Author: Michael Swanwick
Genre: Science Fiction stories
This book took me a long time to finish. I started reading it in the summer and slowly made my way through about half the stories before I stopped reading for a few months. Recently I picked it up again and finally finished off the rest of the book. I really don't like leaving books unread even if they are going slowly.
Turns out I am just not a huge fan of Swanwick's style of writing. The stories he writes are very clever. They are layered, they often reference mythology or make fun of established fantasy and science fiction tropes. I thought I would enjoy this book a whole lot more than I actually did. The reason I didn't is that I generally failed to connect emotionally with the characters and the story being told. At the end of the story I might think "Ha, that was cleverly played!", but there was no feeling of wonder and satisfaction accomplishing the thought and that failure to really connect with the reading is really the reason for my low rating.
I imagine if Swanwick's writing speaks to you and you like clever twists in your stories, you will enjoy this book a whole lot more than I did. But for myself, I think Swanwick is just not the author for me.
My favorite stories among the bunch was The Skysailor's Tale and A Small Room in Koboldtown. There were also a number of other stories where some parts of them or twists I found really cool, but I didn't like the ending or didn't connect with the story as a whole -- for example in The Bordello in Faerie the main character ends up serving as the "man for hire" in the bordello and becomes addicted to the life, which is a rather neat reversal of roles that one might expect. However, the details of how that addiction is resolved just felt a bit like a let-down at the end of the story.
I also didn't particularly enjoy the stories about Darger and Surplus though on the face of it both of them are very unique and interesting characters. There are three stories in the book about them: The Dog Said Bow-Wow; The Little Cat Laughed to See Such Sport; Girls and Boys, Come out to Play. The last is probably the best of the bunch -- particularly because they both get played more than they make out themselves.
All-in-all, an interesting collection of stories that I didn't enjoy as much as I hoped to.