The Dork Review: Compostela – Tesseracts Twenty

So I’ve decided to resurrect a feature from my old blog called The Dork Review. Essentially these are book and/or movie reviews where I look at some media I’ve consumed and explain what I liked about it and what I didn’t like. The subjects are often things I’ve either hated or loved or something a friend has made that I think deserves mention.

Full disclosure I’m friends and follow more than one author in this collection.

In case you’re not aware, Tesseracts is a yearly anthology of Canadian SF and Fantasy with a different theme and editors each year. The theme for Compostela is how “humanity might be affected (for better or worse) by a reliance on all things technological”.

It’s interesting to see how that theme plays out in the early 21st century. If this had been written in the middle of the last century we likely would have seen stories of how technology was going to take us to the stars and make everything better and oh how wonderful it would all be.

Now though? We know better.

The stories in Compostela reveal how the zeitgeist around technology and its development has changed in the last 6o years. For every new bit of tech that comes out we’re seeing both good and bad, often at the same time.

This anthology does explore both and is jammed packed with very quick stories with what I can only call as punch. It’s one of those books you read in short bursts so you can absorb the implications of what you’ve just read before moving onto the next bit.

The short stories are interspersed with an occasional poem. To be honest, I found most of the poetry uninteresting but I’ve always found poetry along SF&F lines to not be my cup of tea. I like my poems a few hundred years old or even older in most cases.

The stories are all good but do tend to blend together in the brain after awhile. Two stories that do stand out, at least for me, later in the book are The Shadowed Forest by Rati Mehrotra and In Memory Of by Derryl Murphy. Both stories are well executed, In Memory Of being the longer of the two, and both end on hopeful if possibly bittersweet notes. I’ve been lucky enough to read other work by Murphy but The Shadowed Forest was the first story I’d read by Mehrotra and I was impressed.

I’d recommend picking up Compostela just for those two stories but I’m sure there’s others inside that will be the favorite of just about anyone who reads this collection.