Monday, April 30, 2012
In The Muse, Fred Warren took us to a world where imagination reigned supreme, and inspiration was a matter of life and death. Now, follow him through the twists and turns of twenty-two bizarre tales, where odd is commonplace, little things make all the difference, and miracles are everywhere, if you know where to look: An office temp thinks he has the world's worst job, until he spends a day sitting in for the Devil. Stolen fruit provides sweet justice in a city ruled by magic. In a world where two minds can share the same body, running afoul of the law has horrifying consequences. A young woman discovers something growing in the fields outside her village--something wonderful...and terrible. Do the impossible. Change the future. Save the world. All you need is one odd little miracle.
'Bizarre tales' is right. These stories are fun, creepy, and extraordinarily bizarre. Several of them, including Weightless and a Quiet Afternoon at the Alabaster Ladies' Sewing Circle and Patchwork Society have crazy twists at the end--with creepiness added to the latter. Belphemor's Minion was a hilarious piece of fantasy work that reminded me of Warren's two novels, The Muse and the Seer, both of which I enjoyed.
I'd suggest 14 and up for this collection, mainly because I don't think younger kids would quite get some of the stories (and some of them might be a little too creepy/weird). All in all, if you enjoyed Fred Warren's novels or want to try reading a new author, Odd Little Miracles is a good collection.
Rating: Four out of five stars
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Friday, April 13, 2012
Friday, April 6, 2012
Hey all! Welcome to another Character Hijack, this time from my co-writer LoriAnn (Elyn)'s character in Falls the Shadow, Skylar Bench.
Host: Hi, and welcome to Character Hijack, where your favorite characters answer some of your most pressing questions. I’m your host, LoriAnn Weldon, and today we’re going to be meeting on of my favorite characters: Skylar Bench, one of the three main characters from the someday-will-be-award-winning novel Falls the Shadow, a Christian steampunk tale co-written by three talented authors. Skylar, welcome to the show.
Skylar: What kind of show are you talking about?
Host: Never mind that. How are you?
Skylar: …Good, I think. (looks around) Somewhat confused…
Host: Good, good. So, Skylar, we’ve been dying to get to know you a bit better. Would you mind answering some questions for us?
Skylar: Who’s “us”?
Host: Never mind that either.
Host: To begin with, Skylar, what is your full name?
Skylar: I’m Skylar Bench, but some folks call me Sky. Coll and Libby, mostly.
Host: And why do they call you that?
Skylar: Why do they call you Host?
Host: Er…they don’t.
Skylar: Well, that’s what it says every time you say something. Host. Just like my stuff says Skylar.
Host: You’re not supposed to be able to see that.
Skylar: You didn’t hide it very well.
Host: Never mind. Just answer the question, please?
Skylar: Sky is short for Skylar. It’s only one syllable, and it’s easy to yell. No profound meaning there.
Host: Great. Right. Um…What do you look like?
Skylar: Can’t you see me?
Host: Well I can, but the folks at home can’t.
Skylar: (long pause) The who?
Host: Skylar…just cooperate, please.
Skylar: (sighs) I’m almost six foot, my hair is shaggy and kind of the same color as the mud by the river. My right eye is regular green, but the left one is green glass in a brass frame, because my left eye, arm, and leg are all brass prosthetics. I’m kinda wiry; my legs especially are long and lanky. My face is sort of bony—not really handsome in any way, I don’t think. It’s too pointed and angled to be good-looking.
Host: I personally think you’re very good looking.
Skylar: I personally have this weird feeling that you might be biased.
Host: (nervous laugh) So, Skylar, tell us a little bit about this adventure that you’re currently involved in—no spoilers though!
Skylar: Seeing as I don’t know what’s going to happen—that would be you—I really don’t think I could give any spoilers.
Skylar: Right now, I’m working with my friend Libby at a hidden library. I do odd-jobs around the place and she teaches me to read. My friend Coll just found out about it, though, and…yeah. Things are a little sticky at the moment.
Host: What about Maricossa? How well do you know him?
Skylar: You know…that’s a really good question. I don’t think I really know anything about him. He can read—and in more than one language—but I’ve never seen where he lives or heard him say what he does for a living. He comes around to talk to the Professor every once in a while, but…he’s one of those guys that you never feel quite sure about.
Host: Well, now we know about your present…but let’s learn a bit about your past. If it’s not too painful to ask, what happened to your parents?
Skylar: My dad died when I was too little to remember—he worked in a factory, and got dust fever in his lungs. I don’t really remember him. My mother got a job as a maid for one of the richer houses, and managed to keep me until I was five. Then the man she was working for died and she lost her job. She left me with the Sisters until she could find new work, supposedly, but I never saw her again.
Host: I’m sorry.
Skylar: It’s ok. The Professor is almost like a dad…or more like an uncle, I guess…and Mrs. Monday does all the mothering anybody could handle.
Host: Mrs. Monday?
Skylar: That’s Coll’s mother—she’s also the cook and housekeeper for the Professor.
Host: Is she a good cook?
Skylar: She’s amazing. She makes this pasta with white sauce and chicken and plenty of garlic and it is fantastic. She makes a lot of stuff with fish though—since we live right on the river—and I hate anything with fins or gills. Or more than four legs.
Host: I hate to ask, but…more than four legs?
Skylar: Trust me, you do not want to know.
Host: I think I’ll take your word for it. On another subject, would you tell us a little bit about your “mechanical bits” as you call them?
Skylar: I hate them. I hate meeting new people and seeing their eyes go to my mechanical bits before anything else. I’m not ashamed to be a cyborg, but I hate that people notice that about me before anything else and base a lot of their judgments of me off of the fact that I have mechanical body parts. Sometimes, people act as if, since I’m partly mechanical, I must not be fully human. So I’m not as smart, or I don’t have feelings, or I don’t understand them…it’s infuriating, and humiliating sometimes.
Host: That’s got to be hard.
Skylar: That’s why I love Libby—er, I love hanging out with Libby. She never treats me differently; she’s just willing to be my friend.
Host: That would indeed make one love…hanging out with Libby (wink). So, if you could do one great thing, what would you do?
Skylar: Somehow fix the whole shabby world in one fell swoop. I’m starting to wonder if the library could do something like that.
Host: Ok…this one is a bit more—personal. Is there anyone or anything that you would actually die for?
Skylar: Wow. That’s…that’s a hard one. I would die to save Libby, or Coll, or any of the kids at the library, or the Professor... I’d like to think that I’d die to save anyone who was in danger, but even as I say that I can think of people that I wouldn’t be willing to go that far for. That’s a hard question.
Host: It is a hard question. So let’s end on one that’s a bit easier, ok? I know you’re learning to read—so what characters from books would you compare your friends to?
Skylar: Hmm…Ok, well, Libby would be a bit like Anne, in Anne of Green Gables, but not quite so flaky and without the red hair. I think Coll is a lot like Joe in the Hardy Boys books—or is it Frank? Whichever one is the more practical. I always get them confused.
Host: I do too.
Skylar: That would explain it, then.
Host: …Moving on…
Skylar: Maricossa would be like Strider in The Lord of the Rings—I think.
Host: And what about you?
Skylar: Me? I have no idea…maybe Conor Broekhardt in Airman. Though I’m not that smart.
Host: Well, Skylar, it’s been a great pleasure to have you on the show today.
Skylar: You still haven’t explained that show thing.
Host: Maybe another time…another reality…another something. Where it will make sense.
Skylar: Sounds good.
Host: And that’s all the time we have today, folks! Thanks for joining us on Character Hijack!
Thanks for joining us, LoriAnn and Skylar! :)