Thursday, January 14, 2010
Looking at the list of authors within, Dreaming Again promises to be good. Certainly, one expects a lot from an anthology that begins with Garth Nix, ends with Isobelle Carmody, and hosts names such as Sara Douglass, Kim Wilkins, and more in between. All stories within are either written by Australian authors or are about Australia. Dreaming Again contains thirty-five short stories written by thirty-five very talented authors. That is too many stories for me to review one-by-one so I am choosing to focus on a select few.
Dreaming Again serves up a variety of unique short stories promising to "celebrate the wild side of Australian fantasy" and ranging from dystopias to apocalypses to time travel to futuristic crime. It is hard to pick just one favourite story out of this collection. I absolutely loved The Jacaranda Wife by Angela Slatter, who created her own Australian legend surrounding the jacaranda trees. Speaking of legends, Manannan's Children by Russell Blackford and Conquist by Dirk Strasser were really enjoyable and Paradise Design'd by Janeen Webb was a really interesting take on the story of Adam and Eve, weaving dinosaurs into the picture.
Jason Fischer's Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh wins for having the best title and was one of th emost amusing the tales, but out of the zombie stories surely Heere Be Monsters by John Birmingham was the best. I simply loved the concept in this one and how the past collided with the future.
I found In From the Snow by Lee Battersby to be by far the most chilling. Strangely enough, as a fan of the flesh eating undead, cannibilism creeps me out everytime and combined with the pack mentality and family heirarchy this story sure scared me. People with an issue with blood might find This is My Blood by Ben Francisco and Chris Lynch to be a bit creepy but mostly I just found the culture presented to be fascinating. I really enjoyed the tone and setting of Nightship by Kim Westwood and particularly loved This Way to the Exit by Sara Douglass.
Neverland Blues by Adam Browne is by far the very strangest of all of the short stories in Dreaming Again. In this futuristic story, Michael Jackson (this was published prior to his death, just for the record) has undergone so many changes he is no longer physically human and now seeks to draw in a young companion to travel through space with him. I could not decide whether I liked it or not. It was just so strange.
The Constant Past by Sean McMullan is another of my favourites, with a modern day librarian trying to solve the mystery of a time travelling serial killer from the past. In contrast, I enjoyed Paul Collins' futuristic crime story about the murder of people's avatars, Lure, for the concept but overall it did not make it up into my list of favourites. Lost Arts by Stephen Dedman, on the otherhand, was a really enjoyable future crime story on the whole.
Dreaming Again is an unique anthology packed with a diverse range of tales of zombies, vampires, aliens, and ghost in the past, future, and present. Dreaming Again is rarely dull but in honesty chances are that a reader is not going to love each and every single one of the stories but it is surely a worthwhile read and an excellent showcase of Australian fiction.