**spoiler alert** Beautiful prose, solid characters, religious mythology brought evocatively to life and an intriguing plot ending on a cliffhanger -**spoiler alert** Beautiful prose, solid characters, religious mythology brought evocatively to life and an intriguing plot ending on a cliffhanger - this book would have been perfect for me if not for the hang-up I have about beating possessed women to get the evil out. There was other torture/sexual violence imagery that occasionally made me want to set the whole thing aside, but for all that, I don't think I'll be able to resist the sequel, Earth Boy, when it comes out. I must know how it ends!...more
Bruce Pascoe's "Ocean" is grim but compelling. Each character's voice is amazingly distinct and yet the divine poetry of saltwater moving through BassBruce Pascoe's "Ocean" is grim but compelling. Each character's voice is amazingly distinct and yet the divine poetry of saltwater moving through Bass Strait is woven into everything.
"As I lifted my chin to receive the wine from the glass, my eye swept across the headlands, the horizon, the last pink edge of clouds and felt captured. I toasted the opportunities of the land and the part I might play in it, but the whoops and howls from the tents sounded as the cries from hell itself." - p12
"It seems to me that the human can't build a house without destroying his home...Can you have an orchestra without a rich man's purse, Johnny? Answer me that." - p82
"'Sleep in bloody blackfellas' house, he says. Alright fa you, ol' Possum, but I'm a lady, I don't sleep with bloody spiders an' snakes.'" - p95
"Caleb and Eugenie's cabin was still there although the door was off its hinges and penguins thought it was good-o under the floorboards, but penguins are like that." - p99
"Breath, breath, breath, said the sea to his dream, breath, sigh, breath, you will live our warrior, breath, breath, breath, we will never engulf you, we will always lift you up, you are our sailor seal, your seed will be sea beads, your babies will be anointed here, in this bay, we will send ponies to rock and buoy them, breath, breath, breath, our warrior, breath, breath, breath." - p117...more
Out of all the people I know who are too cowardly to read horror, I'm the one that reads the most, and that is because Australian horror writers are jOut of all the people I know who are too cowardly to read horror, I'm the one that reads the most, and that is because Australian horror writers are just so damn good :)...more
What's not to love? Epic characters made fully human. Seemingly effortless, beautiful writing - the metaphor of knocking at the door as a heart slowsWhat's not to love? Epic characters made fully human. Seemingly effortless, beautiful writing - the metaphor of knocking at the door as a heart slows down, a river black as tar "kicking up to whitewater" - I think I'll always remember those and other lines. What wonderful worldbuilding and a perfect ending....more
Well, I intended to review this story-by-story but I ran out of time so, apologies and please forgive thiDISCLAIMER: I have a story in this anthology.
Well, I intended to review this story-by-story but I ran out of time so, apologies and please forgive this bit of drive-by review-like babbling.
IN SHORT: This is a great anthology regrettably thin on Aboriginal-authored pieces (could be wrong?) but which otherwise admirably fulfils its remit
MY FAVOURITES: To Look Upon A Dream Tiger by Shauna O’Meara – those who know me know I never could resist a thylacine story. Add to that the constant intense desire to cast off the shackles of modern life and photograph quolls in the mossy environs of Cradle Mountain and I was pretty much sold from the start on this atmospheric tale of the supernatural. Equal first was Rust Titan by Chris Large, for its robust science fictional goodness, seriously cool robots and guai-wus.
