“The Killing Streets” by Colin Harvey

IZ225 coverI know Colin (he reviews for Strange Horizons), but this is the first of his fiction I’ve read. It piles novum upon change upon invention, seen through a couple of days in the life of an unemployed man in near-future Bristol. One: Snarks, big subterranean bioweapon beasts, infest the country, drawn to the surface by rhythmic vibrations, such as those produced by walking. Two: jobs are scarce, and/or qualifications have been devalued; even the most menial require good degrees, if not doctorates. Three: there’s a deadly, weaponised disease called Blacktongue, that’s almost always fatal and spreads by touch, on the loose. Four: the surveillance state is worse; the narrator’s wife works at the Department of Work and Pensions, referred to as “the Stasi” by some characters; mobile phones are (it is assumed) routinely used to track citizens’ whereabouts. And so on. This is all so vigorously grim that it can’t really be taken entirely seriously, and I’m not wholly sure it coheres; but it’s fun, and bodes well for the proposed Winter Song reading group.

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