Review: Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts

laromanpunkSeries: Twelve Planets #2
Published by: Twelfth Planet Press
ISBN 13:9780980827460 (ebook)
ISBN 13: 9780980827446 (paperback)
Published: May 2011
Pages: 105
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Publisher Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: A Journey Through Twelve Planets / Site for the challenge

Love and Romanpunk is the second 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 4 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 four short stories of ancient history and alternate universe, of the Caesars and a near and far future. As someone who went through school with zero history classes I really am on the back foot when coming to this anthology. The author herself studied Roman imperial women so we’re in safe hands here – she knows everything back to front, more than well enough to then play around with it like a God herself.

Thanks to the beautiful writing of Tansy Rayner Roberts, the tales and stunningly realised. The urban fantasy makes these even more accessible and hey, who doesn’t like manticores?

Julia Agrippina’s Secret Family Bestiary

We start with Julia telling us of the great women of her family, who ‘have ever been fierce’, from killing basilisks (as Julia did, to save her brother), to guarding graves and the fearsome woman who became a dragon to escape the terrible fate her father exiled her into. The women in this piece are fierce and stunning, and Tansy sweeps us away in their glory and heartache, the many deaths (both awful and necessary), and the wide and terrifying range of creatures that both aided and stole away their lives.

This piece is wonderful. You devour it in minutes and then re-read it, forcing yourself to go slower to fully appreciate it. Our poor main Julia sure goes through a lot, and the ending is reassuring, you’re left being able to make your own decision about her fate.

This story sets up the next three stories, so if you are the type to skip around a collection it would be a good idea to at least read this piece first.

Lamia Victoriana

A young woman, Frances, goes to collect her sister, who has done the unthinkable and run off with a man of little standing (he’s a poet) and without a marriage proposal – such a thing that will ruin her, in that age in London. What Frances doesn’t bet on is the poet’s sister, and how she may be tempted herself.

They all run away together. Although Frances has her own doubts, she can’t fight her own desires for this unnamed woman, only referenced as her beloved. This may be because of a slight oddness to both the poet and his sister – how they take bruising kisses and seem to get anything and everything they could possibly desire with only a few words which leave the shop owner slightly glazed over.

Despite this luck, they don’t have an easy life. Soon they’re hunted down by Julius, who knows exactly what these creatures are even if Frances doesn’t. Lamia.

I think this piece is my favourite in the collection. Another strong ending, and it’s all rather tragic and beautiful, showing that vampire stories haven’t actually been done to death – it is still possible to read one that moves you.

The Patrician

Okay, I was wrong, this is my favourite piece and you can clearly see why it won all the awards. This one is set in Australia, where they’ve built a small replica Roman town and called it Nova Ostia, where Clea lives with her family and works as a tour guide before she decides what to do for college. This is until a strange man shows up, and together on multiple occasions they get rid of monsters together. First, it’s Lamia, then it’s gargoyles. In between all he disappears each time leaving Clea back to her normal life. That, combined with the fact he’s well over 2,000 years old clearly means he’s The Doctor. Julius is The Doctor! Paul McGann era, I’d say.

This one either proves yet another novel Tansy needs to write, or that someone should finally invite her to write for Big Finish. This shows so wonderfully that although so many books feature young adults in their 20s or 30s, that sometimes there are some adventures that really need the knowledge and confidence that come to someone wiser.

Yup, okay, this is my favourite piece in the novel.

Unless….

Last of the Romanpunks

One of Clea’s grandchildren is tricked into meeting up with their ex after a horrible day of trying to tidy up after several particular family heirlooms are stolen – yes, items that were once belonging to Julius, that became Clea’s. Only now it seems his horrid ex has a very stupid and dangerous idea…

This final short is set even further into our future than the previous one was, and that makes it awesome, though admittedly a little harder for our heroic MC to escape from. This one is too awesome and full of spoilers to go into too deeply here, but if the rest of the stories haven’t sucked you in by now then just do yourself a favour and get this book anyway. Totally worth it!

This collection has the following mentions when it comes to awards:

“The Patrician” – Winner of the Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award 2012,

“The Patrician” – Winner Best Short Story Ditmar 2012,

“The Patrician” – Shortlisted Best YA Short Story, Aurealis Award 2012,

“Julia Agrippina’s Secret Family Bestiary” – Nominated Best Novella/Novelette Ditmar 2012

Shortlisted for Best Collection, Aurealis and Ditmar Awards 2012

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One thought on “Review: Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts

  1. Pingback: Love and Romanpunk: Review Roundup | A Journey Through the Twelve Planets

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