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WesternSFA
Tesseracts Seventeen
Edited by Colleen Anderson and Steve Vernon
Edge, $16.95 TPB, 267pp
Release Date: September 30, 2013
This is an anthology collection of short stories and poems of horror, science fiction and fantasy from authors residing in each of the provinces and territories of Canada . There are a total of twenty-nine. There is no central theme tying them together so the stories tend to be quite varied.

It starts off rather strong with a weird piece by Claude Lalumiere. I liked the tone and atmosphere; it was very intriguing – a young woman in Venice finds an ancient reference to an impossible bottle of wine…and then actually finds the wine. The wine transports her to a very different Venice .

The second story by Rhea Rose was downright creepy but except for the ending, seemed a bit trite. Lisa Smedman tried using the theme of ‘invented’ religions much like Scientology, to examine the conscience of a man credited with inventing The Church of Spock. His dilemma was his attempts to distance himself from the results; to no avail.

“Bird Bones” by Meg Fennell was very well-written and plotted. Two sons of a scientist, one of which is the subject of his father’s experiments in human ‘enhancement.’ But the point to the story is more about one brother’s loyalty to the other. I liked it. Rhonda Parrish wrote a haunting little story about the world as children see it. It was not unique but it was a nice story. Edward Willett’s story is notable only because I thought it somewhat pointless – an exercise in “what happens when a human accidently does something bad in an alien culture and has to pay for it.”

Mark Leslie’s take on the afterlife from a ghost’s point of view was fun – even in the afterlife, it’s hard to get good work. Alyxander Harvey wrote such an interesting story that I really wanted to read more. A girl in a warrior society who should be a slave but has such a unique and powerful magic that no one and nothing can control her.

Ben Godby had a strong SF story that harkened to Star Trek themes and I enjoyed it. Dave Beynon used an old Stephen King theme and I didn’t find it very appealing or original. “Graffiti Borealis” by Lisa Poh was very aptly named and quite original; what if the artist poured enough of their passion into the art to actually invest the art with life. And whose job was it to protect that art? Very nice one. Catherine Austen had a notably unoriginal story, smacked of Running Man or even Hunger Games.

The prize for weird has to go to Vincent Perkins; I can’t think of anything like it. And I’m not sure I even liked it. And my favorite of the whole bunch: “Hermione and Me” by Dwain Campbell. Yes, that Hermione, and a little girl who worries about her parents arguing, her father’s drinking and how to fit into school when she so obviously doesn’t fit anywhere. With an IQ in the upper atmosphere and some unique natural skills, she is surprisingly capable of warding off an alien abduction with the help of Hermione and a few special friends. This one was worth the whole book for me.

I have never learned appreciation for poetry so there’s no use my evaluating any of the poems – sorry. There were a great many more that I didn’t comment on – for various reasons. The story didn’t appeal, or I didn’t think the ending was strong enough. But, as with just about everything, you can’t please everyone. Others may like what I didn’t. On the whole, these are all well-written prose and I imagine that just about anyone with interest in science fiction, fantasy or dark fantasy will find enjoyment within these pages. ~~ Catherine Book

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