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 not...moreKaleidoscope 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.(less)
Perfectly readable, full of action, and while I had some concerns about the worldbuilding, by the end I was happy with that too. Look forward to seein...morePerfectly readable, full of action, and while I had some concerns about the worldbuilding, by the end I was happy with that too. Look forward to seeing what happens next.(less)
Keep your tissues handy for this one. Murphy has an astonishing skill with language and carving out emotion from her elegant verse. Make no mistake, t...moreKeep your tissues handy for this one. Murphy has an astonishing skill with language and carving out emotion from her elegant verse. Make no mistake, this is definitely another verse novel, just as wonderful as Pearl versus the world and Toppling. Heartbreaking from the first pages, but ultimately hopeful and beautiful, with an insightful view into family life and the mind of a child. Murphy's gift for understanding children and how they see the world is writ large in the character of Amber and her responses to what is happening around her. A stunning book that examines a scarcely covered topic with compassion and wonder. I cannot praise this highly enough, and I fully expect to see it featuring on 2014 Awards lists all over. (less)
I think Glenda Larke's biggest strength as a writer is her ability to surprise. The originality of her creations (worlds, characters and plots all) ne...moreI think Glenda Larke's biggest strength as a writer is her ability to surprise. The originality of her creations (worlds, characters and plots all) never cease to astonish me, and The Lascar's Dagger is no exception.(less)
I first encountered Peacemaker protagonist Virgin Jackson in de Pierres' story "Gin Jackson: Neophyte Ranger" (first published in the Agog! Smashing S...moreI first encountered Peacemaker protagonist Virgin Jackson in de Pierres' story "Gin Jackson: Neophyte Ranger" (first published in the Agog! Smashing Stories anthology in 2004, and reprinted in FableCroft's Australis Imaginarium in 2010). I was delighted to read Peacemaker in graphic version in 2011, and was a bit sad when that format was unable to continue, so it was with huge anticipation I started on the novel version! And I have not been disappointed.
Virgin Jackson is a senior ranger in a themed conservation park; odd things have started to happen to her, and not just finding herself saddled with a US Marshall who is himself just a little strange. When she first finds a dead body where it's almost impossible for anyone to be, she is essentially accused of the murder, and then is attacked in her home. Not one to stand idly by and let things happen, Virgin starts to investigate for herself, with the help of friends in useful places, and the odd Marshall Sixkiller. What she finds is not at all what she expects…
There are several changes that have occurred from the original short story to the novel-length edition. Focus is by necessity shifted for the longer form, and while the book is still (in my eyes) very Australian, I can also see where some elements have been altered to give the story a more international tone, and that both works very well on a plot level as well as being a sensible move in terms of audience.
In another incarnation, de Pierres writes crime fiction, and her experience in both a science fictional setting and a mystery one offer a deftness of touch here. Peacemaker rollicks along at a cracking pace, and I found myself holding my breath in anticipation at times, which is always a good sign! The character of Virgin is vivid and wonderfully acerbic, and I found both she and the supporting cast so well realised they really bounced off the page. With that combination, I got to the end of the book and flipped the last page in disappointment, because while the story ended well (albeit definitely set up for the next volume), I simply didn't want it to stop. Bring on the next instalment!(less)