Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Olsen, Swans & Klons (2013)

Nora Olsen, Swans and Klons. Bold Strokes Books, 2013. Pp. 264. ISBN 978-1-6028287-4-2. $11.95.

Reviewed by Djibril al-Ayad

Swans and Klons, the second queer-themed YA novel (see The End) by New York-based author Nora Olsen, will be published this May by Bold Strokes Books, who specialise in LGBT literature in all genres, and is a light-hearted, fast-paced adventure in the utopia-turns-to-dystopia mould. The story follows two rebellious young girls, lovers, in a women-only world where all reproduction is performed via cloning, and a life of luxury, freedom, high culture and learning is supported by a large labor-pool of genetically inferior slave workers, as they fight to undermine their own privileged place in this society. The characters have teenage foibles, weaknesses and jargon, but ultimately are trying to be moral, and are strong and resourceful, against a sometimes baffling lack of resistance from their rulers. Apart from a tendency for blatant info-dump, especially early in the novel, and a sometimes naïve approach to genetics, this is a strikingly readable novel with appealing characters and an engaging premise that should keep young readers interested, whether the girls Olsen is specifically targeting who “can see themselves reflected in” a queer narrative, or a more general, open-minded readership.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

McCalla, Possibilities (2012)

Alicia McCalla, Possibilities. ffpincolor books, 2012. Pp 56. $1.22/£0.77/free.

Reviewed by Kate Onyett

This short book is a collection of flash fiction, with the prompt of a ‘mystical bracelet’ as the beginning element to be included in each tale. The style, setting, and development of that idea were then entirely each writer’s own work. Such a specific project is one of a positive intent, in this instance drawn together by Alicia McCalla; a ‘librarian and writer’ and a woman with a mission, if information about her is anything to go by. The decision to make this flash fiction, it speaks volumes (the volumes of continuous narrative that 500 words or less leaves lying in the lands of possibility) about that intention. Short, sharp and with a need to get flavour and intention across ASAP, this is designed as a book of impact—a fictional wow factor. And it works.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Kate (ed.) Wolf-Girls (2012)

Hannah Kate (ed.), Wolf-Girls: Dark Tales of Teeth, Claws and Lycogyny. Hic Dragones, 2012. Pp. 176. ISBN 978-0-9570292-3-1 (paperback). $7.99/£4.99 (e-book), £8.99 (pb).

Reviewed by Margrét Helgadóttir

This anthology is edited by poet and fantasy author Hannah Kate, also known as Dr. Hannah Priest at the University of Manchester, researcher on medieval romance, werewolves, fairies and contemporary fiction. Wolf-Girls was published as an e-book by the small press Hic Dragones in 2012. It has also been published in a limited print version. The anthology contains seventeen short stories by well established authors and a few newcomers. The tales span thematically from the Wild West to the Siberian wilderness, from the modern businesswoman who educates the new wolf to the neglected siblings who ends up with foster parents, or the warrior woman who stands up to King Richard. Wolf-Girls is a nice collection of tales in a broad range of genres and themes, well worth reading.