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Filter House

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4.01  ·  Rating details ·  286 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Filter House collects fourteen stories by Nisi Shawl, with an introduction by Eileen Gunn (author of Stable Strategies). The collection offers a haunting montage that works its magic subtly on the reader's subconscious. As Karen Joy Fowler, Author of The Jane Austen Book Club says, ''This lovely collection will take you, like a magic carpet, to some strange and wonderful p ...more
Paperback, 276 pages
Published August 1st 2008 by Aqueduct Press
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4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  286 ratings  ·  47 reviews


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Alan
Sep 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Neophiles
I was very impressed with this short-story collection from Aqueduct Press, a small Seattle publishing house. The title is well-chosen but gives only a hint of what's within. As explained in the foreword, a "filter house" is one small marine creature's strange-but-true adaptation, a set of organic filters that concentrates floating nutrients, helping it survive where sustenance may be thin. This is a neat conceit to use as a unifying theme for these disparate works, and it's indicative both of Sh ...more
Inda
Jul 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I recently had the chance to attend a reading for Nisi Shawl's upcoming novel Everfair, a Belgian Congo steampunk novel-in-progress, set to be released in Feb. 2015. I was immediately taken with Shawl's storytelling prowess and needed something to hold me until her novel is release. I bought a copy of Filter House for that purpose. Let me just say that the beautiful storytelling doesn't just come from Shawl's reading of her work. It radiates from the pages of this collection of short stories tha ...more
Samantha (AK)
I waited a night to review this collection, mostly because I wasn't entirely certain how to review it. Nisi Shawl is a talented writer of speculative fiction, and she showcases it here with a collection so diverse that it was necessary to read slowly to avoid genre-whiplash.

These fourteen stories, connected by themes of life, (balance of) power, race, mysticism, ancestry, and the threshhold between girlhood and womanhood are startlingly diverse. They range from folk-tale to horror story; from ha
...more
Vasha7
May 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
It’s no accident that the main characters of several of the stories in Filter House are children, and parenting is central to others. Nisi Shawl is an elder who sits the reader down and says "Listen to this story, child, and learn from it." The didactic nature of the stories doesn’t make them dull, at all, and neither (with a couple of exceptions) are they so simple that you feel you’ve gotten all you can get out of them with one reading. The imitation folktales that open and close the collectio ...more
Sarah (CoolCurryBooks)
Filter House is an excellent collection of science fiction and fantasy short stories. I’d previously read Nisi Shawl’s novel, Everfair, but had difficulty with the pacing and expansive time frame. Overall, I enjoyed this short story collection a lot more. And it turns out that it won the Tiptree Award, which is entirely fitting for such a brilliant collection.

Perhaps my favorite story was “The Pragmatical Princess,” which follows in the long tradition of twisting old fairy tale tropes to use in
...more
s
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: t-by-women
I really enjoyed this collection of short stories. Nishi Shawl’s skill knows no bounds of genre, as this spans so many so well. I tried to scribble down a few notes after each one, but gave up after the fifth because I was so damn impatient to finish the rest, haha. I’ll mention a few of my favourites.

“Heads”, the first in the collection, has the rhythm of a folk tale and the wit of a trickster story. Perfect, in other words. It’s the story of Loanna, who tricked the god that made heads into gi
...more
Miss Susan
Oct 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
this is an impressive collection, there's not a single story here that didn't work for me. like some definitely worked better than others -- shout out to wallamelon, the pragmatical princess, and good boy! -- but i'd put off sleep to read any one of them.

the stories are a mix of sci fi and fantasy -- i guess you could stick them all under the umbrella of spec fic? -- and usually commenting on power in some way. i think it'll work best for sff fans because they mostly jump into the world with mi
...more
Madeline
These were interesting, but there is something about some short story collections that make me feel like a voyeur - like I'm sitting in on the writer's therapy sessions, or they've started crying at a party and telling me about their mother or something - and that sensation was particularly acute here.

I thought the stories, in general, did some things really well - viewpoint, for one. They stuck with one person like glue. But that tended to backfire for me, perhaps because of the sci-fi settings
...more
Brant
Jan 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: have-it
This collection of short stories covers a wide variety of sub-genres, from purely futuristic sci-fi (the Water Museum) to fantasy (the Pragmatical Princess, featuring a dragon), to ancestral mysticism (Good Boy, and the Raineses'). Many stories venture across these boundaries and weave times, places, and people into magical tales of humanity.

I enjoyed all but one of the 14 stories in this collection, and as expected there a few I really liked and a few that I thought were good but not great. Ove
...more
Mimi
Dec 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
The blurb on the cover says the stories are superbly written. The blurb is by Ursula K. LeGuin, who knows a thing or two about writing a good story. She's right--as I started reading each story I found myself being drawn into its world. The settings are extremely varied and each is well-realized, the characters beautifully drawn, their motivations believable, their language pitch-perfect.

I especially loved "Good Boy," but your favorite story may be a different one. Read the book and see.


Heron
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal collection of short stories. Must read for folks who love speculative fiction.
Bryan Cebulski
Nisi Shawl’s Filter House is kind of a wild collection of stories. I found two key observations on this book that serve as both the predominant strengths and weaknesses.

