Pulp Update ('Fission' edited by Elaine Palmer)

By Pauline van Mourik Broekman, 10 January 1997

Review of Fission, edited by Elaine Palmer

Not all the stories in Fission deal directly with the theme. Elaine Palmer has interpreted it very loosely and the collection better for it. The word fission has disparate meanings; it describes a splitting, of cells or atoms which can include biological reproduction, nuclear bombs and energy. The stories have a suitably unresolved and schizophrenic feel. Much like in Pulp Faction's previous collections (e.g. 'Technopagan' and 'Skin') they skip social and narratival niceties to linger on the more melancholic, intense and emotionally baffling moments of life. Beautifully weird is Emma Kate Martin's Aliens, which seems like a kind of extruded version of the film Single White Female. In her intimate, meandering story the latent lesbianism is teased out. It makes for a far more interesting fable of confused love, cloning and estrangement. Nicholas Royle's contribution Get a half life was disappointing. It probably has all the right ingredients, following a wannabe stylist's loves and photo-obsessions, which inevitably come together. Maybe there aren't enough authors being 'realistic' about 90s urban lifestyles like he is, but you somehow feel he never gets perverse enough with the style-details and is, at heart, a bit of a dud moralist. As morbid confrontations go, I think Michael River's fat man (from Like Maybe) will stay with me a lot longer.

Pauline van Mourik Broekman <pauline AT>

Fission //edited by Elaine Palmer // from BooksDirect, 60 Alexander Road, London N19 3PQ // ISBN: 1899571035[]