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Book Review: Feast and Famine – by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Because life goes on, and this is a book that Colin would have enjoyed.

Beyond the Shadows of the Apt

Feast and famineThis is the sixth ‘Imaginings’ collection of short stories, I haven’t read the others although I’ve heard of most of the authors. This one jumped into my attention because it’s by the author of one of my favourite series, The Shadows of The Apt. These are proper tomes of epic fantasy which blur into science fiction and something broader than merely fantasy. I’ve been reading them avidly as well as the numerous related short stories Tchaikovsky has made available on his website. Since I’ve only read his exceptional fantasy writings I’d no sense of his range or style when writing about anything else, so acquiring Feast and Famine on Kindle was a joyously impulsive click and download.

It’s a neat collection of ten short stories, some previously published in magazines and others original which span a range of genres, lengths and styles. There’s also a very nice introduction by fellow British author Ian Whates (for whom I keep receiving the second or third books in his series and so haven’t started reading them yet), which gushes in exactly the way you’d expect (and rightly so!) I was delighted to find that Tchaikovsky handles all of his subjects with the same care and gentle wit that he does in his fantasy sequence, granting real characters life in even the shortest story. All the stories made me smile and it’s one of the rare short story collections that I’ve read from cover to cover, normally I find I need a longer tale to get my teeth into, but I quite happily flipped to the next story and consumed them all too quickly.

I’ve got lots of favourites already even from so few tales. Partly it’s because I adore science fiction and it starts with the titular Feast and Famine set in deep space with a rescue mission and intriguing alien life. And that was just the start! There’s time travel, slashes of horror (the rather touching Care) and of course a Shadows of the Apt story which expands on a character who appears all too briefly in the main series. I can’t possibly go through them all – you should read them yourself – but I also loved the Lovecraftian The Dissipation Club and the theatrical The Roar of the Crowd (which is laced with life in amateur dramatics).

Some of them are surprisingly beautiful or laced with a sly humour (Rapture and The God Shark) that made me laugh out loud. Best of all, they are all different and have provided a very pleasing insight into one of our finest writers; I can’t wait to see what comes next since he’s about to finish off the final Shadows of the Apt novel (no!). Ah hell, they’re all really good, and are frequently deeper than the genre they find themselves written in. I suspect that will prove to be Tchaikovsky’s trademark, that whatever genre he chooses to write in will feel richer and more rewarding than it has ever felt before.

Get it here, on Kindle or fancy hardback special edition:

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