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Tesseracts Twelve
Edited by Claude Lalumière
Review by Colleen Cahill
EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781894063159
Date: 01 September 2008 List Price $19.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

When you see a long running anthology series, it cannot just be riding the shirt tails of previous successes; the book market is just not that robust. For that reason alone, Tesseracts Twelve shows it is something worth exploring. With a focus on Canadian writers, it showcases the great talent to be found in that country and also gives these authors a rare opportunity for writing a longer piece. A wide range of styles and themes is presented here, making this is a smorgasbord of literary delights.

As a Canadian themed anthology, it is not surprising that some of the pieces are set in Canada. "Ancients of the Earth" by Derryl Murphy is a fantastic work that takes place in Dawson, Canada where a frozen baby mammoth is found. The situation becomes truly surreal after most of the local townsfolk eat the beast in a feast and are transformed into cavemen. Samuel is now being hunting by his former neighbors who think he is a mammoth. The magic that creates this chaos also provides Samuel not only with a means of escape, but a way to turn this event to good. Grace Seybold gives us a more urban fantasy in "Intersections". Set in Montreal, it follows Nadia who has a strange power: she can cause two people to find their true love, but when this happens, someone else will die. Perhaps most disturbing thing about the power is Nadia has no control of when or where it will happen. Nadia becomes very reclusive and she might have hid most of her life had not Wren appeared, a girl who has the same power as Nadia but who lives in a different way. While E.L. Chen's "The Story of a Woman and Her Dog" is also a urban fantasy set in Toronto, is has a feeling of fairy tales and Scheherazade, with stories within stories. Natasha finds she suddenly has a fine dog, but no knowledge of where he came from and her husband has left her. It seems almost every person she meets wants to know about Natasha's dog and will share their own tales in hopes of hearing hers in exchange. The center of this piece is the love between a man and woman, and the path there is very interesting. "Ringing the Changes in Okotoks, Alberta" by Randy McCharles is set in the small town of the title and is the most humorous piece in the book. The fun starts when the Mayor of Okotoks decides the city council should run naked at the Summer Fling because her New Age advisor assures her that this will guarantee a good harvest. Somehow all the members are convinced to join in, but this is just the first of several Celtic rituals that will be enacted over the year. The reactions of the various council members is hysterical, with average people being put in very unusual situations.

Not all the novellas are set in Canada. David Nickle gives us a darkly satirical piece in "Wylde's Kingdom", where the end of the world is combined with an over-the-top and fatal Disney production. A former TV star who has tried to escape the nightmare of the show Wylde's Kingdom is kidnapped when his former boss decides this is the best way to make a comeback. A work of both humor and pathos, this story is one that will keep you turning every page. "Wonjjang and the Madman of Pyongyang" by Gord Sellar also has a mix of comedy and drama, set in a South Korean where teams of superheroes take on mad scientists bent on destruction. Wonjjang is the leader of one group, but he not having a great time of it. He has to constantly recapture the main villain who escapes or is released due to politics, he cannot seem to get a girlfriend and his mother is hounding him to marry and give her grandchildren. There is plenty of comic book action, but for me the best part of the story is Wonjjang's eventual victory.

My favorite novella is "Beneath the Skin" by Michael Skeet and Jill Snider Lum, an oriental fantasy with lots of atmosphere. Hirota Satoshi is sent to a village to find out why they have not paid their taxes in two years. While the villagers seem to have taken all possible steps, from using more fertilizer to exorcising for demons, the rice crop continues to fail. Satoshi must not only face dangers from the spirit world, but also his own inner demons if he is to succeed. A sucker for Asian stories, I was enchanted by this work and will definitely read it again.

There is much to enjoy in Tesseracts Twelve, from its myriad themes, superb writing and colorful characters. The authors are of various levels of experience, but all are worth looking out for in the future. In the meanwhile, get your copy of Tesseracts Twelve today and enjoy its variety and enthralling works.

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