So Far, So Near

Author: Mat Coward
Elastic Press
RRP: 5.99, US $11.99
ISBN-13: 978 0 9553181 0 8
ISBN-10: 0 9553 1810 6
Available 02 February 2007

The world is stranger than you think; it's defiantly strange inside Mat Coward's head. His new book, So Far, So Near, is full of dead ghosts, bizarre office eating rituals and the answer to where all the time travellers went.

Each of the seventeen short stories is told with wit and insight, full of idiosyncratic humour. One of the really nice things about the book is that at the end of every story Coward has written a little piece, often about his own perspective on the story, an interesting insight into the writer's mind.

One of the things that you do as a reviewer is research the author - thank god for the Internet. When looking for information about Coward I found a page, which stated:

Mr Coward writes mostly for the British, so my guess is that he lives in England. He probably has a keen sense of humour, since some of his writing veers in that direction.

I mention this, as this was pretty much all that was on the page making it both delightfully uninformative and quirky. I suspect that such an oddity would indeed appeal to Coward's funny bone.

It would be difficult to pick a story that stands above all the rest. Even some of the stories written at the beginning of Coward's career still show an immense eye for detail and plot construction. Though the range of subjects includes horror and detective, for the most part the stories are science fiction - often with a philosophical or political bent. Coward does not shy away from his own political leanings, but never lets this get in the way of telling a good yarn. And yes, I can confirm that he does indeed have a "keen sense of humour".

I have to say at this point how impressed I have been with the collection of books coming out of Elastic Press; so far, every one that I've reviewed has been a gem. Any fan of sci-fi or just good writing would do well to check out their present and back catalogue, including So Near, So Far.

Running to a little over two hundred pages So Far, So Near is a good valued steal, at this price.

Charles Packer

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