Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Island Dreams: Montreal Writers of the Fantastic
Claude Lalumière
Véhicule Press, 231 pages

Island Dreams: Montreal Writers of the Fantastic
Claude Lalumière
Claude Lalumière founded Nebula in 1989, a Montreal bookshop devoted to "the fantastic, the imaginative, and the weird," which he managed through most of the 1990s. He writes a weekly Fantastic Fiction column for the Montreal Gazette. As an anthologist his books include Telling Stories: New English Fiction from Québec, Open Space: New Canadian Fantastic Fiction, and Witpunk. His fiction has appeared in magazines and anthologies in North America, in the UK, and on the Web. His story "The Ethical Treatment of Meat" was shortlisted for the Origins Awards.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Open Space
SF Site Review: Witpunk
SF Site Review: Witpunk
Véhicule Press

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Kit O'Connell

From this American's perspective, Montreal has always seemed to be one of Canada's cultural hotbeds. In his introduction to the anthology Island Dreams, editor Claude Lalumière explains that within that city is a dedicated group of science fiction, fantasy, and horror authors many of whom write primarily in the English language. Island Dreams introduces us to twelve of Montreal's up and coming authors, most with only a few short story publications to their name thus far. In fact, some of the best stories come from the authors with the fewest credits on their bio.

The strongest entry in Island Dreams is "The Strange Afterlife of Henry Wigam" by newcomer Linda Dydyk. Over a hundred years in our future, humanity has finally learned to revive those in cryogenic suspension -- only with a few complications that have made the thawed corpsicles into primitive, almost-mindless animals with deformed spines. Kate is infertile like much of the human race, so she and her husband adopt the title character as a pet, renamed "Uncle Wiggily" after his revival. She reaches out for Wigam as the child she can't have and explores the fragmented memories of his past.

All of the stories are readable enough but few leave a lasting impression after they are finished. "Burning Day" by Glenn Grant is a police drama about the murder of a "cogent," a completely artificial sentient lifeform that has come to exist alongside humanity. It certainly had its exciting moments, especially when the Alien Nation-esque human cop with an alien partner opening is left behind, but in the end the cogents are too poorly defined to exist as anything other than a strained metaphor. Yves Meynard's "In Jerusalom" plunges us into a weird alien city that landed in one of America's deserts, where commerce is everything and Jesus literally walks the streets granting miracles. However, it suffers in showing us too little of the strange world and its life and too much of a virtual reality theater competition that is the focus of the story. The only story I found myself wanting to skim was Shane Simmons' "Carrion Luggage," a clichéd voodoo tale set in an airport.

The book closes on a high note with another of its best moments, "Endogamy Blues" by Mark Shainblum, in which the Americas have been almost entirely conquered by a neo-fascist Christian movement. The Canadians are the final holdouts, having desperately militarized the nation by recruiting young teenagers. Their weaponry is augmented by technology from the space colonies that have otherwise abandoned the earth. It is exciting and is so full of interesting ideas that it could easily, one suspects, provide the jumping-off point for an entire novel.

Sometimes mediocre but with flashes of brilliance, Island Dreams provides at least a half dozen new names to watch. In addition to those already mentioned here, Christos Tsirbas, Elise Moser, and Melissa Yuan-Innes deserve a mention. Though not good enough to land it on anyone's must-read list, this anthology certainly provides ample hope for the future of Montreal's fantastic fiction.

Copyright © 2004 Kit O'Connell

Kit O'Connell is a writer and bookseller from Austin, Texas. His reviews have also appeared on and his poetry has appeared on Storyhouse coffee cans, amongst other places. He is hard at work on short fiction which he won't tell you anything about, but you can read his sporadically updated journal at

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide