I'm a fan of fairytale reworkings, especially when they subvert and play with the tropes, and there were quite a few in this collection that I thoughtI'm a fan of fairytale reworkings, especially when they subvert and play with the tropes, and there were quite a few in this collection that I thought were unusual and well done. However, there were also a good portion that felt like retellings rather than reworkings, and a couple that I was actively cross I had wasted my time reading them, which has dropped this book's star rating for me.
Those I particularly enjoyed were "Better" by Shaun David Hutchinson, "Thinner than Water" by Saundra Mitchell (though it's not a pleasant piece!), "Figment" by Jeri Smith-Ready and "Beast/Beast" by Tessa Gratton. I also quite liked "Before the rose bloomed…" by Ellen Hopkins, but my reading was a bit spoiled by the formatting of the verse in my Kindle-purchased version.
I think your mileage may vary on some of these, particularly in terms of how familiar you are with the source material of each work. Some are more obvious than others (and that wasn't necessarily a bad or good thing in different pieces!) and I liked there was some diversity of both authors and characters within the pieces. In all, not my favourite anthology of fairytales but certainly readable, with enough good stories to keep me engaged. ...more
Kaleidoscope is one of the best anthologies I have read for a very long time. It's not just the concept, which is both necessary and overdue; it's notKaleidoscope is one of the best anthologies I have read for a very long time. It's not just the concept, which is both necessary and overdue; it's not just the stories, which are engaging and beautiful and thoughtful and brilliant; it's not just the way the authors explore science fiction and fantasy from perspectives all too frequently unseen in fiction; it's all of these things, and that it seems so natural. In this anthology, every story takes a character (or two or three) who is often "othered" in fiction (and life), and makes their differences a part of the story. Readers will see themselves, they will see their friends, they will see their families, their cultures, their religious beliefs, their sexuality, their physical and mental states and they will see them as normal, as okay, as special. Not othered. Important and relevant and very very good, Kaleidoscope offers a powerful message to our society about difference, and about what we, as readers, want (and need) to see in our stories.
Some pieces, such as Tansy Rayner Roberts' "Cookie Cutter Superhero", offer a biting commentary on popular culture, couched in humour and teen spirit; others, such as "Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon" by Ken Liu, take a gentler approach, examining first love with a fantasical twist. Some stories shade darker, as with "The Legend Trap" by Sean Williams (set in his Twinmaker universe, an added bonus for fans) and "Kiss and Kiss and Kiss and Tell" by E.C. Myers; still others take a familiar trope and turn it sideways, like Faith Mudge's "Signature" and "The Lovely Duckling" by Tim Susman. Some of my favourite works in the book were those that embedded the story in the protagonist's nature, like the magic of Jim C. Hines' "Chupacabra's Song" and Karen Healey's astonishingly good "Careful Magic". There are so many wonderful stories in the pages of Kaleidoscope that every reader will find a favourite (or two or three), and every reader, teen or adult, will find at least one that speaks to them in deeper ways.
Thank you to the publisher for my review copy of the book. Kaleidoscope will launch on August 5, 2014 and can be preordered here....more
A solid anthology, with the usual combination of good stories mixed with a couple of standouts. No terrible ones in this batch! Two absolute favourit
A solid anthology, with the usual combination of good stories mixed with a couple of standouts. No terrible ones in this batch! Two absolute favourites were The Chosen One by Saundra Mitchell and One True Love by Malindo Lo, and as usual I really enjoyed the stories by Laini Taylor and Diana Peterfreund.
My only issue with the anthology (and it's a teeny issue!) is that a number of the stories didn't really live up to the theme. Given the overall readability of the book though, it's a minor quibble! 4.5 from me...more
Not at all what I expected, in the very best of ways! Wonderful stories (only one I didn't particularly enjoy, and even that wasn't actually bad, justNot at all what I expected, in the very best of ways! Wonderful stories (only one I didn't particularly enjoy, and even that wasn't actually bad, just not to my taste) and all wonderfully subversive in terms of gender and sexuality. It reminded me a little of the Tamora Pierce edited anthology Young Warriors, except that what those stories did with race, these did with sexuality/gender. Clever, well written pieces that work very well in this collection. Marvellous stuff, highly recommended!...more
For the most part, I enjoyed almost every story in this quite long collection. Having said that, this is not an adult-aimed short story collection, anFor the most part, I enjoyed almost every story in this quite long collection. Having said that, this is not an adult-aimed short story collection, and interestingly, I think it doesn't actually target a particular age group exactly. It doesn't quite fit as middle grade, as some of the material is quite mature, but for the opposite reason, I wouldn't put it as straight YA either. Instead, it very much straddles upper primary into secondary, which is clever marketing if the publisher is targetting school libraries!
There are a number of "tie-in" short stories here - I caught works that match the novel worlds of Isobelle Carmody, Sean Williams, Paul Collins and George Ivanoff, although there may have been others. None of these would require prior knowledge of the worlds the stories spring from, but this did add an extra fillip of fun to discovery.
One reason I dropped a star on the rating for this was that many of the works included weren't, for me, true short stories - while not badly written, a number of the pieces were character studies, mood pieces, vignettes, or extended jokes. I think that's okay for the age group, but it didn't work for me as an adult reader.
Altogether though, an extensive collection of many of Australia's top authors which will do well in school libraries. ...more
Taking as its premise the idea of stories that encapsulate myths and legends, be they new forms of traditional myths, or stories that could take a plaTaking as its premise the idea of stories that encapsulate myths and legends, be they new forms of traditional myths, or stories that could take a place beside these legends. A fairly lofty goal, and one I’m not sure this selection achieves completely successfully, but Mythic Resonance holds some strong pieces that are worth discussing.
