Sunday, December 27, 2009

Twelfth Planet Press Double Feature: Roadkill by Robert Shearman/Siren Beat by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Twelfth Planet Press is part of the changing face of Australian publishing.

Blending print and electronic formats, Twelfth Planet Press aims to foster, develop and promote quality speculative fiction writing in fresh, exciting projects.

Title: Roadkill

Author: Robert Shearman

Pages: 50

Received from: publisher


Roadkill is a squeamishly uncomfortable story with the kind of illicit weekend away that you never want to have. “Roadkill” offers a taste of the new full length collection by Robert Shearman, out in November.

“Do you want some music?” he said at last, “would some music be nice?” He fished around for a wad of CDs with his spare hand. “I think some music would be nice,” he said, “I’ll see if I can find Elton John.” And then she didn’t so much hear it as feel it, there was a thud, and a quick streak of something very solid against the windscreen. “Jesus,” he said. He didn’t drop the CDs, she noted, he put them back safely into the glove compartment. “Jesus, what was that?”

“Pull over,” she said. And he looked at her with bewilderment. “Pull over,” she said again, and he did so. The car stopped on the hard shoulder.

“Jesus,” he said again. “We hit something.”

You hit something, she thought.

Here we have a horror story; it doesn't begin like that, not really. It begins as a road trip between two unnamed people. Ones a man, ones a women. The women is very irritated with the man, but she doesn't say so; the man is overly eager. They seem to work together, and they apparently did something that would warrant a "comfortable silence"--though the women doesn't think so at all. They hit something on the road. Something not quite a rabbit and not quite a bat, and the women wants to kill it and put it out of it's misery. The man convinces her not to; to wrap it in a blanket, take it somewhere and be responsible for the discovery of a new species.

Out of the two novelettes in this double sided booklette of sorts, Roadkill is by far the more...I guess you'd say 'literary' of the two. As in character driven. In fact, I found the fantasy aspect--y'know, the bat/rabbit thing--to take second banana next to the complexity of the man and women's relationship. I'm not from Australia, but I'll assume the dialogue is pretty good since I found myself chuckling to myself at the man and women's banter. It also does a fine job at conveying just exactly what's happening; the surreal events that transpire between the man and the women, the uncomfortable interactions and one sided affection. The words spoken between the two is the plot, in a sense. I was left feeling weird and rather disturbed when I finished, and this might've been Shearman's greatest accomplishment.

Rating: 9 out of 10


Title: Siren Beat

Author: Tansy Rayner Roberts

Pages: 54

Received from: publisher


“Siren Beat” is a paranormal romance sans vampires or werewolves but featuring a very sexy sea pony. A minor group of man-eating sirens on the docks of Hobart would not normally pose much of a challenge for Nancy, but she is distracted by the reappearance of Nick Cadmus, the man she blames for her sister’s death.

Sirens and mermaids tend to be bitter. You can’t blame them, really. Their tales don’t tend to have happy endings. Still and all. That doesn’t give them the right to come to my city, to seduce its children and dump them in the river. It should never have happened, and it’s my bloody fault. But I can stop them. If the push-push-push of the beat they play doesn’t get to me first.

After finishing the bizzare and unsettling Roadkill, Siren Beat was something of a disappointment. Not that it was bad, it just didn' me.

It sits very comfortably in it's Paranormal Romance category, with it's impossible task and angst-ridden, fashion-conscious protagonist. While certainly not ground-breaking, it does serve as fun entertainment with some smexy scenes (that I, of course, skimmed less thoroughly then I should have) as well as a very full plot in such a short amount of space (I can think of countless authors who would need 400+ pages to get the first three paragraphs out of the way).

Rating: 6 out of 10

The strange thing is; neither of these stories are anything alike. It's an odd pairing, perhaps out of convience or perhaps there's some deeper meaning I'm not smart enough to comprehend. Either way, both of these novella's provide good entertainment from some very talented authors. I'd also look out for their first novel, out September of 2010, Robot War Expresso by Robert Hood (website).


Alexia561 said...

Sounds strange that they would have paired these two books together, instead of having two similiar stories. Sounds strange enough to be intriguing though, so may have to pick this one up. Loved your review!

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