Have you ever been to Minnesota? Neither have I but if this anthology is any indication, it isn’t lacking in creative prowess. Twin Cities Speculation is a new collection of stories put out by a group called the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers (MinnSpec). I looked through their list of members, and didn’t see any names I already recognized but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be keeping an eye on this list. In particular, Celia Isaac, Lindsey Loree, and Eric Binfet stick out in my mind as new writers to keep track of. Their stories in Twin Cities Speculations are reason enough. I’ll go ahead and tell you a little about each of their stories and you can make up your own mind.
Cursed Years by Celia Isaac
I legitimately laughed out loud a few times while reading this story. Isaac seems to know her way around high fantasy and while I don’t believe her main purpose is to satirize it, I believe she accomplishes this goal in a way that is fun and light-hearted. After all, if high fantasy can’t poke fun at itself, then who can? Isaac’s tale gives us a cursed prince, a talking sword (who really won’t shut up) and a quest of epic proportions.
There are other qualities to Isaac’s writing too. Yes, parts are humorous, but we never lose sense of the importance of the protagonist’s quest. It isn’t a quest to save the world, but a quest to lift a curse placed upon his family. Somehow, this seems even more dire than any journey taken by an elf, hobbit, or wizard. I think one of my favorite scenes comes when the main character is imprisoned, and contemplating suicide. Gave me shivers. Anyway, that is all I’ll say about it. The rest you’ll have to find out by reading.
Heaven Help Me by Lindsey Loree
Some stories leave you hanging. They give you a quick bit of action to draw you in, a fairly decent size exposition to set up the world, and then (in this case literally) drop you out of the sky and leave you to pick up the pieces. With Loree’s work, picking up the pieces is the part I can’t wait to begin. Heaven Help Me is literally begging for a sequel, and I hope it gets one soon.
To put it simply, we get to go POV of an angel who, in all honesty, isn’t doing all that great a job. If anything, he seems more human than divine, which is something that he will have to come to terms with. However, once we reach the end (I won’t spoil it), we realize that this is because he is essentially mixed up in the wrong mythology (at least this is the way I’m interpreting it). What we don’t get to see (and hopefully will in a sequel) is what happens once he finds his place.
One final thing that struck me when reading this story was its sense of time. It has scenes in both past and present, and neither felt out of place or misrepresented. This is twofold for the scenes taking place in the present. Many authors attempt to use emoticons or leet speak in their works to make it seem hip or modern (except for Little Brother where it actually makes sense). Loree uses a little bit of txt in her dialogue but it is spot on. I know people who send those same types of texts, and about the same kind of topics. Brought me just a little bit closer to the characters. Maybe some day someone will look at this and think this is what it’s like to be a millenial. It was nice to see that represented.
Robbing the Grave by Eric Binfet
This story just made me feel good. Always nice to see an origin story. For a new hero too. Essentially, Robbing the Grave, is another story about a fledgling psychic, who starts seeing crimes before they happen. Considering the pain and loss our protagonist has faced, it felt good to watch him grow and find purpose in a life that seemed pretty dismal. I’m not sure I can say much more about it than that. Just a feel-good read.
Well, if I haven’t convinced you yet, there are several other stories within the anthology that might. These were just the three I enjoyed the most. I think what I like the most about the anthology though is how it came to be. It came out of a community of writers from many different paths, united by one purpose: great storytelling. And in the case of Twin Cities Speculation, great storytelling is exactly what we get. Please post any comments you have below. You know how I love comments! Bye all.