In a collection of short stories that are contained within some version of Brazil, along with intriguing illustrations, Steve Simpson’s The Purpose of Reality: Solar, plays with the bounds of reality, offering imaginative alternatives to the world we know while exploring world-ending events, be they personal or more global in their implications and ranging from concepts that include an insect-borne plague, nuclear bomb stasis, inherited memories and transformation by evolving through and beyond them, an alien invasion and solar flare, and temporal instability, and the moments of light that can be found buried within the seemingly dire.
With stories that use a variety of methods to demonstrate the ways in which the world is in a state of otherness and filled with a haunting sense of instability, occasionally evoked through a seemingly disjointed narrative in some moments, they encourage and foster deeper thought on the topics raised; the stories have a sticking power to them in the weirdness they contain that makes it easy to continue contemplation on what was conveyed long after reading. There’s a balance of the scientific and the surreal in these short stories and the way they’re written that aid in readers’ entertainment and engagement with thinking in imaginative or extraordinary ways. As with many collections of stories there are those that elicit a stronger connection and response than others and it can take some time to become accustomed to the writing style and voice of an author, particularly when the concepts are more abstract; the first stories in the collection, though intriguing and captivating in their own ways took time to become immersed in and it became easier to slip in to the stories as the collection progressed, where I found the last in the collection, “Danta in Black” to be the most fascinating, exploring temporal instability and the various realities resulting from that that one man experienced, but the concept itself is one that consistently intrigues me.
Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.