This newest collection of Canadian fantastic fiction looks at the novella (17,500 to 40,000 words), the hardest-to-sell length of fiction.
In a small town in Alberta, an intact baby woolly mammoth is found buried in the snow. When Samuel, the townís "smart person," touches the carcass, the mammothís life force is transferred to him, and he begins to have weird visions about being chased by beings on two legs. During a town-wide party, with mammoth stew as the main course (over Samuelís strong objections), strange things start happening, and several of the townspeople turn into cavemen, and chase Samuel as if he is the baby mammoth.
A young warrior, in feudal Japan, is sent to a small town to find out why they havenít sent in their annual amount of rice. Taking along his concubine and his brother, the mayor of the town says that it is not their fault; the land is somehow cursed. Solving the mystery, the warrior is shocked to find that his concubine and his brother are not exactly what they seem. They are mythological beings in human form.
Superheroes in present-day Korea deal with maniacal villains, inter-Korean politics, corporate downsizing (and overbearing mothers). As the world faces environmental catastrophe, reality-TV adventurers battle giant squids in the very deep ocean. Another small town in Alberta conducts pagan rituals during the year as if it was totally normal (though not everyone agrees). A pair of average women with the power of life and death travel the streets of present-day Montreal.
Here is another strong bunch of stories from north of the border. They are very easy to read, and very weird. Itís recommended.
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Paul Lappen is a freelance book reviewer whose website, www.deadtreesreview.com, has over 700 reviews on all subjects, with an emphasis on small press books.
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