I love reading short story collections featuring many different authors, especially the horror collections edited by Ellen Datlow. Short stories allow us to get a taste for an author’s writing style and if we enjoy their story we can look further for other books of theirs. Or if we aren’t enjoying a particular story, we can skip to the next one. Short stories are also great for delivering quick hits of suspense in just a short amount of time (you can usually finish one on a coffee break and not have to wait until your lunch break to find out what happens next). Needless to say I was very excited to hear that a collection of speculative fiction short stories was coming out, all stories written by Manitoba authors and all take place in Manitoba or are partly set in Manitoba as travelling to other realms/worlds/planes is inevitable in speculative fiction.
The collection is titled Parallel Prairies: Stories of Manitoba Speculative Fiction and it is edited by Darren Ridgley and Adam Petrash who also contribute a story each. The 17 other authors who contributed to the collection are Chris Allinotte, Wayne Arthurson, Jonathan Ball, S.M. Beiko, Sheldon Birnie, Keith Cadieux, Jennifer Collerone, Gilles DeCruyenaere, Will J. Fawley, Chadwick Ginther, Kate Heartfield, Patrick Johanneson, Lindsay Kitson, J.M. Sinclair, David Jón Fuller, Craig Russell, and Christine Steendam. The best part of this collection is that it is has something for everyone and as each story uses the local landscape and landmarks, Manitobans are sure to be able to picture the setting perfectly and be in the know regarding certain Manitoba customs. Lest I bungle up a nice synopsis of the collection, I’ll let the book explain itself to you: “Get acquainted with baby dragons, killer insects, faery kings, infernal entities, and more; as 19 authors let the Manitoban landscape inspire weird and wondrous tales. You thought the prairies were flat, plain, and boring. You were wrong.” Does that not sound intriguing to you? As mentioned these stories feature faeries, wendigos, witches, dragons, folklore and everything in between so there should be something for everyone. Some of my personal favourites were The Comments Gaze Also Into You by David Jón Fuller which discusses cyberbullying in online message boards on news websites in a very unique way, Seven Long Years by Jennifer Collerone which follows a young woman and Wisp, a coyote, as they set out to complete a task that must be undertaken every seven years, and finally Eating of the Tree by Chadwick Ginther which explores Norse mythology in present-day Winnipeg. The other stories in this compilation are of course very good as well, but these three especially stood out for me.
If you are craving more Canadian short stories that are speculative fiction, we have a couple of collections available titled Imaginarium which may be right up your alley.
In other Canadian speculative fiction news, Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, Testaments, is now available to request from Winnipeg Public Library so be sure to get your requests in, as it is sure to be a popular and talked-about read!