It’s Tanuary! I’ve decided to pace myself this year, since last year showed that a solid month of Tanith Lee is… a lot, even for a fan like me.
Space is Just a Starry Night
This is a collection united by the theme of stars. That’s actually a pretty vague theme, when you think about it. Most of these stories are science fiction, or science fantasy, or fantasy-that-takes-place-in-the-future. The table of contents breaks up the stories into subsections with titles like “Myth Remembered” and “Death’s Door.” This collection has some solid stories in it but overall left me cold, and I don’t see myself revisiting it any time soon.
The section titled “Burning Bright” had my favorite stories of the collection. “Felixity,” drew me in immediately with the tragic fairy-tale romance that I love in Lee’s work, plus a fiery ending. “You are My Sunshine” also ends with fire, while “The Thaw” was a neat turn on stories about people being awakened from cryogenic slumber. “Stalking the Leopard,” is also great, though I think I may have liked the fairy tale she includes at the end more than the story proper.
There’s a section called “Fallen Angels” in which we find three stories with a Biblical slant. The Devil as an alien invader, a sci-fi version of Genesis 2, that sort of thing. This kind of story seems to be a favorite of Lee’s, but she’s done it better elsewhere. Go read “The Origin of Snow,” to see what I’m talking about.
I would like to mention that two of these stories (“The Thaw” and “Written in Water”) mention a pandemic that has severely reduced the human population of Earth. Plague seems like an easy reach for a science-fiction story, so I’m not claiming the author was particularly prescient, but it does add an extra level of unease to be reading such things in the middle of an actual pandemic.
On that note… the world was crazy last year and this young year is so far even crazier. I don’t know about you, but my concentration continues to suffer, and Tanith Lee’s writing requires a lot of concentration. So for the rest of the month, I think I’m gonna re-read something for comfort. Either The Silver Metal Lover or The Book of the Beast. Check back by the 31st to see how I decide!
Two shout-outs before I go. First, as with last year, to the invaluable resource that is Daughter of the Night: An Annotated Tanith Lee Bibliography. I wonder if the curator knows about my blog. Hrm.
Second, I learned a few days ago that Storm Constantine, author and the ultimate Tanith Lee fan, has died. It’s thanks to her that we have some of Lee’s stories. I have never read Constantine’s work, something I plan to remedy next month. I’m looking forward to it.