Open Space by Claude Laluminere ed
Red Deer Press Trade: ISBN 0889952817 PubDate: 01/01/04
Review by N Lynch [email@example.com]
320 pgs. List price $ 16.95
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Wonderful cover art by Jean-Pierre Normand makes Open Space a very appealing looking book. It makes one think of thrilling adventures beyond our small planet or our solar system. Unfortunately the short stories in this volume of New Canadian Fantastic Fiction are very earthbound.
The book opens with an introduction by Cory Doctorow which seems to alert the reader to the great possibilities in the stories. None of the stories are bad, but none are break-out great either. As interesting as the stories were, many of them read like a part of a longer work rather than a fully formed independent short story. They are good beginnings with no follow up.
There were a few that did catch my attention over the others. One story that stood out was the final one, by Derryl Murphy – “More Painful that the Dreams of Other Boys.” It’s a noir-style story of murder set in a place where there is a mystical dividing line between those who age naturally and those who stay as children for a long time, if not forever. Another story that also caught my attention was Drew Karpyshyn’s “Feast of the Gods,” a clever Aztec story-legend about making the most of what you have available. Richard Gavin’s “Leavings of Shroud House: An Inventory” is a spooky introduction to a family who had an unusual duty, told in interesting bits and pieces.
Also featured in Open Space were: Melissa Yuan-Innes’s “Growing Up Sam,” about the all-too-predictable prejudice against a man-monkey hybrid; Murry Leeder’s “The Traumatized Generation,” a story on the cost of fighting zombies long term has on the living; Colleen Anderson’s “Hold Back the Night,” a story set in India on the loneliness of being immortal; Jes Surgrue’s “The Banshee of Cholera Bay,” the story of a harsh voyage to the New World by an Irish family; Mark Anthony Brennan’s “March on the New Gomorrah,” a story about extreme misogyny; Catherine MacLeod’s “Postcards from Atlantis,” a series of vignettes about various people; John Park’s “The Image Breakers,” a story about war and how even champions can have their own agenda; Shane Michael Arbuthnott’s “Of Wings,” a tale of how hard it can be to be suddenly different; Steve Vernon’s “The Woman Who Danced on the Prairie,” a tale of how perspective can change with a little woman’s magic; Ahmed A Khan’s “The Curse of the Science Fiction Writer,” a very short tale of long term revenge; Janet Marie Rogers’s “A Gift of Power,” what would you do if you were gifted with an Object of Power? You might do as the people in this story; Nicholas Knight’s “Appetite,” a story of how a certain circus gets its geeks (in the original sense of the word); Leslie Brown’s “La Rivičre Noire,” a ghost story set on a forbidding river and the consequences of finding the truth; Marcelle Dubé’s “Chimčre,” another story of a young person tasked with a burden she didn’t ask for and can’t control; Matthew Costaris’s “Help,” a grim little tale of a strange power to let people actually see themselves as others see them and the person who welds it; Aaron V. Humphrey’s “The New Paranoia Album,” when you get that music album that really grabs you, maybe it’s not such a good thing in this telling story; Marcie Lynn Tentchoff’s “Eye of the Storm,” a lighthouse ghost story; and Vincent W. Sakowski’s “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Ragnarok,” a story about what even the Norse gods can’t stop, but they can try.
Open Space is a good start for some up and coming writers, but for me, it failed to produce any stand outs.