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 #10: Character Avatars

Posted on January 13, 2008

Mick Weller's Alteration to the New Reality changed him from underclass benefits claimant into successful middle-Englander. He'd sold his soul, and with it went the integrity of the Cosmic Crusaders: with their exploits adapted to ill-conceived computer games and a dubious television show, passing fad status could but follow. Elsewhere, a viagra-enhanced David Wilson realises he has compromised his academic independence as he orgasms with a call-girl; the marketability of the Asian mug of Muslim Crusader Hussain Elmaz is disputed; George Bridger enters Hannah Watts through the side of her panties; and Dylan Wilson's deep depression returns.

The Wellerverse of 3World in 4Time is further marshalled and fine-tuned with Mike Weller's idiosyncratic style as the examination of his obsessions continue and a mixum-gatherum of private and public worlds are filtered through an individual brain; the writer's own Space Opera museum of recent pasts and near futures. In Slow Science Fictions #10, amid bunching plot strands, character-related reversals and adjustments to moral compasses, a plaintive tone – which you imagine goes on quietly existing by itself in your absence. There's a gentle intimacy here, and melancholy, which engages emotionally, and which provides satisfying read.

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