Short Story Collections

Book Review: The Tangled Lands by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell

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By Jacob P. Torres

The Tangled Lands

Find my spoiler-free review of The Tangled Lands by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell.

Cover Description: “From award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias Buckell comes a fantasy novel told in four parts about a land crippled by the use of magic, and a tyrant who is trying to rebuild an empire—unless the people find a way to resist.

Khaim, The Blue City, is the last remaining city in a crumbled empire that overly relied upon magic until it became toxic. It is run by a tyrant known as The Jolly Mayor and his devious right hand, the last archmage in the world. Together they try to collect all the magic for themselves so they can control the citizens of the city. But when their decadence reaches new heights and begins to destroy the environment, the people stage an uprising to stop them.

In four interrelated parts, The Tangled Lands is an evocative and epic story of resistance and heroic sacrifice in the twisted remains surrounding the last great city of Khaim. Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias Buckell have created a fantasy for our times about a decadent and rotting empire facing environmental collapse from within—and yet hope emerges from unlikely places with women warriors and alchemical solutions.”

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Review: Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson

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*I received a copy of Falling in Love with Hominids through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

That first noise must have come from the powerful kick. It crashed like the sound of cannon shot. A second bang followed, painfully, stupefyingly loud; then a concussion of air from the direction of the front door as it collapsed inward. Jenny didn’t even have time to react. She sat up straight on her couch, that was all. The elephant was in the living  room almost immediately. Jenny went wordlessly still in fright and disbelief. She lived on the fifteenth floor.

Nalo Hopkinsons’ Falling in Love with Hominids has some fantastic gems. The book collects short stories from throughout her career. Each story has a brief introduction about what led to the story’s creation. The topics are wide ranging and include viral-infection induced apocalypses, fire breathing chickens, and Shakespearean retellings.

I’ve been on a bit of a Nalo Hopkinson kick over the last few months. Generally speaking, I like Nalo Hopkinson. I think her stuff is interesting and creative. Granted, not everything always hits home, but overall, I find her writing enjoyable. So, of course, I was so excited to find out there was a new Nalo Hopkinson.

The stories in this collection are great. There’s a very dynamic feel to them and the characters are well-developed given the page lengths. I was (pleasantly) surprised to see that there was a good deal of variation in length. While many of the stories are about what I’d consider average length for a short story (around the 15-20 pg mark), there were some short but sweet additions to the collection as well.

One of the best parts for me was the introductory paragraphs. At the stories’ starts, there’s a brief introduction in Nalo’s words about the inspiration or prompting for the stories. Some of these are funny and others more serious, but I enjoyed the contextualizing of the tales. It added value to my experience.

The only thing I wish were in the collection was a date or year that the story was originally written. This would have given a sense of chronology and connection. The stories aren’t necessarily themed, and they don’t build off one another necessarily. The connectivity there would have been nice, but that’s much more of a perk than a needed addition to the collection.

Overall, it was a fantastic collection with a lot of variety and satisfying stories.

You can find Nalo Hopkinson’s Falling in Love with Hominids on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1I5vwSx

or on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1AJ7KMg