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Unwelcome Bodies Paperback – February 28, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Apex Publications (February 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0978867688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0978867683
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,424,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nelly on October 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
I was intrigued by the themes and whole concept of the work. The cover is very stark and fitting. I thought the whole package-the art, the stories and ideas behind them, as well as the author's comments-really gave a first rate experience.

"For the Plague Thereof Was Exceeding Great" was one of my two favorites. It was disturbingly close to misconceptions of today and while it was sci fi, it also required little thought to make the leap. Replace AIDs with any unknown future virus, the rantings of the priests and doomsayers with those of today and it makes for a truly frightening picture. But it was so well done and so moving...a wonderful piece.

"Brushstrokes" was my other favorite. I loved the starcrossed lover approach but with a unique and modern twist. It too was so close to sentiments of today that it made me angry at the citizens of that world, as well as happy that someone has the courage to write about it. The tale was beautifully written and very poignant.

"Last Bus" was another I enjoyed, simply because it felt like a mid 20th century play. Sorrow and starkness combined (storytelling and plot-wise), but over all, hopeful.

"Immortal Sin" was fascinating. Maybe it's because I could understand how the man came to those assumptions being Catholic myself (seeing how people are able to twist words in the name of religion or how `guilt' feeds into a person's everyday thought process). Or maybe because I saw it, not so much as a sci-fi story, but as a thriller. Sane people find it hard to understand how anyone could make such a jump as the main character did with the waitress; reading as the character, though, it was obvious he was obsessive, off-kilter, and able to twist words and intentions in his own mind.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Unwelcome Bodies is a collection of, well, frankly, utterly unnerving tales. It's rare for me to review SFF and rare for me to review short stories, so a combination of both is practically unhead of. However, Jennifer Pelland's collection looked to be full of intriguing ideas and I wanted to try something new.

Pelland presents a range of scenarios that range from slightly eerie to full blown frightening. From the story about the woman whose sister has been sewn into her body to the man on a quest to find the key to eternal life, these are thought provoking stories of what life in the future could be like. I found myself flitting from repulsion to fear to awe as I worked my way through the volume.

Each story is a relatively short length and easily digestible. All are followed by notes from the author, divulging `the story behind the story'. The volume is well narrated by Linette Geisel, who applies a steady pace and clear enunciation, making this a relatively easy listen for such a disturbing volume. If it lacks in one thing, it's quite possibly in the editorial of the narration. There were times when the end of a story and the beginning of the `notes' ran so closely together it took me a moment to realise that the story had finished. However, this is a minor complaint and only occurred a small number of times across the seven hour volume.

As a fan of John Wyndham and Isaac Asimov I often wonder why I don't really consider myself a science-fiction fan these days. Reading/listening to a volume such as this makes me realise that this isn't a genre I should close myself off to. This was one of the most intriguing volumes of short stories I've encountered. Pelland is an excellent storyteller with a vivid imagination. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her writing or to look out for future volumes.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I don't read as much sci-fi as I used to. I had heard good things about this collection and decided to take the plunge. Jennifer Pelland has assembled a number of excellent shorts here. Some are short stories whilst a couple are a little longer-venturing into novella territory. The stories are varied and contain numerous themes such as acceptance, pain and religion. The first half of the book contained the real standout works for me, in particular the first story about the HIV virus and the sexy body horror of Big sister/Little sister which was an uncomfortable reading experience, but really well done. My favourite story was one of the longer ones in The Last Stand of the Elephant Man. A bizarre but brilliant story about Joseph Merrick's journey into the future where he has swapped bodies with someone who has a fascination with his appearance! Flood was also a highlight as was the shortest story in the collection Last Bus. One or two didn't quite work for me. Brushstrokes, whilst brilliantly conceived went on a little too long and the start was a little confusing.

All said, this is a great collection of stories. It's dark and sometimes challenging but I finished feeling that I'd read something unique, interesting and thoughtful. 4.5 stars from this reader and recommended to sci-fi fans and fans of dark fiction
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Format: Hardcover
This is not a book for light reading; it's a book to make readers think about big questions. With a range of styles on display, the collection allows readers to taste unconventional storytelling while still getting a satisfying plot and character arc. Even in the more stories with more experimental writing styles, the characters and action take center stage. Be ready for frank discussions about bodies in all states of repair, and some rather frank discussions of what we do with them alone and in combination. Themes dealing with how our bodies relate to our humanity are treated with such an intensity that I found myself reading one or two stories at a time and needing to let them percolate in my brain for a day before moving on.

I would recommend this book to beginning short story writers. These stories are from the start of Jennifer Pelland's career, which has now gone on to include a second Nebula nomination ("Ghosts of New York," in addition to "Captive Girl" which is in this collection) and more than 30 short stories. In addition to being an enthralling read, it's a chance to to gauge the level of writing that well-published beginners are bringing to the table and see what sort of growth comes over even 11 stories.

Each of the stories is followed by a brief paragraph that gives a little insight into the inspiration for the story. Notes for the first story in the collection, "For the Plague Thereof Was Exceedingly Great," also include the scene break paragraphs that Strange Horizons asked Jennifer Pelland to remove for a rewrite. Reading what Strange Horizons eventually published, and what the editor asked her to delete, is an object lesson for writers, demonstrating how killing one's darlings can, indeed, improve a piece.
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