Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book 89: Straying From the Path

Straying from the Path was a huge win. It’s a special edition book released in conjunction with Capclave by WSFA Press that was signed by Carrie Vaughn. It is amazing collection of non-werewolf stories that were just a thrill to read.

I’ve said this before, but I adore Carrie Vaughn. She’s writes great witty fiction that is infused with lots of great history and characters without getting dull or too overdone. It’s easy, fun to read fiction. So when I saw on her blog about this limited edition book, my interest was piqued. I was ecstatic to see that book was affordable on top of being a special edition with only 500 in print, signed, and hardback. It was on cloud nine. The only doubt at first was if I could purchase it since I wasn’t able to go to Capclave but I was able to purchase it. So I’m now proud owner of book 84 of the lot.

The stories are quite marvelous and varied in nature but all have the earmarks of Carrie Vaughn. I love how these stories each had a very different feel to them yet they were so enjoyable. There are stories about flying, fairies in space, fairytales and time travel.

My favorite story was “The Happiest Place.” It’s cool mix of a fairy tale with the classic be careful of what you wish for theme and the magical setting (although in this one it’s Disneyworld). I love how the blending of having a princess actress who gains a crown that allows her to grant wishes but then she starts to lose herself in the process. Then the layering of being the magical princess and making the happiness of sick little girls for the day but realizing how it’s just an act, just gave the story the depth to it. Like many great fairy tales, it does not have a happy ending.

Another fun story was “Swing Time”. It was fun seeing the love/hate relationship play out as they dance through time and space. When I read that Madeline had her Achilles severed, I was so sad cause I knew her adventure would have to end. But fortunately that wasn’t the end of it. One of the things I found awesome was how Vaughn was able to say how you couldn’t change events in history but no one seemed to notice if riches were lost. It had a touch of Doctor Who to it where there were just some things you couldn’t change (especially those related to your own history) and events that you could change.

One of the stories I enjoyed but misunderstood in a way was “Silence Before Starlight”. In the notes, Carrie said how it was actually a fairy as the creature calling to Barrie in the leannane sidhe sense. Well I didn’t see alien like most people but I just saw the classic siren story set in space.

I will have to say several of her stories in this collection made me think about and want to read more about military history and theory. It’s a shame you don’t always hear about the WASPs and almost never about Joseph Kittinger. But I’m glad that I read “This is the Highest Step in the World” because I learned about Kittenger and then subsequently went to find the photo to the right. Yes, he literally jumped/parachuted from space.  Then the story “Peace in Our Time” just made you think about what would happen if everyone relied on drones to fight wars.

I also loved “Real City.” It was perfect story that was so reminiscent of Singing in the Rain and yet so realistic with just a hint of futuristic. It was done at the perfect time since in a decade or so, this story would be dated. It was just a great diversion and relaxing read.

The only story I didn’t care for was “In time”. I get what she was trying to do. Show a little facet of Emily Dickenson’s life and talk about her dog. But it just didn’t hit my sweet spot for a good story, instead it was so-so. It doesn’t help that I’m not a Emily Dickenson fan.

I loved “Straying From the Path”. I was so good. It made me think, I got to learn about things while being carried away to far away lands.

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