From the editor of Dreaming Down-Under comes the critically-acclaimed Australian anthology DREAMING AGAIN: 35 New Stories Celebrating the Wid Side of Australian Fiction with stories to shock, astound, and delight readers.
Check out some of the first reader reviews that we have received!
I just finished Dreaming Again! What a fabulous book,I was caught right from the beginning,I was particularly impressed with Constant Past. I would advise anyone to read and enjoy this book,the stories are wonderful and you hate the book to end!
I was very excited to receive this book for review, because I love strange stories, especially science fiction and fantasy. I haven't read the first collection of stories, Dreaming Down Under, so while I had nothing to compare these stories to, I also had an open mind.
This collection of Australian stories is classified as speculative fiction. To quote wikipedia, speculative fiction is:
"A term used as an inclusive descriptor covering a group of fiction genres that speculate about worlds that are unlike the real world in various important ways. In these contexts, it generally includes science fiction, fantasy fiction, horror fiction, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, alternate history, and magic realism."
I enjoy most of these sub-genres, but I am not a fan of horror; in fact I detest it. I was curious to see just how much that was going to affect my enjoyment of this book. The answer? It only affected it a little bit. Out of the 35 stories, there were only 9 that I didn't care for. Which I think is a pretty decent ratio, when you consider these stories are told by 35 different authors, all with different styles.
Here are my reviews for the individual stories. Keep in mind that I can't stand zombie stories when looking at the ratings. If you like zombie stories, your opinion of this book will be even higher than mine I'm sure.
*Spoiler alert! I tried to avoid giving away too much, but sometimes that proved impossible.
Old Friends by Garth Nix: A man battles against inhuman forces, realising that his old friends are no longer around to help him. I thought this story was well written. I could almost smell the stench of the weeds in the ocean. 4/5
A Guided Tour in the Kingdom of the Dead by Richard Harland: A curious tourist has to decide the price he is willing to pay to see where the dead go when they die. This story drew me in from the beginning. 4/5
This is My Blood by Ben Francisco and Chris Lynch: Interstellar missionaries preach to blood-sharing aliens. This one was great except for the ick factor with the blood. If I hadn't been so grossed out it would have scored higher. 3.5/5
Nightship by Kim Westwood: On this ship of masters and slaves, gender is defined by the person's role and function. Well told story with strange gender assignments. 3.5/5
The Fooly by Terry Dowling: Truly this is a scary ghost story where not everything is as it seems. I'm pretty wimpy with ghost stories, so this one scared me, but that's what it was supposed to do. 4/5
Neverland Blues by Adam Browne: A futuristic Michael Jackson soars through space looking for companionship. I thought this story was actually very sad and funny all at the same time. 3.5/5
The Jacaranda Wife by Angela Slatter: A woman emerges from a tree in this newly created Australian fable. This was a wonderful mystical tale, and it was also one of my favorites in the collection. 4.5/5
The Constant Past by Sean McMullen: A librarian seeks to solve mysterious murders, and suspects time travel is involved. I love a good time travel yarn, and this one was excellent. 5/5
The Forest by Kim Wilkins: A futuristic adaptation of the Hansel and Gretel story. A weird but enjoyable retelling. 4/5
Robots & Zombies by Lucy Sussex: A story composed entirely of answers to questions from an interrogation. It was hard for me to grasp the storyline because the questions weren't there, only the answers; it was still interesting though. 3.5/5
This Way to the Exit by Sara Douglass: Mysterious things happen in the tunnels as the metro line is drilled in London, and people are whisked away to unexpected places. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, it was entertaining and fun. 5/5
Grimes and the Gaijin Daimyo by A. Bertram Chandler: A previously unpublished story of spaceships and time travel centered around Japan. I like time travel stories, so it's no surprise that I like this one too. 4.5/5
Lure by Paul Collins: A futuristic mystery story about the murder of Avatars. This story would have been more enjoyable for me had it not been for the abundance of gay sex. 2.5/5
Empire by Simon Brown: Martians conquer the Earth, and two teenagers tell the story of how the Martians were defeated. This story had great characters, and a nice plot. 3.5/5
Lakeside by Christopher Green: A story about a mysterious baby found in a lake. This story seemed too short to me, like there ought to be more to the plot. 2/5
Troll's Night Out by Jenny Blackford: A story about the interactions of shape-shifting werewolves and trolls. I thought this story had some potential, but was totally turned off by the sexuality at the end. 2.5/5
The Rest is Silence by Aaron Sterns: A gruesome ghost story. I didn't like the gore in this story. It did manage to scare me good, so in that respect it was successful. 2.5/5
Smoking, Waiting for the Dawn by Jason Nahrung: I can't tell you much about this story other than it was about zombies and vampires, and that I didn't finish it. 1/5
Lanes of Camberwell by Cecilia Dart-Thornton: Walking through the lanes of Camberwell, two friends discover the secret magic of the lanes. I loved how the story developed with glimpses of the magic of the lanes. 4.5/5
Lost Arts by Stephen Dedman: What would be the worst punishment for a man whose only satisfaction comes from receiving attention from others? Find out in this futuristic art heist story. This was a really fun read; the culprit's punishment was satisfying. 4.5/5
Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh by Jason Fischer: I think the title says it all - it's all about zombies and zombie camels. This read like a B horror flick. 2/5