SPOT-ON AUSSIE HUMOUR: The Nexus Tree by Kimberly Gaal (“Bert felt a primal joy joy at the manliness of it all…hardly even screamed when the spider fell on him, and it was a bloody big one too”) was absolutely hilarious from start to finish, Aussie-branded humour matched only by David Coleman’s Spectacularly Lucky Country and the Harvey/Petrie duo’s Trike Race – trike as in triceratops (“They pretty much combined the metabolism of a rock with the resistance to instruction of, well, a brick wall”)
MORE SERIOUS: Some powerful descriptions in the horrible future envisioned in Donna Hanson’s She’ll Be Right. Adventure Socks by Leife Shallcross was quietly wonderful and Laura Goodins’ Jimmy Boys was packed with creepy goodness. Consumed by Elizabeth Jakimov was a shortie but a goodie with a strong voice. I also really liked the Laneway by Richard L. Lagarto (“Oh Rita saw this, Rita saw that, maybe because I am separated, counsellor this, counsellor that”)
Again, sorry to those I haven’t specifically mentioned, your steampunk Yass, dirt, eucalypts, Moon fuel, death by crusher, ornithopter mechanics and Launceston-bound zeppelins were most enjoyable! ...more
I’ve been stirred at last to review this excellent 2015 collection because awards-nominating time has arrived, and there are stories here that deserveI’ve been stirred at last to review this excellent 2015 collection because awards-nominating time has arrived, and there are stories here that deserve nominations!
Presentation-wise, everything about the hardback from Ticonderoga is super-cool, from the flap design to the little slice of brain labelled “a piece of her mind” on the About the Author page.
As for the fiction, Tambour’s trademarks include: widely varied and succinct characterisations, lush descriptions, whiplash-inducing surprise turns, snide remarks and laugh-out-loud juxtapositions. And food…nobody writes food like she does! Dense but richly delectable, this whole book comes highly recommended.
All are reprints except as asterisked.
The Oyster and Alice O. – A re-read for me. Opens with this poem: “Most agoraphobic oysters/ ever sweet and passive/are torn from their homes/ to slide down throats and die in gastric acid…” Talk about giving voices to those who have none. I love this tale of the oyster who escapes that undignified fate.
Lab Dancer* – I adore these characters. Dr Purfuoy finds her lab assistant useful…to a point. Voyeurism, aunthood and amoebic dysentery intersect with the question: Which would you rather, to win the Nobel Prize or to own the finest ass in the universe?
Strange Incidents in Foreign Parts – Frank Branston refuses his rutabaga and is banned from trick-or-treating. I cracked up all the way through this story and I’m envious of Tambour’s character-sketching flair – “Frank’s father, the ex-sailor, now seller of sensible shoes, sat looking at nothing, like a dead catfish” – and her religious commentary – “But wait! There was a hook attached to this wonderful future, just like in everything. He’d have to die! What dang use was that?”
Marks and Coconuts – Business satire set in a pet shop. “That beak could snip out car bodies, and no way was he gonna clean its cage, let alone give it fresh fruit.”
The Walking-Stick Forest – First published at Tor.com. A creepy guy cultivates live-trained walking sticks in a creepy forest. Oh, yes! Go into raptures over the eerie, beautiful language.
High Life* – Another delicious restaurant setting. Slow-moving but sumptuous as a river of stew.
Baad-hin’jan and the Chickpea* – THIS ONE! This is my favourite one. Saving the Caliph’s life with the Heimlich manoeuvre leads Baad-hin’jan on an Excellent Adventure. I want the novel version, please! And in fact this is the story most reminiscent of Tambour’s existing World Fantasy Award Shortlisted “Crandolin”. Just amazing wordsmithery. I very much wish it to win things.
The Eye of Nostradamus Summit – a parody of Copenhagen. Also: Hearitrium. Tambour’s made-up words make me want to hug her.
The Old Testacles – Continuing with religion and the absurd, but a sharper, shorter story.
Rocket Fantazyor – serving in the military and designing bras prepare Irving for his destiny. Great balance between humanity and humour.
Sincerely, Petrified – This bromance between a geologist and a rock-enthusiast psychiatrist begins with beautiful acrobatics of imagination – “a stand of great pre-redwoods shaded tyrannosaurs, only to fall and be washed down, into this floodplain where proto-crocodiles and salamanders the size of great white sharks slid amongst the cycads” –I also loved Krey’s memory of the “two singing saviours” (view spoiler)[ and the final scene in the nursing home (hide spoiler)]!
