Book Review: Cities of Dust, Planes of Light by Samantha L. Barrett, Sarah Daly, Jamie Lackey, Diane Morrison & Cat Rambo

Cities of Dust, Planes of LightCities of Dust, Planes of Light by Samantha L. Barrett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am one of the authors in this book (Diane Morrison) so I’ll be approaching it from that perspective.

I just want to say it was quite the honour to have been included in this lovely book with so many amazing writers! I felt like I’d gotten a promotion, they’re all so good!

What’s interesting about this book is that it came together in the way that it did almost by accident. Our direction was to “write a science fantasy story.” That’s it. C.L. Moore was suggested as a source of inspiration. As though we were tuning into a group consciousness, each of us wrote stories with enough in common to suggest that we were writing to a theme. Above all, I think we all aimed for a sense of the sublime, and I think we managed it.

We are all women, and I think there’s a certain element of that perspective that came through in each tale. Todd’s editorial decisions in placement, I think, were ideal, as our protagonists gradually moved farther and farther out into the stars. I think each of the stories has an ethereal, otherworldly quality, even though they are taking place through the lens of space travel and the human relationship to it. And all of them ask you to make your own decisions about what is, and isn’t, real.

Lot 814 by Jamie Lackey is a tale about human social structures and power relationships under duress. I loved its steampunkish feel. I can see Jamie’s story of life on a fantasy moon fitting nicely into a Jules Verne world.

This is Not Mars by Sarah Daly is perhaps the most dreamlike story, asking you to decide whether or not the ending is a happy one by whether or not you believe in the alternate reality she’s created (I like to choose alternate realities, myself). 😉

A Hand Extended by Cat Rambo asks us to decide whether the ethics of selfishness, or the ethics of altruism and cooperation, are superior, even when there are those who take advantage of A Hand Extended. This alternate reality was digital, and I loved how she explored that!

The Outposts by Samantha L. Barrett is a poignant tale about grief, parent-child relationships, and sacrifice. The alternate reality here is in memory. I think telling you anything else would be a spoiler.

Last, I Sable Aradia (under my other name, Diane Morrison) took great joy in writing The World’s More Full of Weeping, which I hope is a meditation on grief, motherhood, and the things that really matter to us as humans. I also hope that in my created reality, the wondrous and the real manage to co-exist.

Besides, the book itself is beautiful. The cover art, complete with French cover flaps, is astounding, and it was printed with an inside cover graphic that suggests that borderland between science fiction and fantasy that these stories dwell in. The pages are printed clearly, in a lovely font, on quality paper with a slightly satin finish. Well worth keeping on your shelf.

View all my reviews

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