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March 14th, 2008

Paper Cities Review

Paper Cities is a collection of urban fantasy in the truest sense of the term: stories of the fantastic from or about the city and all the wonderment and horror that entails. I imagine most people would prefer to think of cities as dumb beasts, mere collections of brick and mortar, marble and steel, men and women, children and the dead. Yet people who think of society not as a collective organism but as a loose gathering of people only peripherally affected by each other would be under a mistaken impression. Cities are alive: they breathe, they think, and they dream. They are the loom that knits together past and present and future, weaving the living and the dead, the animate and the inanimate into a sum much bigger than the total of its parts.

The writers here collected by Senses Five Press and Ekaterina Sedia understand that. Not only have they channeled intoxicating and surprising places into these paper-and-ink windows, but some of the stories will put the feet of anyone who reads them on the road to understanding that cities are alive.

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Before we get to the royalty of this collection, I'd like to also touch base with the high rollers. "Ghost Market" by Greg van Eekhout is well executed, shocking us into a reality where the essence of your life is collected at your death and sealed up in a little bottle for clientèle with the right cash. Steve Berman's "Tearjerker" seals us off in a city gone weird, where tears are drugs and ink-bled words writhe on flesh, and everyone just tries to get by. Ben Peek's "The Funeral, Ruined" chokes our throat with ashes and chills our skin with horror against the backdrop of a city built around a giant crematorium in a world where people need not die. "Down to the Silver Spirits" by Kaaron Warren sets that horror to quivering in our insides, climbing up our spines like the tiny hands of drowned children. At last, "The Age of Fish, Post-flowers" (Anna Tambour) and "The Last Escape" (Barth Anderson) give us back some distance, allowing us to engage our intellects in social science fiction: the dissolution of our cities in the face of monster onslaught, for one, and our head-in-the-sand herd mentality for the other. Any of these stories will leave you contemplative and replete with satisfaction.


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Requested Topics: Romance

I was shocked to learn that I don't blog a lot about romance.

...

Okay, so I lie: I wasn't.

This is because I don't know fuck all about romance.

But then, who does? Make a mixed tape for a girl (or boy, whoever, everyone likes to be romanced) and they don't like music? Chances are it's not real romantic. Take someone to the beach, and they've a phobia of water? How about lovely meals of dead things for vegetarians? I haven't done that last one--the word arrangement just struck me as nice--but I've done some of the others, and I've had some really fine failures that have left me with the opinion that romance is all about the person, and what one person digs, another is not going to do so, so try not to have one set of romantic moments.

Anyhow: here's my view, and it's simple, really, in that I figure romance is just doing something for the person who means something for you. I had a friend who sung Guns N Roses' 'November Rain' at a birthday part to his girlfriend which, hey, is incredibly lame, but it was her favourite song, and he looked like a moron in front of a bunch of people. She said it was romantic and I figure it was the combination. I've another friend who takes his girlfriend out for the whole dinner, flowers, chocolates cliche that ends with walking on a beach, and it sounds like a bad movie to me, but the pair of them are perfectly happy with that. I got another friend who tells me that being romantic is just taking a moment to touch without the aim of sex. Of course, she's single, and I figure she's got lowered expectations, but I identify with her best because of similarly lowered expectations.

The existence of romance is never in question, really, but the mileage of people varies throughout the world, because there's a lot of people living half life relationships, and when you're half lifed, you simply cannot be assed being romantic to someone. You'd rather do something else. Things get to be more interesting, more urgent, more whatever, and so the little things drop away.

Or maybe I'm just talking shit.

Just in case, here's a plus sized model in her home made dungeon talking about romance:



Topic requested by Alisa Krasnostein (girliejones)

(For amusement, I have taken part in a meme that goes, "Everyone has things they blog about. Everyone has things they don't blog about. Challenge me out of my comfort zone by telling me something I don't blog about, but you'd like to hear about, and I'll write a post about it." You can still drop in ideas, as the post will stay open until I either finish them all, or I simply get bored with writing about things I don't usually write about. It's here.)