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Fantasy Adventures 9

edited by Philip Harbottle

(Wildside Press, C-format paperback, 179 pages, $15.00.)

Review by Eric Brown

Fantasy Adventures 9 is the latest in the long running series from Cosmos Books which, despite the title, feature stories encompassing a broad range of genres from straight SF, Fantasy, through to Horror, mainly written by authors prominent in the fifties and sixties cover scanand since neglected.

This issue contains five varied stories (mostly reprints) beginning with the SF adventure "Spawn of Jupiter" by E.C. Tubb. It's classic Tubb, a no-nonsense, straight SF tale of a dangerous mission to Jupiter's moon Callisto. First published in 1970, it has a gung-ho 50s feel, with a neat but pessimistic, if fitting, finale.

"Dreamboat" is a short-short story by the master of that form, Sydney J. Bounds. It's a tight, evocative 'psychiatrist's couch' tale with some lyrical imagery of sailing the seas of space.

"The Gunman", unusually for Philip E. High, does not invoke a fallible human race in need of alien intervention or salvation. It's a bizarre mix of time-travel, Western, and revenge drama, involving company directors Argyle and Martin who attempt to silence a business associate with a strange new drug, with unforeseen results.

"Dark Peak" by Brian Ball is an out-and-out horror story, and horrific it is. Ben, Zara and Melissa visit the peak district in Derbyshire, encounter strange locals and even stranger, macabre practices, and find their very lives threatened by Zoroastrian spirits incarnate.

The last story in the book is the longest, a novella by John Russell Fearn. In "Stranger in Our Midst" intrepid reporter Glenda Carlyle encounters a strange man from the future--or is he from the stars?--after investigating the arrival on Earth of a mysterious meteorite. While Fearn will never win awards for his prose style, the story does proceed at a fair clip, with many skilful plot twists along the way, and is unusual (for a story first published in 1950) for having a strong woman as the lead character.

Excellent and gorgeously pulpish artwork by Sydney Jordon--showing a starship against the backdrop of a livid Jupiter--graces the cover.

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