As brief as Greensleeves is, page for digital page it stands alongside the finest that Jeff VanderMeer has been consistently offering in his sublime satchel of strange.
It is a touching story of wearied librarian Mary Colquhoun in her comfortable complacency in life. Sequestered from the world, she surrounds herself with books, the occasional second floor cadre of drifters, and the solace of the library’s nearly intact stained glass canopy, in favor of the quiet consolation from her youthful impetuousness.
Until the day the eccentrically bedizened Cedric arrives, enlisting her assistance to locate his giant frog run roughshod in her library. I’ll say no more, other than note her bittersweet rejuvenation in the pursuit of said quarry.
Greensleeves is exquisitely written. VanderMeer’s tale floats about the reader like an early winter zephyr, carrying both the beauty and chill of the coming snow, each rapping about our ears, reminding us to savor it before it turns to memory. Thankfully, this story can be savored with a well timed rereading before that happens.
Reading Dario Tonani’s Cardanica has been a pleasantly unsettling experience. This novella is a perfect choice for those wishing for a greater daily dosage of pulpy gore in their literary diet, especially if read in the claustrophobic confines of an airport or plane.
It’s the story of a cargo ship’s crew inching through a harsh and remote desert world with little to control save their own psyches. Not much is known of their purpose except their eventual progression across the uneven sands, powered by a lumbering mechanical caterpillar of a vessel. Conjoined with the vehicle is a semi-sentient, self-sustaining and incessantly oiled “pneumoarc”, the driving force behind an inevitable and undesirable turn of events.
Cardanica is a meaty however brief story containing a good mix of sci-fi, horror, and steampunk imaginings. It’s definitely more than a work of simple shock value; rather, the story is a well-conceived peep into a dissolution of desperate events facing an unequipped crew. While leaving a fair amount of questions at its conclusion, the work justifies further exposition, perhaps best as a graphic novel, requiring a greater sense of closure. It’s hard not to think of Cardanica as an overly oozing, anachronistic offshoot of Kubrick-inspired space drama, but is there anything wrong with that?