Literary Mix Tapes is an imprint of eMergent Publishing. They have a pretty cool concept: Anthologies of speculative fiction, based around music, all edited by the incomparable Jodi Cleghorn. If you recognise that name, it’s because I talked about her recently with her work on the 100 Stories For Queensland anthology that featured my short story, The Speaking Tree. Jodi really is a rising star in the editing world and I can say from experience that she’s a pleasure to work with. Literary Mix Tapes is her baby and she’s producing some great books. She released Deck The Halls, where each story was inspired by a line from the Christmas song. Then there was Nothing But Flowers, inspired by the Talking Heads song. I have a story, Fear Is The Sin, in the LMT anthology, Tiny Dancer: Shadows at the Stage Door, due out next year. That one is inspired by the Elton John song, with each yarn being drawn from a line of the song. (My line was “Jesus freaks, out in the street” and I’m very proud of the story I came up with. I’ll be sure to mention here when that book is out.)
In the meantime, there’s Eighty-Nine. Rather than a particular song, this one takes a playlist of music from the year 1989 and has the authors weave together speculative fiction stories using their alloted song and any political or historical event from the same year. The result is a book of incredible variety and diversity.
I remember 1989 very clearly, so the music and events portrayed through these stories is particularly nostalgic. But even if you weren’t born back then, there’s a lot to like in this collection and some very evocative writing. Not every story worked for me, but that’s the beauty of an anthology of short fiction – for every story you don’t really get into, there’s at least two or three you do.
This book contains stories of horror, alternate history, science fiction, fantasy and more. Some of the tales are very literary, some more in the pulp style. In some the speculative elements are very apparent, in others they’re very subtle. Some stories tie the year in question to modern times, or take a historical view from the distant past leading up to 1989. Others take a science fictional approach that ties back to or references the year. The interpretation of the theme by the authors is as varied and colourful as the music and events of the time. This book is a truly inspired concept and the writers have all risen well to the challenge.
The net result is an excellent collection with something for everyone. And especially for those people who remember 1989. If you know someone old enough to recall the year, who is a fan of spec fic, this would make a fantastic gift. And get yourself a copy while you’re at it.
Eighty-Nine is officially launched on October 25th. You can pre-order here, in print or ebook format, and the 50th pre-order customer will score a bonus book pack. If you can’t wait, you can order from Amazon now.
Or, I can hook you up with a paperback copy. Leave a comment below telling me what your favourite song from 1989 is, and why. The one that I find most interesting will get a copy of Eighty-Nine. Yes, this is a completely arbitrary decision, so think of your favourite song from 1989 and a good story to go with it. It doesn’t have to be true – we all love a bit of fiction around here.