Series: Twelve Planets #10
Published by: Twelfth Planet Press
ISBN 13: 9781922101075 (paperback)
ASIN: B018A9G4AC (kindle)
Published: June 2014
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Publisher Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Three out of Five
Related Reviews: A Journey Through Twelve Planets / Site for the challenge
Secret Lives of Books, is the tenth book in the Twelve Planets series, released by Twelfth Planet Press, which showcase the talent of female Australian authors. There is now to be a thirteenth in the series, but that’s a review for another time. The brief given to authors was to write several short stories of up to 40,000 words in total. The stories could be separate, discrete narratives or linked through character, setting or theme.
This collection contains five short stories that don’t appear to be connected in the first light, however when you’ve read them all there appears to be some faint thread of deeper meaning, but you’re not entirely sure if you’re being a little grabby for links.
Secret Lives of Books
A man lies dying, and we find that he cares far more for his books than that of any human connections, to the point his wife moved out with their children in order to allow him more space and time for his books. It is these that take up his final moments, though he notes how nice it is that his family have come to spend his final moments together.
This was a moving piece about the beauty books give us and how they can offer so much, and sometimes different things, depending on who’s reading them. The Magic Pudding is referenced and as shown, gave the main character something utterly different than my own personal view of the book.
This was possibly my favourite of the collection. I find Chernobyl to be endlessly fascinating and this piece perfectly captured the intrigue around the whole event.
The writer takes the aftermath of Chernobyl and the fact vs fiction of it, the etymology, and the tale of a girl who posts on the internet of how she rode a motorbike around the disaster site – later taking down her claims online when commentators (don’t read the comments!) rip apart her story.
If you google the title of this one you get search results showing things like: Motorcycle Trip Through Chernobyl – The Museum of Hoaxes: “Did you ever see that woman, Elena, that rides around the zone on her motorcycle?” and there’s nothing better than a story based on fact.
A twisting story of many things, on one level this piece is about Curiosity rover on Mars, the loss of things and people, and the meaning of the short story – which means much more when written like qaṣīdaᵗ, as it is the Arabic word and form of writing poetry, as we are told in the introduction to the story.
This is a story that needs attention and time, and is probably one of the more careful tales in the collection, and the one that needs the most time to absorb.
The Kairos Effect
Surprisingly, I immediately went from the one before to one I just couldn’t get through at all. Some short stories are a little hit and miss, and until now I haven’t ever had one that I’ve had to give up on in the Twelve Planets series, however, there’s always got to be one sometime.
The Slut and the Universe
A sort of fabled twist on feminism, as stated in the longer version of the title for this piece, as stated in the introduction, this introduces us to the main character almost as if she is snow white, and then quite quickly stabs through the softness with the choice of words (as in the short version of the title), and the distinctly un-fabled issues such as the clothes our main character chooses to wear.
This is probably my second favourite tale in the book, and a decent and strong ending for the collection.
This collection has the following mentions:
Aurealis Award Nominee for Best Collection (Shortlist) (2014)