This review has been gestating for a long time… In fact, I went to Thailand and back. That long. So, let’s get to it, shall we?
First off, isn’t that cover wonderful? 🙂 Designed by his daughter, it’s the kind of cover I wish more folks had the courage to create and show, and a cover you would probably never see from any big name-‘brand’ publisher. It’s beautiful and encapsulates the contents of Michael’s collection perfectly.
Now, to the meat. This collection, as Michael states in his introduction, serves as ‘a wander down memory lane’. If short story collections could be translated into photographs, this collection would be an album. It begins with some of Michael’s earliest tales and continues, giving the reader a backstage and intimate look at the kinds of stories Michael wanted to tell at specific times, as well as letting the reader closer to experience Michael’s growth as a writer and storyteller.
My first introduction to Michael’s work was the short story ‘Fire and Flesh‘, which is also included in this collection. I loved how concepts such as emotions and mental illness’ fed the magic systems in this weird, incredible Fantasy world. The characters, too, repulsed me and intrigued me at the same time.
So, when I began reading the collection and found that the first story was more SF than F, I was immediately curious. And then Michael introduces the concept of ‘memory plugs’… It felt like I had been dumped into a world directed by Christopher Nolan and scripted by Michael Fletcher. If you haven’t read ‘Intellectual Property‘, you might agree with me. At the very least, you’ll find yourself wondering how you would use a memory plug, or how your boss would, or a massive corporation…
One of the stories, ‘Just Like the Rain‘, left me in tears. And I mean that as a compliment.
Others offer more insight into how Michael developed his worlds and magic systems for the novels he’s written, specifically ‘The Obsidian Path‘ and the ‘Manifest Delusions‘ novels. I dearly want and need to read his novels. 🙂
There’s a lot more to discover in the collection – Michael manages to deftly weave cutting humor into his tales, drops those ‘damn, I really have to think about that’ moments throughout, and above all, shows that he really loves writing and being a storyteller. He’s also not afraid to let the reader in, which doesn’t happen with most writers.
So, in closing, I can confidently state that reading this collection made me more intensely curious about Michael’s work. If you follow him on Facebook you already know that he’s one of the more insane writers out there (also a compliment), but it’s also great to know that he’s a damned good storyteller and writer, too.
Not only am I looking forward to reading Michael’s novels, but also to reading more of his short story collections. Being allowed to peek behind the curtain while also being entertained is damned cool, so, thanks, Mr. Fletcher.
9 \ 10
Until next time,