A review of Vanished Earth by Geoff Nelder

Nelder’s world building is excellent and his scientific capability is very clear. Everything flows smoothly and makes perfect sense, even when it involves the wryly sardonic artificial intelligence, Can, whose witty missives are no longer quite as futuristic as it was in books 1-3 given the speed at which AI is developing, quantum displacement technology (the “pinch”), or turbojets that are able to descend into Jupiter.

A review of Blood from Stone

The collection is an eye opener, poems made in an environment of incarceration and punishment about life ‘Inside’. About jail, about being a prisoner and the fear and danger of prison life. Most of the poems are coruscating and angry and explore issues of life inside, of loss and anger, pleading for real justice and rehabilitation, often displaying a hard wisdom learnt at the hands of corrupt and cruel prison officers.

A review of Letters to a Dead Man by Rosemary Nissen-Wade

Letters to a Dead Man are not letters but prose and poetry about a forbidden love or if not forbidden unethical. This intense love is between a man and a woman is set in Pentridge Prison. Reading the poems it is difficult to decide who was the prisoner and who was the free person. I had my suspicions which were confirmed later.

A review of Be Quiet About Love by Jason Beale

No sentimentality is encountered in Beale poems as he writes about life’s wounds and death. Be Quiet About Love demonstrates a philosophy of life that leans towards acceptance and resignation, often he expresses profound thoughts.

A Conversation between Mary Pacifico Curtis and Tiffany Troy

Hawk’s Cry by Mary Pacifco Curtis and Dominus by Tiffany Troy are episodic lyric poems that find beauty in the turn of the “pressed, pleated and fine” congregate towards empathy. In this wide-reaching conversation the two poets talk about their work, traditions, empathy, poetry in general and lots more.

A review of Monkey Wars by Deborah Blum

In Monkey Wars Deborah Blum walks us through the battle-field between animal researchers and animal rights activists and asks how much suffering is worth how much knowledge. Written in 1994 the book still holds up today, just as books written on politics or religion still do, as deep moral questions don’t tend to evaporate away.

A review of Nightfall Marginalia by Sarah Maclay

Everything is fragile, tenuous, in this world. It’s not threatening or frightening; indeed, a kind of vast resignation suffuses the scene. As the title of the collection, Nightfall Marginalia, suggests, the predominant atmosphere throughout is dusky, dark, and the principal mood is the nocturne – dreamy, romantic.

A review of Perfume by Patrick Süskind

Süskind’s dark taste in comedy and clever use of logic permeate every page. Jean-Baptiste’s skill as a perfumer making camouflage, shadowing and eventually murder all possible with a few drops of a home-made fragrance. Like all superhero films or books one fantasises of having said superpower and the fantastical, god-like things one could do with it.

A review of The China Shelf: New Poems by Jennifer Maiden

There are no notes or glossary, but neither is the book polemical. You are free to make your own conclusions from what comes across essentially, at least to my ignorant mind, as poetic play—full of irreverence and an open sense that we are all pawns in the global power play, and that no matter how powerful these world figures are – whether they be actors, writers, or politicians, it behooves us to pay attention and use our imaginations to engage.