Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Review: Escape Clause Edited by Clélie Rich

Review Escape Clause
Edited by Clélie Rich
pb 277pp

Escape Clause is labeled "A Speculative Fiction Anthology" and though I might take issue with anthology, it IS Speculative Fiction in the truest sense. Editor Rich has done a commendable job of straddling the gap seperating fantasy and science fiction. She has done so with thought provoking fiction and poetry from some unquestionably capable writers.

The volume contains 26 entries of poetry and short to medium short stories. The stories seem to be cleverly chosen to be read one or two at a setting time permitting. Perfect for the commute or just before dropping off for the night. I know some might consider this candy where the real meal is in the novel but from my own experience I get to experience a wider variety of talent in a shorter time. Now I could drop greats like "The world's best SF" edited by Asimov or Dangerous Visions by Ellison to really put the worth of the short story collection in perspective, but that really misses the point here - because even though it might not be in that league of collection, it holds true to the exact same premise and does it with panache.

I think everyone will recognize at least someone in this volume. It IS that well edited. I became interested when I discovered that David Kopaska-Merkel's work was going to appear and since we had run a few of his poems, which were wonderfully dark and I was curious as to what he submitted in Escape Clause. I wasn't disapointed. Another author that I had read was Leslie Brown. His Eppur Si Muove which is a classic SF tale of a machine gaining forbidden fruit, so to speak. Other tales like Phil Voyd's Mr. Bronze or Mary E. Choo's "The Drowning Poles" are very much science fiction but clearly allowed some wiggle room to bring other elements deftly into the mix but still be true to the form. Now you take Beth Dodzinski's Munsil and the Minotaur are clearly fantasy based, but given enough room to let the modern world and people mix in with it a deeply moving friendship and again you have a story that drifts back and forth over the line.

There are ghost stories, horror laced tales and others. But its the added play or elements that you start to understand speculative fiction if it were ever in doubt. The Drowning Poles is certainly a worthy example a horror and science fiction mix, but its the stories without a clear genre that I think demonstrates the "speculative" coda....Tina Connlly "On Glicker Street: A Seasonal Quartet" is an excellent example. Fantasy and Science fiction woven tightly together.

I could continue on, probably should because each story deserves to showcase it's wares. But I think you get the point. If you're curious about the genre that refuses to be classified or better still enjoy the different elements thrown together to see how they blend, then I suspect you will enjoy Escape Clause. I know I did.

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