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Not if You Were the Last Short Story on Earth
there's a price that you pay for the glory, about losing and choosing and pain
Well I'm running out of time to blog stories but I'll do my best!

Robert Hood's collection Creeping in Reptile Flesh contains three new stories, in addition to a number of reprints. The title story is a novella, a sinister tale of black magic, the walking dead, and party politics. The story works on two levels. On the surface, it's a suspenseful piece of writing, drawing the central character and reader through a number of levels of lies and betrayal, as he seeks to unravel the mystery of John Cowling and George Clarbridge, and a series of dark visions that plague him. The mystery eventually takes him outside Canberra to a place where illusion and reality meet. It's a tense, intriguing story, and it also work as a powerful metaphor for the power struggles in contemporary politics, as well as the mass media's power and culpability. Highly recommended.

From the same collection, I also enjoyed the shorter story, Unraveling, a story about the potential for violence within the human form, the universe of quantum possibilities, and the tiny things that can tip an internal mental struggle over the edge. At heart, it's another story about power, and the danger of human frailties magnified onto larger and larger scales.

Dirk Flinthart's novella Angel Rising opens the Twelfth Planet novella series, with a story based on TP's New Ceres world, from the webzine of that name. Flinthart's story is the story of a protector of New Ceres, sent to investigate a mysterious alien craft, and takes a rollicking ride through ninja swordfights and interworld conspiracies. It's also a novella with a warm heart, in the end, and I found the central character's journey quite moving.

From the charity project Scary Food, my favourite story was Lee Battersby's , Rabbit, Run, a nicely paced and ultimately compassionate horror story about a man down on his luck. Battersby's writing continues to improve, and just about everything he's produced this year has been a winner. Here he demonstrates what he can do with just a few pages.

Geoffrey Maloney has long been one of Australia's finest writers. In the last couple of years he's begun experimenting with more offbeat stories, and his latest collection Six Silly Stories, from Elastic Press, is indicative of his new direction. My personal feeling, for what it's worth, is that the author is still finding his feet a little with his new focus, and the stories in the collection occasionally feel derivative in voice. But there are moments of wonderful imagination, too, and I look forward to seeing where the journey takes us. It's great to see authors taking risks. My favourite piece in the collection was The Doctor and My Little Red Imp, which explores some of the notions of masculinity that have also been a feature of the author's recent work, under the guise of a routine checkup which descends into oddness.

And speaking of offbeat, I enjoyed Jayme Lynn Blaschke's A Plague of Banjos, from Electric Velocipede #15. It's a story about exactly what the title promises, and it's just as ridiculous as you might think. Marvellous!

Current Music: Gravity - The Notwist

3 comments or Leave a comment
cassiphone From: cassiphone Date: 29th November 2008 09:43 (UTC) (Link)
Creeping in Reptile Flesh is one of the few things I didn't read this year that I genuinely regret not getting to. This is the trouble with missing conventions!

I will make up for it next year. *grins*
From: (Anonymous) Date: 30th November 2008 01:20 (UTC) (Link)

Ben and Creeping

Ben, I don't normally reply to reviews on any level, but I just have to say: Bless you! You always seem to understand what I'm trying to do in my more ambitious stories, even when others don't. "Creeping in Reptile Flesh" was a story I worked on for quite a while, fully aware that it was complex and difficult. Given what I was aiming for, that difficulty was inevitable, but I wanted the story to be readable and suspenseful, too. From another review it has received, I thought I'd failed at that -- but the perception and intelligence you bring to your reading of the story gives me hope -- and cheered me up no end. Thank you.

From: jblaschke Date: 7th December 2008 20:47 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you kindly for the nice words (he says in his best "aw shucks" voice). It's nice to see such silliness still has a place in this world. :-)
3 comments or Leave a comment