Speculative Fiction Reviews, Interviews, Art and Whatever Else!
I've been reading quite a few short stories and novellas recently; not only can the nifty little things introduce you to an authors work you've not have the pleasure to experience before, but they can also break up massive fantasy tomes that might be weighing down, and slowing up ole the brain synapses. Apparently there is a bit of a revival going on in the novella markets, so I thought I'd introduce three of my favourites so far.. Behold..
A missing eye.
A broken wing.
A stolen country.
The last job didn't end well.
Years go by, and scars fade, but memories only fester. For the animals of the Captain's company, survival has meant keeping a low profile, building a new life, and trying to forget the war they lost. But now the Captain's whiskers are twitching at the idea of evening the score.
My thanks go to Tor for the ARC.
Ah look. I'm just going to say it. If you don't read this, and your a western/gunslinger fantasy fan, you are a tiny bit of a dolt. I know, it's kind of cruel of me to say such a thing, but this is Wind in The Willows crossed with every desperado western film ever made. It's Redwall on beer and bourbon. It's Watership Down on Clint Eastwood laced crack, that's been cooked by Tarintino.
Basically it's sweet anthropomorphic goodness, with gun totin' badgers, sniper opossums and armadillo crime bosses. There's a whole host of weapon wielding animals, yet Polansky has done a fantastic job of incorporating each of the animal's traits into the characters, so they aren't just humans in fur pelts.
The chapter structures in the novella are superb for the setting and story line, and create quick fire scenes, with cracking pacing. There's snark and wit a plenty, betrayal and love lost, and quite a large amount of blood letting. If you can go past that, I don't know how to help you..
The only thing that could've made it better, was if it was about 500 pages longer... (Then I'd probably complain it was 500 pages too long. Can't please me.. )
A new sun rises on the lives and fates of four players in this game of wit and intrigue.
Diane, Duchess Tremontaine, the crowning gem of her city’s high class, sits in her manor’s window on The Hill and looks over her domain with eyes that cut and a mind that schemes. From below, and far away from the glitz of wealth, a poor country farm girl named Micah looks only towards her family, the harvest, and the complex web of math that entrances her. At the Docks, Ixkaab Balam surveys that same city from the deck of her family’s merchant vessel and sees a land to manipulate for fortune and fun. And at the University, a passionate scholar named Rafe bristles at the classism that dictates his world and harbors revolution in his blood.
Tremontaine is actually a serialised work, that is released through Serial Box Publishing in novella sized episode chunks, every week for 13 episodes/weeks. Not only does the concept of serialisation make me a happy camper, but the production that Serial Box and the Tremontaine team have released each week, has been fantastic!
I've been listening to the audiobook version (the purchase gives you both the ebook and audiobook experience. The audio running in at around 100 mins a week), and I was actually incredibly surprised. Call me Doubting Thomas, but I was really expecting a bit of a b-grade time filler, for when I needed something other than a brick sized read. Oh was I so wrong!
Not only are the diverse characters and story lines from Ellen Kushner fantastic (I will have to check out her other work now!), the audio and narration is brilliantly done by a range of audio actors, and the way it has been edited into episodes is first rate. The episodes (so far) have each been written by a different author, and although they bring a slightly different stylistic quality to the episodes, each slots in perfectly to the narration.
It all blends together so well, to create a great package. A totally enjoyable experience, that has kept me entertained over all three episodes, that have been released so far!
My subscription was bought after episode one, I was that pleased! You can get the first episode free from Serial Box! Go on, try it.. Unless you're a chocolate addict trying to cut back.. Cause I have eaten more chocolate listening to this series in the past week, than in the past year!
Kullervo son of Kalervo is perhaps the darkest and most tragic of all J.R.R. Tolkien’s characters. ‘Hapless Kullervo’, as Tolkien called him, is a luckless orphan boy with supernatural powers and a tragic destiny.
Brought up in the homestead of the dark magician Untamo, who killed his father, kidnapped his mother, and who tries three times to kill him when still a boy, Kullervo is alone save for the love of his twin sister, Wanona, and guarded by the magical powers of the black dog, Musti. When Kullervo is sold into slavery he swears revenge on the magician, but he will learn that even at the point of vengeance there is no escape from the cruellest of fates.
Tolkien himself said that The Story of Kullervo was ‘the germ of my attempt to write legends of my own’, and was ‘a major matter in the legends of the First Age’. Tolkien’s Kullervo is the clear ancestor of Túrin Turambar, tragic incestuous hero of The Silmarillion. In addition to it being a powerful story in its own right, The Story of Kullervo – published here for the first time with the author’s drafts, notes and lecture-essays on its source-work, The Kalevala – is a foundation stone in the structure of Tolkien’s invented world.
My thanks go to Harper Voyager Australia for the hardback edition.
I realise this looks like a weird one to include in the novella category, as The Story of Kullervo looks to be more of a short novel at 192 pages. However, the actual story is only about 40 pages long.
It's rich, dark, beautiful. and quite heartbreaking to read. Kullervo gains no quarter in this book; he can never escape the from suffering heaped upon him, and even though he is an anti-hero, it's extremely tragic to witness.
It's also incredibly sad that the story was never finished, because I truly believe it's could've been one of Tolkien's stand out pieces. It's actually interesting to read the possibilities, the editing marks, etc. that have been faithfully added to the story. Obviously the manuscript wasn't always completely legible (or finished), and I quite like the fact that they have made sure the reader is aware that some of the words used are 'possibilities' rather than from JRR himself. There's a lot of integrity in that!
The reason for it's 192 pages, is because around 80% of the book it is actually introduction and essays. The book as a whole is actually closer to an academic endeavor, than a straight forward fiction novel. For Tolkien fans that really like to dig into the intricacies of the legends work, here is your next read my friends! There's enough information here, to give any J.R.R nerd's stomach butterflies.
If you're simply a lover of his work, and not the academia surrounding it, skip straight to the story and just enjoy the Tolkien wordery experience.
It's been a short and sweet post, for the short and sweet novellas. I'll be digging around for more, and will hopefully be able to let you know about them soon!