Review: Carmen Maria Machado & Chris Power – Basic Connections, EIBF 2018

Chaired by author and translator Daniel Hahn, Saturday evening’s event was a discussion and readings from Carmen Maria Machado and Chris Power, each showcasing work from their debut short story collections. Power, whose work has appeared in The Stinging Fly, The Dublin Review and The White Review, uses place and movement in his collection Mothers to bring characters out of their comfort zone and find the beauty in everyday detail. Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties, on the other hand, is a collection mostly of speculative short stories, which plays with genre, folktale and archetype to explore questions of violence and bodily autonomy.

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Review: Those Worrisome Sleeps, Fringe 2018

RFT Theatre Company is back this Fringe season with Those Worrisome Sleeps, a post-apocalyptic fantasy play, written by Ben Blow and directed by Robin Osman. Speculative fiction is hard to come by on the stage these days, but it wasn’t until the production had begun and the crystal balls had been lit that I realised I’d never actually seen a stage play in the fantasy genre before. Because despite the postapocalyptic storyline, Sleeps is unabashedly fantasy; even apart from the presence of wizards, rain chants and people made of light, it plays with a number of classic fantasy themes as well: social ostracism, dream interpretation, and a lost love that transcends time.

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Review: A Grim State of Affairs, EIBF 2018

Ada Palmer and Cory Doctorow are something of an intellectual dream team. Approaching issues of information control, technology, surveillance and free speech from seemingly opposite perspectives, their work often seems to be in dialogue with each other. Palmer, a historian who spends much of her time looking at historical documents to extract information about the time period, wrote her Terra Ignota series with a view to using science fiction to ask philosophical questions.

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Review: Conspiracy

“Enjoyable” isn’t a word that can be used to describe Conspiracy, which had its Scottish premiere this week. Adapted from Loring Mandel’s Emmy-winning screenplay of the same name, Conspiracy is a daring, sobering piece of theatre. In the style of Twelve Angry Men and its ilk, the story takes place in a single room over the course of a single afternoon, as fifteen high-ranking Nazi officials design what will come to be known as the Final Solution.

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Review: Sal by Mick Kitson

Mick Kitson’s debut novel Sal, out this March from Canongate, tells the story of eponymous teenager Salmarina, who after enduring years of abuse by her mother’s boyfriend is forced to take matters into her own hands when he threatens her younger sister, Peppa. She must stop him and flee and, at all costs, she and Peppa must stay together. The book follows the girls’ flight into the depths of the Galloway forest park. Kitson’s spare, McCarthyesque prose tugs the reader along with highly textured procedural details; the making of a camp, the building of a shelter, the gutting of an animal–or a man.

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