Review: Asymmetry by Thoraiya Dyer

asymmetrySeries: Twelve Planets #8
Published by:
Twelfth Planet Press
ISBN 13: 
9780987216281 (ebook)
ISBN 13:
9780987216274 (paperback)
B00BWWK94W (kindle)
March 2013
Format reviewed:
Publisher Site
Book Page
Five out of Five
Related Reviews:
A Journey Through Twelve Planets / Site for the challenge

Asymmetry is the eighth 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 that deal with identity, the rules that we obey because that’s how we’ve been raised to be or aren’t conditioned to question, whether the ends justify the means and all over, the asymmetry in life that we both strive to achieve or that will happen regardless.

After Hours

Jess is a vet, a little new and very serious about someday being a specialist surgeon, and working with a man with 37 years of experience called Bradley, who is quick and excellent at surgery. They have a military contract that they bend over backwards for, looking after the bomb squad dogs with very dedicated care and concern.

It’s through this that a dog is brought in late one night – Jess lives above the vet clinic itself so she can be on call after hours, so she receives the dog who’s acting strangely. Very strangely, considering she saw the dog only yesterday and it was perfectly behaved thanks to his handler Nadia, a somewhat eerie woman who lost a brother to a bomb, once. Then the next night, there’s another dog, brought in by Nadia herself. And through this, Jess decides that maybe she’ll stay on in this vet clinic after all.

Zadie, Scythe of the West

In this world, women are the warriors and men bring great shame upon them if they aren’t perfect housekeepers. Women are the warriors for they also bring life into the world, and hence, equal everything out in perfect balance. They have seven children, so they can then take seven lives. Zadie is determined to take the life of a King as there is a prophecy that on his death, there shall be peace for many years.

She first tries to get there without having the children, and hence commits the sin of not being allowed to be a warrior just yet. However, once she’s had children she then realises how wealthy each life really is, once she has held children and fed them from her own body.

The goddess in this world is harsh yet suitable, and I’d love to see more set in this world some day.

Wish Me Luck

According to Alex, Thoraiya is currently working on turning this piece into a longer piece of work – yay! Here we have a world where luck is a currency. You can transfer it between different people with a simple blessing, freely given… or there are tiny slower ways to earn it using animals but this is barely worth it. This is a planet other than Earth, where our main character is from, a man who is utterly hopeless, selfish and full of empty promises.

Lady Adelaide is marvellous, and I can’t wait to see more of her. Set on a water planet, we see mostly the dregs of society where travel between other planets is possible but relies on having enough luck to pay for such a thing – or, at least, that’s what they’ve been led to believe.

Seven Days in Paris

It’s hard to decide which of the four is my favourite, but I think it’s this one – futuristic sci-fi thriller where a criminal is of no use to the police to figure out where a bomb is before it goes off, so they make a copy of her which is easier to control so they can try to unearth information from her that way instead. Mawra is the original, and the character we follow is known only as Mawra B, and is treated with little to no regard – certainly barely as a ‘real’ human – as she pieces together what exactly is going on and who she is.

What I loved about this one was the questions it raised, and how realistic it all was, as well as being utterly possible. The collection as a whole benefits from Dyer’s medical background as she’s able to tie little facts and word choices throughout, giving it a reliable depth of ‘yup, this could happen’.

This collection has the following mentions:

“Asymmetry” – Nominated, Collection category, Aurealis Awards & Ditmar Awards 2014

“Seven Days in Paris” – Nominated, Science Fiction SS category, Aurealis Awards & Ditmar Awards 2014

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