Reviewed by Jamie Marriage

It’s a challenge to compress action and story into short fiction; but Downside Girls by Jaine Fenn has both in spades.

A collection of four stories, Downside Girls carries the narrative of four separate female protagonists living very different lives that are somehow intertwined by the Angels that soar above them all. Not Angels in the traditional sense – there are no feathered wings to be found, nor are they embodiments of peace.  In Fenn’s Cyberpunk dystopia, Angels are young women enhanced with lethal weaponry used as a form of corruption control overseen by the citizens of the City for removing public figures when the public has had enough of their abuse.

The first three tales are heavily linked in their content and atmosphere. Each is concerned with the actions of the Angels and their relationship to the city, either primarily in the case of the Collateral Damage, or in a secondary capacity as with Death on Elsewhere Street and Angel Dust. Violence pervades these initial tales, each drop of blood spilt, a vital scratch of the pen in making this world whole. The other element that binds these first three pieces together is the feeling of survival; the characters are real in their emotions  and their relationship to the world around them. This new Earth is as dangerous and cunning as the old one, and as a result the fight for survival is just as vicious.

The fourth tale is very different from the rest; which is odd in itself because it takes place in the same world, with the same
overall influences, but at the same time inhabits a completely different emotional state.

This fourth piece, The Three Temptations of Larnia Mier, is a haunting gaze into the mind of a woman placing faith above all aspects of a world that has already passed her by, even if that means giving up the one thing that she treasures.

Downside Girls is a great little book that can be read straight through in a couple of hours, or paced over one tale at a time. Whichever way it’s tackled, Fenn has produced a collection well worth picking up.


Jaine Fenn is a British science fiction author. Fenn studied Linguistics and Astronomy at the University of Hertfordshire, where she became the president of PSiFA from 1984-1985.

Some news on the comic front!

As of next month issue 1 of Peacemaker will no longer be on special at .99c AUD and will now cost $3.99 AUD.

The good news is that for your money you will also get the short story (approximately 5k words) that the character  is based on and a bunch of concept art from Brigitte Sutherland, along with her commentary, as part of the new price. Although the comic follows a different story line from the original short story, you can see the development of Virgin’s character and the heavy influences of the Australian Outback and spiritual weirdness. Brigitte’s commentary also gives some sneak peaks into my novel in progress.

Issue 2 is in the pipeline and will be double the size of issue 1. It will follow the same pattern of a reduced price initially, and then a package deal with extras when the price increases.

For anyone who has already purchased the comic and would like the short story and concept art extra as well, you can email me via this website and I will arrange it for the price of .99c AUD.

N.B. Many thanks to Tehani Wessely at Fablecroft for making the short story pdf available for me. The story was originally published as “Gin Jackson: Neophyte Ranger” in AGOG Smashing Stories, Cat Sparks (ed.), AGOG! Press, 2004, and later reprinted  as Virgin Jackson in Australas Imaginarium, a Fablecroft publication. Australis Imaginarium is still available for purchase and is full of terrific stories.



davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 





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