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Dreaming Again edited by Jack Dann

Posted by travizzt on April 24, 2010

This anthology of Australian lore boasts a large amount of short stories. However, is Dreaming Again worth the amount or is it too much?


Dreaming Again
edited by Jack Dann was released in 2008 and published by Harper Collins Publishers. This is the sequel to 1998’s Dreaming Down-Under. This anthology is composed of thirty-five short stories written by Garth Nix, Richard Harland, Ben Francisco and Chris Lynch, Kim Westwood, Terry Dowling, Adam Browne, Angela Slatter, Sean McMullen, Kim Wilkins, Lucy Sussex, Sara Douglass, A. Bertram Chandler, Paul Collins, Simon Brown, Christopher Green, Jenny Blackford, Aaron Sterns, Jason Nahrung, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Stephen Dedman, Jason Fischer, Cecily Scutt, Rosaleen Love, Lee Battersby, Trudi Canavan, John Birmingham, Rowena Cory Daniells, Russell Blackford, Margo Lanagan, Rjurik Davidson, Janeen Webb, Trent Jamieson, Dirk Strasser, Peter M. Ball, and Isobelle Carmody. There is an introduction by Jack Dann. Before each story, a brief ‘about the author’ is given. Also, at the end of each story, there is a brief afterward which the story’s author tells their inspiration behind their story. This anthology showcases the best in Australian fiction writers.

“Introduction” by Jack Dann- I don’t have that much to say about the introduction, mostly because it’s just the editor hyping the anthology. What is interesting is the background behind Dreaming Again.

“Old Friends” by Garth Nix is about a man who tries to contact some old friends to help him fight off old enemies. The friends don’t answer, leaving the man alone to face his death.
Negatives:
1) Point of View. I didn’t really care for the first person viewpoint. It wasn’t bad, but there were times it didn’t seem to work very well.
Positives:
1) Build Up. I really like the build up the story has. You are never sure what is going to happen until the last few pages when you realize that things are not what they appear to be. I just really enjoyed not really knowing who this person is and the sense of not knowing pays off in the end.
2) Length. I really did like how short the story was. At nine pages, it isn’t long and that was all that was needed. If it was longer, I would have been bored. If it was shorter, I would have been confused and disappointed.
Overall: 4/5
* This was a nice little story. I liked the build up. The first person viewpoint was a little awkward at times, but at nine pages, this is worth the short read.

“A Guided Tour in the Kingdom of the Dead” by Richard Harland takes place in Egypt and is about an Australian man named Gordon Sturman telling an American PhD named Webber about his tour into the Kingdom of the Dead. Webber finds Sturman ill and finds out the man is dying while telling Webber what he saw in the Kingdom of the Dead.
Negatives:
None.
Positives:
1) Fantastical Descriptions. I was really impressed with the descriptions of the Kingdom of the Dead that Sturman tells Webber. They were vivid, yet foreign and unknown. Basically, it’s something you could picture but not comprehend.
2) Naguib. He was Sturman’s guide to the Kingdom, and he steals the story. I don’t know what it is, but I just knew he was up to something constantly. He had a creepy factor that radiated from him that is hard to really explain.
Overall: 5/5
* I really, really enjoyed this story a lot. It could be because I’ve always been interested in Egyptian myths and history. Aside from my personal bias, I thought that the story was just good. It had this creepy/ horror feel to it and it just worked. The things that Sturman saw on his trip really echos some of the circles in The Inferno by Dante Alighieri, with some of the locations. I’m just impressed.

