short story


A short story and novella collection about exploring space, colonizing the universe, and first contact.

Publication year: 2018
Format: Audio
Running time: 28 hours 21 minutes
Narrator: Tim Campbell, James Anderson Foster, Mary Robinette Kowal, Karen Cass, and James Langon

This was a fine collection and I liked most of the stories. However, the vast majority of these stories are about the relationships between the humans who are in space, rather than first contact or colonization. Some of them also explore the world that the explorers left behind far more than what they encounter.

”A Jar of Godwill” by Tobias S. Buckell: The gedda are an alien race whose economics are based on patents rights on technology. Since they’ve previously developed tech that the humans use, they own the patents. Alex is a professional friend. A genetically engineered human (a hermaphrodite) whose job is to, essentially, keep humans sane in the vastness of space with empathy and touch (not necessarily sex). However, Alex’s account is overdrawn and his only chance is to take a job in an approaching space ship full of scientists. Alex’s job is to befriend a drone, another engineered human who is part of a hive mind but who is now far away from the hive.

In “Mono No Aware” by Ken Liu, a giant asteroid is on a collision course with Earth. Some governments have tried to build space ships. The narrator was a child in Japan and we see in flashbacks how the Japanese reacted. In the now of the story, he’s aboard the ship, working with others when a disaster occurs.

”Rescue Mission” by Jack Skillingstead: Michael and Natalie had a brief affair. Since they’re both single adults, that shouldn’t have been a problem. However, they’re assigned to the same mission of exploring a new planet. They’re the only crew. Things get really weird down there.

“Shiva in Shadow” by Nancy Kress is a story I’ve listened before in the collection Starship Vectors.

This story takes place in a deep space exploration ship the Kepler which has just three people; the Nurturer Captain Tirzah and two scientists Kane and Ajit. Tirzah’s duty is to keep the scientists focused on their work and working together. In order to do that, she has to constantly monitor them and she also has sex with both. They are exploring a black hole and to get data, the ship launches a probe which will send the data back to the Kepler. The probe has uploads of Tirzah, Kane, and Ajit. The story alternates between the crew aboard the ship and the probe.

In “Slow Life” by Michael Swanwick, three scientists explore the surface of Titan, especially it’s nitrogen/methane sea. Lizzie O’Brien enjoys her work immensely when she’s ballooning around inside her armored exploration suit, even when she must sleep inside it. But then her dreams turn weird.

In “Three Bodies at Mitanni” by Seth Dickinson humanity has sent seed ships into space. Much later, they have chosen three people who have been sent to evaluate the human colonies which have sprang from the ships. If the colonies might offer existential threat to humanity, they must be destroyed.

Anja-Hera, Tien, and the POV character have complex relationships and they must vote if the colonies will survive or if they will be destroyed.

“The Deeps of the Sky” by Elizabeth Bear: Stormchasers are space miners; they mine a gas giant in fragile little skiffs. When one of them notices an alien ship in trouble, he must decide if helping it is worth losing his potential mating rights with the Mothergrave.

I’m a fan of Rusch’s Diving universe so I’m very familiar with the next story, “Diving into the Wreck” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Boss has found an old space ship. It’s possibly several thousand years old. She and her crew of four are “diving” into the airless ship without knowing what they’ll find. They take a lot of precautions which might not be enough.

“The Voyage Out” by Gwyneth Jones: Ruth is a criminal condemned to death because she dared to speak out against the government, United States of Earth. She and more than a hundred other people are aboard a spaceship which is heading toward a habitable planet. They are going to be put down and start a colony without a possibility of coming back. None of the people are violent criminals but one young girl seems especially innocent.

This story feels like it could be a beginning of novel about the colony.

“The Symphony of Ice and Dust” by Julie Nováková: Kieran and Manuel are aboard Orpheus, looking for material for their next great symphony. On the planet Sedna, they find the remains of the previous expedition, 1100 years go.

“Twenty Lights to the ‘Land of Snow'” by Michael Bishop: 990 Tibetian Buddhists, and a group of others, have accompanied their Dalai Lama to exile to another planet. The Kalachakra is still on its way. Two young people are competing for the position of the next Dalai Lama: Jetson is Tibetian teenager and Greta Bryn is young Western woman. The story is seen through computer logs by Greta.

