Wednesday, June 16, 2010| Posted by Jaleh D | at 12:00 PM |
On Monday, I mentioned reading my first ARC. I was given the opportunity to read and review Eight Against Reality by one of the authors, Juliette Wade, who sent me it to me as a pdf file. She'd stopped by my blog and enjoyed her visit. Because she liked how I've been writing my reviews, calling them "thoughtful," she wanted to know if I'd be interested in sharing my opinion of the book with all of you.
Since TalkToYoUniverse is one of my reading staples, I was thrilled to be asked. Her blog is full of informative articles utilizing her expertise with language and culture to help writers enliven their fictional worlds, and she is responsive to her readers with charm, grace, and a sincere desire to help. (I'm sure she's blushing now, but it's all true.) She is an inspiration.
Even though I was very excited to be doing this, I was also nervous. What if I didn't like the stories? She was risking my opinion to help promote her writing group's work. Well, I can now say, that while I didn't personally enjoy every story, this is a book worth buying when it's released on July 15th.
Her story, The Eminence's Match, illustrates many of the topics she's written about on TTYU, from hiding information in plain sight to considering how another culture may do things differently. Throughout the story, I had the sense of, "So this is what she's been talking about."
Eminence Nekantor is obsessed with perfection. Every flaw he perceives must be corrected, even the tiniest things such as which of the two buttons on his jacket is to be buttoned first. Xinta is a senior Service Academy student who can't maintain the required calm of the Imbati, personal body-servants to the noble caste. Calm is crucial for keeping their master's secrets and being alert to their slightest whim. Play sessions are fraught with torment from noble youths intent on making him cry, and therefore, fail. Will these two destroy each other, or can they find the peace they both desperately crave?
Kip, Running by Genevieve Williams is another story with a fascinating world. Kip's sub-culture takes cross-country running to a whole new level: on maglev trains, across moving sidewalks, and over smart buildings, despite that the way runners do so is illegal in normal society. The rules are simple: you run or freeride--no driving or paying fares. No interference of other runners. The first to reach the finish point wins. I had fun following Kip's path to the finish line and how she'd been drawn into this thrill-seeking sport.
The Lonely Heart by Aliette de Bodard was one of the ones I couldn't get into but only because of the subject matter. It was very well written. I'm just not into horror type stories, especially ones involving sexual exploitation. (I have trouble sitting through most episodes of Law and Order: SVU. Just to give you an idea.) This one takes us to China's Three Gorges Dam region. Chen sells trinkets to tourists while her husband works in another part of the city to scrape together the money for a proper flat. But a chance encounter with a sinister man and his girl-toy threatens more than just the plan to move to legal housing.
The Flying Squids of Zondor: The Movie Script by Doug Sharp wasn't to my taste either but for different reasons. It's more of my husband's kind of story, the sort of thing he laughs at before waving me over to read when he finds them online, and I just pat his shoulder and go, "That's nice, dear," before going back to what I prefer. I'd rate this story as "R" for raunchy--comic book style, minus the pictures. There's several guys I know who'd get a kick out of this space romp.
Commandrix Den Dron loathes aliens and crashes the BattleRocket Trigon into the planet Zondor, home to a race of flying squid, while her libido battles her gag reflex. I can just imagine hordes of guys chortling, "Need...power...steering," and "Look out! Pink gas attack!" (Ok, so I laughed, too. But it's not my kind of story. Really.)
Spoiling Veena by Keyan Bowes grabbed my interest from the first line with an unlikely simile that propelled me into this story of genetic manipulation set in India. Shalini and her husband spent a fortune and hours in front of genetic spreadsheets to design the perfect daughter. Now on her twelfth birthday, Veena tells her parents that she'd rather be a boy named Vikrum.
Man's Best Enemy is written by Janice Hardy, another great blogger. This story of survival in a devastated world was just as good as I expected from the author of The Shifter. (Blue Fire is due out in October; I can hardly wait.) Shawna, apprentice medic, longs to be one of the hunters. It's a dangerous occupation. With such a small population, only one person per family is permitted to join their ranks, and Shawna's brother is already one of them. But when Deeke's teammate is killed by an attack from a wild dog and he gets quarantined after becoming ill from a potential new strain of the Bug, Shawna is grudgingly allowed to take his place.
Love, Blood, and Octli by T. L. Morganfield plays on South American legends. The gods have many gifts for mankind, but not all of them are beneficial. Ayomichi becomes the priestess of Ehecatl, the Wind God bearing the form of a feathered serpent. She passes his gifts to her people, but the ones from his sinister form cause grief, even heartbreak. Can her belief in the goodness of the original Ehecatl be enough to save her people?
Dancing By the Numbers by Dario Ciriello confused me at first. There are multiple Lyra's, all written in first person, but once I got the hang of the shifts, helped along by headers indicating which Lyra was speaking, I followed along just fine. A fascinating story of reaching across parallel dimensions and what might happen if you connect with your other-selves.
I am grateful to Juliette for considering me to be part of this book's promotion. If you think any of these stories sound intriguing, I highly recommend you head to your nearest favorite book seller to get your own copy on July 15th. Even though I have one on pdf, I may have to buy a paper version, just to have something to pass around to my friends and co-workers. (And for collecting signatures if/when I get the chance to meet any of the authors in person.)
Panverse is going to be a publisher to watch when they can offer this level of quality to their readers despite their fledgling status in the business world. I look forward to what they will release next.