UnCommon 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.