For week 13, I read Mean Streets, by Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green, Kat Richardson, and Thomas E. Sniegoski.
This is a strong collection of short stories. Usually I buy them because I recognize one or two names (Butcher and Green, in this case) and don’t pay much attention (or get into) the other shorts much. Mean Streets was an exception. Solid book. I found myself actually looking up the other two authors for more.
Butcher’s short was good, if a little heavy-handed in the morality play. I do like seeing the Carpenters again, even if only briefly. I’d say more, but I tend to gush about Butcher’s writing, and this short doesn’t need much build-up. (Also, I’m fairly certain that the fellow at the end was played by Morgan Freeman. I heard everything he said in Mr. Freeman’s voice. I feel I should add that this is not uncommon for me.)
Green’s short was about the Nightside, which is always weird and interesting, but I’m finding rarely has much staying power for me. I like the oddities he dreams up, but they’re presented in such an offhand way that it almost feels like he’s throwing random words into a bingo cage and pulling them out in handfuls to keep his word count going forward. “Noodle, purple, giraffe, spindly, flashlight, bounding. Okay…a food cart that bounds through traffic, steered by a long-necked purple fellow with spindly arms, serving out bowls of sentient noodles on his long, spindly arms with flashlights strapped to his hands! And…the noodles temporarily grant you the ability to hear color! And see angels! And the only price is YOUR SOUL. Excellent. Moving on to paragraph 143. Marble, shipwreck, animated, swollen….” There may be some stylistic differences that I found curious before, but now get in the way of the story, I think.
I had never read anything by Kat Richardson before, but I liked her short story. I do happen to be partial to the psychic/clairvoyant/medium trope, to be fair, but this story concentrated more on deciphering a different culture, and I enjoyed it. It’s not a culture I know anything about, so I can’t verify the accuracy of anything or see clearly where she altered something to fit her story/world. That said, learning about traditions and cultures is another one of my interests, so Richardson is 2 for 2 with me, here. I liked that the protagonist was sensible, didn’t get ahead of herself, and acted as a bit of a mentor for a new character, nor did she seem to need to prove anything. Likable. I dug it.
Thomas Sniegoski was another new author to me, but I liked his short too. I have to admit, a good half of it is that he can talk to his dog, and the dog talks back. Is that too simple? Perhaps, but it is what it is. I appreciated having a different mythology to read about other than the vamp/were/fae that is so popular. There’s nothing wrong with that mythology, but even I need a break now and then to cleanse the palate.