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Hwarhath Stories: Transgressive Tales by Aliens Paperback – May 1, 2016
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Arnason (A Woman of the Iron People) rewards her loyal readers with this long-awaited collection of her celebrated stories about the alien hwarhath, written from the perspective of a cultural anthropologist. Each story explores a slightly different aspect of the fictional race and its distant world. Arnason perfectly captures the dry, patient scholarly tone used in folklore translations as she tells the hwarhath's creation stories and their version of the Adam and Eve myth. She explores in far more detail the hwarhath's peculiar (yet recognizable) attitudes toward sex, love, and procreation across several stories featuring related characters, which craft a fascinating historical story arc. Arnason's aliens are almost uniformly bisexual, and forbidden from engaging in heterosexual love beyond what's needed for procreation. This behavior allows Arnason to adapt timeless folkloric tropes to her own modern, progressive, and wholly original reality, which comes alive in her precise, classically beautiful prose. Most of the stories were published separately in the 1990s, and they stand up impressively well today. Those seeking a scholarly approach to speculative fiction will devour this idiosyncratic collection. --Publishers Weekly Feb 2016
These are magnificent stories, wise, witty, science-fictionally fascinating, moving. This may well end up being the story collection of the year. --Rich Horton Locus April 2016
About the Author
Eleanor Arnason's fourth novel, A Woman of the Iron People, won the James Tiptree Jr. Award and the Mythopoeic Society Award for adult fantasy. Her fifth novel, Ring of Swords, won a Minnesota Book Award. Since 1994 she has concentrated on short fiction. Aqueduct Press has published her short novel Tomb of the Fathers and a collection, Big Mama Stories. Her story ''Dapple'' won a Spectrum Award for GLBT science fiction; and she has been a finalist for the Sturgeon, Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. She lives in Minnesota.
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If you haven't met the Hwarhath yet -- a fascinating culture -- this is a great introduction to them. If you have, this collection is not to be missed.
It's also one of the best science fiction collections I've read in years. Interwoven and inter-related stories of the Hwarhath people, written with Arnason's usual humor and precision, and as the title promises, interestingly transgressive, this one will keep you up all night, reading and reading.
Warning: contains both M/M and F/F sex as well as one or two stories with M/F. None of the sex is explicit.
While this is a great book, I would recommend reading the also-great Ring of Swords first. The two books share a setting, but while Ring of Swords slowly reveals the setting to the reader, Hwarhath Tales just lays it all out for the reader immediately.