Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The Darkling Wood by Brian Stableford

The Darkling Wood (2016), by Brian Stableford, is expanded from the novella "Tenebrio" which appeared in Ellen Datlow's anthology, Vanishing Acts (2000). In book form it is subtitled "A Scientific Fantasy" and that's what it is. A few academics (two scientists and one historian) are roped into a fight between a developer and an eco-warrior who hopes to find some reason to champion the preservation of the ages-old Tenebrion Wood. They are joined by a Fortean Times reporter. It makes for a motley set of characters, who are well brought to life, but the mystery that unfolds, concerning a supposed liquid form of life, is rather a let-down. In the end, the Fortean Times reporter sums it all up accurately:  "I can't get a viable handle on it . . . I can't make it plausible as a series of deductions, in such a ways  that our readers would be able to grasp it." The book is heavy on dialogue, both in the witty repartee and in the biological speculations.  I enjoyed the book, but  really wished for something more in terms of story. 

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