Saturday, 7 April 2012

‘The Return of the Mutant Worms’ – Peter F. Hamilton

So it turns out that there were a lot more anthologies hiding on my shelves than I ever realised… I have no idea what I was looking for, when I was browsing the other day, but it certainly wasn’t the copy of ‘Solaris Rising’ that was nestled amongst the hardbacks.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I don’t have the time to write the kind of anthology reviews that I’ve written in the past (although that could change with a couple of books that I hope to read very soon) What I do have though is the time to write fairly quick reviews on short stories that I’ve happened to come across when dipping into a collection. Like ‘The Return of the Mutant Worms’ for example.

It was the title that initially caught my eye, don’t tell me that it didn’t catch yours… :o) What really piqued my interest though is that ‘The Return of the Mutant Worms’ is only four and a half pages long. We’ve all seen Peter F. Hamilton’s books on the shelves, I know that his short story ‘The Forever Kitten’ weighs in at just under a thousand words but I still can’t get my head around the fact that Hamilton can write short stuff as well as long. I had to give ‘The Return of the Mutant Worms’ a go and… It was completely different to what I had been expecting.

Yep; that title is a great way of hooking the reader, giving them something very different and hooking them all over again. Hamilton steps back from the realms of sci-fi that we all know and love to give us a story from the other side of the fence (as it were). A tale of a former science fiction writer about to get a nasty surprise from his past on the eve of his new (far more literary adventure).

It’s a clever tale, in some ways, although I suspect not as clever as it wanted to be. I like the premise, which is very tightly drawn, but it’s over far too quickly for the reader to get much more than the vaguest of feelings for the situation or either of the characters involved. I found myself getting to the end of the story and wondering what happened next… but not in a good way. What was meant to be a killer final line just left things feeling rather unfinished.

What I did like though were the moments where Hamilton bought himself to the fore of the story, injecting a note of humour on occasion that was more than welcome. References to ‘The Day’s Twilight’ trilogy were a little obvious but still definitely good for a chuckle. More than that though, these moments really got me thinking about why Hamilton wrote ‘Return of the Mutant Worms’ in the first place (especially when you read the little author bio at the beginning of the story).Is Hamilton merely commenting about the unsavoury practices of the small press or is this about something hitting a little closer to home? It has to be the former… doesn’t it? Of course it does but it does make for some interesting idle speculation.

‘The Return of the Mutant Worms’ surprised me with its direction but didn’t quite do the job it set out to do, not as far as I was concerned anyway. Definitely an entertaining read though, even if it wasn’t for the right reasons… or were they? ;o)

Eight out of Ten

1 comment:

Richard Salter said...

I encourage you to read the other stories too. There's some great stuff in there! Dave Hutchinson's and Adam Roberts' stories in particular are excellent.