“The Firewall and the Door” by Sean McMullen: Argo is the only unmanned space probe sent about 30 years ago. Its information is sent directly to everyone’s living room. Its crew is on Earth and runs the drone from there. The main character is a magistrate, specializing in space law. When things go very wrong on Argo, he’s called in. In this world, stopping waste is the most important thing and no other spacecraft were ever built because it would have been too wasteful.

“Permanent Fatal Errors” by Jay Lake: the spaceship has just seven people but they’re all heavily modified: one can even withstand vacuum without a spacecraft. They’re also all immortal. When they find out something unexpected, they start to turn against each other.

“Gypsy” by Carter Sholz: When the US (or is that world?) economy tanked, Sofi was one of the people who had to take any job she could to survive. Her job isn’t terrible but in the end it can’t even support her and she must move to the company barracks. The world is full of hate and distrust. Governments and companies try to control everything and everyone. However, Sofi finds out that a group of people have built a spaceship and they’re going to escape the oppressive Earth. They’re heading to Alpha Centuri which should have a habitable planet. Sofi joins the crew happily. She should have spent the journey in hibernation but something goes wrong and she’s woken just two years into the journey. We also get to know Roger who came up with this project, called Gypsy, and many of the other people involved in and living in this hopeless world.

“Sailing the Antarsa” by Vandana Singh: Mayha is from the planet Dara, which was inhabited a few centuries ago. When the council of kinhouses decides to send someone to find out what happened to people who had left Dara a few generations ago, Mayha in the one who is chosen to go. Alone. She’s put in cryosleep but something happens and she’s woken too soon. She reminisces about her life in peaceful Dara.

“The Mind is Its Own Place” Carrie Vaughn: Mitchel is one of the pilots on starship Francis Drake. But then Mitchel wakes up in the neurological ward without memories of what happened. He’s told that he has a disease which affects a lot of pilots but he can’t accept that.

“The Wreck of the Godspeed” James Patrick Kelly: Adele volunteers to go aboard a starship which is looking for new planets to colonize. It has been doing that for a couple of thousand years, with changing crew but the same AI.

“Seeing” Genevieve Valentine: Marika is a scientist and one of the crew of three who are going to travel to Gliese 581. However, something goes terribly wrong.

“Traveling into Nothing” An Owomoyela: Kiu Alee is waiting to die. She was sentenced to death because she’s a murderer. Instead, an alien gives her a chance to live, if she becomes the alien’s pilot. The catch is that it’s a one-way trip to the alien planet. However, Kiu agrees and then finds out that she must deal with a neural interface she doesn’t like.

“Glory” Greg Egan: Two xenomathematicans travel to another star where there are two alien nations which are hostile to each other. The aliens know that they’re not alone in the universe because they have a founding culture which they think is actually alien. However, they’ve never seen or heard from actual aliens before. The (human) mathematicians are interested in that root culture and the mathematics that they came up with. However, that culture died out three thousand years ago so the two must rely on the two nation’s archaeology. The scientists have bodies which look and function like the aliens. Each scientist goes to one nation to encourage them to dig up more of those artifacts. The aliens have very interesting different biology but behave like, well, like USA and Soviet Union at the height of their paranoia.

“The Island” Peter Watts: In the far future, humans have left Earth. This group is traveling very long distances in space to explore. The crew is in deep sleep and only revived when necessary. When the ship encounter something new, it wakes up one of the humans from a very long sleep. To her surprise, she’s confronted by a boy she doesn’t know. He’s build partly from her genes so she’s unexpectedly a mother which doesn’t please her. The boy hasn’t been around humans and the ship’s AI, the Chimp, has been making independent decisions for very long.

“Gypsy” is mostly about the horrible, dystopian world the whole Earth has become. The next story, “Sailing the Antarsea”, is about the wonderful world of Dara that our explorer has left behind and the secrets it might yet contain. It was very interesting to read them one after the other. Many of the stories have spacecrafts where most of the crew is in cryosleep but one is awakened prematurely to deal with a threat. It’s interesting that the stories were still quite different.

I really liked the first story and I’m hoping Buckell will write more in that universe. Bear’s story was very interestingly different from the others and I liked it a lot, too. The same with Swanwick’s story

Of course, Rusch’s novella was also a favorite but I’ve already read the whole series.

While I was somewhat frustrated with some of the stories, overall I enjoyed the collection. The narrators were good and Kowal was very good, as usual

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A short story collection of various genres.

