I could tell that from just the introduction written by Über-Professor Arrrrarrrgghl Schlurpmftxpftpfl which had me laughing, that I would enjoy this book. Each story is well written, absorbing and entertaining. The story lines vary from a man and his crew trying to extract a giant carrot from the ground, to my favourite story, Three-horned Dilemma, which involves a man who sees a triceratops destroying his back garden whilst he is eating breakfast.
Rare Unsigned Copy does have some swear words, so I would recommend it to teenagers 14 to15 years and up. All up this was a very enjoyable collection of stories, and I recommend Rare Unsigned Copy to science-fiction lovers and book lovers alike.
(from the YARA (secondary-school readers’ site) review by Natasha)
It could be said that science fiction is the genre that saved the short story, and there are plenty of good examples here of why it could do that. They range from the very short-short, at less than a page, up to twenty-five pages, almost a novella, and most of them are funny. There are darker stories, as well, and these are perhaps better than the more humorous ones, as if Simon Petrie is hiding a darker perspective beneath a mask of humour. Excellent first collection.
(from the West Australian (newspaper) review by Ian Nichols; note, however, that the online edition doesn’t itself include the review)
Some of the stories are quite dark, most are very humorous (with an awful lot of pop-sci references thrown in for the astute) and many are backed up with some very detailed science, demonstrating Petrie clearly knows his stuff.
There is really very little negative that can be said about this collection. Most of the stories are short enough to be enjoyed over a coffee break or by those with short attention spans, and all are very cleverly constructed.
If you are a fan of science fiction, get thee a copy of this wonderful little collection.
The title suggests an element of comedy which is certainly in abundance but there is also a touch of the serious side of Science Fiction, chilling in nature and deadly.
Difficult to find a favourite because the reader is spoilt for choice, I would possibly choose ‘Podcast’.
I was most impressed by the quality of the stories, both in content and writing ability. They are all intriguing, immediately infectious to the extent that you want to read more.
All in all, a very entertaining and readable book.
The subtitle ‘tales of Rocketry, Ineptitude, and Giant Mutant Vegetables’ gives an idea of the breadth of subjects. For me, the humorous were the most enjoyable, but most of the straight sci-fi tales were great too.
A trio of murder mystery stories starting with ‘Murder on the Zenith Express’ were well executed, and the sentient escape pod in ‘Podcast’ was a beautifully sympathetic character. Really, I enjoyed nearly every story, so if you want a list of the good ones just have a look at the Table of Contents.
I loved this book. If you pick it up for a quick taste, check out ‘Three-Hundred-and-Twenty-Seventh Contact, and Rising’ and ‘Reverse-Phase Astrology’. I’m sure you will decide to stay for the whole smorgasbord.
Most of the stories have serious points to make and, on reflection, a reader will be surprised at how much he has learned. It would be remiss of me not to mention that the author delights in salting his writing with puns so delicately constructed that they don’t distract at all from the reader’s enjoyment of the story.
But, be warned. This book will change how you see the world around you. You will never be the same.
For sound science in science fiction, its application in the real world, insights into the nature of society and how all three may affect the future, this brilliant anthology is a perfect storm with the reader at its eye.
(from the review by Bill Wright, in the April 2010 issue of Interstellar Ramjet Scoop: click here to download the issue [2MB approx])
The writing is excellent. Sometimes you forget to keep an eye out for that in humorous pieces, so I’ll mention it again: The writing is excellent. There’s thinky if you want thinky, there’s cheeky if you want cheeky and there’s some that are little more than wickedly phrased punch lines that sneak up and slap you in the face. So far I am most enamoured of “Downdraft” and “Working Girl” for equal and opposite reasons. And I think that conclusively solves the question of whether I prefer a theme or variety in my single-author collections. Mix it up! Skål!
Overall, this is a very interesting collection. It’s well worth the money: the scattershot approach ensures that it’s got something for everyone. There’s plenty of science fiction, fantasy, a little horror, even some straight-up non-speculative fiction, and oodles of half-page instant punchline pieces.
This anthology may in fact be the precursor of a new thing. Simon Petrie, I think, with all of his crackling wit and clever, referenced humour, his short, punchy tales and his classic idea-as-hero SF approach, may well be the first author I’ve yet seen who has been polished and sharpened into a true creation of the Internet era. ‘Rare, Unsigned Copy’ is an anthology which I read very easily from the tiny screen of a netbook computer, and somehow, it seemed all the more right to be doing so.
In other words, I suspect that this approach — and particularly, the prose, humour and style of Simon Petrie — is very likely the beginning of an avalanche, an uber-meme: the Way Of The Geek In Print. And if you consider yourself net-savvy; if you enjoy mixing and mashing between video and movie and music and computer-game, you should definitely buy ‘Rare, Unsigned Copy,’ because Simon Petrie is very much One Of Us… and it will be very interesting to see where the author goes next.