Best of Tharg’s 3rillers vol. 3 (pkgd. w/ JD Meg #403) – Various

3 out of 5

Four of Tharg’s three-part thrills from recent issues.

The 3rillers, much like Future Shocks, can often be more difficult to pull off successfully.  Or, rather, you’re likely to notice much more quickly if the story ain’t up to snuff.  Similar to what I’d consider the generally better Future Shocks, though – and perhaps why some writers seem to be good at both or neither – is that the setup and execution tends to be much more engaging when it’s written from a character motivation versus just moving us toward a twist, or relying on an IDEA to carry things.

Eddie Robson, delivering two of our 3rillers, leans toward that latter approach.  ‘Station to Station,’ in which an alien mind takes over London’s underground’s human riders, is one of the more flagrant examples of this: he sets up some racial commentary, but it’s all subject to explaining his alien idea, and gets lost and confused and feels, ultimately, pointless.  That said, his time travel ‘In Seconds Flat’ tale is probably one of his best: maintaining a good balance of his normal instincts with character, in part because we’re running around so quickly in the story that you can just get wrapped up in its concept and be satisfied.

Robert Murphy’s Apocalypse Anonymous is just sort of distracting action fare.  I remember reading this in three parts and being rather bored by it, but it holds up much better when sequenced as one read.

Best for last, and a recent superstar of both the long serials and shorter 3rillers / Shocks format, Rory McConville’s clever Mindmines – sort of what it sounds like, with alien weaponry allowing for bombs implanted in dreams, and our tale focusing on a defuser of those – was already great fun the first time around, but also gets a boost from being stitched together.