A HANDFUL OF PEARLS AND OTHER STORIES
As fantasy short stories go, this collection contains genuinely lyrical, well-imagined, and complex assemblage of tales. It is the most compelling ever read by this reviewer. None of the stories are weak; even the ones that are not as intriguing are strongly written with clear characterizations and a well-conceived plot. Particular standouts are “Remembrance”, a space-set-long-distance-romance and the brilliantly crafted "Jump to Zion”, with a main character named Adjua, whose voice is like a smoky whisper in the reader's ear.
"Poison” features gender shifting humanoids, a product of genetic experimentation, that live on the streets of the cities and make money by selling their bodies. Yenny and Daksa are siblings who must survive those who would take them, and those who would study them. In “Remembrance” Kate and Jessica are partners, though the world sometimes judges them for it. Jessica is involved in secret experiments and in colonization and exploration, and the couple's separation is as poignant as it is heart wrenching. A young boy watches an unidentified object land near his home in “Marsdog”, but learning to communicate with it and to repair it before it is discovered is trickier than he thought it would be.
“Watercolors in the Rain” is a modern sleeping beauty parable that is sweet and sad. A man who wants to redeem himself from past actions takes his brilliant mind to work on a science experiments in the islands in “A Handful of Pearls.” While in “Chrysalide”, Claudette, a painter of great talent, has a magical and deadly secret; she must paint to survive, and to care for her child. What must it be like to be the most fascinating and horrifying woman alive? And what of love? Find out in “Medusa at Morning”. The heroine of “Jump to Zion”, Adjua, spent the last several years paying for her freedom, and is nearly done paying for her daughter's when her master sells her daughter to the Palace. Adjua must decide what she will do — continue her peaceful way or help the rebellion. And then in “Air and Angels”, Stephen becomes fascinated with a young woman he is introduced to at a soiree. One strange night with her leaves him questioning everything he knows, is, and understands about the world. (SELF PUBLISHED, May 2011, 248 pp., $15.00)
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