Cold Wind Blows’, ‘Son of New York’ and ‘Be All You Can Be’ look back to the first book of the trilogy and forward to the second, exploring characters and events from each in new and unexpected ways. Does the ghost of a lost commander really roam the Martian outlands? How would it feel to be a patriotic young American coming to realise it may be necessary to reassess your values? As a trooper injured in the episode depicted at the close of Ephialtes, how would you cope with your rehabilitation? Just why is Kostovich so damned clever?’

From Gavin’s Introduction to the book we read, ‘Though these stories touch upon one another they are not a sequence - there is no through line. They look back to the first book and forward to the second and though I hope they will add to the overall trilogy they are not essential to it. However, it is probably essential to them. That is to say, if you haven’t read Ephialtes I would advise picking it up before you read the shorts.’

Science fiction appeals to a large audience, even larger at present because of the manner in which this century is altering life. A good sci-fi author can provide stimuli to or imaginations, warn us of consequences, and provide an escape form realities as they impinge upon us. Gavin’s wiring does all that and more: he makes his novel retain a sense of humor that makes reading his work very satisfying. Grady Harp, May 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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