“This is My Blood” by Ben Francisco and Chris Lynch is about a trip of a Catholic missionary to a planet called Stark to teach the Bible to alien lifeforms called Survari. The missionary, Mother Rena, is to take the place of another missionary who went missing and to try to find him. But she soon finds out that the gap between her and the Survari is larger than she thought.
Negatives:
1) Preachy. I felt that the story is slightly too preachy. It’s a personal issue, but I bothered me nonetheless. However, it’s not a big problem because, well just look at a positive.
2) Love. The love interest was just sudden and a dues ex machina. Yes, it made for an interesting ending, but it just was sudden. I mean, I understand that one may long for something like that after so long, but it was just sudden. I mean there was absolutely no chemistry between the two.
Positives:
1) Message. I did enjoy the message that was given, even if that’s not the intentional message. My interpretation of the message is that converting people to a religion does have major consequences. It was presented fairly well and it made the story all the more interesting.
2) Mother Rena. I did really like her character. She had a certain presence and way to convert Christianity’s message with things that the natives believe. It was just interesting.
Overall: 4/5
* This was a fairly enjoyable story. Yes, it had a few problems that I didn’t care for, but it was hard to put down for too long.

“Nightship” by Kim Westwood is about a dystopian future where the sun doesn’t shine, sexes aren’t known until the child is past puberty, and the ruling people are cruel and heartless.
Negatives:
1) Plot? I’m really not sure if there was a plot. The story is basically describing the setting, and towards the end, there was some sort of tacked on plot, but it’s still unclear. It doesn’t help that the writing style is so awful that you couldn’t understand what was happening.
2) Writing Style. I really didn’t care for how this was written. It was just confusing, lazy, and rushed. A lot of sentences didn’t make much sense, because there were words missing from them. A lot of the sentences felt like I was reading a text message. It just was awful. I mean, if the story was in a journal type of format, it wouldn’t be half bad. But it just seemed like the sentences weren’t structured well enough and everything other paragraph made me say, “Huh?” It’s just confusing. Even the afterward has this rushed writing style.
3) Caring. Honestly, I really didn’t care for any of the characters in the story. Everyone felt hollow and they only seemed to be included to just move the story along. I wanted to care, but I just didn’t.
Positives:
1) Setting. I really did enjoy the dystopian setting that was given. The only problem with this is that there were so many things left unanswered that needed answers. But overall, the setting was dark and different, and I really enjoyed it.
Overall: 1/5
* This story was just bad. I didn’t care for any of the characters, the writing style was just confusing and awful, and I don’t even think there was a plot. The setting, while still confusing and left so many things unanswered. For example, what is with the gender issues? I will place the blame on the awful writing style. I really think everything wrong can be traced back to the confusing style. It just wasn’t fun to read.

“The Fooly” by Terry Dowling is about a man by the name of Charlie, returning home from the local pub, when he encounters something unnatural that tricks his mind. Or does it?
Negatives:
1) Who? There were times when I had no idea who was talking. It seemed like the same person is doing the talking while the other should have been the one with the dialogue. It was noticeable enough that it got me out of the story and broke the immersion factor.
Positives:
1) Creepy. I do have to say that the story was creepy. It did have a terror aspect of seeing this character experience what is being told to him, and I really liked that. It wasn’t scary or disturbing, it felt more Hitchcockian.
2) Length. Once again, we have a shorter story, clocking in at about seven pages. I generally do not like short stories that are this short, but in this case, it really made it that much better. It was simple and to the point. I’m amazed that something so short can be so enjoyable.
Overall: 4/5
* This was a real enjoyable, quick read. It had a creepy feeling to it that just plain worked. Even with some dialogue issues, it still was a great story.

“Neverland Blues” by Adam Browne takes place in the future and is about a space ship that is embodied by the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson. Weird yet? Just wait. So Michael is “spying” on a boy by the name of Salim and is being led to Michael Jackson’s ship by Michael himself.
Negatives:
1) Disturbing. The Michael Jackson scenes were just plain uncomfortable. I couldn’t stand reading them. They were unsettling and just plain disturbing. It makes me ask, “Why?” Why included something so ridiculous, so creepy, so stereotypical that it just becomes annoying and plain stupid?
2) Poor Exposition. There were parts of the story where Michael would pop up for a sentence or to and pop back out. And it always happened when the real interesting parts were happening, thus destroying anything that was good with the story.
Positives:
1) Salim. I did like his tale. Sure there wasn’t a lot to be said about him, but it was enough to make things somewhat interesting. I just wish the story would have been focused more on Salim and not on Michael.
Overall: 1/5
* Why am I giving such a bad grade? Michael Jackson. Now I don’t have a problem with a story about Michael, but this is just ludicrous and disgusting. It’s just embarrassing and in poor taste.

