Review: Feast and Famine / Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky / Publisher: New Con Publishing / Release Date: Out Now (available as eBook only)
Feast and Famine is a short story collection by Adrian Tchaikovsky, who is better known for his epic and highly original fantasy sequence Shadows of the Apt. This collection shows that there is more to his writing skills than a long running, fantasy novel series and displays Tchaikovsky’s less well known short form work as well as his flexibility and cleverness.
The anthology begins with the titular Feast and Famine, a solid piece of science fiction about mankind’s sense of adventure and what the quest to seek out new life might actually mean. This slides in nicely to the next tale, The Artificial Man, a fantasy story that examines a similar theme though in a different way. It is written in a slightly looser style than Tchaikovsky’s other work, but this is not a bad thing and makes it a rapid and engaging read.
Next up is The Roar of the Crowd, which is a high point of the collection. This is a rich and deep fantasy story about a troupe of traveling players who bring more than entertainment to the quiet towns they visit. The tale flows effortlessly and stays with the reader long after it has finished. It is skilfully done and quite haunting. Good Taste is a sharply observed modern tale with a delightfully sarcastic title that will appeal to anyone who has struggled with a diet, and it has a particularly dry wit. This same sense of dark humour comes out in The Dissipation Club, a riff on British crime fiction. Rapture is a neatly Fortean tale of weird things becoming the new normal, and Care is a well-done scary story that makes us wish Tchaikovsky would stop with the huge fantasy novels and start writing more horror. Both 2144 and All That and The God Shark are too short to really get your teeth into, but they are fun nonetheless.
The collection ends with The Sun in the Morning, which is set in the world of Shadows of the Apt. It’s a clever little piece that also works as a nice introduction to Tchaikovsky’s larger body of work. Overall, this is a nifty little collection. None of the short stories are over-long, and it is a diverse and entertaining set which happens to be perfect for anyone who needs some fiction that they can easily dive in and out of.