I wasn't initially thinking about reading this book. With the entire Long Price Quartet waiting for my attention, I reckoned that if I was going to read and review something by Daniel Abraham, then it should the series that put him on the map. But when I read the blurb, something piqued my curiosity in such a way that I knew this was one of the titles I would be bringing with me to the Balkans.
Here's the blurb:
What if you had a holocaust and nobody came?
Imagine a father who has sent his child’s soul voyaging and seen it go astray. Or a backyard tale from the 1001 American Nights. Macbeth re-imagined as a screwball comedy. Three extraordinary economic tasks performed by a small expert in currency exchange that risk first career and then life and then soul.
From the disturbing beauty of “Flat Diane” (Nebula-nominee, International Horror Guild award-winner) to the idiosyncratic vision of “The Cambist and Lord Iron” (Hugo- and World Fantasy-nominee), Daniel Abraham has been writing some of the most enjoyable and widely admired short fiction in the genre for over a decade.
Ranging from high fantasy to hard science fiction, screwball comedy to gut-punching tragedy, Daniel Abraham’s stories never fail to be intelligent, compassionate, thoughtful, and humane. Leviathan Wept and Other Stories is the first collection of his short works, including selections from both the well-known and the rare.
Leviathan Wept and Other Stories really impressed me. This collection of short fiction showcases the length and breadth of Daniel Abraham's talent and imagination. Even more impressive is the fact that the author mixes it up in terms of styles and genres. And surprisingly, there is no filler material in this book. Every piece is a quality read that made me realize that I need to keep an eye on Abraham's short fiction from now on. If you have yet to give Daniel Abraham a shot, this book should definitely move him up in the rotation.
The book opens up with "The Cambist and Lord Iron", a short story in which a nobleman plays a bad joke on a poor money-changer who must evaluate the value of a non-existent currency. Soon, he is forced to evaluate the worth of a life and then a soul.
"Flat Diane", a Nebula nominee and the winner of the International Horror Guild award, recounts the tale of a father who sends a drawing of his daughter by mail so they can reconnect with distant family members. Little does he know that he sent a portion of her soul away, which has disturbing repercussions.
"The Best Monkey" is another mildly disturbing short story about the notion of beauty.
"The Support Technician Tango" recounts the tale of a self-help book without scruples which wreaks havoc and create complications in the lives of every member of the staff of a law firm.
In "A Hunter in Arin-Qin", a mother is rescued by a stranger as she hunts down the demon that kidnapped her daughter. The man is also attempting to free his child captured by the beast. But little do they know what awaits them at the end of their journey.
"Leviathan Wept" is a short story about a team of covert operatives who end up with a mission that goes wrong. But when high command realizes what they actually encountered, the repercussions are something they cannot quite believe.
"Exclusion" is a piece about two brothers, and one of them is trying to convince the other to forget about this woman he used to date but can't get out of his system.
In "As Sweet", Abraham spins Romeo & Juliet through the life of a woman going through a midlife crisis. A touching and powerful story.
"The Curandero and the Swede" is all over the place and is labeled as a backyard tale from the 1001 American Nights. Can't really summarize it in any other way. And yet, somehow, it all makes sense at the end.
Though each and everyone of the stories are good, "Flat Diane", "The Support Technician Tango", "Leviathan Wept", and "As Sweet" are inspired and engrossing pieces of short fiction.
The final verdict: 8/10
For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe, and Subpress.