Alice — Julia Crane

Another tale from the anthology Once Upon A Curse.

I’ve quite enjoyed the previous tales from this anthology, and was quite looking forward to one that was “Alice and Wonderland” inspired.   Oh my, how utterly disappointed i was.

To begin, you’ll realise when you get to the apparent end of this tale that this is simply the beginning of one of Julia’s books and you’re supposed to be so impressed with this that you go running off to Amazon to buy it.   Julia, and/or the editor of the anthology, should — in the very least — have had the decency to warn the reader of this fact at the beginning of the tale.

It wouldn’t be so bad if this were any good and one was left wanting to go and buy the full story, but it’s an utterly childish love story and one soon finds oneself just wishing it over and done with.   So yes, there’s a part of me that’s very pleased that this is just an excerpt and i was therefore relieved of having to wade through the whole tedious story.

Furthermore, it doesn’t have anything to do with “Alice and Wonderland” other than the protagonist is called Alice and her adoptive mother is referred to as the Red Queen.   It’s an insult to your readers to take a half finished story you had lying around and rename the characters and try and pass it off as a “Alice and Wonderland” tale.

I’m putting this in “The Deleted” even though i can’t delete this as it’s part of an anthology that so far i’ve been enjoying.   But seriously, all “Alice and Wonderland” fans, just avoid this tale if you come across it.

Julia’s Page

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Hedon — Jason Werbeloff

If dystopia is your thing then this is right up your alley.   It’s dirty, violent, extremely sexually graphic — and the ending.

Definitely not for children.

Also available in Uprising: 12 Dystopian Futures.

Jason’s Page

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Limbo — Aldous Huxley

Aldous’ first collection of short fiction, consisting of six short stories and a play.

All in all it’s quite a good read and one can see the young Aldous developing his writing.   Admittedly, he is incredibly pompous at times, but one does get the feeling in “Bookshop” that he realises this and that he understands that he needs to tone it down a lot if he wants to get his ideas and thoughts across to the masses.

Definitely a must read for all Aldous fans.

Farcical History of Richard Greenow

A rather interesting look at Dissociative Identity Disorder before and into WWI, where one personality is a conscientious objector while the other is firmly on the side of destroying the Hun with extreme predjudice.   Add to this that Richard’s other personality is female and has complete blackouts when she takes over things get a little out of control for him.

Yes folks, just because someone with DID is male does not mean that their other personalities are going to be male also.   It doesn’t work like that.   One’s other personalties are whoever they are and sometimes they will express with different genders to the host.

Superbly written in Aldous’ inimitable style.

Happily Ever After

Set in the years of WWI, Aldous introduces us to two young men, both at war, with completely contrasting views on life.   I think this is Aldous’ way of reminding himself — and all of us — to not get lost in dogmatic ideologies and, instead, to grasp and enjoy the joys of life while you’re young because you never know if today will be your last.

Eupompus Gave Splendour to Art by Numbers

One often gets the impression with Aldous that he liked to show off his classical education: “Oooh, hark at me, i know all these ancient Greek people and things.”

All the pompous whimsy aside, the only thing really being said here is Aldous didn’t much think that meditation was good for a person: “Let’s not count breaths, eh.”

Happy Families

A play.   Very much a thing of its time when it comes to race, displaying Aldous’ Victorian heritage to the full.

Cynthia

A little romance short with Aldous stirring in another good load of the “Oooh, hark at me, i know all these ancient Greek people and things.” that we had in “Eupompus Gave Splendour to Art by Numbers”.

The Bookshop

A short about an impulse purchase all dressed up in a rather lovely piece of descriptive writing.   I felt that the undertones of this was Aldous bemoaning the great unwashed and uncultured, while, at the end, he sees that he can’t escape their influence when surrounded on all sides by them: we’re all in this shit life together.   Our protagonist finally throws his impulse purchase into some bushes.

I find this story very much to have the seed of what Aldous later grew into his life’s work.   The symbolism of the bookshop with its classical music, fashions, art and books; representing education, privalege and wealth; surrounded on all sides by the working classes, poverty and need.   How can one enjoy such fruits when he’s reminded and intruded upon, at every moment, that so many don’t have these things.

The Death of Lully

Lully is an early christian martyr that is rescued on a passing ship.   A well written short but i’m not sure what the message really is.   As a devout non-christian, this kind of thing just turns my brain off.

Aldous’ Page

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The Clockwork Alice — DeAnna Knippling

I really enjoyed All the Retros at the New Cotton Club, so i was really happy to discover that Deanna’s also wrote some “Alice and Wonderland” stuff.

Instead of the fun clockwork story about Alice and all things Wonderland that i was expecting, i found a story heavily biased towards the real life of Alice Liddell and her relationship with Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll): this story is set several years after Charles’ death.

I’m not going to get into my views about Dodgson here, this is about DeAnna’s views, and she does a fairly good job of brushing over things (sweeping them under the carpet) and tidy things up in making a story out of Alice’s and Charles’ final years.   Although, to be honest, i think that DeAnna just makes things worse: i’m left with the opinion that this story could be a nice little dose of Streisand effect for a lot of its readers.

And for those of you feeling the effects of Streisand, you can begin at Wikipedia.

All that aside, it’s a fairly good read, and a must for all Alice and Wonderland fans: just expect it to be more about Alice reminiscing, through thoughts and dreams of Wonderland, than a pure Wonderland adventure.   Sadly, there’s a few typos that detract on occasion, and that are so obvious they should have been easily fixed before publishing.

Final words, other than those few annoying typos, DeAnna’s a very good writer.   The Queen of Stilled Hearts is in “The Pile” and i’m looking forward to giving that a read soon.

DeAnna’s Page

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Star Trek: Picard: The Last Best Hope — Una McCormack

This needs to be read before Star Trek: Picard (the new TV series), or at any time after you begin watching it and wonder what happened to Picard that lead him to becoming an Admiral and then leaving Star Fleet.

This is a very well written story covering everything we need to know to more enjoy the series including how Picard met Raffi and their history; when and why Raffi started hitting the booze; Picard’s history with Elnor; the Romulan exodus, supernova and Picard’s part in it; the synth rebellion on Mars including Bruce Maddox and Agnes’ history; and many other things besides.

There are a few glaring omissions in this book: it becomes very clear that the Romulan sun did not go bang naturally, that there was something nefarious going on which was deliberately covered up by the Tal Shiar.   I can only imagine one reason for not exploring this further in this book and that is because it will be dealt with in further seasons of the TV show — or another Una book?   Whichever it is it certainly has the potential to stir up a huge bowl of gagh for our future Trekkie entertainment cravings.

So yeah, a must for all Trekkies.

Una’s Page

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