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Simon Petrie

Peggy Bright Books (2010)

ISBN 978 0 98069981 4

Reviewed by Joanna Kasper

A collection of short (some very short) stories that seemed to come from the dark recesses of Simon Petrie’s mind. Most are funny, some are spooky and others are just plain weird and then there are the ones that are all three.

I found that sitting and reading the book all in one go was not a good idea because each story was so short that they tended to blend into each other. On the other hand, it is a brilliant book for reading before bedtime, or if (like me) you have young children and reading is done in short bursts during the day. Like pinching a chocolate from the box when no-one is looking as opposed to sitting and gorging the whole lot in one go … equally as satisfying!

This is a highly entertaining collection, with some sharp and funny commentary on science fiction and fantasy tropes, human nature and the perils of going into space. There is poetry, crime solving, sudoku puzzles (yes, really), sex education, and downright laugh out loud humour (“Highway Patroller”). It’s not all rolling in the aisles though, with stories such as “Running Lizard” looking at a more serious, and grisly, side to genetic mutations.

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Deborah Biancotti

Twelfth Planet Press (2009)

ISBN: 978 0 9804841 5 1

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack, March 2010

A Book of Endings is the first short story collection from Deborah Biancotti; it contains 21 stories, 15 of which have been published before. Most were new to me, but I haven’t been reading much short fiction; the stories reprinted here first appeared in a variety of publications, most of which will be familiar to those who read Australian short fiction. So for some readers, a number of the stories will be familiar.

There’s no indication that this is intended as a “best of” collection, and indeed the fact that over a quarter of the stories are new militates against this. It is, I think, more intended to be representative of the range and quality of Biancotti’s work.  In this, it works well; although it is clear that Biancotti has some favoured approaches and themes, A Book of Endings is quite a diverse collection. Importantly, the stories are all of high quality. Not everyone will like them all, or indeed choose the same favourites, but I think most readers will appreciate what Biancotti has achieved here.

This isn’t a light collection. I don’t recall a single story here that I found humorous, or would call light relief. That’s okay.  But given that most of these stories are on the darker side, and many have quite a lot for the reader to think about, it’s not the sort of collection I can read quickly.  I found I needed to read one or at most two stories, and then put the collection down for several days to enable me to absorb the impact of that story before I could consider reading another.  They’re strong stories, with a lot to think about, and some of them have a strong impact on the reader.

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