Rich, varied, satisfying – bravo!
A very impressive collection of short fiction with a lot of cultural references and societal issues at its heart. The stories are well written and make a point without feeling ranty or overcooked. Subjects range through class and climate change to community and more issues du jour and always lead from character.
Would recommend to anyone who loves sci fi – Asimov, Heinlein etc. – and futurist fiction like that of JG Ballard. Echoes of all of these and more but, be assured, Simon Minchin is very much writing from his own viewpoint and with his own readable style.
I recommend this book, its thought provoking. Couldn’t put the book down. Charming descriptive writing with twists I didn’t expect.
An impressively audacious debut
New authors are dangerous creatures, the worst fumble from metaphor to lengthy explanation stopping only to inflict their personal lives upon us. The best, however, are dangerous; they look under new rocks uncovering undiscovered ideas that touch something deep, and in this case, often dark within us. In this book of short stories Minchin demonstrates an audacious ability, driving his wide-ranging collection with a powerful and often deceptive use of language, dragging you willing or not into his creations. His is a fresh voice that reaches back into our buried collective experiences and shines a bold, often brash light on them. Read them. With the light and your brain switched on.
Surprising, unsettling and beautifully written
I love short stories; I love being able to dip randomly in and out of a collection over time. However, I picked this book up and read it greedily, compulsively, cover to cover. Simon Minchin writes beautifully of a world I recognise, of the type of people I know and yet their worlds are skewed one or two steps to the left (or ahead) of current reality. He captures and realises my fears for the world – global warming, GMO, selfishness and inequality – without being preachy or dogmatic. On one level the stories are entertaining, on another they seem terrifyingly prophetic. A wonderful if unsettling read.
In each of these stories Minchin has pursued the thought, “what if?” along a surprising path, far from safe and secure, to a remarkable conclusion. Entertaining and disturbing in equal measure, this is mature, brilliantly crafted writing.
I’m skeptical of short stories, not because I’m ambivalent about the genre but because they come in two types: either they are half-baked crap stories without a thought-out ending (like those auteur indie films) or they’re good.
‘Silverback’ is GOOD. Very good. To call Minchin a good writer for a debut book would be insulting. He is good, period; no ifs or buts, no caveats. Anyone can see we’re in the presence of a solid writer, first book or not. He tackles a variety of interesting scenarios, from a post-apocalyptic planet, to a whodunit, sci-fi, and an underground fantasy world of gnomes and fairies spanning from Perranporth to the Namib Desert.
Do yourself the favour, get ‘Silverback’. The worst that can happen is that you don’t enjoy every story as much as I did. But you’ll enjoy most of them. How bad can that be?