Tansy Rayner Roberts (cassiphone) wrote in lastshortstory,
Tansy Rayner Roberts

Canterbury Special (yes, me again)

Oops ok I wasn't quite done - I reviewed Canterbury 2100 for ASiF but of course many of the stories I reviewed for that also deserve to be here. If you don't know about it, Canterbury 2100, an awesomely original and scarily high concept anthology from Dirk Flinthart (ed) and Agog! Press, is a futuristic version of the original Canterbury Tales, in which a group of stranded pilgrims each narrate a story, the cumulative effect of which provides a social document for the times in which they live.

My review will be up at ASif shortly but you need to know now how good this book is. Even the stories that I didn't think were brilliant (though none of them are less than good) contributed to the whole effect, and it's a really ambitious small press effort that follows through on its promise.

Here are my favourite stories from Canterbury 2100:

"The Miner's Tale," by Laura E Goodin, is the story that stood out for me as the absolute best of the collection, and the one which I think would most effectively stand on its own, beyond the framing story. This was a powerful, gut-kicking story about amateur espionage, as a small group of desperate miners struggle to prove their discovery that the material they are mining for is not just something that could easily kill them, but create deadly weapons. The characters and their struggles really got to me, and I was completely gripped from beginning to end.

Ben Bastian's "The Doctor's Tale" was another of my favourites, and not only because it is the one unapologetically Australian story in an anthology set by design in a country removed from most of its authors. The narrative voice of this story is powerful, as we follow the character of a doctor pushed to the edge when working in a remote community ruled by a tyrannical leader. Simple, elegant, and with memorable characters - as with Goodin, I have never read any of Bastian's work before, and will be looking out eagerly for more.

Penelope Love's "The Janus' Tale" was one I had to go back and reread several times because I hadn't been paying enough attention to the details and lost my way, but it was worth the effort - a strange, twisted morality tale that reminded me of Chaucer's "The Miller's Tale" in introducing elements of bawdy farce, though it has its grisly, disturbing side too, and ultimately leaves the reader fairly certain that whatever the story is, it is not a comedy at all.

Trent Jamieson's "The Lighterman's Tale" is a briny yarn if ever there was one, a tale of sailors and music. I thought the description of the piles of defunct music technology was particularly evocative, another reminder of the world behind the stories. This one's a romance too - the kind of sad romance best told at sea, with a heavy rock soundtrack.
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