If there was a machine that could tell you the exact date that you’d die – would you use it? Would you tell your spouse what it said? What effect might it have on your marriage? That’s just one of the premises in Helen Phillips’ new short story collection Some Possible Solutions. In another, time freezes at a dinner party and a woman decides to kiss her friend’s husband. A young woman suddenly finds her love for her parents tested when she stops being able to see people’s skin. Her mother’s embraces seem far less welcoming once she can see her muscles, blood vessels and eye balls. A young mother starts to see her doppelgänger all over town. Intrigued? I hope you are because this is a great collection! Phillips stories feature science-fiction and dystopian futures but they’re also tales about marriage, friendship and family.
I don’t know if this was some sort of issue with my digital galley or not, but some later parts of the book were streams of consciousness and it was difficult to understand what was going on. It might be that my copy was corrupted in some way but I’m not sure. It didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the book, anyway. Phillips writing is wonderfully creative and weird. She really tests boundaries and I found that I read this collection rather quickly. If you want to have a taster of her work, she has several free short stories on her website.
A kick-ass heroine, disturbing vision of the future and a twisty plot are the key ingredients of this gripping sci-fi thriller.
Oh Company Town, you nearly broke me. I was expecting an engrossing sci-fi action thriller with a kick ass protagonist, I was not expecting the emotional hit of lead character Hwa’s back story. I don’t want to give too much away but it totally blind sided me. It’s nearly a week since I finished reading the book and it’s still with me.
I love a good kick ass heroine and Hwa of Company Town is one of the best. In a world where nearly everyone has “edited” away their imperfections, she’s one of the few entirely organic people left. Hwa has Sturge-Weber syndrome and because of that has a vascular birthmark running down one side of her face and body. She lives with the constant threat of seizures but her “stain” also messes with surveillance cameras and people’s enhanced vision meaning that her face is rarely truly seen. She’s working for the Union as a body guard for sex workers when she’s hired by the Lynch family who’ve recently bought the town sized oil rig where she lives. Their youngest member, Joel Lynch, is receiving death threats but when Hwa’s friends are targeted by a serial killer she has to balance her job with trying to catch a murderer.
Ashby’s future is particularly disturbing because it doesn’t seem so far fetched. There are people who want to live forever, endless surveillance, bodily enhancements like “muscle regimes”, one of which comics fans may enjoy seeing is called “Liefeld” and food subscription services for those who can afford them. It’s a fantastic read. Oh and I loved Dr Mantis the AI medic with his six limbs and attempts at a bedside manner.
Hwa is so kick ass, she is steely and resourceful and I wish this book wasn’t a stand alone because I’d really like to read more of her. In the acknowledgements Ashby says that she has published two stories set in the same world in different anthologies and I hope to track those down soon. There’s also a Company Townplaylist if you want to check it out. It’s the first of Ashby’s books that I’ve read, which in hindsight is sad as I already own vN. I want to read that this year.
I received a really sad email yesterday from Sam at Colinette yarns saying that they’d dyed their last hank and had closed their shop in Llanfair Caereinion. Colinette is the yarn company that hooked me into knitting back in 2001. I was on holiday in San Francisco and bought a copy of Interweave Knits magazine on impulse. I hadn’t knit since I was a child and couldn’t cast off or do the perl stitch but there was an amazing looking sweater on the cover of the mag that grabbed me. It was in Colinette’s famous Point 5.
At that point I didn’t even know that the company was based in Wales and dyed their yarn here. I loved reading how Colinette was an artist who had first turned her love of colour to yarn in the 1980s and had been coming up with new shades ever since. I loved her colours. I couldn’t find anything like them in Cardiff back in 2001, it sounds trite but those colours were life changing. You couldn’t buy anything knitted that was close to them back then.
When I got home from SF I ordered enough of Prism, I think…, in Fruit Coulis I think.., to make a sweater. At that time I was knitting really badly. I’ve since tried to unravel the sweater and I must have split the piles or something because it’s proven impossible to undo the work but I still loved the yarn. I’ve bought so much of it over the years back when it was impossible to find a lot of the American brands that I lusted over. While American friends were felting Lamb’s Pride Worsted I was horrifying them by felting Colinette’s Skye Aran. I made a fantastic pair of Theresa Vinson Stenersen’sFuzzy Feet from Knitty in it that are worn out now.
I remember going to the Knitting and Stitching Show with Jeni from Fyberspates, the first year that she sold her own yarn on the Get Knitted Stall, and being blown over by the Colinette Stand. We went there at least twice over the weekend to buy bags of yarn. Of course I still have some of it unknit! When I was with Andy we made a few trips to the fantastic Colinette shop. It was a really amazing place. Although it closed its doors early this year you can go back in time and take a tour via the magic of YouTube.
There’s still plenty of yarn left in the online shop so if you’ve ever held off ordering from them this may be your final chance to do so.
Today I made what’s probably my last ever order from them – One skein of Jitterbug in one of my favourite shades – Alizarine. I don’t know if I’ll knit it up straight away – I have to tidy up my craft room first ha! – or if I’ll just gently place it with the other yarns of its brethren.
Colinette has held such affection in my heart as being the yarn company that swept me into the knitting world fifteen years ago and I will miss them so very much. I wish the best to Colinette and her team for the future.