The Dog Who Wished He’d Never Heard of Lovecraft – Disclaimer: I’ve not read Lovecraft. “Sincerely Petrified” appeared previously in a Datlow anthology called “Lovecraft Unbound” Is Tambour Lovecraftian? I couldn’t possibly say. But if I can ignorantly comment on this story (I’ve read plenty about dogs, after all), even a non-Lovecraft reader can find enough stylistic quirks – “since we didn’t catch his name, we’ll just call him Ibsen” “Say Ibsen were famous and some dog was cast as him.” “He understood completely, having a touch of lumbago himself” – to keep them chortling all the way through. Also, classic brilliant Tambour imagery: “His hairy face was as expressionless as a barber’s floor.”
Bufo of Oahu: Ukulele Ululatress* – Hawaii-set riff on Looney Tunes short, “One Froggy Evening,” (which I vaguely remember from childhood Saturday morning cartoons). An ambitious amphibian would-be screenwriter pitches a love story between man, toad and spam. Amusing digs at Warner Brothers, the mafia, and the uselessness of cane toads as pest management: “We’d as likely climb Christmas trees to eat the lights!” Mmmm, spam.
How Galligaskins Sloughed the Scourge – A lawyerish “argufier” is left starving and sucking on medlars when a fashion crisis diverts the attention of his home town. Luckily one of the medlars gives him, Puss-In-Boots style, a set of mysterious instructions to follow.
There is No Rice Pudding In The Sea – Unreliably narrated by a mad, larcenous wizard, who meets a telepathic cat in a town market while waiting for the toll of an overdue bell.
Dreadnought Neptune – Jules and his 7 year old son wait in the opportunist-crowded innards of a spaceship, waiting for take-off. “Mostly, there was so much silence that the few remarks people made to each other cut into only the cottony muffle of overdressed people breathing.” But of course not all is what it seems. I savoured this tale to the last line. And here, Genie, unlike Frank, actually eats his greens!
The Shoe in SHOES’ Window – “The shop says SHOES because that is what it sells, just as the bakery next door says BREAD.” In this story, a window-dresser is accosted by someone who wants a certain shoe in the shop window. “Of course I could not sell a shoe from the window, I told the meeting. They are not mine to sell. They belong to the window.” Funny as.
The Emperor’s Backscratcher – Takes a swipe at circular reasoning. On the verge of celebrating the invention of all possible inventions, the Emperor of Ch’u belatedly realises that counterfeit-proof money has not been invented yet.
King Wolf – Opens with an obituary in a Sydney newspaper for Selwyn Carrett, dead at age 98, whose wife children and children-in-law have all pre-deceased him, begging the question why. I drank up the descriptions of local landscapes (“…slow-spinning clouds of mating flying ants…windscreen wipers already sticky from acacia fluff…”, one kwunth as a measure of time, the introduction of Lion and the passing broadside at CS Lewis (Wolf’s “revenge” is perfect). My favourite of the reprint stories that I hadn’t already read.
Gladiolus Exposed – Fairly creepy but I still got the giggles reading this. The urologist narrator is terrible and hilarious. “If you know what you’re doing and don’t explain, you can do anything.”
Adventures of Discovering the Ellemehnopee – Compelling non-fiction piece on adult literacy
Pococurante – Country lad chooses a carnie to be the god he prays to. “Pococurante! He gave me the strength to be a man, but he was as mysterious as weather.” Not so great at running a dry-cleaner’s, though. (And yes, I had to look it up in the dictionary. You?)
The Age of Fish, Post-flowers – Attack of the orms. What is the Sound? Is it the latest weapon of the human side against sea monsters in New York…or something else?
Tap* – Hahaha, the ol’ interrupting tap on the shoulder. Simon grins and bears an infuriating boss. Until he stars feeling a ghostly tapping in his dreams. (view spoiler)[ Most horrible and memorable burial scene award! (hide spoiler)]
Bowfin Island – Our bold protagonist, birdwatcher and recently retired coding slave, uses a Shetland Island saying – “There’s nae poackits in a shroud” – to convince his travel agent to make the arrangements for a holiday to Puddock House on Bowfin Island. Bowfin meaning stinking/disgusting. “This journal smells of chunder. The fishing boat rolled like half a lemon in a punchbowl.” Don’t read this one while eating breakfast, haha.
Cover notes – These are the best cover notes ever.
Here endeth the review :) ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more