Christopher Rowe. The Contrary Gardener. (Eclipse Online October 2012).

Online here.

A new online source for short SF, with another top notch editor. When the plug on Ellen Datlow’s excellent SCI FICTION several years ago by the coelocanths and bashi bazouks who now perpetrate SyFy, it was a major disappointment. But with Eclipse Online joining Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Subterranean, Tor, Strange Horizons and more, we’re extremely well served in that respect.

On of the standouts stories on SCI FICTION was Christopher Rowe’s singular ‘The Voluntary State’ and stories from him have been few and far between since then, with ‘Another Word for Map is Faith’ in F&SF in August 2006 the most recent across my radar (review here.)

Jonathan Strahan is the pre-eminent SF anthologist, with his ‘The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year’ now in its sixth volume, the Eclipse series which has run into four volumes, and others too numerous too mention (is it really 4 years since ‘The Starry Rift‘??)

And I’m pleased to say that Rowe gets the Eclipse Online series off to a flying start. There’s a lovely illustration by Kathleen Jennings to illustrate the story, the contrary gardener being a fascinating character in a fascinating world. As with his other stories, he creates an intriguing near future setting, alluding to societal changes rather than spelling them out in a heavy handed way. Young Kay Lynne is doing a great job of raising crops, but has her father to contend with and….

..well, you should head over to Eclipse Online to read the story. The only disappointment was that in reading it on my iPad and scrolling down the page I came to the ending much sooner than I expected/hoped.

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