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BOOK
Test Drive
Volume 1 of the Collected Stories

Author: DJ Burnham
Lulu
RRP: 7.99
ISBN: 978 1 84753 641 9
Available 01 October 2007


Sometimes the universe is stranger than you think; it certainly is when D. J. Burnham turns his imagination loose. In this set of short stories you will take a drive across Mars, find out what sort of trouble eBay can get you into and discover whether Earth would manage under the glare of alien religious zealots...

Test Drive: Volume One of the Collected Stories, is a new set of science fiction orientated short stories by D. J. Burnham. One of the things that you first discover about Burnham, through his writing, is his obvious love of the English language - not only its use, but also a love of constructing fascinating sentences which has an internal rhythm and tone.

"She glowed magnificently in the Martian sunset, anciently anachronistic, a dream on white-walled tyres poised to roll."

Now there's a sentence that just rolls around the tongue. It is little wonder then, that when Burnham isn't writing short stories he is engaged in the visual arts, with a degree of expertise that has allowed him to not only provide the stories but also the book's jacket cover (write the theme tune, sing the theme tune). And why not? The boy has talent. Not only that, he also has a social conscience as, at Burnham's request, all the profits from the book are to be donated to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The seventeen various stories in this his first collection cover a wide range of subjects and tones. Inside you will discover stories which cover anything from intimate examinations of personal obsession to galaxy spanning big spaceships with big ideas which are reminiscent of the best sci-fi short stories written in the nineteen fifties and sixties. Some of the stories, like Meltdown, veer a little from a true sci-fi story, but even here the ideas behind the tale makes it well worth twenty minutes of anyone's time. For the most part, the stories all have a little bite in the final twist, though some are just plain odd all the way through.

It would be difficult to select a favourite story as, for the most part, they are all well constructed. My personal highlight has to be Borrowed Time. If you read as much as I do you often get a feel for where the story is taking you and often get to the twist before the author does, but Borrowed Time had me guessing right to the end.

At the back of the book is a notes section, with some further information about how the stories came about, a nice extra as it is always intriguing to get a little insight into the workings of an authors mind.

I'm presuming that Burnham has a stash of other stories waiting to be published, hopefully the "Vol. 1" in the title isn't just a hope, as I for one, very much look forward to reading Volume Two.

Charles Packer

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