First is how eclectic it is. While the themes—revolving mainly around the nature of power, mother-daughter relationships, the idea of the human (or not) family—are consistent, the genre trappings could not be more diverse. Shawl’s imaginative prose tells of many, many worlds, from a magical modern day to folkloric ancient culture
...more
Hannah
Sep 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm conflicted about rating this one, partly because it's a story collection. Some of the stories were quite good, but others were less interesting; perhaps a preponderance of the stories here are 3-star stories. However, at her best Shawl, in stories like "Maggies", is reminiscent of Octavia Butler, and she combines many themes and approaches that aren't so common. It's interesting to see what Shawl does with the juxtaposition of afrofuturism and "programming and metaprogramming in the human bi ...more
Meg
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pagan, scifi-fantasy
Do yourself a favor and check out this beautiful, moving set of diverse (in theme, character, voice, and genre) short stories. Shawl brings to life various mythologies of the African diaspora in highly original ways. This is speculative fiction in the best sense of the phrase. My favorites were the touching, heartbreaking "Wallamelon", as well as the intriguing sci-fi tale "Good Boy" in which characters blur the lines between mental illness and divine possession while a space colony is trying to ...more
Elizabeth Hunter
Nov 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: uw, short-stories, aoc
It was fascinating to read this set of stories, all of which pull from traditions, cultures and experiences quite different from my own. There were times that I felt I was missing too many allusions to fully grasp Shawl's meanings and resonances, but the stories were still gripping and beautifully crafted. I was especially pleased to read "Wallamelon," which draws on the mythology of The Blue Lady that I first read about in this 1997 article and have thought would make fascinating background for ...more
Pamster
Jun 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Another amazing Tiptree winner! This may change to 5 stars for me as the stories seep in more. From the Tipree press release thinger:

Juror Catherynne M. Valente notes that most of Shawl's protagonists in this collection are young women coming to terms with womanhood and what that means "in terms of their culture, magic (almost always tribal, nuts and bolts, African-based magical systems, which is fascinating in itself), [and:] technology."
Jennie
Wow. Didn't quite finish reading this before Wiscon (the SciFi/Feminist convention where Ms Shawl was guest of honor), but I'm glad I devoted enough time to read all the stories. Lots of neat ideas, many fascinating characters, though I'm sure there were some parts that didn't resonate with me as they would someone more familiar with the background. So glad I read it, though!
penny shima glanz
Dec 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-nypl
The fourteen short stories in Shawl's Filter House draw you in with a deep and swirling magic. Each essay is unique in its own way and makes for wonderful short reading sessions as one does not need to read them in linear order to make sense of them. A very enjoyable read.
(edited for clarity from original writing)
Monty
Sep 19, 2008 rated it liked it
This book of 14 fantasy, science fiction, etc. stories was interesting to read. Each story was so different in context, time period, style, characters and so on that I learned to stop after finishing one story before going to the next; or else I wouldn't be able to get on track with what the author had to offer. I really enjoyed most of the stories. I may read other books by the author.
Joanna Chaplin
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
A wonderful collection. All kinds of stuff from fantasy to scifi. Educated main characters and undereducated main characters. I had trouble dealing with a steep learning curve on a couple, since the short form left no room for luxuries like expositions. But it helped me to think, which I usually like in fiction.
Yonnette Jo
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Filter House

Starts off with a princess and a dragon and takes us through space, through the trials of a daughter stolen into heaven and constantly at the whim of a petulant goddess and back to the Savannah. Beautiful writing, great stories that stay on your mind long after you've started a new one. I love Nisi Shawl's voice and pacing. Highly, highly recommend!
Andrea
Jan 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
A mixed collection of the mythical and the modern, the yoruba, the voodoo and hoodoo, the American South, the city of Detroit, and the stars. Ranging all over the past, present and future and mixing them up like batter, these are stories both beautiful and chilling, a great read.
Juliana
May 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminist, poc, sff
This is a really enjoyable collection of short stories. Lots of really different, thought-provoking stuff in here. The Tiptree Award folks can tell you about it far better than I can: http://www.tiptree.org/ . My favorite story was "Wallamellon."
Amnah
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Nisi Shawl's stories are strange and magical, both prosaic and poetic, and often left me wanting more (which sometimes is a good thing, other times just frustrating). I haven't really read a lot of speculative fiction but this collection has definitely made me interested in reading some more.
Melinda
I loved this anthology. The stories were full of references to life things that I understood and appreciated. The stories were beautifully written and imaginative. I don't have a favorite story because I loved them all.
Catherine Schaff-Stump
I loved some of these stories, especially the fantasies based more firmly in reality. I was more ambivalent about the SF and gun stories. All the stories are technically solid, some transcending the short story medium.
Jenni
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
An excellent short story collection, that took me an impossibly long time to read (no fault of the author). I'll be reading more from Ms. Shawl in the future.
Steve Spiker
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Stretching my mind in wonderful ways, I really love the variety of settings, the challenge of imagining a cast of characters that are not pasty white fantasy norms. Some I really wanted to be a full book, and felt sadness when they ended so soon. Excellent work, incredible weaving of mythologies!
Serene Vannoy
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful stories

The stories are rich and varied, the pacing nearly perfect, and the characters new and familiar at the same time.
Leah
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I don't generally read short stories for a petty reason: I'm a fast reader, so I end up going through multiple short stories in one sitting, and then they get muddled in my head and it's no fun. However, I've had less time to read recently anyway. And reading multiple stories in one sitting is not a problem with "Filter House" - each one is unique, and I find myself still thinking about them about a week after I finished the book. I hear she's writing a steampunk novel in colonial Congo. I canno ...more
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Nisi Shawl's story "Cruel Sistah" was included in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror #19. Her work has also appeared in So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy and both Dark Matter anthologies. Recently she perpetrated "The Snooted One: The Historicity of Origin" at the Farrago's Wainscot website. With Cynthia Ward, she co-authored "Writing the Other: Bridging Cultural Di ...more
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“You funny thing! So selfish, so practical. Never mind. I will not ask you to kill me, for you would surely find it an annoying task.” 1 likes
“And you may find it necessary, sometimes, to be less than you are capable of being. I know—” His last words are lost as she is born.” 1 likes
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