“The Jacaranda Wife” by Angela Slatter is an Australian fable about Jacaranda trees spawning a woman out of them, who are thought to bring grief with them. A man named James Willoughby finds one such woman outside and falls madly in love with her, but as the superstition goes, they bring grief.
Negatives:
None.
Positives:
1) Fable. The whole superstitious aspect of the story really made it better. It was a nice to see other cultures superstitions added, it made the story more interesting.
2) Simple. I really enjoyed the simplicity of the storytelling. Having the story being told in this way gives the story a fable-like quality to it.
Overall: 5/5
* It’s not ground breaking, it’s just a simple and enjoyable fable.

“The Constant Past” by Sean McMullen follows a library receptionist and his encounter with a time traveler from the 1800’s. After noticing the travelers deep interest with a female poet of the 1800’s, the receptionist begins to see that the traveler is as dangerous and deadly as they come.
Negatives:
1) Pace. The pacing was a tad bit to slow at times. Overall, it doesn’t really slow the story too much, but it does make it a little awkward during certain parts. In those times, you are taken out of the story.
Positives:
1) Science. I really enjoyed the whole science that the past does remain a constant, to some extent. I can’t give much away without spoiling things, but it is an interesting idea.
2) Finding Out. It was also very interesting and exciting to see the main character found out who this traveler is, but like the above positive, I can’t say much without spoiling things.
Overall: 4/5
* This was a really enjoyable short story that makes you think about the consequences of knowing the future.

“The Forest” by Kim Wilkins is a retelling of the fable of Hansel and Gretel.
Negatives:
1) Dirty Feeling. I just had a very dirty, disgusted feeling reading some of this, mostly do to the fact that Hansel and Gretel have ‘feelings’ toward one another. Here, they are just step-siblings, but it still is a little disgusting.
Positives:
1) Retelling. The retelling itself was interesting. It didn’t really add anything new except the step-siblings are being thrown out by their parents and try to make it home in an urban environment. It just was different enough to be intriguing.
Overall: 3/5
* This is just an average story really. It’s an okay read, if you can make it pass Hansel and Gretel’s ‘relationship’.

“Robots & Zombies, Inc.” by Lucy Sussex is about a man, with two identities, talking with some interviewer about a ‘subject’ being a robot and another ‘subject’ being a zombie. The man, depending on the subject in question, was talking about who these things were and what he did with them.
Negatives:
1) Confusing. I really had no idea what was going on. It’s not because the question weren’t asked, but because the answers were so ‘out there’ that I just couldn’t believe them, let alone follow it.
2) Length. This was a case when a story is just too short. Four full pages and two half pages do not make a very engaging story. If you want to be technical, if you remove the breaks between answers, it would probably be just four pages. It’s just too short.
Positives:
1) Quick. The only positive to the length is that it is really fast to read.
2) Conspiracy. It did have a decent conspiracy going. But it just suffers from length.
Overall: 1/5
* The story is just confusing and way too short. It does have a decent conspiracy theory, but it falls flat due to the confusing, quick pacing. This is a case where the story needed to be longer and more detailed.

“This Way to the Exit” by Sara Douglass is about an abandoned London underground rail station that closed due to ‘an engineering blunder’. What could have caused a station to close in less than a year of being open?
Negatives:
1) Ending. I didn’t care for how it ended, and I will not spoil it. It just ruined any sense of mystery that the story had.
Positives:
1) Mystery. I really did enjoy, up until the ending ruined it, the whole spiritual aspect of what was happening. It worked in a way that I wouldn’t have thought it would work.
2) Kemp and Gordon. These characters were interesting. You could call them some sort of 1890 version of a present day paranormal investigator, but they really made the story a little more interesting. They weren’t ‘great’ characters, but after reading this, I want to read more about who they are and what they have done.
Overall: 4/5
* This is a fairly good suspense filled mystery story that would have been better if the mystery wasn’t revealed at the end.

