Short works

Books : reviews

Catherynne M. Valente.
The Glass Town Game.
McElderry Books. 2017

Inside a small Yorkshire parsonage, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne Brontë have invented a game called Glass Town, where their toy soldiers fight Napoleon and no one dies. This make-believe land helps the four escape from a harsh reality: Charlotte and Emily are being sent away to a dangerous boarding school. But then something incredible happens: a train whisks them all away to a real Glass Town, and the children trade the moors for a wonderland all their own.

This is their Glass Town, exactly like they envisioned it … almost. They certainly never gave Napoleon a fire-breathing porcelain rooster instead of a horse. And their soldiers can die; wars are fought over the potion that raises the dead. When Anne and Branwell are kidnapped, Charlotte and Emily must find a way to save their siblings. Can two English girls stand against Napoleon’s armies? And if he escapes Glass Town, will England ever be safe again?

Catherynne M. Valente.
The Refrigerator Monologues.
Saga Press. 2017

Our Numbers change—a few more this week, a few less the next, depending on if anyone gets called up to the big game. You can’t keep your lunch date if some topside science-jockey figures out how to make a zombie-you. We’re totally understanding about that sort of thing. She’ll be back. They always come back. Zombies never last, power sputters out, and clones don’t have the self-preservation instinct God gave a toddler in a stove shop.

I watch them come and go, and sometimes, for a minute, I think that sweet-faced geek in his lab will reanimate my rotting corpse for once. But he never looks twice at me. Never picked for the team for all eternity.

I guess you could call me the President of the Hell Hath Club. It’s honorary and empty and mostly means I get to the cafe first and hold our table. I order for everyone. I keep the minutes, such as they are. And when the girls settle in, we open our stories up like the morning edition.

Catherynne M. Valente.
Space Opera.
Corsair. 2018

A century ago, intelligent space-faring life was nearly destroyed during the Sentience Wars. To bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity and understanding, the Metagalactic Grand Prix was created. Part concert, part contest, all extravaganza, species far and wide gather to compete feats of song, dance and/or whatever facsimile of these can be performed by various creatures who may or may not possess, in the traditional sense, feet, mouths, larynxes or faces.

This year, humankind has discovered the enormous universe. They expected to discover a grand drama of diplomacy, gunships, wormholes and stoic councils. Instead they found glitter, lipstick and electric guitars.

Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes, a washed-up glam-rock band, have been chosen to represent humanity on the greatest stage in the galaxy. The fate of Earth lies in their ability to rock.