The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

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The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories is a collection of stories by Ken Liu, some of them are already famous for being nominated or winning some awards (Nebula, Hugo, …), some of them are published for the first time.

The book is quite heterogeneous for the length of the stories and their contents; these go from science fiction to fantasy and in some case are about historical

Considering the overall collection, the story to be praised the most is the one that provides the book title, then a couple of tales shine for the creepy technological settings (Black Mirror like, to be clear), and they are The Perfect Match and Simulacrum.

Another couple have a space opera setting (The Waves e Mono no aware), but to both of them I preferred the mixture of technology and myth in Good Hunting.

Some stories mix fiction to History (All the Flavors, A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel, The Literomancer) but in some cases the historical explanation weights too much in the story. The most famous story in this context is The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary.

The book is overall nice, the author is well-known for the quality of his tales and some stories are able not to be forgotten.


The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu ★★★★☆

*I read this book in english

[ARC] Jackaby by William Ritter

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Abigail Rook, ragazza di buona famiglia fuggita di casa in cerca di avventure (sulla scia dello spirito paterno), approda nel New England e trova subito impiego come assistente di Jackaby, detective dell’occulto, esperto in crimini particolari e in grado di percepire tutto quello che di soprannaturale e paranormale lo circondi.

La città è proprio in quei giorni scossa dalla scoperta di un omicidio piuttosto anomalo a cui Jackaby decide prontamente di indagare. La trama da qui si dipana tra conflitti con la più tradizionale forza di polizia (che non crede a una parola dell’investigatore), alla scoperta di diverse creature soprannaturali e alla ricerca del vero colpevole.

Come struttura narrativa questo romanzo ricorda molto la serie di Lockwood & Co (ambientata in un’Inghilterra infestata da fantasmi e per ora composta da due romanzi: The screaming staircase e The whispering skull); anche qui la storia è narrata dal punto di vista dell’unico personaggio femminile, spalla dell’investigatore principale (caratterizzato dalla tendenza a nascondere le proprie scoperte o a comunicarle in modo criptico). Cito come termine di paragone la serie di Lockwood & Co perché abbastanza nota e recente, bisogna però ricordare che questo impianto risale anche a altri romanzi o serie (come quella di Sherlock Holmes ad esempio): un investigatore con un assistente, diversi punti di svolta nell’intreccio, trovate brillanti che il lettore può apprezzare solo in conclusione.

Nel complesso è un romanzo gradevole anche se non particolarmente originale.

Ringrazio l’editore per avermi fornito la copia necessaria per stendere questa recensione.

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Abigail Rook, a well-bred girl who runs away from home in the seek of adventure (in the wake of her father’s past), she arrives in the New England and she is employed as Jackaby assistant, him being an occult detective, expert in peculiar crimes and able to perceive everything supernatural and paranormal is around him.

The day Abigail arrives in the city is discovered a strange murder that Jackaby chooses to investigate on. The plot from this point forward is about conflicts between Jackaby and the more traditional approach of the police (that does not believe a world of the detective), the discoveries of different strange creatures and the investigation to find the true culprit.

The narrative structure is very alike to the one of the Lockwood & Co series (set in an England where ghosts come to haunt the people and till now formed by two novels, The screaming staircase and The whispering skull); in both the novels the main point of view is the one of the only female character, assistant of the main detective (who tends to avoid explaining his discoveries or explain them in the most cryptic way). I’m referring to a comparison with the Lockwood & Co series since it’s new and known, however this narrative structure can be found also in other books (the novels about Sherlock Holmes for example):there is a detective with an assistant, there are some turning points in the plot and clever ideas that the reader may appreciate only in the end.

Jackaby overall is a nice novel, but not a particularly innovative one.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

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Jackaby by William Ritter ★★★