Saturday, November 21, 2015

Book Review: Uncommon Bodies

The new short story collection from Fighting Monkey Press - publishers of Sin Eater by Pavarti k. Tyler and Jessica West - professes to "explore the lives of the odd, the unbelievable, and the impossible." It manages to do so with aplomb, collecting a stellar menagerie of tales to thrill, horrify and titillate in equal measure.

Standouts for me include "From the Inside," a surreal tale of obsession in a rain drenched Europe by Daniel Arthur Smith,  Christopher Godsoe's cyber-noir/sci-fi procedural story "The Zealot," and "Scars: First Session," a character piece by Jordanne Fuller. (Weirdly, two of the three feature tattoos.) I also enjoyed "We is We" by Michael Harris Cohen, "In Her Image" by Vasil Tuchkov, "Undead Cyborg Girl" by Kim Wells, "Don't Touch Me" by Bey Deckard, "Ruby" by Bob Williams and "Daedelus' Daughter" by P.K. Tyler. I liked the vast majority of the stories, actually, and am just picking out the ones that I'm still thinking about now that I've finished reading them all. You may find any of the other eleven stories and three poems more to your liking.

A small point of concern is that the net is cast perhaps a little too wide. There's cyberpunk, horror, magical realism, even Victoria Era erotica (there are two sexually explicit stories in the collection, so be aware). Going from one genre extreme to another sometimes engendered intellectual whiplash as I adjusted expectations. There are also a couple of stories that - to my mind - just weren't up to the same level as the rest. However, the vast majority of them are well-written and, more importantly, enjoyably so.

So, slip off the prosthetics, moisturize the tentacles and tweak the cybernetic eyes so you're seeing the visible spectrum. Uncommon Bodies is - forgive me - an uncommon collection of stories that will challenge your perceptions and entertain you while doing so. 

Uncommon Bodies will be available in print and digital format starting November 24, 2015. I'll add links once it's available.

(NOTE - I was given a preview copy of this collection to review ahead of publication.)

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