Push of the Sky
by Camille Alexa
Hadley Rille Books (2009)
I lucked out recently when I won a copy of Camille Alexa's short story collection from Red Penny Papers. I had previously read a couple of Camille's short stories, as well as read the series, Particular Friends, which is available to be read for free via Red Penny Papers. Camille has a writing style that is at times lyrical, probably thanks to her affinity towards poetry, and at times resplendent in her descriptions of characters and setting. Push of the Sky exemplifies this.
I believe Peter Straub was the first author I heard use the term "fantasist" to describe himself as a storyteller. It's a good label and applies to Camille, in my opinion. Many of the stories told here are housed in fantastical settings, some more than others. "Shades of White and Road" has a fairy tale charm to it with anthropomorphic objects tailing after a gal on a winding road, while a story like "The Clone Wrangler's Bride" takes sci-fi elements offers a fun adventure with robots and spaceships--and a bit of western flavor added.
It's all there inside the book's pages, a kind of cornucopia for any fantasy and sci-fi fan. I genuinely liked the collection, but I can't say I walked away with a stand-out favorite. There's a lot to like, but no one story for me to clutch onto and say I love. It's Camille Alexa's first book, so she's just getting warmed up and I am really looking forward to what she has in store in the near future. This book was published in 2009 after all, and she's already some really good work out in the couple years since (see above where I mention Particular Friends).
With thirty stories and poems in this book, there is bound to be more than one story for readers to find and admire Camille's ability to paint a picture with words. Some stories flow like a lazy, winding river, while a few amp up the level of adrenaline and intrigue. "The Beetle Eater's Dream" has a quiet mystery to it and its fair share of heartbreak, while "The Butterfly Assassins" offers a great little steampunk tale, a sub-genre I'm still warming up to.
If you love that ethereal style of escapist fantasy and science-fiction, you should take a chance on this one. If you're a fan of poetry, which admittedly I am not, there are a couple of real gems in this pages. Again, I'm not a poetry fan, but "I Consider My Cadaver" to be great. Hey, maybe that's the piece I love. Yeah, let's go with that. Me ... poetry lover. Pack your mittens, boys and girls, we're going to Hell.