Ellen Klages’ deeply poetic WICKED WONDERS is highly entertaining

Reviews keep flooding in for Ellen Klages’ lyrical WICKED WONDERS.

Photo: Scott R. Kline

Victoria Irwin at FANGIRL NATION praises the collection.

Ellen Klages’ WICKED WONDERS is one of those short story collections that is deeply poetic and carries you like a song through the night when you’re supposed to be sound asleep. This collection of short stories features everything from a girl destined to be on one of the first missions into space where return is not an option, a story of a young woman who can create magic through maps and rescue those who cannot help themselves halfway across the world, and even the secret imagined history behind margarine.


As I’ve stated before, Klages’ work has a poetic quality to it that appears almost lyrical. Passages become much more fun to read aloud than quietly to one’s self. The best part is each story is relatively short so it’s hard to fall back in to the age old excuse of not having enough time to read. WICKED WONDERS is a collection that the reader finds themselves not wanting to put down, but also not wanting to finish out of fear that they will have to leave the magical world they’ve found behind when the close the cover.

For AMAZING STORIES, Ira Nayman enjoys the book.

I loved the detailed specificity of Klages’ writing, the way she finds evocative words and phrases that really paint a picture of the reality she is attempting to portray. “No one used this path in a long time, that was for sure,” Klages writes in “Gone to the Library.” “Saplings sprang back, hard, against her bare arms when she pushed through. Twigs snagged at her ankles, and her white socks were soon covered with a carpet of tiny green burrs that would take forever to pick out. But it was a path, marked by more piles of rocks topped with the same red-painted crosshatch.” Prose like this, throughout the book, makes the reader feel like they have entered her stories rather than are merely experiencing them.

Ellen Klages’ Wicked Wonders is smart, sad, funny, moving fiction, much of it with a speculative fiction bent. Pure spec fic fans will likely not find enough genre tropes written in a style they are used to to be able to enjoy it. But the adventurous reader who is open to the mixing up of styles and subject matter will find it highly entertaining.

Gary K. Wolfe in the CHICAGO TRIBUNE reviews the volume.

Klages writes from the emotional center of a tale rather than from the science fiction conceit. So when an astronaut discovers she’s pregnant on a voyage to Mars and gives birth there, we feel her loneliness, knowing that since the child could not survive on Earth, she too will be a lonely exile. Another story takes us to a fantasy world derived from games like Clue and Monopoly. One of the best stories isn’t fantastic at all, but nostalgically evokes a summer at camp, with an unusual surprise at the end. The funniest piece isn’t even fiction, telling of a “scary ham” that she and her sister inherited after her father died. Even here, Klages’ mastery of the telling detail is evident.

TOR.COM reprints the short story “Caligo Lane.”

Tor.com is pleased to reprint “Caligo Lane” by Ellen Klages. Originally published by Subterranean Press, the story is also found in WICKED WONDERS, a collection available now from Tachyon Publications.

Franny Travers is a cartographer of exceptional ability. From her house high above the cascading hills of San Francisco, she creates maps that, when folded properly, can transform space. This is her gift. These temporary new alignments of the world open improbable passages, a last resort when politics or geography make escape impossible.

If you like this story, join Franny and her friends for more adventures on the borders of magic and science in Klages’ PASSING STRANGE, available from Tor.com Publishing.

For more info on WICKED WONDERS, visit the Tachyon page.

Cover design by Elizabeth Story