Joelene Pynnonen is a Brisbane based writer who loves YA fiction.
Stories of other worlds–or of our own world altered almost beyond recognition–have fascinated us for time immemorial. Insert Title Here, FableCroft’s latest anthology, offers a glimpse into a few of these worlds. Whether it’s exploring the distant future, exploring a future that took a slightly different historical route, or exploring a new reality, you can expect an onslaught of imagination in these pages.
The stories vary wildly in content. A Guardian whiles away his days defending the sacred Chalice that protects his homeland until his faith is tested. A shearer risks the wrath of the Governor when he rescues the man’s captive wife–only to discover that he has stirred up more trouble than he could have envisioned. A man who summons demons is called upon to summon an angel–and the world may never survive the repercussions.
These are a few of the tales to be found in this anthology. The stories here are far more adult than the other anthologies I’ve read from Tehani Wessely and, as she says in her introduction, they are darker than the other anthologies she has edited before. There’s none of the fledgling hope that One Small Step boasts, nor any of awed respect commanded by the stories in Cranky Ladies of History.
What is abundant in Insert Title Here, however, is consistently astounding world-building. Story after story explores unfamiliar realms – and story after story succeeds in making those realms blindingly convincing. As the title suggests, the possibilities in these stories are endless, and some of the worlds are so lovingly rendered that they would be more suited to a novel.
Some of these stories sacrifice character-building to create the worlds they depict. However, one that achieved the perfect balance of character, world-building, and plot was Stephanie Burgis’s ‘The Art of Deception’. The main characters, Julia and Hrabanic, counter each other wonderfully. She with her ability to manoeuvre delicate political trysts and he with his talent for anticipating and neutralising physical danger: both sorely needed traits in the perilous world they inhabit.
It’s difficult to know what to expect when settling down to read a book entitled Insert Title Here. In this case, a collection of wildly imaginative speculative short stories set in different times, dimensions or worlds. There are some gems hidden in these pages, but wait for a dark night to read them.
Insert Title Here – Tehani Wessely (Ed.)
FableCroft Publishing (April 1, 2015)