A Review Asks Only Whether One Can Live With It Or Die Of It

I've been reviewing small press publications on www.bugpowder.com for a few years now. Totemic small presser Andy Luke recruited me; he'd been impressed with my essay, Closing Shots From A Grassy Knoll, and was convinced that I could restore some cheer to the reviews section.

Ostensibly a scoff-mixture, Closing Shots From A Grassy Knoll discusses the pathogenic presence in UK small press of comics creators eager to produce work sterilized by an ambition to be adaptable to the strictures of an intrusive company bent on 'product development', and who derive a vanity-buzz of satisfaction from tucking themselves into deadlines and knocked-off scripts. "This budding hack is fuelled by little more than the desperation for a sense of celebrity," I wrote, "and must be destroyed."

My muscular reviewing-style grated with small press enthusiasts' indulgence in self-satisfied congeniality and writer/artist shape-throwing, but I refused to conveniently dismiss creators with throwaway compliments, employing instead a reviewing discipline based on four simple tenets: 1, perspective is to be achieved; 2, the standards by which one is judging the work are to be made clear; 3, credit is to be given where it is due; and 4, one should not be such a fucking misanthrope, you above-being-human narcissist.

Regularly achieving three of the four principles with my aesthetic evaluations, and quickly developing an obsessive-compulsive urgency for production of symmetrically paragraphed reviews, the meaningless absurdity of opinionative writing soon revealed itself to me. I was not deterred.

John Robbins

Slow Science Fictions #5: David Wilson's Sinking Heart

Posted on June13, 2007

David Wilson's persona is being chipped away. Taking the professoriate has reduced his charisma and glamour as a free and footloose lecturer, his bedding of female students supplanted by administrative duties for a university that has become an alternative to government training and community boot camps. Education, you see, has been corrupted by a lethal mixture of theoretical absurdities and left-wing socialist ideology: the new university prospectus and website resemble an advertisement for sanitised mulitculturalism.

Meanwhile, Choat – Military Memorabilia shop owner and leader of the South London cell of the Social Order Movement of Europe – is rumoured to be more interested in getting his male members into bed than onto the streets with bricks and Molotovs. At first, white, ultra-right, young working class activist George Bridger considers this a slur against Choat by a bunch of liberal fag peaceniks, but naked male wrestling and group masturbation jerk-offs at the boys-only weekend assault and survival course prompt something of a rethink.

No, David Wilson's is not the only sinking heart in Mike Weller's fifth, particularly dense issue of his Slow Science Fictions prose series: disillusionment abounds. Even Mike himself – in 3World in 4Time – dresses shabbily in black, a pair of deeply set, tired and hooded bloodshot eyes squinting from behind tinted, bottle-thick spectacles. In Weller's Bleasdale-relevant jigsaw puzzle – cut from the fabric of society – there are no sky pieces; but, to borrow from French poet Paul Valery, the void shows through. Loving it!

36 A5 pages, £2 inc p&p, available from www.homebakedbooks.co.uk