Publication year: 2017
Format: ebook
Publisher: WMG Publishing

All of these 18 stories happen, mostly, in taverns or bars. Some stories are fun, others quite serious. This time I liked the funny stories more. Some of the stories are fantasy, some science fiction, and some contemporary or set in the past without any SFF elements, so this collection has a wide variety of genres.

“Quest for Beer” by Stefon Mears: As we roleplayers know, many quests and adventures start in taverns. Mysterious men and women, orphans with lockets, people talking in riddles… Tonight, Velec wants to avoid them all and just enjoy one night of peace and quiet and get laid. He’s trying to keep both himself and his three adventuring companions out of trouble. This was a great first story.

“Closing the Big Bang” by Michele Laframboise: The Big Bang is the most lavish tavern in existence. It can travel to any place in the galaxy. But some people just aren’t happy with the rich, powerful, and ruthless people who gather in it.

“Hero #8” by Ron Collins: McCaffrey’s is a firefighters’ bar. The main character is a firefighter but also a former soldier. When a sniper starts taking out people in front of the tavern, he springs into action, hoping that he can save people.

“Girls That Glitter” by Dayle A. Dermatis: The Glitter Room is a famous and popular bar for music and drag queens. The main character has just come out of rehab and she was clinically dead for a few minutes. Thanks to that, she can now see spirits. And it’s a good thing, too, because only she can help the owner of the Glitter Room.

“The Kids Keep Coming” by David H. Hendrickson: The nameless bar is only for black teenagers who have very specific past. The nameless barkeep is fated to greet them.

“One Last Round at Cozy’s Tavern” by Lisa Silverthorne: Sam is a police detective who used to be good but after years in the service and a divorce has become a drunk. His captain has given him one last job to get his head together: find the captain’s missing dad. Sam starts at Cozy’s Irish Tavern where he meets the strangest barkeep and piano player ever.

“Wider Horizons” by Diana Benedict: Emilio has just turned 18 and he wants to go to the local disco gay bar for the first time. Kelly is his best friend, so she goes with him even though she’s unhappy about the bar and about Emilio being gay. Will that change him and their friendship?

“Grounds for Dismissal” by Anthea Sharp: Julie Anne Lamont works as a barista at Caffe Profondo. She considers it just a job, but her employers take coffee and customer service far more seriously.

“The Next Dance” by Jamie Ferguson: Nelle works in a saloon. She gets men, mostly miners, to dance with her and buy drinks, but nothing more. The girls drink only sugar water. Then she starts to talk with one of the regular gamblers.

“Schrodinger’s Bar” by Kim May: Myla (and her semi-wild jungle cat Issan) are from the planet Rannia. She’s now a refugee on Jovian Station and hasn’t eaten in a week. But then the owner of Schrodinger’s Bar gives her an opportunity.

“The Gods Are Out Inn” by M. L. Buchman: In the Gods Are Out Inn, the deities, witches, and other immortals can’t hear the prayers and pleadings of the mortals, so more and more of them are coming in. But the goddess Freya has a problem.

“The First Ingredient” by Eric Kent Edstrom: Tyler is moderately successful sales man. Recently he realized that he needs a wife and he approaches dating as aggressively as sales. Somehow, that doesn’t seem to work and he wanders into Hamilton’s barn bar. There he meets another salesman.

“The Legend of Long-Bow and Short-Staff” by Brenda Carre: a ditty about the Hangover bar.

“Freedom Unbound” by Dory Crowe: Only 14, Clementine is an indentured servant at Franklin Turnpike Inn where a magistrate has come to judge cases. He brought the accused as well. While feeding the pigs, Clementine finds a young man at the stable. He’s trying to free his sister but needs help from Clementine.

“Killing Spree” by Brigid Collins: Spriegan has a dark past. She and her girlfriend came to the small town to start again. But now her girlfriend is dead and her past have come back to haunt her.

“The Hot Eagle Roadhouse” by Chuck Heintzelman: Jalinda Washington is a tall and strong black woman. She’s always felt out of place. But then she comes to the Roadhouse.

“Death at the Pines” by Annie Reed: The hostess of the Tavern in the Pines is found murdered. The tavern is part of a larger “divorce ranch” where women, and some men, stay so that they can get a quicker divorce. Deputy Cavanaugh is on the case.

