Review of ‘Promise’ by Christi Nogle

This collection of weird science fiction stories certainly lived up to its ‘promise’. Every story was strange, unsettling and had interesting commentary on what it is to be human… or not human, as the case may be! Most of the stories were first published elsewhere but a few are new to this collection.

Promise, showing spiral geometric shapes.

For concepts, this book gets full marks. There are original (as far as I can ascertain) and memorable ideas, within the themes of body transformation, robots, time travel and unusual family bonds. I have to admit that none of the stories had the wow factor I look for in a short story collection. The ideas were great, but I didn’t find the voices compelling and the endings were vague. Several times I was surprised to reach the end of a story which seemed like it ought to have continued. They were sketches, rather than complete stories. The marketing compares the author to Ray Bradbury and I can see that his ideas might have been an influence, but Nogle’s writing style is nothing like him. There is also the inevitable comparison to Black Mirror, but I’m not sure that’s quite right, as the sci-fi element in the show can be quite subtle and moreover the stories are not particularly weird.

In summary, if you’re looking for something weird to read, check out Promise, but be aware that some of the stories don’t have proper endings.

Thank you to the publisher Flame Tree Press for the advance copy via NetGalley. The book will be published on 12th September.

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