Tuesday 30 January 2018

Recommendation: Improbable Botany (ed. Gary Dalkin)

Improbable Botany is an anthology edited by Gary Dalkin featuring eleven stories based around the
theme of sentient, miraculous, bio-engineered or simply weird plant-life. It's published by Wayward, a London-based collective with a mission to transform neglected urban spaces into green environments (and appropriately enough, many of the stories in Improbable Botany feature just such a transformation...)

There's an impressive range to the stories within these pages, which vary from near-future science-fiction, modern day unease, and even a Sherlock Holmes pastiche in 'The Adventure of the Apocalypse Vine or Moriarty's Revenge' by Cherith Baldry. The strange plants within these stories are by turns sources of potential salvation or destruction, but it says something of the quality of the tales here that, despite the title, the authors mange to make their wonders and horrors all to probable.

My favourite stories in the volume were 'Black Phil' by Adam Roberts, 'The Ice Garden' by Eric Brown, 'Advent' by James Kennedy and most of all the escalating creepiness mixed with petty local politics in Lisa Tuttle's 'Vegetable Love'.

Overall then, Improbable Botany is just what you want from a genre anthology: an under-explored theme, a strong lineup, and a variety and depth to the storytelling. Oh and some wonderful interior and exterior artwork, too.

Improbable Botany

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