Sometimes I feel like I should preface reviews by saying I’m a terrible reviewer simply because I tend to delight in anything and everything I read/listen to/watch/see even if it’s bad. (I mean, I’ve watched The Mortal Instruments twice now simply because Aidan Turner is beautiful and it’s so terrible that it’s actually really kind of hilarious, but that’s not the point.) I’m not the best reviewer because when someone has created something and put it out there for everyone to see, I really respect that. I know that I certainly haven’t managed anything like that (Yet? Yet.) and I love when I watch people, especially people I know, put their art out into the world.
I originally received a copy of Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History to review because my very awesome friend Sunny Moraine, (whom I’ve interviewed for the site already) had a story published in the anthology. I meant to review it ages ago, I thought I could probably breeze through the collection and put something out within a week or two, but there was just no breezing through these stories. That makes it sound as though this collection is tedious, but I mean the very opposite. There was no breezing through because I was fascinated and completely enthralled by every story, every scene, every word.
At the start, I began writing down the titles of the stories that stood out as being particularly moving or well written, but by the time I got about halfway through, I realized I was just marking down the title of every single story. I wasn’t skipping anything that I’d read or thinking to myself, ‘nah, that one’s just not as strong as the rest’ because every single story in this anthology is rich and engaging and well written and fascinating. Moving, sad, wrenching. Emotional. Every single story in this collection is emotional and I’m a person who responds well to real emotion. This anthology delivered in every single story that is featured.
I still want to name stories that particularly stood out for me, but it’s honestly impossible for me to choose any of them as being better than the others. I was deeply pleased to see a story that took place in my city, Winnipeg, called “A Deeper Echo” by David Jón Fuller that I felt a connection to simply because the way he described my home in 1919. I recognized so many of the places mentioned and the discrimination hit home in a very real way, being something I still witness almost every day in my job.
There was “Diyu” by Robert William Iveniuk that caught me completely. And there was “Collected Likenesses” by Jamey Hatley that I read through twice, because I was so fascinated. Sunny’s incredible “Across the Seam” deserves mention for evoking such a powerful scenario that I couldn’t help but feel a part of.
The underlying theme, of course, is that of being marginalized, of being set apart and being looked upon as inferior for differences in race and gender and language. It’s not always easy to read and I truly think there’s something for everyone to relate to in at least one of these stories. Although I’ve never experienced anything like the awful treatment so many of these characters suffer through, “A Deeper Echo” still speaks to me as something I can understand and empathize with. We want to believe we’ve improved since 1919, that we’ve grown beyond the racism, but the truth is that, as a city, we certainly haven’t. It’s hard to read, but it’s necessary.
I could genuinely list every single story in this collection and cite it as a reason for someone to read. There’s not a weak point in this anthology. It’s beautiful and heart wrenching with a diverse narrative that feels a little like plunging into unfamiliar waters. But it’s so completely worth it.
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