Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book Review: 'Strange Medicine' by Mike Russell

Not everything can be explained away easily.
In “Seventy-Two Bricks,” Geoffrey and Tiffany discovered that they’ve both been playing the same game with mysterious objects that randomly appear and disappear as they go through their normal daily routines. When Geoffrey failed to win one of his rounds, Tiffany came up with a plan to help both of them succeed the next time they were invited to play. The most interesting thing about these games to me was how seriously the characters took them. I was fascinated by their stubborn insistence that every single clue needed to be solved, especially since they knew so little about why the game started or what the purpose of it was.
Some of these stories would have benefited from more detailed explanations about what was happening in them. While I definitely do enjoy reading things that expect readers to come up with our own theories about what they might mean, I really struggled to understand some of the selections in this anthology because their narrators spent so little time showing me what was happening. “Mime” was one of the biggest examples of this. The main character in it was a mime who sneaked into a park that strictly forbade mimes from using it. As curious as I was to discover why a park would make such a bizarre rule, I had trouble following the protagonist’s moves as people began to notice she had broken it. Some of her actions didn’t make sense at all because there wasn’t enough backstory given about when and how it became a negative thing to be a mime.
The most interesting thing about “Brain” to me was that it began with a college professor named Eddie who was undergoing some medical testing for charity purposes. I was perplexed by how something as ordinary as as a CT scan could veer off into completely unexpected territory. The more I read about what happened to Eddie after his test results were interpreted, the more I wanted to know about what was really going on with him. The twist in the final scene only made me like this tale than I already did.
Anyone who appreciates the peculiar side of life should give Strange Medicine a try.

Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short ReviewsIt has been republished with permission. 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.