The Refrigerator Monologues (Saga Press, 2017) by Catherynne Valente is a beautiful, but challenging, read. The difficulty is not in the writing, but rather in the content, as the narrative follows the women who have been part of a super hero’s life and died as a result of their romantic entanglements. While some of the individual stories are less brutal than others, the book as a whole is an excellent look of how women have been treated by comic book writers over the years.
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Cassilda’s Song (Chaosium, 2015), edited by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., contains 18 tales of the mythos of the King in Yellow, all written by female authors. These stories explore many facets of Cassilda, one of the characters from Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow collection of short stories. As Chambers’ stories and the purported apocryphal play revolve around madness induced by contact with the King in Yellow, so too do the stories in this anthology.
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Behind the Mask (Meerkat Press, 2017) is a collection of twenty super hero stories, but you won’t find a lot of knock-down, drag-out fights between heroes and villains in this anthology. Instead, Behind the Mask focuses on super heroes dealing with matters of everyday life, while still having powers, nemeses, and the myriad other issues with which super heroes are confronted.
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Never Now Always by Desirina Boskovich (Broken Eye Books, 2017) is a young adult novella that explores memory, time, and family. Lolo is one of the “rapt children,” young people who are studied by aliens known as the Caretakers. The Caretakers keep these children in their labs because they are interested in learning more about how humans process memories. During one of her memory sessions, Lolo recalls that she has a sister, and after that moment, she rebels against the Caretakers’ normal system in a desperate search for her missing sister.
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Jaym Gates’s collection, The Shattered Queen & Other New Mythologies: A Broken City Miscellany (Falstaff Books, 2016), is a collection of 26 short prose pieces, some of which are more lyrical or poetic than story, and others that create entire worlds in the span of scant few pages. Of the pieces, half are reprints, while the other half are new to this collection.
While all of the pieces are beautifully written, some of the stories stuck with me longer than others. “First Step, Last Breath” tells the story of explorers in over their heads. Using a parallel structure, the reader slowly comes to understand more and more of the truths behind this story, and its inevitable ending.
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