The opening piece of the anthology, “The salted heart” by NA Sulway, starts out the book in a dark and quite powerful way. Using an Akkadian god as a central plot point, it blends the creepiness of undersea cave diving with an ancient love story.
Alan Baxter’s contribution is “The everywhere and the always”, which presents a quite nasty look at the fae and the impact interacting with them can have on a person, and a family. I’ve read a lot of similar stories utilising this theme, but this was still a well-written addition to the oeuvre.
Next up is “Annabel and the witch” by Paul Freeman, which made a very brave attempt to be a quite detailed story told in rhyming verse. The plot itself is nothing new, much of the rhyme is cutesy and laboured, and this is one of the pieces that really didn’t fit the theme, for me. However, points to the writer for an unusual take.
Donna Hanson’s “Through these eyes I see” started out very strongly, with a disturbing scenario and charismatic characters. It didn’t finish as well as it started, but still left an impression. I would have liked this to be somewhat longer, to be honest, building up a stronger narrative and sense of who the non-protagonist characters were and how they fitted in. Again, another that I didn’t feel fit the theme all that successfully, but an interesting addition.
I really didn’t enjoy “A tale of publication: a contemporary fairytale” by Les Zigomanis – this was a real stretch to fit into the subject of the book and was perhaps the most amateurish addition to the book. I’m sure authors feel the pain of the main character, but I just didn’t see the point. A low point for me.
On the other hand, I liked “La Belle Dame” by Satima Flavell, although it’s another I would have liked to see more of – I felt it had a greater tale to tell than was published here. A bittersweet story.
“Glorious destiny” by Steven Gepp was another good piece. Taking as its inspiration the ancient tales of heroic legend, this story went in a very different direction. The ending was well-telegraphed, but nevertheless engaging.
I’m not sure how “Meeting my Renaissance man” by Vicky Daddo met the theme requirements, but it was quite well-written, if a little obvious. A sweet melding of history and the modern world.
“Wetlands” by Jen White was one of the few stories that explored an explicitly Australian landscape and considered a true opportunity to create a new mythology. An interesting idea; I wasn’t wholly convinced of the plausibility of the premise, but it was nicely done overall.
I’m not familiar with the traditional folk tale that served as the basis for “Man’s best friend” by Tom Williams, but I wonder how close this piece is to the original story. It felt almost as if just the setting (time and place) may have been the only real changes, but the end tugged at my tear ducts, so it’s a successful piece for me!
Another story that used traditional mythology was “In Paradise, trapped” by Kelly Dillon, this time taking the Norse gods and the Valkyrie as the inspiration. I really enjoyed this one – an interesting riff on the ancient tales that really only uses the bare bones of the legends but in a clever way.
“Holly and Iron” by Nigel Read was a fairly slight addition to the anthology, a story that didn’t really have a significant plot but was perfectly readable nonetheless.
Rounding out the collection is an intelligent and enchanting re-imagining of Snow White, “Brothers” by Sue Bursztynski. Definitely a highlight of the book for me, I thoroughly enjoyed the unusual point of view narration and the story presented.
In all, Mythic Resonance is an interesting, if somewhat uneven, collection of stories that has some great high notes but which doesn’t quite, for me, hit the target of a solid themed anthology. While I found almost all the stories at least well-written and engaging, quite a few seemed out of step with the anthology idea. That said, it was a relaxing read and I can recommend it as one of the current crop of Australian anthologies to catch up with. ...more
You don't often come across unthemed anthologies in Aussie spec fic, but this is one! Some extraordinarily strong stories in this book, but tempered bYou don't often come across unthemed anthologies in Aussie spec fic, but this is one! Some extraordinarily strong stories in this book, but tempered by some that I thought less than stellar. Longer review to follow....more
Wow. I'd heard great things about this collection, so had high expectations and they were not disappointed. Three incredible, dark, fascinating interlWow. I'd heard great things about this collection, so had high expectations and they were not disappointed. Three incredible, dark, fascinating interlinked stories, and I adored every one. Beautiful stuff!...more
I need to start this by saying I REALLY enjoyed it- there's great stories (not all of them in straight prose on the page) in this book, excellent writI need to start this by saying I REALLY enjoyed it- there's great stories (not all of them in straight prose on the page) in this book, excellent writing, and I'm terribly impressed to see two Aussie authors and a New Zealand writer in here (and I've even published one of the Aussies!).
Having said that I thought the stories were excellent, I do need to say two things: 1. The definition of steampunk here is not, in many stories, anything even CLOSE to any definition of steampunk I've ever come across before, and 2. Although this has been advertised as a young adult anthology, it's not a lot like any YA I've seen either.
Don't get me wrong - some stories have a definite steampunk flavour, utilising elements we've come to know and identify with the genre. But many pay only passing lip service to the idea. And as for YA, well… Few stories contain the "coming of age" or "journey to adulthood" themes I'd expect, or even have a teen protagonist that many publishers think is the indicator of a YA story. I don't think anything in the book actually *precludes* it from being YA, but at the same time, I wouldn't identify most of the stories in this way.
Of course, such classifications are often problematic anyway, and of course publishers/editors need to push boundaries for fresh, exciting work. But for me, I wondered if the publishers were riding the steampunk wave as a marketing tool, rather than giving the book a less, hmm, felicitous title and promoting it differently.
To be honest, it doesn't matter - the book is a good one, and you should read it - just don't go into it expecting a lot of steam in your punk!...more