Many of these stories are low-key character studies rather than high adventure. I liked most of them. “The Gods Are Out Inn”, “The Hot Eagle Roadhouse”, “Freedom Unbound”, and the first story are my favorites. However, in some of the stories, like the last one and “Hero #8” the tavern is only tangentially related to the story, could have been any place. “The Kids Keep Coming” is quite a moving piece but I suspect more so to USAians.

A nice collection of stories.

An SF short story collection.

Translator: Sarianna Silvonen
Publication year: 2016
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2016
Format: print
Publisher of the Finnish translation: Gummerus
Page count: 370

A collection of 19 sf stories. Some are similar to the Quantum thief trilogy, meaning that they have science (nanotech, AI, implants etc.) which is pretty much indistinguishable from magic except by name. Some are mix of science fiction and Finnish mythology, a couple are even modern-day fantasy or horror.

Deus Ex Homine: the main character and his girlfriend are transhumans, soldiers in an AI war. Now, they have one weekend with the girlfriend’s family.

The Server and the Dragon: an isolated AI meets another and wants companionship. A fairy tale in science fiction trappings.

Tyche and the Ants: Tyche’s parents had to leave her alone on the Moon. She tries to follow their orders and protect the base from the ants. This is another nice mix of fantasy and SF. Tyche seems to have created a whole fantastical world in her mind. Or has she?

The Haunting of Apollo A7LB: Hazel is one of the women who sewed the spacesuits for the 1960s space program. Now, when she’s an old woman one of the suits returns to her… with a very puzzled man inside. One of my favorite stories in the collection.

His Master’s Voice: the Dog and the Cat were mostly happy living with their master aboard an old oil rig. The master is a scientist and thinkers with the animals’ intelligence. But then another person comes aboard and everything changes. This is told from the point-of-view of the dog and even though he’s intellectually augmented dog, it still feels like a dog.

Elegy for a Young Elk: in the distant future, almost all humans have chosen to leave Earth to the computer programs which ran over the cities. But one stubborn man chose to stay (with his talking bear) and now his transhuman wife has a huge favor to ask.

The Jugaad Cathedral: Kev knows that he’s spending way too much time on Dwarfcraft. He wants to be a fashion designer but the time on Dwarcraft is lowering his points on Frendipity app so now he must focus on the real world instead of games. This feels like near-future story with apps that dictate people’s relationships and how successful they are at work or at school. Some people, of course, reject them.

Fisher of Men: a modern Finnish man is on his summer cottage when he meets a woman who is much more than she seems at first. The first story which has Finnish mythology and some horror elements.

Invisible Planets: this seems to be a homage to Italo Calvino’s Invisible cities. An ancient probe ship is traveling and gathering data about various planets. Each planet’s society is described briefly.

Ghost dogs: what happens to dogs when they die? Written from the perspective of a child in a dysfunctional family.

The Viper Blanket: another horror/fantasy story. An elderly man picks up his brother from a nursing home for their family reunion.

Paris, in Love: the City of Paris falls in love with a rural Finnish man who doesn’t know how to cope.

Topsight: In future where everyone is connected through apps, a girl is grieving the death of her friend. Their circle of friends are honoring her memory.

The Oldest Game: A Finnish man returns to his rural home, planning to kill himself.

Shibuya no Love: Finnish girl Riina is visiting in Japan and uses for the first time quantum-lovegety program. It’s program that draws people together, but it’s much more than a dating app. I can even see someone working on something like that right now.

Satan’s Typist: a very short horror story.

Skywalker of Earth: Kate Leroy is an NSA agent who works for the division which is looking for ways to stop, well, possible aliens from conquering earth. She never took it seriously, until they found a perfect sphere heading towards Earth. She’s sent to talk with an old scientist who is much more than he appears to be. Great fun. An adventure story which is full of homages to old SF.

Snow White Is Dead: modernized fairy tale. Apparently, this was a choose your own adventure -type of story and this is the most chosen path, although it seems to have two endings.

Unused Tomorrows and Other Stories: a collection of Twitter stories.
I think the Twitter stories are far too short for me. They’re more like an idea of a story and even the longer ones, which are several Tweets, feel like a sketch of a story, leaving the, well, the meat of it out. Too bad, the half-mummy detective is a fun idea.

