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Book Review

Book Cover

Rustblind and Silverbright


Editor: David Rix
Publisher: Eibonvale Press
RRP: £9.99, US $15.95
ISBN: 978 1 908125 26 2
Publication Date: 04 July 2013

Trains and their stations are a peculiar anomaly in our world, great Victorian edifices exist which are as big as a cathedral, with a level of decorative finery, which belies their utilitarian nature. They are points of transition, alternating between abandonment and frantic bustle. Small cottage stations nestle in the heart of the country, suggesting a more elegant and gentile world, resplendent in their seasonal hanging baskets, an Edwardian version of a holiday cottage where no one will ever stay. By far the greater number equate modernity with a depressing squalor and across the country, down rarely traversed tracks, the bleached bones of abandoned stations slowly take their own journey to obscurity and dissolution. They have become the transitory stages for brief encounters, both romantic and horrifying and the trains which like them can hold both promise and terror...

Rustblind and Silverbright is a new collection of Slipstream stories edited by David Rix and published by that excellent purveyor of quality stories, Eibonvale Press, based around the themes of trains and their stations. If you have not read any Slipstream, it is a genre of writing which has shrugged off known genre chains, pulling influences from multiple literary influence to produce something which is both unique and deliciously unpredictable.

The book holds twenty-three tales of differing lengths from full blown short stories, like Nina Allan’s Vivian Guppy and the Brighton Belle, to disturbing vignettes, like The Wandering Scent by Aliya Whiteley, broken into three acts. I didn’t really understand why the book was structured this way as there appeared to be no linking themes between the three parts. This is not the first time that this environment has been used as a backdrop, from the exploration of repressed passion in Brief Encounter to the very creepy tale in Sapphire and Steel.

As you can imagine with so many writers telling tales set around a single theme, there are some similarities between some of the stories, a restriction born of only having two settings. And yet not a single author failed to turn in something worth reading. The full list of stories is:

Tetsudo Fan - Andrew Hook
On the Level - Allen Ashley
The Wandering Scent - Aliya Whiteley
To the Anhalt Station - John Howard
Death Trains of Durdensk - Daniella Geary
Vivian Guppy and the Brighton Belle - Nina Allan
The Last Train - Joel Lane
Writer's Block - S. J. Fowler
Northern Line Tube Announcement - Anon
The Path of Garden Forks - Rhys Hughes
District to Upminster - Marion Pitman
Wi-Fi Enabled Bakerloo Sunset - R. D. Hodkinson
Stratford International - David McGroarty
The Cuts - Danny Rhodes
Sleepers - Christopher Harman
Escape on a Train - Steve Rasnic Tem
Choice - Charles Wilkinson
Embankment - Gavin Salisbury
Sunday Relatives - Douglas Thompson
The Engineered Soul - Jet McDonald
Didcotts - John Greenwood
The Keeper - Andrew Coulthard
Not All Trains Crash - Steven Pirie
The Turning Track - Matt Joiner and Rosanne Rabinowitz

In between the stories, David Rix provides eight non-fiction pieces, either linking or illuminating the themes of the book.

It’s difficult to pick a favourite amongst the collection, some are creepy, Death Trains of Durdensk is able to be touching and creepy concurrently with the idea of placing the dead on a train which just travels round the tracks, which is contrasted with outright romances or rites of passage.

The collection is strongly edited and an excellent way of discovering the authors at the cutting edge of slipstream literature.


Charles Packer

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