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 #11: Convenient Truth

Posted on February 10, 2008

Addingcombe solicitor Sally Harper makes the case for the defence of Sadar Saddubin's killer, Frederick Burrell: it's an epistemological mystery, with intellectual derangement a consequence. Equally baffling to the authorities and, in particular, to Detective Inspector Jim Pannifer, is the whereabouts of Glenford Gates – eye-witness to the murder of Mayor Scourge, and chief suspect – despite the fact that Gates features regularly on EarthCo tv, securing his place via televised adventures as one of four Cosmic Crusaders!

Meanwhile, death-dealer in Futures markets, Sir Michaeal Spearate, plans to use his lab to make a black candidate for the Democrats, and President Jack Flash is advised to face an inconvenient truth head on: EarthCo are the Fossil Fuel Lobby, but by claiming to reduce production of essential fuels to scarcity levels, commodity values for EarthCo shareholders will rise (private gain, public loss). Spearate will not be satisfied until the last tree has been logged down and the planet has melted into a fossilized, empty desert.

Mike Weller continues to serve the reader well with his capacity to take the facts and manufacture from them an inventive narrative that corresponds with his world-view, and wherein the familiarity of the dystopia presented prompts a sense of urgency. Whether or not a particular economic system contributes to the destruction of the planet more significantly than another, one can't help but approve of Weller's demonising of capitalism and, in general, his portrayal of politics and religion as conduits of evil. Funny, disturbing stuff.

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