Cover art by Daniele Serra
TALES OF EVE
Publisher: Fox Spirit
Published: 3 July 2013
On the cover:
Weird Science, Stepford Wives, that episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer… Genre fiction abounds with tales of men creating (or attempting to create) the perfect woman.Now it’s the woman’s turn.
But being female, she’s flexible. She doesn’t just want to create the perfect man. She wants the perfect companion, be it man, beast or washing machine.
First I'll give a (very) brief spoiler free review of each individual story, and then I'll sum up my feelings on the whole anthology below that.
NEWTON'S METHOD by PAUL WEIMER
A tale of travelling to find a perfect partner. This is a neat little story that has a great high-concept idea backing it up. I really liked this little exploration of it. So much so that I would very much welcome Weimer exploring it in much longer form.
ELLIE DANGER, GIRL DAREDEVIL by ALASDAIR STUART
The combination of funerals and surprise meetings are not unusual in fiction, but Stuart puts a very nice spin on it here. This is an excellent tale that gives us a glimpse into a much bigger story. Stuart certainly shows that he's someone to look out for with this tale.
FATHER'S DAY by FRANSESCA TERMINIELLO
What begins with a child's point of view, and seems at first rather mundane, turns into a different type of story in the end. Both fun and a bit sad, and definitely something that makes you thoughtful. Terminiello has written a sweet little tale with quite a bit of depth to it. I like the feeling of being made to reflect while being entertained, and this delivers very well on that.
THE COMPANISIM, THE TREASURE, THE THIEF AND HER SISTER by C.J. PAGET
A tale that is long enough to take us on quite a surprising journey. I really liked this from the start. It has a great atmosphere to it and enough twists to keep you firmly invested in the story. It's a nice mix of Thriller and Science Fiction. Paget is clearly an author I need to read more of.
KATE AND THE BUCHANAN by ANDREW REID
This story is about invention, and more importantly, the inventor. Reid's story starts out as straight forward Steampunk, and it continues in that genre until the end. But there's more important things told here than just that connected to the setting. It does get a bit heavy handed in what it says, but that works very well here. Reid is clearly someone to look for in the future.
GAME, SET AND MATCH by JULIET MCKENNA
This starts out looking like something completely different from what it turns out to be. This is very well written and has a nice rhythm to it. There's some very important points being made here. Your mileage may vary on whether it is too direct or not. Personally, I liked it a lot.
IN MEMORIAM by ROB HINES
Closer to what most people think of when you say Science Fiction than any other story in this anthology. This is about Artificial Intelligence and friendship. It took me a few pages to get into this story, solely because its style is so different from the other entries, but once I did I was stuck in. This is a powerful story. It packs a real punch and gets you thinking. Excellent work by Hines.
UNRAVEL by REN WAROM
A story of love lost, and a new beginning. Powerful. That's the first word that springs to mind when describing Warom's excellent story. This is a very emotional tale. It grabs you very early on and doesn't let go until long after you have read the last sentence. It's hard for me to come up with the words to describe how good I think this is. I can only urge you to read it for yourself.
MOTHER KNOWS BEST by SUZANNE MCLEOD
Longing for companionship can be made much harder with an interfering mother at your back. This feels like it's really lighthearted compared to the other stories in this anthology. But while it is fun, it is more than just a surface story. McLeod writes about something I think everyone who who has turned thirty can relate to, or at least empathise with, and she does it very well. I found it a really fun read, and like it a lot.
FRAGILE CREATIONS by ADRIAN TCHAIKOVSKY
Here we have a story of a noble who finds some mechanical artifacts enchanting, and their maker even more so. It takes a while to see where this is going, and it wasn't a big surprise. But that doesn't really matter, you will be happy to come along for the journey. This is well written and it tells a fascinating story. A very good ending to the anthology.
When I've read anthologies in the past it's usually been some sort of "Best of" or "Mammoth book of", or at least something that has some of the really big names of SFF attached to it. And there has always been at least one dud, stories that for some reason or other I didn't take to, that I could very well do without.
This anthology has none of those two things. (Well, the names are arguable. You'll probably recognise some of them.) There wasn't a single story here that I felt wasn't for me, or that I felt was below par. The quality of the storytelling is very high here, above what can be expected from any anthology. It really is consistently very good throughout. Every author in here has delivered something that they can be proud of, and something which I have really enjoyed.
The only story I feel like singling out from the pack (or should that be skulk?) is Ren Warom's. Even in this field of very good stories her offering stands out. It's slightly above the others in the impact it has, and it is clear that Warom is a very accomplished writer.
The theme for this anthology is given in the cover copy above. It isn't followed so strictly that it limits the stories we get. Most of them are Science Fiction in some form, but this is a really diverse offering. Even when what the stories tells us is very similar they do it in completely different ways. In fact this is the most diverse themed anthology I have ever read.
With such a diversity there really is something for everyone here. It doesn't matter if you think Science Fiction isn't your thing, it's used more as means than an end here. This is simply great storytelling regardless of what genre you define it as being.
Simpson has certainly done an excellent job of putting this together. Despite consisting of ten different stories in different settings, by ten different authors, this book flows very well as a whole. As an anthology this really is one of the greats, and it is one of my absolute top reads this year.
I can do nothing else to end this review than urge you to get a hold of this book. Especially for SFF fans this is an absolute must, and its SFF roots shouldn't stop you from grabbing it if you enjoy short stories. This is an anthology that should be read by everyone who enjoys a good story.
NOTE: An e-ARC of this was given to me by the publisher.