“Grimes and the Gaijin Daimyo” by A. Bertram Chandler is about the space ship captain John Grimes and his time traveling experience to stop history from being rewritten.
Negatives:
1) Tech Talk. The technical talk was confusing to me. Now, I admit I’m not really smart with techno-babble, but I can follow it, most of the time. However, most of what was mentioned in the story, I was just plain lost with.
Positives:
1) John Grimes. I really liked his character and I want to read more of his adventures. He’s the type of character you can’t help but to like. He had a charming, charismatic personality that draws you in.
2) Story. I really did enjoy the story, or what I could understand. It wasn’t overly complex (aside from the tech talk), and it just was enjoyable.
Overall: 4/5
* A pretty good story with an interesting and charismatic protagonist. The only problem was that the techno babble just went over my head.

“Lure” by Paul Collins is about a virtual world in which someone is murdering people’s virtual avatars and must be stopped. The detective on the case, Angel Hart, is having a relationship with a married, famous author and uses this to help catch the killer.
Negatives:
1) Confusing. The two plots, the murder mystery and love story, just made things hard to really follow. They didn’t seem to fit together and focused more on the love story then on the murder mystery aspect, which was far more intriguing.
2) Love Story. I really loathed reading it. It just was so sloppy, boring, and depended too much on sex to sell it to the reader. Not once did I believe these two characters even liked one another, there just was absolutely no chemistry between them.
Positives:
1) Virtual World. I did think that the virtual world was really interesting. It had the Second Life feel to it, but everything was taken a step further. It was disturbing that it could happen that one day, the ‘real life’ will not be as exciting as a virtual one.
2) Murder Mystery. I really enjoyed this plot. The whole idea that someone is killing these avatars was just interesting, and that the people whose avatars were being killed are killing themselves over it.
Overall: 2/5
* The story was confusing, the plots didn’t work together and made the story a mess. Also, the love story (or cheating relationship, not really sure what to call it) just was unbelievably boring and it felt sloppy. At least the virtual world idea was interesting enough.

“Empire” by Simon Brown takes another look at H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds and changes how humankind was really saved.
Negatives:
None.
Positives:
1) Story. I really liked how the story unfolded. The flashbacks intertwined with the ‘present’ was really smooth. The actual story itself was interesting in that, instead of the Martians contracting a flu, it was the masses hanging on and I hate to say it, but does make a better ending.
2) Isaac and Leonard. They were just likeable and enjoyable to read about. I’m not even sure why, but they just had a carefree attitude that you couldn’t help but like.
Overall: 5/5
* This was an interesting take on the War of the Worlds and it really worked well. It was enjoyable and had great characters.

“Lakeside” by Christopher Green is about a young woman who is playing with a baby while her mother ‘entertains’ some male guests.
Negatives:
1) Length. Another story that is only about five full pages. While it’s not as bad as some of the previous stories, it’s still a little annoying here. It just seemed like there needs to be a little more told.
Positives:
1) Creepy. I just felt like the story was incredibly creepy with the baby. You didn’t really know what or who this baby was and it just made things all the more disturbing and interesting.
Overall: 3/5
* This is just an okay story. The length is an issue, I thought it should have been a little longer, but even so, it was just as creepy.

“Troll’s Night Out” by Jenny Blackford is about a former couple having a dinner together to catch up when in comes a group of overly muscular women who the man lovely refers to them as “Trolls”. If only he knew the truth.
Negatives:
1) Predictable. The ‘twists’ were predictable and not a shock. From the beginning of the story you knew these two people were not what they appeared to be and after a couple of pages you could guess what they were. It just wasn’t unexpected and it was a let down.
Positives:
1) Lore. I did enjoy some of the lore that was created in the story. The whole back story of what Trolls are and everything was interesting.
Overall: 3/5
* The story was just average. It was too predictable but the Troll lore was interesting. Everything else was just decent.

