Edition 3: Book Review: Mythic Resonance edited by Stephen Thompson
Reviewed by Damien Smith
The Specusphere is an online magazine normally devoted to reviews, writing news and articles suitable for anyone with a love of the written word. Mythic Resonance represents the dawn of their expansion into book publishing. Thirteen original tales form an anthology of new spins on legendary and creationist stories.
Each story is a retelling of an ancient tale, some well known, others less so. A short note precedes every story explaining the mythology behind it. Sometimes the link is tenuous, sometimes it is obvious, and sometimes it is a pure retelling of a myth from an alternative viewpoint.
On the whole I found these brief introductions helpful, particularly for some of the more obscure myths, as they gave some framework and background and allowed me to better read each story in context without the need for extensive scene setting, which would have blown out some otherwise nicely concise stories. It was something of a double-edged sword however, as it occasionally hinted at an ending I might have otherwise taken a while to realise. Alan Baxter’s The Everywhere and the Always was a beautifully written tale of ‘real’ fairy stories (i.e. those containing nasty fairy folk and very few sparkles), however a minor comment in the introduction allowed me to pick the ending a page in. Happily, the story set the mood well enough that I still very much enjoyed reading it unravel.
Some of the stories taken from alternative viewpoints were very interesting. I particularly enjoyed Brothers by Sue Bursztynski–a retelling of the Snow White tale as the dwarves saw it–and In Paradise, Trapped by Kelly Dillon, which portrayed what the Norse Valkyries probably quite rightly think of a bunch of men eternally fighting and feasting.
Another noteworthy suggestion was Satima Flavell’s La Belle Dame, which tells of one of the recurring sirens of many ancient myths and illuminates their unsettling habit of combining temptation, eroticism and death to the men who fall under their spells.
Steven Gepp’s Glorious Destiny was a greatly amusing retelling of the ancient Greek hero determined to seek death or glory at the hands of a vicious monster while Donna Maree Hanson’s Through These Eyes I See warps the monster into a force for good and is a more unsettling tale of what might happen to someone with legendary abilities born into the wrong family.
There were a couple of stories that didn’t quite seem to fit the theme, but on the whole this is a wonderful collection of mythological retellings and reboots. Many of the stories do an excellent job of setting a scene and a mood, particularly Baxter’s story, mentioned above, and Holly and Iron by Nigel Read, which tells a beautiful tale of worlds connecting.
Stories here are from a wide range of Australian speculative fiction writers, all of whom deserve a wider audience whether they have been specifically mentioned here or not. Credit must also go to The Specusphere team who have constructed an excellent and quality read. Visit them over at http://www.specusphere.com and see for yourself [editor’s note: this ezine is no longer in production].
Mythic Resonance, edited by Stephen Thompson
Myth-based Speculative Fiction
Publisher: The Specusphere, 2011
ISBN: 0975816772 (978-0975816776)
Being a writer requires dedication, commitment, devotion, diligence, a skin like an armadillo and a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears. By this definition, Damien is most definitely not a writer, although he does occasionally put pen to paper. More accurately, Damien is a lover of the written word in nearly all its forms (you can keep vampire romances) and always feels a little down if he can see over his To Read pile.