I recently reviewed Amok: An Anthology of Asia-Pacific Speculative Fiction – edited by Dominica Malcolm on Goodreads, but since I don’t know how to connect this blog with Goodreads I’m reposting it here as I think the book is worth writing about.
It is a rich collection of twenty-four stories; rich in diversity of setting, of speculative ideas, and of character.
There are a lot of stories here that I loved and only a couple that didn’t appeal to me. There were also a few I felt could have been shortened – but this might just be a reflection of my dislike of description.
The editor defines speculative fiction as
real world settings in the past, present, or future, with science-fiction or fantasy elements.
and the stories chosen reflect this closely.
The settings are spread widely in the Asia-Pacific area and move from the present to the not very distant future. However, the science-fiction and fantasy elements are all in residence on variants of modern Earth; there are no alien planets or sword-and-sorcery fantasy cultures – though there is some sword-without-sorcery.
This doesn’t mean the ideas are limited. The story-worlds described may be recognisable as derived from ours or from our folklore, but each has one or several differences that fuel the events. Some of them are very way out, but some are horribly possible. How do people deal with making a cupid, quarrelling over a mountain of rubbish, half the world disappearing in a flood, or a special dimension for healers? Even the vampire and the mermaid have unexpected features.
Though the speculative ideas are central to the stories, these are basically tales about people. In them we meet, as central characters, parents and grandparents, a blind schoolboy, students, a shopkeeper, a soldier, a gangster, a couple of ghostbusters, a kung fu master, and several pairs of lovers. Even the moon rabbit and the garden ornament are ‘people’.
Some face a variety of enemies – among them an empire building European, a Filipino aswang, big corporations up to their usual (and unusual) evilness and a sea-witch.
Others have to deal with the aftermath of a major war, the pain of losing a child, their own inability to believe the unlikely, and love lost in some odd ways.
All lovers of speculative or quirky fiction should find something for them here.
Expected publication: April 30th 2014 by Solarwyrm Press.