Written by: Alison Buck (Author), Gingerlily (Author), Neil Faarid (Author), Alexander Skye(Author), Peter Wolfe (Author), Robin Moran (Author), PR Pope (Author, Editor, Foreword)
Published by: Elsewhen Press (November 19, 2011)
Page Count: 288
ISBN-10: 1908168005 (Limited Edition – Out of Print)
ISBN-13: 978-1908168009 (Limited Edition – Out of Print)
Where to buy:
Amazon, and other fine book retailers
Expect a life-changing experience
[Re]Awakenings are the starting points for life-changing experiences; a new plane of existence, an alternate reality or cyber-reality. This genre-spanning anthology of new speculative fiction explores that theme with a spectrum of tales, from science fiction to fantasy to paranormal; in styles from clinically serious to joyfully silly. As you read through them all, and you must read all of them, you will discover along the way that stereo-typical distinctions between the genres within speculative fiction are often arbitrary and unhelpful. You will be taken on an emotional journey through a galaxy of sparkling fiction; you will laugh, you will cry; you will consider timeless truths and contemplate eternal questions.
All of life is within these pages, from birth to death (and in some cases beyond). In all of these stories, most of them specifically written for this anthology, the short story format has been used to great effect. If you haven’t already heard of some of these authors, you soon will as they are undoubtedly destined to become future stars in the speculative fiction firmament. Remember, you read them here first!
Hello Ghouls and Boils,
It has been a while. *listens to the crickets* Sorry about the silence here at SNS. I have been working a contracting job and it has taken up a good deal of my time. But never fear wicked ones, I will always find a way to make time for you! In the coming weeks be expecting more reviews, videocasts, a couple of convention reports, and more… We have such sights to show you! Mwahahaha!
And now onto today’s review. Minion Trevor Curtis shares his thoughts on “[Re]Awakenings, an anthology of new Speculative Fiction”. It seems like an interesting book, but I will leave it in Trevor’s hands and leave the final verdict up to you. Enjoy, my fiends!
Sarah L. Covert
I’ve been a music fan for ages. If you like live music, you can sometimes end up going to shows where you’re there only for the headline act, and have to sit through interminable bands that open for them. Or you’ll attend festival concerts, like Ozzfest or Lollopalooza, based entirely on the rep of the festival. If you’re adventurous, you might go to a local festival to see what your area has to offer. Anthologies are much like these shows, in that there are a bunch of authors offering tastes of their wares in the hopes you’ll seek them out later when they headline (i.e. Get their own book).
So where on the scale does this curious little artifact “[Re]Awakenings” belong? It depends on who you ask. The folks at Elsewhen Press are obviously aiming high, and high brow. Calling itself “An anthology of new speculative fiction,” this anthology seems to be aimed at those with literary pretensions, who I suspect are afraid of the gutters of terms like “Horror” and “Fantasy.” So Elsewhen Press is aiming for Lollopalooza. Did they succeed?
The anthology itself starts off OK, with a nice, if somewhat demanding, intro from PR Pope. Pope apparently is not only the editor, but also main contributor considering that he wrote three of the fifteen stories contained within. Oddly enough, he is also the only one of Elsewhen’s five published authors who contributed to this anthology.
The first story, Allison Buck’s Podcast, is a nice bit of fantasy masquerading as science fiction, with an O. Henry/Rod Serling type twist at the end. This is a format shared by several of the stories, including the next one, Alexander Skye’s Worth It and his later offering, Exploring the Skies. Those twists succeed, unlike the one at the end of Allison Buck’s Mirror Mirror, which borrows a little too much from an old Twilight Zone episode.
The quality of writing in this anthology is fair to middling. Sadly, the best voices here are the ones who are allowed the shortest time on the stage, as it were. Gingerlilly’s The Dragon and the Rose has fun and plays well with fairy tale tropes, while avoiding being too fey or sarcastic. It balances the line nicely. Neil Faarid’s The Adventures of Kit Brennan: Kidnapped is a big old slice of space opera that wouldn’t have seemed out of place in any issue of Amazing back in the day. I hope to hear more from these two writers in the future.
Now the cover would seem to give you the idea that all these authors are given equal time, but as I’ve said before, that simply isn’t the case. Alexander Skye has the most stories in here, with four out of the fifteen, but he sadly, does not contribute the best story of the bunch. Regrettably, he does contribute the worst of the bunch, Bluewinter. It’s a dingy little blob of cyberpunk that literally pulls out every single cliché of the genre (VR? Check. Oppresive corporations? Check.) then abruptly ends. No plot resolution, no action; it just ends. It does beg the question of who edited this book; as does the continuing reprinting of author bios in the front of their stories, even when they have multiple stories in the book. By the third PR Pope story, I was no longer caring which future he came from.
So is this Elsewhen’s Lollopalooza? No, but not for lack of trying. There’s some good stuff here, it’s just a little hard to find under all the pretense and ego. It does hit the mark on its unified theme of awakening and rebirthing, as it were. I’d suggest that next time they get more flavors into their stew, and a good cook will tell you that hearts beat out brains for flavor any day. I rate this two and a half tentacles out of five.
Trevor Curtis, Minion (Reviewer/columnist)