“The Rest is Silence” by Aaron Sterns is about a man facing his past and his past facing him.
Negatives:
1) The Ending. I didn’t really care for the ending. It felt like it ruined the horror aspect with the man character figuring out what was happening. It’s not terrible, but it feels unfinished and finished to soon at the same time.
Positives:
1) Horror. The story really did have a horror feel to it, with the bloodshed and ghosts of the past reappearing. Some parts were down right disturbing (in a good way) and they worked perfectly.
2) Story. I really enjoyed it. Like I mentioned, it was disturbing and it just added to what this man was going through. I really didn’t expect the story to take a turn like it did and I was glad it did.
Overall: 4/5
* This was just a great, bloody horror story. The ending was a little odd and didn’t seem to work, but the disturbing imagery was just wonderful.

“Smoking, Waiting for the Dawn” by Jason Nahrung is about a vampire hunter named George investigating a murder that involves a vampire, along with a person from his past.
Negatives:
1) Slow. The story was a little slow in its pacing. There was a lot of descriptions that kind of blogged the pacing and flow down.
Positives:
1) Descriptions. Even though the descriptions made the story a little slower to read, they were really good. You could picture what was being described.
2) Story. The story was great. It pulled you into this world were things like vampires and the undead exist. The overall theme, of what a family can do to a person, was great. It just was interesting.
Overall: 4/5
* The pacing was slowed by the wonderful descriptions, but the story was wonderful.

“The Lanes of Camberwell” by Cecilia Dart-Thornton is about a woman named Jenny visiting a friend named Julia after Julia was having some problems. Jenny learns that Julia fell in love with an old acquaintance and that he went missing after searching for the Lanes of Camberwell.
Negatives:
1) Theories. The theories that the acquaintance, Daniel, has are very hard to follow. It could be that he was talking about something so ‘out there’ that I couldn’t comprehend or it could have been that it just was boring. I’m leaning more towards the boring.
2) Boring. I hate to say it but the story was boring. It was basically a trip into ones past, walking the same ways you’d walked when you were younger and reminiscing of those days. It could have been interesting if there wasn’t so many pauses to have Daniel explain his theories. It got to the point where the reminiscing and theories became not only annoying but unbearable to read.
Positives:
1) Characters. I did like the characters because each person was different. You had Jenny being a skeptical friend to Julia’s mental instability. Then you had Daniel’s philosophizing and theories of lanes and foot paths. Each was unique and different.
Overall: 2/5
* To sum up this story in one word you’d have to use boring. The theories are lost on me because it just seemed like some incoherent ramblings of a mad man, and they were boring. The characters were good, but they didn’t really help the boredom I felt when reading this.

“Lost Arts” by Stephen Dedman is about a utopian society where everything is readily available and there are virtually no crimes, except when one of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings are missing when arriving on the planet.
Negatives:
1) Errors. This is the first story that I noticed editing errors. They weren’t terrible mistakes, but having missing words in the dialogue is noticeable and surprising. For example, the main character was talking with her AI about memory erasing when she says this; “Sometimes I envy you AIs that ability”. Isn’t that missing the word “for”? That makes the sentence a little awkward and you subconsciously put in the word.
Positives:
1) Story. I really did enjoy the story. It was different and interesting take on a perfect future. It was interesting to see how lovingly these people love works of art, so much that if they are stolen or destroyed, it seemed like the criminal would get a more extreme punishment then if they just did an actual crime. It was engaging enough that I didn’t feel bored when reading.
2) Ending. I really liked the ending and I will not spoil anything about it. I will say that it was surprising.
Overall: 4/5
* I really enjoyed the story a lot. The problem is the editing errors. Yes, they aren’t horrible but it was distracting enough to take me out of the wonderful story.

“Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh” by Jason Fischer is about a post zombie plague Australia where we find two criminals stealing money from a farmer and are on the run. At the same time, we find a zombie roaming the plains and comes across some camels. Horror, terror, and humor follows.
Negatives:
None.
Positives:
1) Comical. There were some comical parts that were actually funny. For example, late in the story, one criminal tries to get away from a camel with a little girl’s pink bicycle. Then the whole story had a black comedy feel to it, which is always great.
2) Story. The story I found to be really enjoyable. You have the humor and the horror meshing together very well. The story, while starting slow, really keeps you engaged and wanting to keep turning the pages.
Overall: 5/5
* This was just a great horror story with a lot of humor in it. It really meshed the two together well.

