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review 2020-06-17 14:04
Unexpected Stories
Unexpected Stories - Octavia E. Butler

Really enjoyed these two short stories by Octavia E. Butler. They were wonderful and I was left wanting more.

 

Per usual, here are my reviews for the two stories.

 

A Necessary Being”(5 stars)-Butler creates a world in which the color of a person's skin means they are meant to be leaders. We find out that these "people" are able to change colors which shows what type of caste they belong to. We follow Tahneh who is a Hao. Hao are kidnapped and forced to govern "tribes". We get peeks into what was done to Taneh's father who was the Hao before her. Tahneh is not able to have a child which means her "tribe" is desperate for another Hao. When a Hao and two other "people" are found nearby, Tahneh can either go along with what her people want, or try to steer them to something new. This story really plays with race, class structure, and consent. You can see pieces of plots and narrative that will show up in Butler's Xenogenesis series.

 

Childfinder" (5 stars)-Way too short. Seriously. I wanted more. We are in a new world when those who have telepathic abilities are valued. An older woman has found a new child with these abilities. We find out that she is focusing on finding black children and trying to hide them from a larger organization who does not have their best interest at heart. We have Butler playing with the angry black woman trope a bit and how black people do their best at not showing their feelings, i.e. their hatred. Who better to go out and find children with special abilities and teach them to keep their feelings inside. This really did read like a start to a longer book and I really really wanted that longer book.

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review 2016-12-06 18:14
Unexpected: Short Stories From Around the World
Unexpected: Short Stories from Around the World - P.F. Citizen One

This one is for The Twelve Tasks- an African American author!

 

 

A short collection of brief stories and anecdotes compiled from the author's very interesting life travelling around the world as a petroleum engineer.  Each of his stories is told as though sitting down with a good friend for some coffee and hearing about their amazing adventures.  The stories, though short each have an unexpected ending that elicits strong emotion through humor, sadness and compassion.  

My favorite story is probably the very first where the author tells of his Brazillian friend who is waiting to get married.  The friend is away from home for long periods of time and has a girlfriend on the side.  The author warns the friend of his actions and come wedding day the groom is in for a big surprise.  

I also loved the last story about a Chinese boy who grew up thinking that he would amount to nothing and decided to live his adult life trying to make others happy.  However, it wasn't until after his death that he was recognized for all he did.

A nice little collection of short stories, and a very quick read.  I did notice a few editing errors, such as 'live' instead of 'life' and the repetition of a phrase, but nothing that hindered my enjoyment of the book.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

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review 2013-02-17 00:00
Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories by Diana Wynne Jones
Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories - Diana Wynne Jones

Rating: 3.5 of 5

 

Overall, I was delighted with these stories. Most swept me away immediately. My favorites were:

 

What the Cat Told Me - How could I *not* enjoy a story from a cat's POV? My fave quote, "But Boy wouldn't listen. He had to have Princess. Or else he would go into a trance and see her that way. I understood then. Boy wanted kittens. Very little will stop boys or cats when they do."

 

The Master - Actually enjoyed this "it was a dream" story because it was more a prophecy aka warning. It was the one story I would've liked to keep on with to see if she listened to that warning.

 

The Plague of Peacocks - I love it when nosy do-gooders get their comeuppance.

 

Side note: This was my first exposure to Diana Wynne Jones, literary that is. I watched Howl's Moving Castle with my daughter years ago.

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review 2012-05-09 00:00
Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories - Diana Wynne Jones A good collection of Diana Wynne Jones’ short fiction. They’re not all her best work, but there’s some excellent stories here. Recommended for her fans.

The Girl Jones
A most excellent way to get out of babysitting, forever. Hilarious. Not fantasy, though.

Nad and Dan and Quaffy
Eh, I didn’t care for this one. Too self-referential, and kind of annoying. A female writer, at her word processor, makes contact with an alternate universe.

The Plague of Peacocks
A peaceful village is invaded by new neighbors. Their passive aggressive, do-gooder ways get worse and worse… until their just desserts are delivered, in the village’s own special way.

The Master
A vet takes a late-night call, and is led into a mysterious wood to tend to wolves. It’s framed as a dream… but in a far less-annoying way than most “it was a dream” stories.

Enna Hittims
A child is sick with mumps. To amuse herself, she pretends that her bed is a dramatic landscape… but when the tiny adventurers of her imagination come to life, things get out of hand… (Doesn’t most everyone get vaccinated for mumps there days? I’ll look at it as being a period piece…)

The Girl Who Loved the Sun
A story with a mythological feel, about a girl who becomes a tree, believing the sun will love her.

The Fluffy Pink Toadstool
Ha! Hippies might get a bit grumpy about this one, but it’s pretty funny. The mom of a family goes on a DIY craze, and foraging for food goes just a bit wrong.

Auntie Bea's Day Out
An annoying aunt doesn’t pay attention to warning signs at the seashore – and gets far more than she bargained for, on a whirlwind ‘tour’ of all different sorts of ‘islands.’

Carruthers
Due to an aural misunderstanding, a young girl thinks that a walking stick will magically beat her annoying father. The stick talks to her, and moves, but seems unwilling to do any beating. People think she’s pretty weird for bringing a cane everywhere, and talking to it. But in the end, she’s vindicated… in a rather unexpected way.

What the Cat Told Me
An evil wizard uses boys for nefarious purposes, but, with the help of a cat, one may finally escape… told from the point of view of the cat, which one may either find cute, or mildly annoying.

The Green Stone
A funny take-off on the quest story. All the heroes, sidekicks, and what have you are assembled at the inn yard, and a bard is there to report on their deeds. But the quest unexpectedly get aborted… in, of course, an unexpected way.

The Fat Wizard
A small-town story of magic gone wrong… or possibly, unexpectedly right. (“losing weight” doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be “in shape…”)

No One
An amusing sci-fi story about a very poorly programmed household robot.

Dragon Reserve, Home Eight
A familiar-feeling but very enjoyable story… on a colony world, those with psychic powers are kept in swift and brutal check. So it’s not surprising that some families would try to hide their children’s abilities. The end of the story makes too much effort to backpedal from the nastiness the story has brought up, but I still liked it.

Little Dot
Another story from a cat’s point of view. But I liked this one. I’m not sure why Bast would be a Caribbean lady, not an Egyptian woman, but it’s fine. A bunch of cats must drive off their rescuer’s new girlfriend before she takes them to the pound… but she is more nefarious than even they could have guessed.

Everard's Ride
This is not a short story; it’s a whole novel. Not even a novella. It’s around 230 pages long. Why it wasn’t published as its own book, I do not know. It’s an early work by Wynne-Jones, originally written in 1966. It’s a very nice romantic fantasy… If one travels to a small island in the proper way, a medieval-ish ‘pocket’ world is discovered … Although rumors abound of ghosts, it’s very real, and there may be more there for some of the characters than there is ‘here.’

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review 2011-09-15 00:00
Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories - Diana Wynne Jones None of these short stories from Jones struck me as particularly engaging or charming.
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