Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Is For Alien

Caitlin Kiernan

Collection of short stories, was surprised to see it on the shelf of the local library and read it with less buildup or anticipation than occurred with a lot of these pieces. The main surprise here is finding them to be, for the most part, pretty distinctly science fiction as opposed to the dark fantasy I know from three of her novels. It's self-consciously Lovecraftian in tone, dealing with the menace and distance of aliens while simultaenously alienizing humanity in various ways. All of the stories are readable, most are interesting, but none manage to be fully compelling or offer really ground-breaking insights. I prefer Kiernan as a novelist and certainly none of the stories are up to the standard of Bacigalupi's collection, but they do make some daring and weighty functions.

Pretty goofy title, though. It’s presumably a riff on Bradbury, but as is it sounds like the kind of cheeky title that civilians would expect of genre fiction, and doesn’t really adequately serve the tone of these pieces.

Worse than: Buy Jupiter and Other Stories by Isaac Asimov
Better than: The Planet on the Table by Kim Stanely Robinson

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