“Europa” by Cecily Scutt is about an older man facing his fears of the ocean, as well as his past.
Negatives:
1) Time Jumps. The jumps between Yanni’s, the old man, past and present are just sloppy. When it first happens, I couldn’t tell it was the past until the third or fourth time this happened. The clues and hints weren’t well placed and seemed to rely on the reader actually knowing the characters.
2) Confusing. The story is very confusing. This is due to the time jumps, because up until the end I had no idea what was happening and what the story even was about. I still don’t know what the whole point is.
Positives:
1) Greek Myth. I did like the inclusion of a Greek myth, except it was hard to identify. It made the story slightly better.
2) Quick. The story finishes fairly quickly, and that is always welcome.
Overall: 2/5
* Confusing is probably the best way to sum up the story. The time jumps are horrible and hard to tell they happened. At least it was a quick read.

“Riding on a Q-Ball” by Rosaleen Love is about a futurist, someone who theorizes space and time, investigating an unusual event at a trucking company, only to be taken on a ride to save the universe.
Negatives:
1) Techno-babble. I mentioned earlier that tech talk is lost on me. Here, I’m thoroughly confused. I honestly have no idea what most of the words and ideas are and I can’t even wrap my head around them.
2) Ending. I didn’t really care for the ending too much. It kind of ruins the story with the made up silly excuse as to who a certain person was and why they were there.
Positives:
1) Story. Aside from the techno-babble and the poor ending, the story was interesting and unique.
Overall: 3/5
* This isn’t really an average story. It is interesting and if you’re a fan of ‘out there’ science and techno-babble, then you may enjoy the story more than I did.

“In From the Snow” by Lee Battersby is about a family of hunters surviving the winter when a young woman comes and tells of a wild man, the father of the family, attacking her caravan. The oldest boy goes to investigate and take his place as head of the family.
Negatives:
1) Ending. The ending disturbed me, a lot. I won’t say why, but what is with these authors and their sick and disturbing sexual ideas?
Positives:
1) Story. Aside from the disturbing ending, it was really good and interesting. I was really impressed by how these hunters work and how the oldest boy deals with the problem of the Father and the caravan.
2) Disturbing. This is the good kind of disturbing and not the gross kind that was before. The whole idea behind the family reminds me of a native tribe of cannibalistic survivors living off the land and the hunt. It was disturbing, yet in a good way.
Overall: 4/5
* The story was good and interesting. The ending kind of left me feeling dirty and unclean, but it does fit the mood of the story.

“The Lost Property Room” by Trudi Canavan is about a woman who forgets her umbrella on the train and goes to the lost property room to see if it’s there. Instead, she finds a different one and takes it with her, only to find out that she was only supposed to take her own.
Negatives:
None.
Positives:
1) Simple. The story is simple yet very enjoyable. It’s easy to understand and can be somewhat believable.
2) Fun. It was a fun story to read, mostly due to its simplicity. It’s not really funny, but at felt like a lighthearted story.
Overall: 5/5
* I really just liked the story, and I really have no solid reason other than it’s fun and simple.

“Heere Be Monsters” by John Birmingham is about a British expedition to find the colony of Australia, but that’s not all they find.
Negatives:
1) Beginning. The start of the story was just horrible. It was dry, boring, and felt like a chore when reading. The problem was too much exposition and background, instead of getting into the story.
Positives:
1) Rest of the Story. Wow, was it exciting. The beginning may have turned me off if not for the rest of the story. It was exciting and action packed. I was just blown away by how good it ended up being.
2) Twist. The twist was expected, but at the same time it wasn’t. Early in the story you could tell something is off about what they found, and at the end you wouldn’t believe what was off. Also having the twist not be the main focus really worked surprisingly well. If you were reading it, you may miss it, it’s that subtle and great.
Overall: 4/5
* The beginning was terrible, but surprisingly the story was amazing. It goes from boring, dry exposition to action packed excitement and it was a pleasant shock.

