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Thief of Lives

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  40 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Why are certain subjects so difficult to talk about?
What is justice?
Why do writers think that other people’s lives are fair game?
And what do we really know about the first chemist?

A story about history, women, science (and also the demonic); a crime story, based upon a true crime; a realist satire of the supposedly sex-savvy; and a story exploring lies, and the space betwe
Mass Market Paperback, Twelve Planets Collection #3, 120 pages
Published July 31st 2011 by Twelfth Planet Press
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Aug 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Lucy Sussex's breadth of talent and knowledge are on display in the third of the 12 Planets anthology series. In four short stories you see historical fantasy in ancient Babylon about the world's first chemist, snappy modern crime in Melbourne, a delightfully sensual tale of female sexuality and an urban fantasy playing cheekily with ideas if authorship and created worlds.

Each story is distinct, a gem, and you have to marvel at the intelligence and imagination behind four such different stories
Ju Transcendancing
An excerpt from my full review at The Conversationalist.

Another really solid addition to the Twelve Planets collection by Twelfth Planet Press. This book wasn’t my favourite, but Sussex has been on my ‘to read’ list in my head for quite a while so I’m pleased to finally read some of her work. Overall I enjoyed this collection, but I didn’t fall into it the way I did with both Nightsiders and Love and Romanpunk. I do think this is a great introduction to Sussex’s work and her talent across diffe
Jan 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Thief of Lives is the third collection in Twelfth Planet Press’s Twelve Planets series, each one collecting short fiction from a female Australian writer. Unlike the previous two volumes in the series, which collected interlinked short stories and novellas, Thief of Lives includes four unrelated works, which also vary in terms of genre.

The collection opens with Alchemy, set in ancient Babylon. This story tells of Tapputi, a perfumer who has attracted the interest of a spirit, Azuzel. Azuzel is a
May 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
A selection of four short stories: two fantasies, a crime story, and a story of sexual discovery. Lucy Sussex is a capable writer and I have been enjoying this Twelfth Planet Press series, but this collection just fell a little flat for me.

The first story, a demon story set in ancient Babylon, was interesting enough. The demon (or angel) is a powerful, but not all-powerful, ambiguous character, and the target of its attentions is a clever and entrepeneurial woman. This was, for me, the stronges
toria (vikz writes)
why am I reading this book?

This is another book for the Australian Women's Writers Challenge. This brilliant challenge maybe found at,, and It's not too late to get involved. Get reading.

about this book

This is part of a series of novella size books which is currently being by published Twelfth Planet Press ( These books are short story col
Katharine (Ventureadlaxre)
May 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2016
Thief of Lives is the third book in the Twelve Planets series, released by Twelfth Planet Press, which showcase the talent of female Australian authors. There is now to be a thirteenth in the series, but that's a review for another time. The brief given to authors was to write 4 short stories of up to 40,000 words in total. The stories could be separate, discrete narratives or linked through character, setting or theme.

This collection contains four unconnected stories, one historical fantasy, on
Aug 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lss, read-in-2011

This is the delightfully-packaged third book in the Twelve Planets series, from Twelfth Planet Press. I should mention that I am friends with the editor/publisher, Alisa Krasnostein, and a passing acquaintance of the author, Lucy Sussex. But don't worry; I would have no trouble saying I didn't like it much, if that were the case...

The first story is, for me, the blazing outstanding story of the four. Called "Alchemy," it is set in Babylon, a city as evocative, perhaps, as it is foreign. We are p
S.B. Wright
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Thief of Lives is the third collection in the Twelve Planets Series and continues Twelfth Planet Press’ run of quality product.

In contrast to Sue Isle’s mosaic in Nightsiders, Lucy Sussex offers the reader 4 widely divergent stories.

The Stories

Alchemy – Set in ancient Babylon, a god or demon attempts to manipulate a perfumer.

The Fountain of Justice – A purely crime fiction piece about the legal system and whether or not it delivers.

The Subject of O – College students, the female orgasm, and who
Mark Webb
Nov 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Thief of Lives by Lucy Sussex is one of the Twelve Planets series published by Twelfth Planet Press (made up of 12 boutique collections of stories by Australian writers). It is made up of four shorter stories, including:

The Fountain of Justice
The Subject of O
Thief of Lives

Unlike in the other two books in the Twelve Planets series so far, these four stories are not related to each other. Indeed, two of the stories (The Fountain of Justice and The Subject of O) don't have any fantastica
Tsana Dolichva
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Thief of Lives, by Lucy Sussex is part of Twelfth Planet Press’s Twelve Planets collection.

Thief of Lives is a collection of four short stories without common setting. I have to admit, this collection was closer to literary realism than I usually read. Thematically, women are central to all the stories in a variety of different ways. Karen Joy Fowler eloquently explains what Sussex writes about in the introduction:

Fantasy, history, crime. The relationship of women to men. The relationship of wo
Sep 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Thief of Lives is a fine, though not particularly lengthy, collection of short stories. I particularly enjoyed the first and final entries, both of which play in interesting ways with existing myths. The first story is the standout of the collection, delivering a compelling narrative set in a lesser-used historical setting (I feel like most stories of this type would be located in Pharaonic Egypt). Following a demi-god-like spirit as it quests to earn the acceptance of the one human with the cap ...more
Anna Hepworth
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
four short pieces - two that appealed, two mediocre tending towards downright boring. However, the two that I liked pulled the collection up in ratings (or, possibly more accurately, the two mediocre pieces pulled what would have been a five star book down). 'Alchemy' is a subtle weaving of science and historical fiction - a beautiful portrait of early chemistry, as applied to perfumery. 'Thief of Lives' is a twisted, rather meta, tale of layered stories, playing with the ideas of who is the aut ...more
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: twelve-planets
The most eclectic of the Twelve Planets I've read so far. Worth the price of admission just for the final, title story, which is a deliciously meta meditation on what art steals from us, and where its boundaries lie.

The second and third stories--about justice and orgasms, respectively--are also enjoyable, impressive in their different styles and themes. I had a particularly good time with the first story too, Alchemy, as I've found I've a particular liking for tales of immortal beings. Especiall
Liz Barr
Dec 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
Thief of Lives is a slightly disjointed short story collection. I liked the stories individually, but they didn’t work for me together. I was amused to realise that Lucy Sussex is also the editor of She’s Fantastical!, an anthology of feminist SF that I read in my early teens. I distinctly remember finishing that book and thinking, “Wow, this feminism business is complicated, and also really weird.” I should go back and give it another look sometime.
Elanor Matton-Johnson
Dec 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
This is the first time I've read Lucy Sussex, and it's an excellent and varied collection. I think Alchemy was my favourite story, with the Babylonian setting and the sensibleness of the perfumier. The title story intrigues me, though I may need to read it again for a deeper understanding. ...more
Jun 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Loved the humour in this, great mix of short stories and vignettes.
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Startlingly diverse. Lucy Sussex can take on any genre and twist it into strange spots where it's never been before. ...more
Aug 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Enviable powers of observation and a sly sense of humour!
Anthony Panegyres
Sussex impresses here with her broad repertoire. I especially enjoyed the opening tale.
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