UnCommon Origins: A Collection of Gods, Monster, Nature and Science

notsocommonUnCommon Origins presents 22 depictions of moments on the precipice, beginnings both beautiful and tragic. Fantastical stories of Creation, Feral Children, Gods and Goddesses (both holy and horrific), and possibilities you never dared imagine come to life. Including stories from some of the most talented Speculative Fiction and Magical Realism authors around, UnCommon Origins will revisit the oldest questions in the universe: Where did we come from? and What comes next?

anthologies are uncommon on my bookshelf, due mainly to the up and down nature of the stories and my usual preference for singular stories in the books I read.  Breaking new ground, I found I not only enjoyed  the variety of ideas but was also impressed by the quality of the writing on show.

This Sci-Fi offering contains a lot of good stories, possibly from some very twisted minds.  I wasn’t expected to be pulled in so quickly but from the initial story – The Hanging Gardens of Brooklyn – a story about kindness to strangers, foreigners and so much more, it became clear that it was going to be a lot of fun.

Some stories took a little longer to get to the reward but even the less satisfying stories – for this reader, that is – always had the seeds of something interesting to speculate on.  There are a few authors I would be interested in reading more of, which is the pleasure of this book and the curse of the bank balance.

It was rewarding and quite exhilarating to dabble in a bunch of writers whom I have no prior knowledge of, not knowing what will come my way next.  This inventive melding of genres and imagination in a plethora of writing styles ensures that there is something for everybody here and I look forward to rereading some of them again when the fancy takes me.

This collection was brought to my attention through a barrage of emails and latterly my letterbox by perennial blog favourite Jess Harpley and her featured story includes her trademark action packed, high body count style.  As ever though there is so much more behind the action, in this story of slavery, family,  the balance of power and a decision that ultimately leaves everything in the balance.

Other standout stories were the historical sci-fi horrors set in England (Glass Heart and The Terrible Discovery of professor Charles Cooper), akin to stories with the atmosphere of Mary Shelley and Susan Hill; Stories of torture of the soul, macabre happenings and delightfully ghoulish transgressions of nature.

Honourable mentions go to The Last Star as two beings watch the death of the universe and find out what, if anything happens next.  My Darlings, about a woman who has something gestating inside her and had me in mind of an old M.R. James story…not to give too much away and Aplanetry, a love story that transcends science and the changing of race.

Overall I got a lot of entertainment from this set of stories, there is much diversity and creativity here and it is great to see that the art of writing is alive.  These authors are mostly holding down full-time jobs as well which is an inspiration and encouragement to all writers out there who have a story to tell.  I can’t help but feel I have been missing out by not picking up a few more anthologies and that will be something I need to rectify in the near future.

26 Replies to “UnCommon Origins: A Collection of Gods, Monster, Nature and Science”

    1. Some of the stories didn’t grab me either but there is a good amount of variety in there to entice you into some adventures.

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  1. Anthologies provide a good read for me, most of the times. That’s because I can have stories from different writers, often unknown, and hence, the surprise is there (not always pleasant, I admit that). This particular one sounds tempting to me, especially as you’ve mentioned Mary Shelley, Susan Hill and Jess. Where can I get the book? Kindly provide the link…. 🙂

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    1. It’s always great to hear new voices. I will be starting to focus on poetry soon as that seems like a challenge, to read slowly is always something not easily done. The more authors read, the more we appreciate.

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  2. I know you write poetry; do you also write short fiction? Why not try your hand, if not yet, at the form? You’ve certainly read enough to have a natural, intuitive feel for the form.

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    1. I have had a few ideas, nothing concrete but I really should write something else other than poetry. I was toying with an idea before I read this book so maybe it was a sign.

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  3. Anthologies certainly can be great reads as I like that I can pick them up and put them down within a short time and they hold my attention. I like the book cover and title very much!

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    1. The cover and title do conjure up many ideas, it is a wonder that so many book covers fail to do that simple thing. I wish I could dip in and out of a book but I seem to feel the need to read through straight away and still can’t decide if this is the best tactic or not.

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  4. I have very few anthologies, too, I find the spell gets broken by the change in style, but then I do love a good spooky, unnatural gestation, as the natural ones can be scary enough.

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    1. My tactic is just to read straight through and treat it like the up a mixed flow of one imagined narrative. The annoying habit of keeping an eye on pages numbers and waiting for the pay off is something that needs addressing though.

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    1. Not all these stories are scary (although I did enjoy those ones best for their atmosphere). Sometimes the scariest monsters in books as in life are we humans…

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  5. Sounds like a fascinating collection. I tend to read fewer short story collections, I think they’re much less popular over here, but I often read literary magazines with short story content.

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    1. Anthologies seem to be out all the time yet I never see many people reading or talking about them…it’s strange, still I was glad to dip my toe in the water and will again.

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  6. Sounds fascinating 🙂 what did happen when the last star died? If you don’t mind revealing it here.

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    1. SPOILER ALERT: The last two beings watch all be destroyed and eventually become themselves the catalyst for another Big Bang and a new beginning. Death is not the end is possibly something Imhotep wrote or said in The Mummy (a time when summer blockbusters were enjoyable romps, how times change).

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