________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 18 . . . . January 10, 2014


Tesseracts Seventeen: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast.

Colleen Anderson & Steve Vernon, eds.
Calgary, AB: Edge, 2013.
271 pp., trade pbk. & e-Book, $16.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-77053-044-7 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-77053-045-4 (e-Book).

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

*** /4



Her Italian was a cut or two above serviceable; she deciphered what she could of the text on the two-page spread displayed under the glass. Most of it dealt with the rites of minor, forgotten Catholic sects whose subtle blasphemies of the flesh were lost on her irreligious mind, but on the last line of the second page she encountered the words "il vino vermiglio di Venera" ("the vermillion wine of Venera") and she was immediately consumed with the desire to turn the page and learn what that mysterious phrase could mean. She had never heard of a city or region, or even a vineyard, called Venera; and, despite all her years of investigating the wines of the world, she had no clue as to what "vermillion wine" could be. But the book was encased, out of reach. She tried to reassure herself that armed with the book's title she could at any time satisfy this sudden obsession.

Still, her impatient need to understand that phrase nagged at her to distraction. She hadn't yet seen the entire exhibit at the Museo d'Arte Erotica, but she could no longer focus. (From "
Vermillion Wine".)

Tesseracts Seventeen consists of 271 pages made up of a three page introduction, 29 short stories and poems, plus a four page essay by one of the editors followed by five pages listing other books by this publisher. The sub-title of the anthology, Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast, is a good description of what the collection is all about speculative fiction from Canadian writers spanning all parts of the country. In the interests of brevity, I will attempt to describe each of the short stories in a single sentence. For the poetry. I will just give the title.

      "Vermillion Wine" tells of a young woman who discovers a hidden city in the depths of Venice.

      "Night Journey: West Coast" - a poem.

      "The Wall" is a story about a mysterious wall and its hunger for flesh.

      "2020 Vision" takes the reader into a tale about The Church of Spock.

      "Why Pete?" leads readers into the far reaches of outer space and humanity's attempt to colonize a distant world.

      "Bird Bones" introduces the monster under a child's bed, sort of.

      "Bedtime Story" is another tale of a young child and her strange companions.

      "Graveyard Shift" introduces a depressed young man having a conversation with his grandfather's gravestone.

      "The Path of Souls" takes place on a distant planet, with some unusual funeral practices.

      "Sin A Squay" ventures into the north end of Winnipeg and meets some vengeful shape-changers.

      "Hereinafter Referred to as the Ghost" opens in the Ottawa Museum of Nature and guides the reader through a spectral job interview.

      "Anywhere" is a fantasy tale with a touch of magic set in a primitive land.

      "Secret Recipes" is a story of cuisine and murder on another world.

      "Star Severer" is set in the far future and tells of inter-stellar intolerance.

      "The Lighthouse Keeper's Wife", set near Owen Sound, Ontario, describes what goes wrong when a man attempts to revive his dead wife.

      "Graffiti Borealis" tells of a young man in Montreal who has an unusual experience when graffiti takes on a life of its own.

      "My Child Has Winter in His Bones" - a poem.

      "Team Leader 2040" takes future game playing, senior citizens and zombies to an extreme level.

      "Sand Hill" follows a pair of teenagers who want to find an escape from the everyday world.

      "The Ripping" looks at garbage picking and hoarding and takes them into strange places.

      "Unwilling to Turn Around" - a poem.

      "Pique Assiette" discusses how to rid someone of their memories through the use of broken pieces of pottery.

      "Leaving Cape Roseway" - a poem.

      "Everybody Wins" is the story of an unusual lottery, one with unfortunate results for the winners.

      "In The Bubble" takes readers back into outer space, with a murder and a strange device for recalling lost memories.

      "Hermione and Me" introduces a young girl whose imaginary friends can become very real in emergencies.

      "Blizzard Warning" takes place in Tuktoyaktuk with the story of a man who should have paid more attention to a warning from an elder regarding creatures that may be found in a storm.

      "M.E.L." is a futuristic tale about teenagers and their discoveries set in a much-modified world.

      "The Calligrapher's Daughter" leads the reader into an Arabian Tales type of setting were a young woman learns the value of humility.

      Tesseracts Seventeen is a collection of new short stories and poems of horror, science-fiction and fantasy from authors in each of the provinces and territories of Canada. There is something for every taste. Well-written, and certainly varied in content, this volume follows in the tradition of the "Tesseracts" series and will appeal to lovers of the anthology format.


Ronald Hore, a member of several writing groups, writes medieval-style fantasy and fantasy detective stories in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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