Scenes From The Second Storey – review

scenesIf you think you recognise the title Scenes From The Second Storey from previous posts, you’d be right. It’s been nominated for Best Anthology in the Aurealis Awards, Ditmar Awards and Australian Shadows Awards, and numerous stories from it have been nominated all over the place as well. It’s got a lot of attention and deservedly so. I picked up a copy after the launch at Worldcon last year and it’s just made it to the top of my reading pile.

Scenes is a strange but rather cool concept. Mark Deniz of Morrigan Books came up with the idea, based in his love of the God Machine album of the same name – Scenes From The Second Storey. He wanted to pay homage to that, one of his favourite albums, by editing an anthology of short fiction, with each story being named after each track on the record. In the end two anthologies emerged – one with international contributors and one with Australian contributors. It’s the Australian edition, edited by the ably talented Amanda Pillar and Pete Kempshall, that I read. The talent commisioned for this book is awesome – here’s the ToC:

Dream Machine – David Conyers
She Said – Kirstyn McDermott
The Blind Man – Felicity Dowker
I’ve Seen The Man – Paul Haines
The Desert Song – Andrew McKiernan
Home – Martin Livings
It’s All Over – L.J. Hayward
Temptation – Trent Jamieson
Out – Stephen Dedman
Ego – Robert Hood
Seven – Stephanie Campisi
Purity – Kaaron Warren
The Piano Song – Cat Sparks

Each story takes its name and inspiration from a song on the album, with each author penning a speculative yarn in their own unique style. There’s really not a weak story in this book, but the real standouts for me were Kirstyn McDermott’s She Said, a creepy exploration of art and muse; Robert Hood’s Ego, an out there ghost story that takes some great twists and turns; and Kaaron Warren’s Purity, a tale exploring a cult of purity and laughter that is just beautiful in concept and execution. Seriously, Kaaron’s work is invariably mind-blowing, she really is a prodigious talent. Her collection, Dead Sea Fruit, is quickly rising to the top of my reading pile and I can’t wait.

So Scenes manages to be that rare thing – a different, intriguing anthology with no weak spots. It’s also made me deseperate to hear the record now, so I’ll be picking that up soon. It sounds like it’s just my cup of tea. After each story the author has written a paragraph or two about how their story came to be, based on their listening to the track in question, which only adds to the depth of the book.

So get yourself a copy – you can get it in print or ebook. All the details here. Highly recommended.

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