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The Long Past: & Other Stories Paperback – October 3, 2017
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"Hale continues to satisfy with capable worldbuilding and a strong emotional narrative..." -- PW
About the Author
Ginn Hale resides in the Pacific Northwest with her lovely wife and wayward cats. She is an award-winning author of science fiction and fantasy, as well as an avid coffee-drinker.
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The stories in this collection, love stories all of them, include tales of a "laconic trapper and veteran mage" risking everything to close the rift that unleashed the great flood, of a "brilliant magician and her beautiful assistant fight one of the most powerful men in the world and his diabolic automaton invention, and of "an impoverished young man and a Pinkerton Detective" fighting a corrupt judge, are the results of these "what-if" questions, this world building. That these are GLBT heroes and heroines, and people of color, makes these well-told tales all the richer.
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Here in this book are three steampunk stories that take place in alternate world where mages–those who wield magic innately–and theurgists–those who use it in context of religion and tradition–clash and create chaos around them. Both with good and bad intentions and results. The world is better explained as it goes on from story to story, but the basics are thus:
A group of rifts in time and space where opened up around the world. Through those rifts came catastrophic amounts of sea water, causing massive flooding. The world map was drastically changed by it. England and large sections of Europe and Asia have practically vanished. Huge inland seas have opened up in both North and South America. Needless to say, it created havoc, killed millions, and drastically altered the political landscape of most of the world. And then the dinosaurs showed up–doing pretty much what dinosaurs do.
While I enjoyed all three of these stories, the first is probably my favorite. If only because it is the longest and had more time to really flush out the characters and the world. But the way the history of this world, as well as the political and social atmosphere, grows over the 40 or so years from beginning to end, made these stories seem grounded in reality. Even if that reality is one in which dinosaurs exist alongside humanity.
There is also a great cast of multi ethnic characters here–both main and secondary–which only made the stories all the better.
On the whole I would like to say this is well worth the money. The characters are all well written, and while the two shorter stories could have been fleshed out a bit more, I didn’t have a hard time reading any of them. And really, when was the last time you read a book with real live dinosaurs in it? How could you say no to dinosaurs?!
Actually, I'm kind of in awe of these stories, how she builds this world and it deepens with each story while at the same time I think each one could stand on its own, and how she weaves the relationship with the action.
I've tried reading her longer books and been a bit overwhelmed by them (even as they're glorious) - so it was grand to have these shorter stories in this American setting.