“Purgatory” by Rowena Cory Daniells is about a futuristic society that has a terrible virus loose. A researcher, Lillith, thinks she discovered the cure and is going to use it on her ‘sick’ husband.
Negatives:
1) Perspective Change. The story is told through Lillith’s eyes, in a first person point of view. This is the way most of the story is told, until late in the story, it suddenly shifts into a third person view of Lillith’s husband. The shift comes without warning and it doesn’t help that I didn’t have a section break in my copy to know that something has changed. Because of that, for half of the husband’s part, I still read it like Lillith was the narrator. It just was sloppy.
Positives:
1) Virus. I really liked the virus and what it was that it affected. It was an interesting take on a problem that is known but not excepted as a problem. It just was good.
2) Story. Even though the point of view changed, the story didn’t really suffer. It was an interesting way to tell a story, and it worked with the changing viewpoints. You see the problem through the eyes of someone who knows it’s a problem then to see the what the other person does who has the virus was interesting.
Overall: 4/5
* I really enjoyed the story and I liked how the virus isn’t really a virus, but the sudden change in perspective was jarring and sloppy.

“Manannan’s Children” by Russell Blackford is a new take on an Irish myth of Oisin and Niamh. Oisin is a warrior who finds out he is immortal from Niamh, and after spending centuries together, Oisin has to make a choice.
Negatives:
1) Pacing. The story unfolds a little to slowly. When ever something is going on, it seemed like it took a while for what ever it was to happen. It’s not too bad, but there were times when the story just dragged on.
Positives:
1) Trials. I do like the three trials and what they represent in Oisin’s life and how he somehow escapes them. Each one was different and unique.
Overall: 3/5
* After I finished reading this story, it dawned on me that it’s just average. When I was reading it, I really liked it. But nothing really struck me as bad or even good, after finishing it. It’s just average.

“The Fifth Star in the Southern Cross” by Margo Lanagan is set in a dystopian future where birthing perfect babies is uncommon and having a ‘normal’ family life is unheard of.
Negatives:
1) Ending. The story just suddenly ended. There was no explanations or a reasonable conclusion, it just ended. I wanted to know what happens to the main character, but all we got was sleep over taking him.
Positives:
1) Setting. I really do like the dystopian settings, and here it’s no different. The world is just great and I would be willing to read more about it.
Overall: 2/5
* The ending is what ruins the story. I can understand if it ended on a cliffhanger, but just ending a story with nothing going on or nothing happens is just wrong.

“Twilight in Caeli-Amur” by Rjurik Davidson is about a man going to gather some books from a powerful theorist’s wife, and what he finds out about who really wrote those books.
Negatives:
None.
Positives:
1) Descriptions. The descriptions were really impressive. The mansion the man goes to is described vividly enough that you really can picture it.
2) Story. I really enjoyed reading the story. It was simple, yet complex. There was enough to keep me interested and excited to see what happens next.
Overall: 5/5
* This was just a fun story to read. The descriptions were great, the characters were good, and everything just seemed to work.

“Paradise Design’d” by Janeen Webb is a retelling of Adam and Eve, but with dinosaurs. Roar.
Negatives:
1) Beginning. There is a slight problem with the beginning that I noticed concerning the archangels. The speak normally without the “thou’s” and “thy’s”. It’s not a problem, just it felt awkward to read their dialogue like a normal person.
Positives:
1) Retelling. I really liked the retelling of the Adam and Eve story. It was humorous and still held the same impact that the original story has. It was interesting to see how the dinosaurs were incorporated in.
2) Archangels. I really liked them. They brought some humor to the story. They really sold the story for me.
Overall: 4/5
* I really liked the retelling of the casting out of Eden and as we all know, things with dinosaurs in them just make everything that much better. The only issue I had is with the archangels dialogue between each other seemed to be a little awkward and had more of a ‘recent day’ feel to it.

“The New Deal” by Trent Jamieson is about two cops investigating two bodies found on a roof. On the bodies are a rabbit’s foot and a family photo. After given a warning to let the case go, one cop named Ulmer, can’t let it go and causes things to change.
Negatives:
None.
Positives:
1) Tone. I really liked the tone of the story. It’s dark and twisted, and has this Noir style to it that just makes it feel surreal and creepy all the time.
2) Story. The story is good as well. As Ulmer keeps getting deeper into what is going on, things go from bad to worse, and it’s just so engaging to read. I really could not put it down.
Overall: 5/5
* This is one of the more enjoyable stories of the anthology just because of its gritty and dark tone.

