Contains one of my favorite short stories of all time, "The House Beyond Your Sky" (readable for free at http://www.strangehorizons.com/2006/2... if yContains one of my favorite short stories of all time, "The House Beyond Your Sky" (readable for free at http://www.strangehorizons.com/2006/2... if you're interested). Every time I read it, I see something different in it, just an amazing story. Rosenbaum is awesome and more people need to know about him!...more
This was a TOUGH one to rate! Quite a few stories I enjoyed very much in here - "This Is My Audition Monologue" by Sara Zarr, Libba Bray's "It's JustThis was a TOUGH one to rate! Quite a few stories I enjoyed very much in here - "This Is My Audition Monologue" by Sara Zarr, Libba Bray's "It's Just A Jump To The Left", and of course Kelly Link's addition, "Secret Identity" have really stuck with me since finishing it as fantastic stories. Some of the other stories in here felt a little more... I'm not sure - amateurish and hitting-me-over-the-head-with-nerdy-references-ish. They were fun to read, but behind all the allusion, I'm not sure there was really much there. So, mixed bag (what anthology isn't!), with lots to enjoy, and lots of new authors I will have to read more of. It is DEFINITELY a fun book to read if you have any nerd tendencies whatsoever, like a nice bowl of nerdy-reference comfort food. Yum!...more
This is a hard book to say much about without giving a lot away - basically it's a story told through a series of intertwining shorter fairy-tale-stylThis is a hard book to say much about without giving a lot away - basically it's a story told through a series of intertwining shorter fairy-tale-style stories, which link together in really interesting ways. It's captivating and Valente's skewed take on the ideas behind myth, female roles, and storytelling in general is much, much different and I think deeper than the usual "fractured fairy tales" approach.
I will say that it took me multiple attempts to get farther than about thirty pages in, due to the book's structure. There is a lot to keep track of in the beginning, and it just doesn't lend itself well to short reading sessions. This is no comment on the quality of the book at all, though - once I was able to dig in (thanks to a 16-hour car trip to Texas) I was completely absorbed. I'd wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone with any interest in myth, fairy tales, or just the ideas behind storytelling in general. I'm starting on the sequel (In the Cities of Coin and Spice, which should really be treated as the second part of one big book, I think) and having the same getting-into-it issues as I did here, but it looks to be just as rewarding once I can find a few big chunks of time to get my reading in! Highly awesome and recommended....more
I'm having trouble finding words for a review here - basically, I was expecting awesomeness because, well, Caitlin Kiernan. But these stories blew meI'm having trouble finding words for a review here - basically, I was expecting awesomeness because, well, Caitlin Kiernan. But these stories blew me away, in ways I hadn't even thought to expect. Her take on the ideas of science fiction is creepy, beautiful, otherworldly, disgusting and frankly, brilliant. All of these stories focus on the collision between biology and technology, and explore a world in which the boundaries between the two are blurred, sometimes entirely absent.
I think what I love the most about reading Kiernan is her ability to write stories that I can feel completely lost in - it's not too often that I read a story and come out of it feeling the need to sit back for a minute and get my bearings, and so when I do get to have that experience I appreciate the hell out of it. These stories, the rawness, the way their ideas creep inside your head and refuse to make sense... this is what reading's about. Amazing....more
Finally out in paperback! I had been waiting for this to be published for almost a year (there's a hardcover edition, but it's hard to find and spendyFinally out in paperback! I had been waiting for this to be published for almost a year (there's a hardcover edition, but it's hard to find and spendy) and it was SO VERY worth it. The five short stories here center around Dancy Flammarion, the mysterious albino monster-hunter you might have met earlier in Threshold. The stories reveal more of Dancy's background and of her world's creepy, creepy undercurrents to us while still leaving a deep sense of mystery intact.
Kiernan's ability to make her deeply disturbing imagery feel beautiful and yet still horrifying amazes me, and it's on display here like crazy. There's also fantastic, subtle worldbuilding - while not as overt as other fantasy writers, Kiernan slowly weaves details together in all of her novels and short stories, creating one of the most deeply felt worlds I think I've ever experienced through reading. Alabaster hints towards details from Silk and Murder of Angels at a couple of points, and it just makes me want to read more and more by her to see these tiny pieces fall together.
Far Territories also did a great job here putting together a beautiful book. The cover art wraps around the entire cover, and I think the way the front just so slightly hints at the horrors lurking behind is awesome, and in a way characteristic of exactly how I feel reading these stories. This edition contains a great afterword by Kiernan as well with its own creepy story (which actually went the farthest in not letting me sleep after I finished reading, I think!). I know I'm gushing here, but Kiernan deserves to be SO much better known, and if you're a fan of being unsettled by your books and exploring unconventional, deeply imagined fantasy worlds, you owe it to yourself to check this author out....more
So, I really wanted to like this collection a lot more than I think I actually did. That isn't to say it's bad at all, or not worth reading, but on thSo, I really wanted to like this collection a lot more than I think I actually did. That isn't to say it's bad at all, or not worth reading, but on the whole I have to say the stories just didn't grab me the way I really love in a story.
My favorite story is the title one - Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned - which is actually the reason I picked this up at all. I'd read it a couple years ago in one of those "best new writers" compilations, and it jumped out at me as such an exceptional, original take on the usual war story, so much so that when I heard a compilation was coming out I knew I had to get it right away. The lines near the ending, "...I got an idea of how terrible love can be. You wish you hated those people, your wife and children, because you know the things the world will do to them, because you have done some of those things yourself". Just, wow. Great stuff - I think that sentiment kind of sums up what I find so great about this story - it's got a really epic feel to it, but manages to feel really intimate as well, and all of that in one short story less than twenty pages long. I think it also sums up what didn't quite do it for me in the rest of the stories. The sense of intimacy is there in all of them, and it's something Tower appears to be really great at creating, but the epic-ness is gone. I wished there could've been another story in this collection that gave me the same feeling as those last lines above.
None of which is to say these aren't good. Tower comes up with some excellent lines, especially in his descriptions of mundane objects - "It looked like a half-cooked eraser with dreams of suddenly becoming a prostitute", describing a dead baby bird from Wild America stood out to me as one example. I did enjoy reading these stories as I'm kind of a short story junkie, and there's a lot to like here, but if you're expecting more work like the title story, it could feel slightly disappointing. This in itself isn't all bad - it shows Tower's ability and willingness to try new things with his work, and not stick to one formula, and because of this and the aspects of his stories I do like, I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for his work in the future....more