Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Quick Takes: Kealan Patrick Burke, Lou Anders
The Hides, by Kealan Patrick Burke: After reading Currency of Souls I wanted to read more of Burke’s novel (or novella) length fiction. My library had The Hides, so it worked out well. I understand that The Hides is actually the second novel featuring some of these characters, but no knowledge of the prior event(s) is necessary for The Hides. Not to be hideously cliche about it, but Timmy Quinn can see dead people. They can see him, too. After another bad experience at home, Timmy’s father moves him and Timmy to Ireland to live with Timmy’s grandmother for a time. It is supposed to be better. Things only get worse.
As much as I liked Currency of Souls there was this erratic vibe to the novel, and Burke may have let things spin a little out of control at the end (and what the hell was up with that Indian sequence anyway), but The Hides is much more constrained. There is a quiet horror to the novel and Burke keeps the story on track and focused and The Hides is a better novel for it. I wish I could read his novella The Turtle Boy which first introduced Timmy Quinn, but until then The Hides is a quietly excellent story of horror, the dead, and how personal history will always come back to haunt.
Fast Forward 1, by Lou Anders (editor): Once I started reading Fast Forward 1 I knew I had something good. Lou Anders collects 21 stories in this original, unthemed anthology of science fiction tales of the future, some future, perhaps our future. There are some absolute gems in this anthology. By this point everyone knows about “Wikiworld”, but Pamela Sargent’s “A Smaller Government” was an impressive look at the US government and I was surprised by “Jesus Christ, Reanimator”. Ken MacLeod’s story was nothing like what I expected and was quite understated...and if Jesus would come back the way he does in the story, I suspect it would end the way MacLeod envisions. Mary Turzillo’s “Pride”, complete with a saber tooth tiger is another quite gem. Looking back, “Solomon’s Choice”, the Justina Robson, Kage Baker, and Elizabeth Bear stories...this is the future of science fiction and the future is strong. Shoot, “p dolce” , a story about virtually sending people back in time to find out what Bach’s mysterious notation means, is another one worth mentioning. The only stories which did not work for me were Paolo Bacigalupi’s and Ian McDonald...I don’t understand the big deal with either author based on their short fiction. I could have done without Robyn Hitchcock’s poetry, but otherwise I would recommend Fast Forward 1 as THE anthology to read this year and I am very much looking forward to the inevitable (I hope) Fast Forward 2.