Thursday, 27 June 2013

Future Lovecraft by Nick Mamatas

Average

This collection of shorts and poems on the theme of “fear the future” is not always very Lovecraftian and there are few stand out stories (Richard Mathieson Jr’s is a great story but I’m failing to think of any other stand out stories). On the whole it is interesting and varied but does suffer, like many disparate collections on a theme, a fair amount of unevenness.

Overall – one for fans of SF/Horror crossover and Lovecraft

The brides of Rollrock island Margo Lanegan

Good

Misskaella is an ugly child, something of a throwback according to the people of the island, when she reaches puberty and discovers that she has power of the local seal colony and can make seal-wives she uses this power to have vengeance for a childhood of slights. This is a multi-narrator tale told with a very deft touch by the author so that even though it is a collection of narratives it comes together and builds a brilliant whole. Lanegan explores male-female relationships via the plot device of selkies, needless to say men don’t come across so well. This is not a love tale, it is sad and spiteful and full of magic.

Overall - This is a great fantasy book and Misskaella’s story is very engaging.

Mechanique: A tale of the circus Tresaulti Genevieve Valentine

Brilliant

THE MECHANICAL CIRCUS TRESAULTI
FINEST SPECTACTLE ANYWHERE
MECHANICAL MEN beyond IMAGINATION
Astounding feats of ACROBATICS
The Finest HUMAN CURIOSITIES
The World has ever SEEN
STRONGMEN, DANCING GIRLS
& LIVING ENGINES
FLYING GIRLS, LIGHTER than AIR
MUSIC from the HUMAN ORCHESTRA
BARGAIN ENTERTAINMENT for ONE and ALL


Our story opens with a second person introduction of you visiting the circus and continues with several changes of POV and tense which could be jarring but is very much at the service of the story and the beautifully drawn world building. This is an achingly good story, told with an expert voice. We follow several characters and grow with them to live and love the circus which is like a large dysfunctional family. This is a steampunkesque world, set post collapse, where the circus travels the country but tries never to revisit places, or at least not within living memory. As we progress with the circus we are embroiled in the petty politics of the performers and gradually learn more about the world, getting back stories of the performers. I read this is in one sitting, picking it up in the morning and not able to put it down until it was finished, and what a read it was! Highly recommended.

Some parts of the past cannot be reclaimed, he knows. Better not to raise ghosts.

Overall – Beautiful, painful, joyous, adventurous tapestry to be savoured and devoured and thrust into the hands of all those who share your reading tastes…

A room of one’s own Virginia Woolf

Good

A famous feminist polemic based on talks and essays that Woolf created in answer to doing something on women in fiction. Why is there no female equivalent of Shakespeare? She posits the belief that until women have their own money and a room that they can retreat to without having to look after little ones then women were not able to find the time to write. Aphra Behn, George Elliott, the Brontes, Jane Austin and many many more female authors are discussed, some in detail, althouhgh this is a fairly short piece. This is an intelligent and well-argued theory and well worth reading. It was first published in 1928 and it is both interesting and sobering to see how far we have come since women got the vote and were legally allowed to have their own money. It is also galling to see how little we’ve moved on some things, such as the depiction of women in books.

Overall – very important and an easy and enjoyable read

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