I liked almost all of these stories, although I’m not a horror reader. I especially enjoyed the blending of Finnish culture with SF which I don’t see much. Also, the dating program thing was a hoot. If you like the Quantum Thief series, you’ll probably like these, too.

While many of the stories have similar elements to the Quantum Thief trilogy, others are very different and show the writer’s flexibility and range. I’m looking forward to reading his newest book, Summerland.

The third Fiction River subscription drive at Kickstarter is alive. It contains very nice stretch goals which means that the more people subscribe, the more books we subscribers get.

Fiction River is an original short story series with six issues a year. The theme varies every time and so does the genre. I’ve enjoyed every issue even though I’m woefully behind on reading the newest issues.

A short story collection about parallel worlds. Part of the Timetravel ebook bundle I bought from Storybundle in 2015.

Publication year: 2011
Format: ebook
Publisher: Wordfire Press

Alternitech is a company which “sends agents to alternate timelines where tiny differences yield valuable changes”: for example, a famous band doesn’t break up or a musician doesn’t die or a cure has been found for a disease which affects a lot of people. They’ve all been published before in Analog.

The main character in all stories, except the last one, is an Alternitech agent, traveling through parallel worlds for a living, looking for some specific knowledge.

“Music Played through the Strings of Time”: Jeremy Cardiff is looking for music. Specifically, from famous musicians who have done music which hasn’t been published in his own timeline. He’s also a musician himself but he’s never hit big, not matter how technically good songs he makes. But then he comes to a timeline where his own song has been a big hit.

“Tide Pools”: Andrea is a cure hunter, looking for various cures. But she has a very personal reason to look for one specific cure: her husband in sick with a very rare and fatal disease. Because it’s rare, Alternitech has forbidden her to look for the cure. Of course, she does it anyway.

“An Innocent Presumption”: Heather Rheims’s employer is obsessed with JFK’s assassination and sends her to various parallel universes to find out everything she can about it. But she also has a very personal project: a serial killer called Slasher X killed her younger sister. In Heather’s own timeline, he was caught by a freak accident. Now Heather wants to make sure he’s caught in every timeline.

“The Bistro of Alternate Realites”: Heather returns. In this story, she’s working for a young archeologist and looks for clues of various archeological finds which haven’t been found in her timeline. By accident, she meets her counterparts in other realities and they starts to share their info, and more personal lives, as well.

“Rough Draft”: Mitchell Coren wrote one (stand-alone) sci-fi novel which won Hugo and Nebula and left readers wanting more. But he never wrote more. Twenty years later, an Alternitech agent, who’s also Coren’s fan, found out another book that an alternate world Coren has written. The agent sends Coren that novel, which enrages Coren.

I liked the premise and the stories (after I got over the surprise that these aren’t actually timetravel). Parallel realities are fascinating to me. The Bistro story was especially interesting, but it felt a bit of a cheat that we didn’t find out how one subplot ended. I wouldn’t mind reading more stories set in these worlds.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Yesterday, the topic was Top 10 Favorite novellas/short stories.

This is another really hard one. I’ve read quite a few of shorter stories over the years. Also, older works which were considered books previously would now be novellas, going by length. But here are my current favorites:

1, All Systems Red by Martha Wells
This was a treat because I came into it expecting it to be good, because every review I’ve seen of had been favorable. Often enough this creates too high expectations for the work. But they were right; I thoroughly enjoyed the Murderbot’s adventures.

2, Randall Garrett’s Lord Darcy stories
These stories are set in an alternate universe, where magic takes the place of science, even in criminal investigation. Lord Darcy is the Chief Forensic Investigator or Chief Criminal Investigator for the Duke of Normandy. His sidekick is Master Sean who does most of the magical forensics. Most of the cases take place among the rich and powerful so Lord Darcy must be diplomatic.

3, Mountains of Mourning by Lois McMaster Bujold
This little gem follows Miles Vorkosigan who tries to show his famous dad that he can do stuff, too. It ends up haunting Miles for the rest of his life.

4, A Mere Scutcheon by Nancy Jane Moore
A three musketeers story but the Queen’s musketeers are women! It’s part of her Conscientious inconsistencies collection.

5, Women of Futures Past: Classic Stories, edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
This is a wonderful collection of science fiction short stories by very influential women writers. The oldest was written in 1933 and the newest 1989. Rusch’s introduction “Invisible Women” is also well worth reading if you’re at all interested in SF history.

