Borderline
Leanne Frahm

Cover

As this is a collection it makes it difficult to give the book an overall rating. Each story has its own merits and flaws. To overcome this I have provided a short review of each story and rated each individually.

Leanne is a superb and under-acknowledged author. I went to great lengths to track down this collection, on the basis of the quality of two of her stories I'd read in magazines. One of those stories, The Lamadium Affair, is included in this collection. Sadly Leanne is not a very prolific author, she deals in quality, not quantity.

To make life a little easier for those who want to get a copy of this collection, they can be ordered from Chimaera Publications.

Now on to the stories...


Ithaca Week

Welcome to the ultimate tourist trap. Set in the not to distant and all to likely future, John Humphreys is the manager of a beach holiday resort. Mega rich corporate identity and jet set pack leader Pamela Coates-Lui and her disabled daughter, Isabella, make their annual bookng for a weeks R and R. Unfortunately They decide to take thier holiday a week earlier this year, the week John uses prison labour to get the resort prepared for the Spring season.

Pamela and Isabella arrive, and John spends all his time on edge hopin gnothing will go wrong. He manages to keep everything running smoothly and keep the prisoner labours out of the way of his two guests, until the last day. What happens then I'll leave up to the story to divulge.

The story has one main focus, which is explained in the end, but it also has a secondary theme that is only touched on. That is the way prisoners are kept in the future Leanne has envisaged. I would have loved more detail and explanation of the ideas which are hinted at. They have no relevance to the story being told, but I found them captivating. I hope Leanne will write a sequal to this story one day that explores the prisoners' side of 'Ithaca Week'.

It's short, but damn good. Four stars.

Olivetruffles

Gourmet food will never be the same. Mr and Mrs Olivetto run a small city delicatessen. Business has been dropping off for a while and the future doesn't look too bright. Then Mr Olivetto finds an unidentifiable small brown smelly fungus growing in the basement. Rather than call the health inspector and have it removed they chop it up and start putting it in their food. Business begins to pick up again. All their food has turned the same unappetising brown, but the aroma and taste is unique and people can't get enough.

But what happens when all the little fungi have been picked? You are what you eat.

It's a well written horror tale. Mr and Mrs Olivetto are fun characters. The conclusion is a little bit staid and unsurprising, but I find most horror like that. Good for a quick chuckle. Three stars.

The Lamadium Affair

On it's second reading the 'Lamadium Affair' is still brilliant. It is, without question, a five star story.

Humans have reached out across the interstellar distances and found an intelligent alien race. The Lamadiums are hermaphrodite. Dr O'Neill is a linguist on the first expedition to make a detailed study of the planet and the Lamadiums. One of the first things she discovers is English's inability to cope with a genderless race. However, as Dr O'Neill and the rest of the Lamadium expedition members discover, the constraints of English are not simply a linguistic oversight, but an inherent conceptualisational flaw in the creators of the language.

This story is an oft funny look at gender and humans lack of understanding of their own nature. Scientists frequently regard themselves as superior to the dictates of the flesh, but we see their human side in this story.

I cannot recommend this story highly enough. Everyone should read it!

Borderline

A very odd story about a giant virus, possibly. The thing which follows Jack home gets called a virus by his daughter, Kim, but this is simply based on a rumour she's heard. What it actually is never gets revealed, though it might simply be the giant virus Kim had heard rumors about. The nature of the beast isn't really important as what the story is really about is people, and Jack primarily.

Jack gets followed home by this thing and dosen't know what to make of it. He's daughter, son-in-law, and son are arriving in the morning following the day the thing follows him home, so he decides to do nothing and see what they make of it.

Naturally they are a little surprised to find it, but being young people they adapt quickly to the new situation and begin investigating the thing. Their investigation are seen through the eyes of Jack, an often bewildered man. We find out a lot about the personalities of the characters, but some their actions and dialogue are a bit stilted. I was particularly annoyed with Kim's 'scientifc' analysis. It sounded hackneyed. And the base concept of the giant virus is a tad silly, though poignant in light of the characters.

The depth of the characters is what saves this story, but I'd still only give it three stars. Not Leanne's best work.

On the Turn

Pain, torture, suffering. A look at fishing through the eyes of a non-fishing person. Saph accompanies her husband, Reg, out on one of his little fishing trips to find out what it is like. She tries hard to appreciate the experiance, but Reg's attitude dosen't make it easy, particularly when things start to go wrong.

A very colourful and descriptive story. Reg is a bit of a non-event, but Saph is beautiful depicted. It's a slow and melancholy story. The ending is a little disappointing. It isn't ever really explained, making it seem somewhat unfinished.

I can only give it three stars, because of the ending.