Author: Sandra McDonald
Verdict: Worth the cash, as long as it's your kind of book
A writer of whimsy and passion, Sandra McDonald has collected her most evocative short fiction to offer readers in Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories. A beautiful adventuress from the ancient city of New Dalli sets off to reclaim her missing lover. What secrets does she hide beneath her silk skirts? A gay cowboy flees the Great War in search of true love and the elusive undead poet Whit Waltman, but at what cost? A talking statue sends an abused boy spinning through a great metropolis, dodging pirates and search[ing] for a home. On these quests, you will meet macho firefighters, tiny faeries, collapsible musicians, lady devils and vengeful sea witches. These are stories to stir the heart and imagination.
This book is an odd thing – it’s certainly well written, but it’s the kind of well written that appeals only to a certain kind of person. In this case, a magic realism and LGBT kind of person. Sandra McDonald has written tales of a mysterious world, alike and unlike our own, in lyrical prose. At the same time, plot twists come out of the blue, and I wasn’t even sure they were all set in the same world until I got to the final story.
The portrayal of queer characters, however, I could sing praises of up to the sky. A main character throughout the stories is trans, and an assortment of the protagonists are gay. They are all treated as human, not spectacles, which is the most important thing.
As for the stories themselves, they are a rather mixed bag; the quality is generally high, but there are some strange ones, and one that I disliked due to a personal phobia. As for the others – a wooden pirate longs for the taste of the sea! Eternally young nuns sail to rescue anyone who hoists a lace flag! A little girl is caught between two religions that demand too much of her! Etcetera. If you can deal with some extreme strangeness, I recommend it.