Spring Tide

Spring Tide

Chris Beckett
ARRSE Rating
4.5 Mushroom Heads
Chris Beckett tends to be known as a science fiction writer, having once won the Arthur C Clarke Award but he also writes volumes of short stories, this being the third. It is certainly a mixed collection, varying from Love only five pages long to Rage, a story of some twenty three pages. None of these could really be described as science fiction but each, in turn, certainly provides food for thought.

Occasionally links may be determined between different stories and, in the case of one pair, a very definite connection but anything beyond that would only be in the mind of the reader.

One of the stories could easily be accepted as the sort of thing which might happen in conversation while in a local pub one evening, yet another story has a much deeper significance involving the imagined conversation interpreted by someone who believes in following instructions to the last letter.

Some of the stories envisage loneliness and effectively explore the ways in which different people deal with their own problems. One deals with the end of an affair while another relates the experience of a wife left alone all day. However, they are not all about sad things and another of the stories describes how easy it is to fall into some form of complacency where all it really requires is the unexpected development of a situation to jolt us out of it all.

Abusive situations, whether real or imaginary, are woven into some of the stories, the real abuse of a young girl and the imagined abuse in the mind of a tenant in a block of flats, are but two of several instances in the book. And yet these are complemented occasionally by other stories which contain descriptions of concepts which are really abstract. All in all, these are stories to read, then think about, then read again. Unfortunately, to describe the stories in any further depth would really remove the need for the book to be read, and it is worth reading. It is the sort of book which needs to be read by those who consider themselves to be the sort of person who feels it necessary to delve, mentally, into what a certain story was really about. Alternatively, the book is a collection of short stories which may be read quite easily.
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Published in a hardback form the book has been printed using an easy to read serif text which makes the whole thing, including its size of some 7¼ inches by 4½ inches (185mm by 115mm), very handy for journeys by train/bus, etc. or to be able to do something useful while stuck in surgery/dental waiting rooms. Once having read the whole book it seemed that a score of two or three would be suitable but, having read every story again, it really deserves a higher score.
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