Fiction Reviews

The Mammoth Book of Future Cops

The Mammoth Book of Future Cops (2003) Maxim Jakubowski and M. Christian (Ed.), Robinson,
£6.99, pbk, 498 pp, ISBN 1-841-19502-2

Despite the title, this anthology takes as its theme the entire underworld of the future. Populated by cops, criminals and ambiguous characters in between, the futures depicted are almost exclusively situated on the Earth, with the notable exception being Ian Watson's delightful take on the Belgian detective with the elegant moustache The Shape of Murder - a wry and spacey update to the Murder on the Orient Express.

With a total of thirty three stories representing both established and fairly unknown (at least to me) writers, it is as you may expect a mixed bag. From the standard hard bitten noire of Conrad Williams' Footprint on Nowhere Beach to Philip Dick's typically haunting A Scanner Darkly, all of the stories were enjoyable in one way or another. I had my favourites, of course. Axl Against the Immortals by Jon Courtenay-Grimwood, a short and nastily funny tale of a raid on a Middle Eastern potentate particularly amused me enormously, whilst I was less amused but horrified by Mat Coward's Offenders, which explores the idea that Britain will become an appendage of the United States such that UK citizens may be prosecuted for anti-American (or Presidential) protests. Too close!

If you enjoy peering into the dark side of society, this collection has a wide variety of unpleasantness. Some parts require a strong stomach, but I can recommend.

Graham Connor

See Tony's review of the same below...

This anthology collects thirty-three tales of our criminal future all, so far as I'm aware, having appeared in magazines before, though at least fourteen are copyrighted this year (2003), so may be original to this book, stretching back to 1973. Authors include: Stephen Baxter (Glass Earth, Inc), Ian Watson, John Shirley, Jon Courtenay-Grimwood, William F Nolan (Violation), China Miéville, Philip K Dick (A Scanner Darkly), Joe Haldeman, Paul J McAuley (Prison Dreams), Mike Resnick, Paul DiFilippo, and Molly Brown, to mention but a few. As with all anthologies some tales work better than others, according to taste; some of my favourites here include: Celebrate the Bullet Richard Paul Russo, Needle Taste M Christian, Thighs Melanie Fogel, You Never Know Carol Anne Davis, So Napoleon Almost Slept Here, Right? O'Neil De Noux, and Ravens Stephen Dedman. The editors have compiled a classy overview of this fertile cross-genre area and this volume should appeal to SF fans and crime fans alike. Recommended.

Tony Chester

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