The latest reviews and mentions of Tachyon titles and authors from around the web.
Patricia A. McKillip (photo: Stephen Gold/Wikimedia Commons), Nalo Hopkinson (David Findlay), and Ellen Datlow
BECAUSE BOOKS CARRY THE WHOLE UNIVERSE INSIDE THEM enjoys Patricia A. McKillip’s beautiful DREAMS OF DISTANT SHORES.
DREAMS OF DISTANT SHORES is a whimsical and creative collection of fantasy short stories and novellas by renowned author Patricia A. McKillip.
I have to say that I wanted to pick up one of Patricia A. McKillip’s books for quite some time, so I was really glad that I had a chance to read this collection! I’ve always thought that writing a good short story or novella is more difficult, because you need to give a reader the same substance in a sometimes much shorter form, and in this collection of stories I could see it done amazingly.
The writing was very rich and I found the imagery absolutely beautiful. The stories also give us a variety of fantasy genres – we have traditional fantasy, but also urban fantasy and historical fantasy, so there’s something for everyone. If I could recommend something to you before you pick this book up, it’s best to take your time with it and read it slowly, to devour the stories and be able to get their meaning. That’s when the reading experience would be the best, in my opinion. My only concern and the reason for my rating was that the longer novellas were a bit too slow at times for me and also I got the better understanding of some of the stories only after reading the afterword, but perhaps it’s just me.
I would definitely recommend this collection! It can be a great introduction to Patricia A. McKillip’s writing, as well as a wonderful adventure for everyone who loves reading fantasy.
I’ve been fortunate, over the last year or so, to have had my horizons expanded as a reader. For a while, my bread and butter were long-form fantasy epics, or space operas dealing with political games and good-versus-evil as a central theme. Don’t get me wrong; I love those books still, and they can get plenty “deep” to satisfy any curious soul. But the more I read short fiction and speculative fiction like Nalo Hopkinson’s FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS (published by Tachyon), the more convinced I feel of the power of science fiction and fantasy to tell deeply human stories with the capacity to elicit change.
As such, the stories in HOMINIDS occupy varied spaces on the spectrum of human goodness and darkness. There’s the pain and alienation of the transition into adolescence, the odd biology of beginning relationships as told by orchids, the magic of belief, the desire to fly away from bullies. They’re beautifully written, and as different from each other as can be—which makes sense, since all but one of the stories was published over the last decade-or-so. It’s a testament to Hopkinson’s raw skill with words; a few of the stories, in particular one dealing with “The Elephant in the Room” (you’ll get the joke when you read it, which you absolutely should), were sparked by a challenge, the desire to take a reader by surprise, or to not allow them the time to recover from an oddity too outrageous to believe.
FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS is yet another extraordinary collection of short stories that is well worth your time and rapt attention. The writing is beautiful, the message important, and its delivery is page-turning. Not only that, but as with all short fiction collections, it’s perfect for those of you who are only able to read a bit here and there. Do yourself a favor and pick up FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS. You won’t regret it.
For anyone familiar with editor Datlow the short review for her recent horror anthology THE MONSTROUS would be that it is everything you’ve come to expect from her superb taste and expert experience. If you’ve liked previous anthologies from her, you’ll love this. If you’re a decided non-fan, I wouldn’t expect this anthology to change your mind, tastes in horror just don’t match.
The selections in THE MONSTROUS run the gamut of the horror genre, from the subtle to the creepy, the graphic, and the weird. The anthology’s theme also fits a broad interpretation of ‘monstrous’. The monsters are human and beastly, earthly and supernatural, literal and figurative. In many cases the monstrous is unexpected, as are the directions and tones the stories may take. “The Last, Clean, Bright Summer” by Livia Llewellyn is perhaps the best example of the latter. The title of this story and its start suggest family-friendly positivity, pleasant days and warmth. But Llewellyn quickly turns behind the façade of tradition and happiness toward the darkness at the heart of a family gathering. This story is Lovecraftian in inspiration, but not so heavily as to ruin my appreciation of its well-played contrasts.
The collection ends with “Corpsemouth” by John Langan, a stellar example of an ‘epic’ short story. Including emotional complexity with strong characters and plot this story merges the modern with the ancient. In part its style reminds me of classic gothic horror tales of Britain, but with modern language and present-day context. This marks one of multiple stories in this collection that feature horrors that reveal themselves in relation to family. Perhaps this frequency is because of their power, monstrous realities we are innocently born into and cannot easily escape. Ones we have a responsibility of blood to face and overcome. “Corpsemouth” is a top take on this theme, bringing THE MONSTROUS to a satisfying conclusion that makes me greedily await Datlow’s next project.
For more info on DREAMS OF DISTANT SHORES, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Thomas Canty
For more information on FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Chuma Hill
Design by Elizabeth Story
For more on THE MONSTROUS, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Reiko Murakami
Illustration by John Coulthart
Cover design by Elizabeth Story