Thursday, January 2, 2014

Best (Read) in 2013: Peter Atkins' Rumours of the Marvellous


My Best Reads in 2013
Fiction

Peter Atkins
Rumours of the Marvellous
Alchemy Press, 2011

At last, I found a copy of Rumours of the Marvellous online, and am happy to report that the aptly titled short story collection does not disappoint. Peter does indeed pull off some marvellous pieces–whether he's talking about souls transforming into computer-generated programs, urban warlocks, or demi-gods and gods both menacing and alluring. But it's his narrative voice that drives, lifts and guides these stories. Particularly, Kitty Donnelly, who appears in three stories, is a recurring queer detective heroine who would rival Vertigo Comics’ Renee Montoya in both wits and prowess. In Rumours, expect her keen and sassy observations, as well as punchy dialogue, razor-sharp descriptions, and street smart protagonists across the board. Atkins moves between science fiction, horror and fantasy with aplomb, although this should be no revelation, since the Liverpudlian penned the breathtaking 1992 novel, Morningstar. I say breathtaking because he mixed literary, fantastic and horrific elements to concoct this impressive witch's brew of a first novel. My only qualm with Rumours, though, was the story "Intricate Green Figurines", about an ex-girlfriend trying to pawn off her ex-boyfriend's titular figurines. This narrative seemed a little short and abrupt for my tastes. It should be noted, however, that Atkins' stories are never too long, reflecting the author's mastery of the short story form. In the end, I’m afraid I  have to agree with Neil Gaiman’s backhanded compliment/blurb on the book jacket. Atkins’ work, while smart, imaginative, and rewarding, has only one flaw-he needs to get more stories out there. Perhaps I should get on the horn and tell ol' Algie to read my snappy review and produce more crafted copy.

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