The best volume yet. Clockwork Phoenix is one of few short story collections (I prefer novels) that I enjoy, and this one blew me away. Over half of the stories I absolutely loved and liked the rest. It's a good balance of familiar and completely unknown (definitely not for long!) names, fantasy and scifi. Almost all of them were easy to get into, and the transitions between stories were smooth. Almost all of them had killer endings and left an emotional impact. One thing I generally don't like about short stories is they set up an interesting concept, and then abruptly end unsatifyingly. Pieces in this volume were complete stories, like mini-novels, fully developed and with satisfying conclusions.
"Tomorrow Is Saint Valentine's Day" by Tori Truslow is about merpeople who live on the moon, "the moist star," and a researcher who goes to live among them. The ending last two sentences were like a silent thunderclap that changed my perpective on it all, and I immediately had to go back and re-read the story. (Same with "Fold.") It's told in a scholarly voice and dense albeit beautiful prose, and on the first reading I didn't get it.
"Crow Voodoo" by Georgina Bruce is an almost painful, piercing tale about a crow who peddles magic to a desperate young woman.
"Braiding the Ghosts" by C.S.E. Cooney is about a girl whose grandmother teaches her how to enslave ghosts.
"Lineage" by Kenneth Schneyer was a surprise favorite, about interconnected historic scenes where, in extreme circumstances, people act strange, almost possessed. You think you know what's happening, and then the last sentence puts a cherry on top. I near teared up.
"Eyes of Carven Emerald" by Shweta Narayan is a retelling of Alexander the Great's story. I hated seeing this one end, although one of the longer stories at 23 pages, and wanted to see it go on much longer. I'd love to see a novel version.
"To Seek Her Fortune" by Nicole Kornher-Stace reads like another a mini-novel, about a Lady Explorer on a flying sentient ship, obsessed with visiting psychics and mystics to find an answer to a critical question.
"Fold" by Tanith Lee - about a man who lives in a tower and spends his days gazing at the people on the street below, falling passionately in love with them and sending them love letters on paper airplanes. This is the last story of the volume and the perfect closing piece. Loved it, had to immediately read it again.
"Surrogates" by Cat Rambo was also good, as was "Lucyana's Gaze" by Gregory Frost (very good in fact, but too mundane for my tastes - not enough fantasy elements, and the subject matter was too heavy). My favorites are Tanith Lee and Shweta Narayan and Kenneth Schneyer and...
In conclusion, if you're going to read one short story collection this year, this is it. These stories are dark, strange, beautiful, sad, joyous, moving, fresh and original. An exceptional book.
Clockwork Phoenix 3: New Tales of Beauty and Strangeness (英語) ペーパーバック – 2010/7/30
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