Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)
A collection of short stories by Lynn. I hadn't known at the time I picked up this book, but apparently she's known for being the first scifi/fantasy author to use openly gay/lesbian characters in her stories. A chain of LGBT bookstores took their name from her books. One of her books, published in 1978, featured a male-male couple. The Woman Who Loved the Moon, published in this book and previously elsewhere, was about a lesbian relationship.
If I was rating this book based only on the first two stories, I would have given it a LOVED instead of okay. The first story was my favorite, the second story I really liked a lot, and everything after that was pretty meh. Short story collections usually end on a high note, so I was holding hope for The Woman Who Loved the Moon, but it really didn't work for me at all.
Wizard's Domain: Called by other reviewers as the weakest story in the book, I loved it so much. Set in a world where the gods live among us, it was the story of a man and the god he served. Plot-wise, it was about one god's war against another, in an effort to keep the balance of power between them. But to me, the best part of the story was the relationship between the god and the man -- how could the man love the god back, when there was such a complete difference in power between them? (For example, the god turned the man into an ocean for a year to teach him a lesson.) The love and hate the mortal man felt for his god was so real and wonderfully painful. I loved the story's overall theme of 'power' as well.
The author's first published story. If this is indeed the weakest story of the book, I might just have to move to a state where it's legal to marry a book.
The Gods of Reorth: One of the great things about this book is that the author's notes before each story are so spot-on. You wouldn't think that would be something to comment on, shouldn't all authors be able to write fitting author's notes? But until this book, I hadn't realized how much difference a well written author's note could make. This was her second published story, and in the note she explained how almost everyone she shopped the story to sent back comments about how she wanted to kill off all men. Only one editor (a man) understood what the story was really about -- that killing off all men was "rather missing the point" in the author's words.
In the story, "gods" lived among the people. Except they weren't gods, they were just people from a very far advanced culture/different planet. One of the gods ended up going rogue and acting like a real god should, taking things into her own hands to protect the people of that world.
We All Have to Go: Either I'm reading these stories fast, or I'm falling down on reviewing them as I read them. I've read six beyond this one, so I don't recall what it's about without skimming back... Ah ha. This was the reality TV story (yet written in the 70s, interesting). In it a man takes advantage of peoples' death -- when someone dies, he puts the family on TV, then at the end of the week, all the viewers can vote for which family deserves the prize money. Interesting idea, but the writing didn't really work for me.
The Saints of Driman: A simple story about drugs and dying and what makes a person a saint. Humans visit an alien planet, and learn some people there take drugs that make them stop eating and drinking -- killing them, but making them a saint in the process. One of the humans decides to take the drug. (Really good idea, but again the writing didn't really work for me.)
I Dream of a Fish, I Dream of a Bird: Set in a dystopian future, a boy gets badly burnt and his mother has to invent a new kind of skin for him. Once more, interesting idea, but the writing didn't really work for me. And, while the first two stories were well-edited, starting with the third story, more and more typos, mis-wordings, and other issues are showing up.
The Island: Sort of a mermaid horror story, but not at all scary. Continuing the trend: Interesting idea, but the writing didn't really work for me.
The Dragon that Lived in the Sea: Interesting idea, but the writing really, REALLY didn't work for me. A dragon was plaguing a town, so they decided to raise a child with nothing but love, no fear, denying her nothing, so she could somehow defeat the dragon. Turns out she shamed it into leaving, because she was so nice and kind (and somehow not a spoiled brat, when she had never once been told no, given every single thing she ever wanted?).
Mindseye: Interesting idea, writing somewhat worked better for me. Humans have space travel, but moving though hypespace tends to make them insane. After four hyperspace jumps, the crew was really losing it, and one woman has an encounter with aliens... or does she?
The Man Who Was Pregnant: A very simple story, but I enjoyed it. A man becomes pregnant (the hows and whys of it are never gone into). The story follows his pregnancy.
Obsessions: The author's note said she wasn't happy with this story, and I can see why. (However, what I can't see is why she'd include it in this book if she wasn't happy with it...) It was about people who were obsessed with things, but clunky and just didn't at all work for me.
The Woman in the Phone Booth: the author herself described this as "fluff" and said she was surprised it had even sold. Thanks for including it then? (Story was a little throw-away piece about non-Dr. Who aliens who use phone booths to get around.)
Don't Look at Me: The first story so far that I didn't finish. Writing didn't work for me, and the story seemed meandering and pointless. Mostly just people talking on an alien planet. While all of these stories were published in the 70s-80s, this one felt especially dated.
Jubilee's Story: Can we stop going downhill yet? I guess not. Story about a group of women (on an alien planet? fantasy world? we never find out) who travel around acting as midwives. Broken record: Writing didn't work for me. Story seemed meandering and pointless.
The Circus that Disappeared: Somewhat better than the last few stories. Some of the characters were interesting enough to hold my interest, but all in all, the story was flat and meh. In it a circus gets kidnapped, but it was all the pre-kidnapping circus life stuff that was the more interesting part of the story to me.
The White King's Dream: Supposedly a horror story, but it both didn't make any sense and didn't work for me. The horror in it seemed to be about getting old, but there was some kind of supernatural(?) element as well (or fate maybe) that just muddied the waters.
The Woman Who Love the Moon: Set in the same world as the first story, this was about three strong, beautiful sisters. They were beautiful enough that the moon became jealous of them. Once more I find myself saying "Interesting idea, but just didn't work for me."
Since these were all originally published in the 70s-80s, it's possible writing styles have changed and that's why so many of the stories didn't work for me.
From now on, whenever I get a book of short stories, I'm going to read the first two and the last one, and skip the rest. Every single book of short stories I've read have been set up the same: The first two are the strongest ones, and the last one or two are usually good as well; it's very, very. very rare for me to like a story in the middle. They have to be setting these up that way on purpose.
Currently reading: The Cage by Megan Shepherd.