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Amadan na Briona

Currently reading

Inherent Vice
Thomas Pynchon, Ron McLarty
The Best Horror of the Year Volume Five
Ellen Datlow, Laird Barron, Conrad Williams, Ramsey Campbell
Locus Solus (Alma Classics)
Raymond Roussel
Blackout (Newsflesh Trilogy, #3)
Mira Grant, Paula Christensen, Michael Goldstrom
Straying From the Path - Carrie Vaughn, Jay Lake This is a most excellent collection of short stories. Carrie Vaughn isn't one of my favorite authors — the books I have read by her were okay, but nothing special — so I thought this book would be likewise okay but not great. It seems to me that Vaughn really excels at short-form fiction, though, because I enjoyed every one of these stories, and they covered a fairly wide breadth of genre fiction. I won't bother trying to give individual star ratings. Not every story is what I would necessarily classify as "great," but unusual for a short story collection, not one was a clunker for me, and some were really poignant.

This is the Highest Step in the World: Probably the least interesting story in the collection, maybe because the fantastical elements were mostly tossed in as a wink at the reader, but still quite a thrilling real-tale about Joseph Kittinger's 1960 high-altitude parachute drop. (He basically parachuted from space!)

Peace in Our Time: A war vet story, about the last war veteran outliving all the others, and making circuits of funerals where no one is left to play "Taps."

Silence Before Starlight: This is more of a blend of sci-fi and fantasy. Vaughn transplants the legends about faerie women who lure sailors to their deaths to space, where an astronaut has an otherworldly encounter above Europa.

The Happiest Place: A rather dark tale about an actress who plays Cinderella at "The Happiest Place on Earth" and encounters a real wishing well.

Swing Time: A bit of a sci-fi romcom, about two time-traveling thieves who are able to open portals to other eras by dancing.

The Librarian's Daughter: At first, just a medieval fantasy tale about a seer who can see the future by wearing a dead horse's skin. It turns sad and then very dark at the end.

The Bravest of Us Touched the Sky: Two WASPS who fly planes during World War II are asked to fly a bomber from one base to another. It turns out the plane is one of those "classified" experiments, and the Very Important Men in Charge figured women pilots wouldn't have the same problems as "real" pilots. Yup, things go wrong.

The Heroic Death of Lieutenant Michkov: A farcical tragicomedy about a military officer serving the Russian emperor. The Soviets didn't invent brutal, mindless bureaucracy!

Real City: Probably the story that did the least for me, because it's mostly just a romance with a HEA about an accountant and a movie star; the speculative element isn't very speculative, being pretty close to where actual filmmaking technology is today. It was still a decent read, though.

In Time: I am not particularly an Emily Dickinson fan, but Carrie Vaughn obviously is. This is the shortest piece in the book, and is a must-read for anyone who has ever owned a dog.

Highly recommended!