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eight layers of ridiculous underpants and the crinoline and the whalebone and the silk and the cha - Not if You Were the Last Short Story on Earth
eight layers of ridiculous underpants and the crinoline and the whalebone and the silk and the cha
Fair disclosure: I am a member of the New Ceres Board, which pretty much makes me one of the arbiters of worldbuilding continuity in the shared universe. I was also one of the contributing authors of the Twelfth Planet Press anthology New Ceres Nights, and read bits and pieces of it in manuscript form. I didn't however have any role in the selection or editing of the stories. I'm an unashamed fan of the whole New Ceres world, and know most of the authors who play in it, so feel free to take my opinion on this anthology with as many pinches of salt as you fancy.


"Debutante," Dirk Flinthart, New Ceres Nights.

Dirk Flinthart has been mainlining Georgette Heyer and Gossip Girl novels. This is the only possible explanation for how an author who is known for his laidback, smart-mouthed and profoundly blokey protagonists can have captured so perfectly the voice of Celestine, the crinoline-flapping debutante of this story's title. Alternately sweet and bitchy, Celestine is responsible for making this one of my favourite New Ceres stories of all time. "Debutante" is a fun, whip-smart little conspiracy thriller, and I loved it to bits.

"The Widow's Seven Candles," Thoraiya Dyer, New Ceres Nights.

I first read this story much earlier in the year and it has stuck with me - simply a beautiful piece of work, a science fiction story that reads like an elegant but chilling fairy tale. The depiction of the master craftsman constructing the candles, and the dark sexuality of the story comes together to make a very memorable short story.

"Tontine Mary," Kaaron Warren, New Ceres Nights.

This one is a very quiet, restrained sort of horror story based on an intriguing historical concept, that of the tontine - an archaic style of "life insurance" in which the last member of a group standing gets the group's collective bank. I know that the horror aspect (and it's a Kaaron Warren story, so there has to be a horror aspect) is supposed to be the lengths that people will go to to win such a prize, but personally I felt that there was a deeper creeping horror about the simpler idea of what it was like to grow old, especially if your life was not what you had hoped it would be. This is definitely a story that leaves you thinking, and not epecially nice thoughts.

"The Sharp Shooter," Sylvia Kelso, New Ceres Nights.

A carefully crafted frontier-style story with some very intriguing themes of gender and privilege. The use of point-of-view is particularly calculating, with the narrator not so much unreliable as definitely not in possession of all the facts.

"The Piece of Ice in Miss Windemere's Heart," Angela Slatter, New Ceres Nights

Another of the many mystery stories that are so popular amongst New Ceres authors, this one is a strong piece that ties together a couple of established characters with a shared past. As usual, Slatter's prose is excellent, but I particularly enjoyed the bantering dialogue.
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