6, Penric fantasy novellas by Lois McMaster Bujold
Ms. Bujold has been writing these shorter stories set in her five gods universe in the recent years. They’re fun and nice reads. I’ve really enjoyed the interaction between Penric and the demon riding inside him. The first one is Penric’s Demon.

7, That Game We Played During the War by Carrie Vaughn
This short story is available for free at tor.com.

8, The Tomato Thief by Ursula Vernon
This was a fun and yet thought-provoking fantasy novelette.

9, Fiction River: Timestreams
I’ve enjoyed all of the Fiction River collections I’ve read so far and this is among the best. I love time travel stories anyway.

10, The Dispatcher by John Scalzi
In this world, people can’t be murdered because anyone who is killed intentionally come back. The main character is a dispatcher: his job is to humanely put down people who need it.

A short story collection focusing on steampunk with magic through alchemy.

Publication year: 2015
Format: print
Publisher: WMG Publishing
Page count: 237

“The Rites of Zosimos” by Angela Penrose: the collection starts with a story set in a magic/alchemy school. The story has two such schools. A body is found, naked and boiled. Sir Peter Estridge, assistant to one of the deans, is pressured to investigate the murder together with Lady Catherine Morwood, the Grand Dame of the other school.

“Heart” by Leslie Claire Walker: Sebastian is a powerful necromancer who has an unhealthy obsession with Erynn. Sebastian has also murdered Erynn’s love. Erynn can think of only one way to escape.

“Pennies for Portents” by Diana Benedict: Francie’s brother can build really good mechanical machines. One of them is Madam LeGrue, the mechanical fortuneteller which is the only reason they’re allowed to travel with a carnival. Unfortunately, the fortuneteller has started to behave strangely.

“The Order of the Golden Grapefruit” by Sharon Joss: animated chocolate! Fritz’s father was an animator for the army. Unfortunately, the horrors of war have affected his mind and so he and Fritz are seeking employment from one of the best confectionary shops in Belgium. The shop needs are spectacular display of animated chocolates.

“The Perfect Perfume” by Anthea Sharp: Charlotte’s parents were the best perfumers in London. But when they died, Charlotte wanted to continue their legacy. She just needs something extraordinary as an ingredient to create a truly wonderful perfume for Queen Victoria II’s jubilee.

“The Grand Dangoolie” by Ron Collins: Set in WW2, the Grand Dangoolie is the stage name for August McDormand who claims that he knows real magic. The main character’s boss, Houdini, wants to prove that McDormand is a fraud.
“The Whirring Dreams of Aberrant Blood” by Cindie Geddes: In this world, girls with the correct type of blood, called aberrants, can bring mechanical wonders to life.

“St. Jean & The Dragon” by Brenda Carre: St. Jean is a jinni and his master is Jane Watson, who investigates paranormal happenings. Something is stealing people, and everything seems to be connected to the house of an old woman who herself hasn’t been seen in months.

“Weight in Gold” by Dory Crowe: McKenzie Ross is traveling on a steam ship to the US to study there. Her father is also onboard but in disguise because he’s smuggling gold and knowledge from out of Napoleon’s Empire.

“Heaven’s Flight” by Leigh Saunders: Paige wants nothing more than tinker with all things mechanical. This makes her parents cross because they want to see her married well. However, when one of Paige’s mechanical wonders records a mysterious and threatening conversation, she and her maid must do their best to avert disaster.

“Blood Moon Carnival” by Kim May: Fia is a phoenix, trapped in a half bird, half human form by the Ringmaster who uses alchemy to trap various mythological beings into his circus and display them.

“Makes the World Go ’Round” by Kelly Cairo: 10,000 years ago, two technicians were assigned to work on the pyramid at the same time. The pyramid is responsible for keeping the world turning. The technicians fell in love but now one of them has died and the other must find love again, or the world will stop turning.

“Myrtle’s Boxes” by Louisa Swann: The Philosopher’s Stone is in Myrtle Creek’s left eye socket. Unfortunately, the souls trapped in the stone are driving him crazy and he has to find a way to free them.

These were all delightful tales with various steampunk gadgets and alchemy. I highly recommend this collection if you like steampunk at all.

Only two of the stories were really dark, “Heart” and “The Whirring Dreams of Aberrant Blood” the others are mostly fun. As a chocolate lover, I especially liked “The Order of the Golden Grapefruit”.

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