“Conquist” by Dirk Strasser follows a group of Spanish conquistadors searching for new lands in New Spain, but get transported into a new world.
Negatives:
1) Dry. The story is slow, boring, and dry. The way things are written just made reading the story feel like a chore. It doesn’t help that a previous story, John Birmingham’s “Heere Be Monsters”, was much better and more engaging at the start. For half of the story, it felt like nothing happened.
Positives:
1) Idea. I really did like the idea of Spanish conquistadors ‘invading’ a new, fantasy world. Their drive for gold and preaching ‘God’s Will’ to turn the inhabitants was written really well and made the story a little engaging and exciting, but it wasn’t enough. It just had a good premise.
Overall: 3/5
* This was a case of an interesting premise and idea gone wrong. If the story didn’t take so long to develop like it did, it would have been better.

“The Last Great House of Isla Tortuga” by Peter M. Ball is about a young pirate visiting a brothel that doesn’t have the usual fare of women.
Negatives:
1) Predictable. There is a certain character trait of the main character that you can see after a few pages. It always seems like pirate stories seem to have that one character that isn’t who they say they are.
Positives:
1) Story. I really liked the story. Having these ‘working girls’ be dead and the mystery why the pirates keep coming back was intriguing and different.
2) Tobias. The main character, who goes by the name Toby or Tobias, was interesting. Yes, Toby was predictable in who Toby really was, but the conversation with the ‘working girl’ and memories that the main character had were unique in a way.
Overall: 4/5
* The story, while insanely predictable, was interesting enough.

“Perchance to Dream” by Isobelle Carmody is about a woman named Anna trapped in her own dream.
Negatives:
None.
Positives:
1) Characters. Probably some of the best characters in the anthology. They are unique and extremely enjoyable to read about.
2) Story. It just was good. Everything just seemed to work together and fit just right.
3) Psychology. I’m a sucker for psychology and dream interpretation. I love that stuff and here, it’s just in abundance.
Overall: 5/5
* Yeah, so this is a cop-out review. It’s the last story in the anthology, which is a plus, but that’s not all. Everything is great about this story, and I mean everything. The characters are great, the story is just wonderful, and it seemed like everything just worked.

To end the anthology, we get a few pages on the book’s editor, Jack Dann. I’m not going to go into this.

OVERALL AVERAGED ANTHOLOGY: 4/5
PERSONAL OVERALL ANTHOLOGY:2/5
Final Thoughts:
First let me address why I have two overall grades. The first grade is the averaged grade and is self-explanatory. The second is what I felt the anthology should be. This was a soul sucking book to read. Why? Because it’s TOO LONG. Thirty-five short stories may be awesome and great, but to read so many stories, it physically hurt. Also, I’m not a fan of ‘real world’ fiction. It bores me. I don’t mean to sound obnoxious, but it just isn’t interesting to me. Now I like things I can image and know they aren’t real, hence why I love fantasy novels. I love being able to see another world where modern-day things don’t exist. It like to use my imagination. I’m not saying this anthology is bad, it’s actually very good. It just isn’t my personal preference. I do recommend picking it up, most of the stories are worth the read.
Stories You Should Read:
1) “A Guided Tour of the Dead” by Richard Harland
2) “The Jacaranda Wife” by Angela Slatter
3) “Lure” by Simon Brown
4) “Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh” by Jason Fischer
5) “The Lost Property Room” by Trudi Canavan
6) “Twilight in Caeli-Amur” by Rjurik Davidson
7) “The New Deal” by Trent Jamieson
8) “Perchance to Dream” by Isobelle Carmody
Stories That You Should Avoid:
1) “Nightship” by Kim Westwood
2) “Neverland Blues” by Adam Browne
3) “Robots & Zombies, Inc.” by Lucy Sussex

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