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From Weird and Distant Shores Hardcover – Deluxe Edition, February 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Drawn primarily from shared-world anthologies that dominated horror and fantasy markets in the '90s, the 13 stories that comprise Kiernan's latest collection raise intriguing questions about the nature of creative collaboration. Although she acknowledges as silent partners the graphic, gaming and classic horror media that shaped those compilations, the author has such an original and inimitable voice that she virtually steals these stories from their influences. "The Comedy of St. Jehanne d'Arc," one of two selections set in a role-playing game world secretly controlled by a vampire conspiracy, inventively parallels the plight of Joan of Arc to the vampire neophyte forced by her master to speak to the Maid of Orleans in voices. "Stoker's Mistress," set in the same world, shows the creator of Dracula enthralled by a vampire muse who inspires him to write a novel that will deflect mortals from learning the true nature of vampires. Like most of the other selections, these stories stand solidly on their own outside the books that spawned them, in part because Kiernan's focus is not on the minutiae of their prefab universes but on the attitudes and sensibilities of characters caught in their events. Her impressionistic style, built on poetic enjambments of sensory images and moods, proves perfect for rendering the postapocalyptic future of "By Turns" and the alien zombie consciousnesses of "Two Worlds, and in Between." Featuring collaborations with Christa Faust and Poppy Z. Brite, as well as a provocatively opinionated preface, this book should please Kiernan devotees and fans of the worlds she's cohabited. (Feb.)Wrong Things (Forecasts, Oct. 22).
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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I can't really say anything about Cait Kiernan's delicious storytelling that I haven't already said before. If you haven't yet discovered the gothically beautiful, barren world that is the mind of Caitlin R. Kiernan, all I can do is wish that, soon, you will. Kiernan's short stories are the literary equivalent of Edward Gorey's drawings; witty, somewhat Victorian in their scope, but with an ineffable sadness behind them that changes from piece to piece, beckoning the reader ever farther down the road to perdition.
That said, I ended up not rating From Weird and Distant Shores as high as Candles for Elizabeth. This is (for the most part) a collection of "shared-world" stories Kiernan wrote during her fledgling years for various anthologies. And while everything she says in the introduction about the attraction of writing shared-world stories is true, all the pitfalls of doing so loom before even the finest writers. Investing your breath of life into someone else's creation doesn't always work; it ends up either being their creation looking right, but moving with an odd, amateur-puppeteer-style jerkiness, or looking like your creation and making the original author say "what the hell is THIS?" Which obviously happened to Kiernan more than once, judging by the acid words she has for certain copyeditors in the afterwords of some of these tales. (Needless to say, of the shared-world stories here, those, presented in their original drafts in this collection, are usually the best.)
There are exceptions, of course. There are three very early tales from an abandoned short-story cycle towards the end of the book, and while science fiction is not nearly as much my bag as is dark fantasy, what was in them begs for more fleshing out. Hopefully, more readers of the book than I will be thinking very hard at Kiernan "when do we get more of `Between the Flatirons and the Deep Green Sea'?" Also, some of the shared-world collections were far less restrictive than others, and the book's most haunting tale ("Two Worlds, and In Between"-a much better title than the original, because it gives nothing away) comes from one of them.
Highly recommended, especially if you can't find the now-out-of-print Candles for Elizabeth. ****