A while back, someone commented on a review of M. J. Engh’s Arslan, and mentioned that her finest work was difficult to find – a novella that had only seen print in an anthology called Edges. I’m a fan of Engh, but didn’t recall the novella. I did recall, however that I had Edges somewhere in my library. I dug up my unusually battered copy and gave it a re-read
I recalled Edges as being nowhere near so impressive as its prestigious editors. I’m sorry to say that the impression held true on this repeat reading, despite some big name authors. It gives the feeling that the editors tried a little too hard to match their theme, and not only didn’t succeed, but produced a pretty uneven mish-mash of stories that are bound together by very little.
The stories that were of most interest were:
- Touch the Earth by Scott Russell Sanders – a companion to Sanders’ novel Terrarium. An interesting look at humans escaping their domed cities to find nature, but ultimately without much purpose.
- Peek-a-boom by Sonya Dorman – how to communicate with aliens. One of the few real edge cases in the collection that works. It’s chaotic and confused, but it fits the concept.
- The Finger by Naomi Mitchison – a boy bound not to speak of the past. The story weakens toward the end, but it’s a surprisingly effective look at truth and justice.
- Thomas in Yahvestan by George P. Elliott – a man looking for answers finds … something. The story ends weakly and predictably, but the setting is intriguing enough to keep you going until you get there.
- Falling by Raylyn Moore – the sky is falling, very, very slowly. A moody and gothic story in which everything happens in slow motion, with inevitable consequences. One of the most effective stories in the collection.
- The Oracle by M. J. Engh – a woman who sees the future, in the hands of a man building his future. Happily, this story, at the end of the collection, was well worth the wait. It’s rambling and unfocused, but it’s also striking and moving. There are no great surprises in it, but it’s so well written that it doesn’t much matter. Someday, Engh will put out a collection of her short-stories, and we’ll all be happy.