Publisher: Air and Nothingness Press
“Jamie Lackey’s new collection of speculative fiction stories will make you think, wonder, and hope. Journey within and away to find love across time, friendly and fearsome aliens, alternate realities, fungal zombies, and more.”
‘A Metal Box Floating Between Stars and Other Stories’ contains 19 stories. This book is a companion volume to ‘The Blood of Four Gods and Other Stories’ previously published by the Air and Nothingness Press.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
A Metal Box Floating Between Stars and Other Stories is a fantastic collection of SF/F short stories that feature everything from assassins turned Instagram foodies to creepy parasitic foot worms. Also bug aliens. Lots and lots of bug aliens. What really ties these stories together though is the focus on human connection and emotion. While most of these stories are set in second worlds, the driving conflict is rarely the SFF elements but how the humans in the story interact. Lackey’s writing style brings out very thought-provoking and evocative pieces, that leaves the reader thinking, ‘would I have made the same choice?’.
In several stories, there are evil aliens that act as the conduit for the plot but the real conflict comes between characters and how they react to each others’ behaviors. For example, The Beautiful Purple Sky has aliens that brainwash humans to be sympathetic to their cause (taking over Earth), but only enough for the brainwashed humans themselves to conquer the planet for the aliens. Yet, the meat of the plot is between a woman who has been brainwashed and the rest of her family who have not.
Five standouts from this collection were:
- A Metal Box Floating Between Stars – a cute slice of life about the budding romance between two scientists traveling through deep space and alternating deep sleep cycles
- Painting the Sky With Shooting Stars – a bittersweet story about a girl who really wants to be a space trash collector and the boy she leaves behind
- Broken Promises – a disturbing and sad story about the destruction of a relationship ft. bug aliens
- The Retired Angel of Death – a story about a retired assassin turned space-Instagram foodie
- Songs of Rotting Petals, Dances of Wilting Leaves – A very creepy story about enslaved sentient plants (?) with some really gross imagery
Overall, I rate this collection a 4/5. As all short story collections go, there were some I liked more than others but I there wasn’t one I thought was bad. Some were definitely more abstract and confusing than others though. There are also several stories in here that would make fantastic Sci-Fi movies.
/r/Fantasy Bingo 2018 Squares:
- Five Short Stories
- Novel published in 2018
- Novel with fewer than 2500 Goodreads Ratings