Monday, August 20, 2007

Saffron and Brimstone by Elizabeth Hand

Short stories. Elizabeth Hand is one of those authors that I think I should like - reviews and comments on the group rec.arts.sf.written put her in that branch of literary speculative fiction I like - but despite several tries, I've never made it further than a few pages into any of her novels. So I thought I'd give this collection a try.

I had no difficulty reading it, and it did indeed fall into that area of literary SF that I particuarly like. I suppose I shall try a novel again...

The stories varied considerably. I didn't like the final quartet as much; it's a slipstream set of meditations on friendship, leaping about through time, space and nominal genre, but in at least three of them I never had enough of a sense of the people to care much about their friendship.

Of the rest... two stick in my mind. The first, Cleopatra Brimstone, is an odd, indecipherable tale of geeky but attractive Jane, a budding lepidopterist. The plot is fairly straightforward - studies entomology, is raped, becomes a predator, turns into a moth - but Jane herself is opaque. I could say it's depersonalization made literal, but really I don't know quite what to make of it. It sticks, though.

The other is The Least Trumps. The main character is an agoraphobic tatoo artist, and the world changes. The ending is lovely - it's a delicate story, I don't want to disturb it by saying more.

No comments: