Tuesday, 10 July 2012
'Pandemonium Stocking Stuffer 2011' - Edited by Anne C. Perry (Jurassic)
This doesn't mean that I'll be accepting ebooks for review, not at all, as I've got plenty enough to be reading as it is. What it does mean though is that if I see some free reading that catches my eye then it will be on my Kindle app before you know it. Free reading like the 'Pandemonium Stocking Stuffer 2011' for instance.
Christmas 2011 has been and gone but Kindle books sit on Amazon forever and sometimes they get given away for free, presumably to drum up a bit more interest in other books that aren't free. Whatever the reason, I'd missed out on other 'Jurassic' books so decided to take the opportunity to have a little look while I didn't have to pay for it. It's a good little read and I'd recommend you give it a shot if you have a Kindle.
The 'Stocking Stuffer' isn't a huge read at all (the clue is in the name people!) weighing in at something like forty pages on my phone. It's incredibly easy to get into though, so easy in fact that it can feel a little longer than it actually is. All three authors on display here appear very adept at using the little space they have to give you enough background scenery to balance out the actual plot. Archie Black's 'Villainy Fair' doesn't quite hit the spot here but, to be fair, I don't think it's meant to (being entirely based around the content of a particular conversation, the background doesn't matter at all here).
The 'Stocking Filler's' introduction sets out the main theme, tying three very different stories together, as being how speculative fiction can still be about looking back instead of just looking forward all the time. There's new ground waiting to be trodden but 'there's still plenty of fun to be had in our old stomping grounds.' If the 'Stocking Filler' is anything to go by then this is definitely the case as there's a lot of fun to be had here.
Things kick off with Osgood Vance's 'The Season' and I've got to admit that I wasn't too sure about seeing another dig at the tired old 'stable boy with a destiny' trope. Not that it doesn't deserve the odd poke but it's such an easy target that I'd much rather see people take aim at something else. I shouldn't have worried though. Vance gave me enough action to keep things exciting whilst taking a look at just how the mechanics, and administration, of destiny might work (and what this might mean if you're not very good at your job...) I wasn't planning on chuckling but couldn't help myself with this tale of what looked like medieval pest controllers (seriously, check out the 'Dark Lords' here).
After that, we get Den Patrick's 'The Shock of the New'. I liked the play on words here as the reader gets a look at the introduction of new weaponry into an alternate First World War along with at least one other shock along the way. This isn't so much a story as it is a 'moment in a story' and I'd quite happily read the rest if this was ever expanded upon. Patrick builds up the tension and then lets it all go with the help of one Mr Tesla, 'explosive' isn't the word for it and I also enjoyed the understated banter between Harry and Valente.
We end with the aforementioned 'Villainy Fair' and again, I wasn't looking forward to this tale of 'fantasyland seen through the eyes of a minority'. I mean, it's not like we haven't seen this done before... I should have paid a little more attention to that introduction. This kind of thing has been done before but that didn't make 'Villainy Fair' any the less fun to read. Archie Black's Demon Queens come across as so put upon, and hacked off with the whole thing (and wouldn't you be?), that you can't help but feel for them and laugh when they get really bitchy about their male counterparts. It's all so down to earth, in a good way, and that's the bait that Black uses so effectively to hook her readers.
'The Stocking Stuffer 2011' would have made for a great Christmas present (last year) and it still makes for a thoroughly entertaining read in the middle of (what is currently passing for) summer. I didn't even notice the commute while I was reading (and that's pretty high praise given how much I hate commuting). Pick it up now, if I hadn't picked it up already then I would.
Eight and a Half out of Ten