Stranded by Anne Bishop
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This anthology is a fabulous read. For those who love Ms. Anne Bishop, her story is very different than her existing novels, with the tiny exception of her favourite reoccurring motif - webs. There are three great writers brought together to write stories about being stranded.
Stranded by Anthony Francis is a jumbled yet intriguing world. This novella is a 3 star. Mr. Francis possess great ideas. His concept for this story is sound. His execution was a bit shaky for me. The world building was crammed with ideas which were not fully explored and explained. This is what made the story not flow as well for me. It's as if we received a one page summary covering over several thousands history. In addition to this, the young female lead, Serendipity experiences issues with her family. The focus is on her competition with her grandmother yet in the last part of the story, new information is introduced regarding strained relationships with Serendipity's parents.
The story not only brings in some great technology, it throws in gender inequality and homophobia. Let's not forget prejudices against species. To do this story justice, it would have been better as a full length novel. One which fully explores the futuristic world with it's many versions of humans. One which uses the world to enhance the storyline of a girl, coming of age, trying to prove herself. Instead, this story pulls the reader in too many directions at once, enticing yet not fulfilling. Still, it is a lovely piece which stimulates the reader's imagination, especially with the non consensual sexual tension.
A Host of Leeches by Mr. James Gardner is fabulous. This is a 4 star tale. This story is so tightly written with every question answered in a believable manner. Mr. Gardner's writing voice is attractive and so smooth. He paints a clear picture of this world he's created. His interpretation of stranded is as unique as he hoped it would be.
The reason why this ended up being a 4 star even though I enjoyed the concept and storytelling, is because I couldn't connect with the characters. Alyssa wakes up in a frightening place. She's obviously been ill yet she doesn't recall what is going on nor does she know where she's been placed. Through out the entire story, there is little emotion. The characters are cute and some of them are likeable, but it was hard to root for them or care about them. Even with Alyssa, her plight as a plague survivor did not move me. It could be because there was little feeling demonstrated by Alyssa. I can't quite put my finger on it. Still, the story is very well written and highly recommended.
A Strand in the Web by talented storyteller Ms. Bishop is a solid 5 star. This story was so well written. The world building was tight with each piece of information revealed at precisely the right time. The dystopian society is divided up into two classes - Restorers and non-Restorers. The Restorers are trying to create a balanced world for all living things to exist peacefully in a small plot of area they are tasked to maintain. The social ecological theme here is nicely woven in a not too heavy handed lecture. It's rather clever and a good way to present information to a young adult and mold their thinking into a more environmentally friendly manner. It reminds me of Ms. Sheri Tepper stories.
Willow is the heroine in this story. In classic Ms. Bishop style, the woman is a gentle, humble and unassuming adolescent wise beyond her years. As with all Ms. Bishop's characters, a strong supportive male exists - Stev. With Stev's help, Willow accomplishes the impossible and it's a lovely journey to accompanying them on. Amazing. I loved this story and it is what really made this book for me. I highly recommend this book just to read Ms. Bishop's well crafted piece.
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