Another Curiosity Quills anthology. Honestly, the usual disclaimer of ‘I don’t usually like these’ is getting played out, as I keep requesting them. I think CQ simply had managed to figure the format out, and pulled together some good authors, a solid editor, and kept things focused on working, not on some other thing. Weak sentence there, but you take my meaning.
With Darkscapes, the theme is “…worlds of terrible family secrets, unexpected doppelgängers, a home invasion on an alien planet, androids and assassins, places and people who aren’t as stable as they seem, frustrated musicians going to desperate lengths — and more.” A high bar, and one mostly met. The book itself is a collection of 21 stories, ranging in length from novella to just over back cover copy. That helps get more authors involved, and we always like that.
In theme, the one thing that kept coming to mind was Robert Chambers (The King In Yellow). Several of the stories, to me, mirror that genre of fiction, with the universe cast as vase, unknowable, and uncaring. Specifically, ‘Of Lusher And Sleep’.
Other mythos-inspired stuff is all around, but the King In Yellow was what came to mind the most.
Overall, this was a good collection – some uneven bits, some overlong parts, and a few that read more like a treatment that a complete story. After a pair of those in the beginning, I was beginning to question the wisdom of picking this title. But it gets much better as it continues.
Some of my personal highlights are the aforementioned Of Lusher And Sleep, Roomies, Circular Argument, and Landing a Job In The Private Sector. These were the most compelling, or entertaining, in the collection. There really weren’t any that were bad, although Second Sentience lost me early, and the Skeleton Jim had to work too hard to overcome my dislike of the concept. But that’s me.
The surprise close is Heart of the Harvester – this I didn’t see ending the way it did. It was different than I thought, and a nice surprise.
So, as with other collections, CQ has managed to pull together a good stable of authors for their books, and keep (generally) to a theme. I didn’t see the ‘yearning, regret, and fear’ so much in some of these, while others were prime examples of the form.
So, again, a good CQ read, and one worth picking up soon.