Europa by Cecily Scutt: A sea voyage story. I don't know why, but even though the writing was good, and nothing was offensive, I just didn't get this story. 3/5
Riding on the Q-Ball by Rosaleen Love: This story encompasses different dimensions, multiple timelines, and space travel, all centering around a broken fax machine. 4/5
In From the Snow by Lee Battersby: Futuristic survivalist tale. This story plays on the pack mentality. 3.5/5
The Lost Property Room by Trudi Canavan: There are catastrophic results when the wrong item is taken from the lost and found. This was a fun story, and also one of my favorites in the collection. 4.5/5
Heere Be Monsters by John Birmingham: Futuristic Zombie tale set in Australian port city. It's a story about zombies, so it wasn't my favorite. The writing was engaging though. 3/5
Purgatory by Rowena Cory Daniels: A story about what happens when an epidemic alters a persons fundamental beliefs, and the ethics of healing them without their permission. I loved this story! The characters were realistic, and even in this short story, I came to care for them. 5/5
Manannan's Children by Russell Blackford: A tale of immortals of Irish myth and legend. I thought this tale similar to those of Odysseus or The Arabian Nights. I truly enjoyed the journey of the immortals. 5/5
The Fifth Star in the Southern Cross by Margo Lanagan: A weird tale of aliens and sexuality. I just couldn't get into this story. 2/5
Twilight in Caeli-Amur by Rjurik Davidson: Who is Madame Didion, and is she more than she seems? If I say anything else I'll give away the whole story. Let's just say it's about mysterious notebooks that hold the secrets to some strange engineered plants. 4/5
Paradise Design'd by Janeen Webb: A fun play on Milton's story posing the question - what might the angels have done in paradise? 4/5
The New Deal by Trent Jamieson: Wooden zombie dolls attack in the desert. Another zombie story I didn't enjoy. 2.5/5
Conquist by Dirk Strasser: A story of what could have happened to the Spanish Conquistadors in the new world while searching for gold. A fine story. I liked the interactions with the natives and the inclusion of magic. 5/5
The Last Great House of Isla Tortuga by Peter M. Ball: Pirates go to a zombie prostitute den. The characters and storyline were actually quite good, but I just can't stand zombies. 2.5/5
Perchance to Dream by Isobelle Carmody: Are there boundaries to our dreams? Can we reach others in our dreams? The first half of this story scared the bejeebers out of me, and then as the plot unfolded I was enchanted. What a great story! 5/5
I enjoyed reading this collection of short stories; it was great to discover so many authors that were new to me. Overall I would rate this book at 4/5, allowing for the fact that I don't like stories about zombies, and there were a few of them included.
I usually don't read anthologies like this because I find it hard to get used to the way one author writes then have to go onto the next story and get used to that author's writing. But I gave it my best shot and I'd have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed having a chance at reading this book. I am a full blown fan of horror writing, amongst other things and this book was great!
I really don't want to place an spoilers here, but here goes. I'm going to list my absolute favorite stories out of the book.
This is My Blood by Ben Francisco and Chris Lynch - I loved the way the authors placed the dates in between the paragraphs. It kind of reminded me of Star trek or perhaps like reading someone's diary (well, I guess it kind of was). The writing was fantastic and it was very easy to follow.
The Fooly by Terry Dowling - A small town ghostly tale. Gotta love the ghost stories. Of course they always seem to happen where you wouldn't even think of it. This is something that I'd like to tell around a camp fire and get everyone spooked!
Empire by Simon Brown - Now I really am not a huge fan of alien stories, but I liked this one because in the story the aliens have conquered Earth and the POV is from two teenagers. Did give you some pretty interesting images as you read! I give this two thumbs up just because I'm not an alien fan!
Trolls Night Out by Jenny Blackford - Her characters were well thought out. Her antagonist was David, pain in the butt and a little mouthy. But where would the story go if he wasn't in it? But this story was pretty good. I love werewolves and I remember Trolls from the movie Troll. So this one had me hooked right from the get go!
The Rest is Silence by Aaron Sterns - Another ghost story, but will a lot more substance! As i stated before I am a huge horror fan and this story had it all! If I had three thumbs I give this story just that!
Undead Camels Ate Their Flesh by Jason Fischer - I don't know if the author wanted readers to take the story this way, but I thought it was funny! Zombie camels, I never would have thought of that!
Heere Be Monsters by John Birmingham - Yet another of my absolute favorites. Zombies! I'm not a big fan of futuristic stories, but I had to give this one a try because it had the zombie factor. The wording took me a little time to get used to, but at the end, I realized that I had really enjoyed this story.
The New Deal by Trent Jamieson - The title really didn't do much for me, but his twist on zombie dolls made of wood was nice. Nicely written and my favorite sentence that hooked me right from the get go was and I quote, "These blokes been dead a while." Good read!
The Last Great House of Isla Tortuga by Peter M. Ball - I don't like sea stories or pirates, but this one I thought was funny. Maybe that is just my morbid sense of humor, but who would have thought that the zombies had their own prostitutes. That's all I'm going to say about this story, you'll have to read it for yourself!
As you'll notice I enjoyed the zombie stories, but after reading the likes of Stephen King and David Moody, this book was great. Some of the stories I just couldn't get into but overall I am really glad I was given the opportunity to read this book! I definately recommend it to friends!