Across The Event Horizon by Mercurio D Rivera
Mercurio D Rivera has been tipped as ‘the next big thing’ by critics and readers alike. He first burst onto the scene in 2006 with “Longing for Langalana”. Featured in Interzone, “Langalana” won the magazine’s readers’ poll for best story of that year and became the first of many pieces to gain honourable mention in Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best anthology. Since then, Mercurio’s work has appeared regularly in Interzone, as well as such venues as Asimov’s, Nature, Black Static, and Solaris Rising 2. In 2010, his story “Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us” was shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award and gained honourable mention in Ellen Datlow’s Year’s Best Horror.
Across the Event Horizon contains the very best of Mercurio’s work to date; fourteen stories selected by the author himself, including “Langalana” and “Tu Sufrimiento”.
I don’t read a massive amount of science fiction but when Newcon Press got in touch and offered me the opportunity to check out this collection of short stories by Mercurio D Rivera I had to admit I was intrigued. I thought I’d give it a go. Fourteen stories, there was bound to be something that piqued my interest…
Turns out I may have under-estimated just a little, this is an utterly splendid collection from beginning to end.
Dance of the Kawkawroons – Imagine seeing the same series of events told from two differing perspectives. One human, one alien. This perfectly sets the tone for the rests of the stories. It quickly becomes obvious that Mr Rivera delights in messing with reader’s expectations.
Longing for Langalana – One of the nicest things about the tales in this anthology are the varying ranges of a rather moving inter-species romance.
Missionaires – Cassie is pushed to physical and emotional limit as she explores the nature of existence; the cult of religion versus the church of science with the addition of an alien life form, who may or may not be a higher being.
Snatch Me Another – Parallel universes exist, with an infinite number of possibilities, meaning that if something goes wrong in your world you can just use a Snatcher to replace/fix things. Straight forward, no? This is another gem that veers from darkly comic to tragic in a matter of paragraphs.
Dear Annabehls – The end of the multiverse by way of an agony aunt column. This ties directly with last story, Snatch Me Another, acting as a sequel of sorts. Again managing to be very effectively darkly comic till the wonderful moment when suddenly it’s anything but.
The Fifth Zhi – In the midst of a future war a clone warrior ponders the nature of his existence while undertaking a mission he is unlikely to ever return from.
The Scent of Their Arrival – An alien race that communicates by scent try to unravel the mysteries of a new species they’ve encountered for the first time.
Bargonns Can Swizzle – Another very special love story that ends on a cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers. There is nothing better than to leave a reader wondering when it comes to short fiction.
Rewind, Replay – A man relives a life altering accident over and over again trying to understand what went wrong and how it altered the trajectory of his life.
Naked Weekend – A couple decide to let their emotions free for forty eight hours in a future where everyone else uses drugs to suppress them. The results are surprising.
Doubled – In a world where everyone has a double and being a single is almost a crime, a man dreams of being alone. This is hands down my favourite story from the collection. Dark to the point of almost being horror, I loved it. The bittersweet ending is an absolute joy, it’s just perfect.
Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us – Another tale that straddles that thin line between science fiction and horror. This story follows Edgar as he discovers the lengths that people will go to in order to remain safe from harm. Apocalyptic and insightful in equal measure.
Sleeping with the Anemone – I suppose it had to happen eventually, the last science fiction taboo – xenophililia. I’ll say no more than that. Wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise. You’re picturing the title now aren’t you though?
Answers from the Event Horizon – To round things off a most insightful Q & A. What questions would you ask an intergalactic intelligence, vastly superior to your own, if you had only had the briefest of moments to do so?
I owe Ian Whates from Newcon Press an apology. I’ll hold my hands up and admit that I’ve taken my time reading this collection, each story has been just such a delight to discover. I actively wanted to take as long as I could to enjoy this. In turns funny, poignant, thought provoking, dark and perceptive. Everyone science fiction fan should be reading this, every single one.
Across the Event Horizon is published by Newcon Press and is available now. I reckon it’s only a matter of time before Rivera’s writing is going to be massively popular, this collection is fantastic and acts as an ideal introduction to this author’s work. Fans of science fiction, especially in the short form, will lap this up. Highly recommended.