A review by our Kraken Trainee SuzJay!
Be changed.GORGON: STORIES OF EMERGENCE contains 42 transformative stories spanning all genres from both emerging and new voices alike, with all new stories by Gwendolyn Kiste, Richard Thomas, Annie Neugebauer, Eden Royce, Beth Cato, D.A. Xiaolin Spires and more, and featuring 10 illustrations by Carrion House.
Title: Gorgon – Stories of Emergence | Edited by: Sarah Read | Publisher: Pantheon Magazine | Pub. Date: 15, February 2019 | Pages: 178 | ASIN: B07N7PB75R | Genre: Horror/Weird Fiction/Fantasy/Science Fiction | Language: English | Source: Self- Purchased | Starred Review
Gorgon: Stories of Emergence Review
Since I’ve always cultivated a love of mythology, particularly the story of Medusa, GORGON: STORIES OF EMERGENCE was a must-read. The anthology includes 42 short stories by various authors interpreting the theme using multiple genres and ten-color illustrations by Carrion House. Additionally, I’m a big fan of Pantheon Magazine’s publications and the editor of this book, Sarah Read, who appears on the 2019 preliminary Bram Stoker Award ballot in the categories of Superior Achievement in a First Novel and Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection.
The anthology includes the following stories:
“Who are You” by Filip Wiltgren
The journey to the underworld requires much sacrifice.
“The Face God Gave” by J. Ashley Smith
An airplane trip results in a mythological transformation for a woman and her two young sons.
“Undone” by Richard Thomas
A couple’s car breaks down, and their journey becomes one of survival and of new life.
“Psalms” by Aimee Ogden
A deer, who is not really a deer, must sacrifice another in order to survive.
“Fit for the Wolves” by Annie Neugebauer
A goddess comes to care for a pack of wolves, but their relationship is threatened once another enters the mix.
“The Goddess of Birds and Wind” by Alex Shvartsman
In the light of the goddess, an atheist becomes transformed.
“Gods of Empty Places” by A. T. Greenblatt
Worship of the Gods of Empty Places results in holes and voids and so much loss.
“The Boy Who Drowned” by Duke Kimball
Their offerings rarely are enough to satisfy his hate.
“Seen and Not Heard” by Barbara A. Barnett
The blood of the Goddess Vasdahr: Eater of Worlds has the power to transform.
“Tips for How to Deal with Your Daughter When She’s Become a Monster” by Gwendolyn Kiste
“Livia is…a child with moonlight in her blood and dirges in her heart.”
“An Illusion of Substance” by C. M. Muller
His admiration of a living statue becomes its own trap.
“Iris and Chiaroscuro” by Erin Robinson
An artist explores a new fixed medium.
“We Did All We Could for Them” by Rebecca Ann Jordan
We all cope differently in this world where men become monsters.
“Only the Mirrors Tell You” by Rhonda Eikamp
Sam sees snakes and so does his new friend.
“Bluebeard’s Surrender” by Julie C. Day
Aisling’s passion for reptiles puts a damper on her other relationships.
“Burning Bright” by Carina Bissett
A lady is a tyger and a tyger is a lady. And men wish to possess and control them both.
“The Wallflowers” by Lora Gray
One wishes to blend in while the other needs to stand out.
“Swings and Suspension” by D. A. Xiaolin Spires
A babe becomes a savior.
“Amazon” by Tori Cárdenas
In this magical realism story, a fixed flower blooms.
“A Quick Getaway” by Sherri Cook Woosley
Pilfering peaches produces a profound penalty.
“The Queen’s Secret” by H. L. Fullerton
At the sting of his wife’s abandonment, Seth welcomes another being to make a home of him.
“She Shells” by Eden Royce
For one month a year, a woman performs her family duty.
“Raven Hearts” by Stephanie Herman
A woman, whose heart is grief-heavy, envies the buoyancy of a particular bird.
“Her Blood Like Rubies in the Ground” by Eugenia Triantafyllou
A father struggles to accept the living effigy of his dead daughter.
“Edges of Love” by G. D. Watry
With the original gone, a replica fails to satisfy.
“Discarded Skins” by Steve Toase
Margaret takes drastic action to break her lover’s addiction.
“Abyssal” by Lorraine Schein
In order to descend, Katexa must relinquish her humanity.
“Bioluminescence” by Maria Haskins
Much time passes before a mother returns changed to fight the irresistible pull of the water.
“Portrait of My Wife as a Boat” by Samantha Murray
Marriage takes a backseat to the lure of the sea.
“Silvermouth” by Doug Murano
Shelley’s affinity for a local legend gives her a new perspective.
“A Fish for Ophelia” by Craig Wallwork
Ophelia uses what caring for her pet taught her to deal with a profound problem.
“Green” by Sharon Jimenez
Sisters trade their bounty for a different kind of treasure.
“Cold Burn” by Shannon Connor
A wisp attempts to lure a new victim.
“Winward Down by the Weeping Shore” by Natalia Theodoridou
The arrival of the Swan Prince brings doom.
“King Swan” by Juliana Spink
A girl hides out awaiting the birth of the child she carries.
“Mills Moth’s Wing in Spider’s Web” by J. E. Bates
The First Ancestor creates poetry and delivers his worshipers.
“Walls of Nigeria” by Jeremy Szal
A soldier suffers great losses in order to keep his community and family safe from antagonistic aliens.
“Of Talons and Teeth” by Brent Baldwin
Genetic engineering becomes a mother’s weapon.
“Awaken My Bones Old and New” by Beth Cato
Stopping missiles becomes a young girl’s mission.
“Kq’” by Nicole Givens Kurtz
Yazhi defies the Black God to protect her village.
“The Scorching” by Dan Rabarts
With death comes the power to haunt.
“Dark the Sky, Rust the Earth” by Hal Y. Zhang
He brings the one who is his destiny a gift.
Each of these stories makes magic in two-thousand words or less. My favorites are as follows: “Undone,” written as one flash fiction length sentence masterfully creates an urgency through pacing. “Fit for the Wolves” speaks of yearning, purity, and desire that tips a delicate balance. I love how the moon is portrayed in this tale. “Gods of Empty Places” provides a cool take on repetitive life cycle patterns and family. “Tips for How to Deal with Your Daughter When She’s Become a Monster” shows how a young woman’s power is both a blessing and a curse. Kiste channels one of Medusa’s powers in a fun way in this story. “The Wallflowers” nicely illustrates the differences between introversion and extraversion using plastic surgery. This story reminds me much of the Remades in China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station. The protagonist of “Amazon,” a young breast cancer survivor, is more proud, fierce, and determined than she believes herself to be. Her relationship with her husband is well shown, and the reference to mythological Amazons is perfect.
“A Quick Getaway” is a lovely homage to myths that center around a coveted fruit. In “She Shells,” an aunt’s tough love has a soft side, showing the complexity of familial bonds. “Raven Hearts” shows a woman gutted by grief and the curious way she uses to cope. Her love/hate relationship with the birds and desire to trade heart-space for head-space is relatable in the face of her enormous loss. “Silvermouth” brings a fascinating urban legend into the mix. The quiet strength of the worshipers in “Mills Moth’s Wing in Spider’s Web” is beautiful and heartbreaking. In “Of Talons and Teeth,” not feeling the crush of the mother’s pain is impossible, yet it is rewarding to see her use science to fight back.
This anthology reads like the modern-day equivalent of Ovid’s Metamorphosis, which expands to include mythologies from around the world and beyond, as well as a great section of genres. The order Read arranged the tales creates a lovely rhythm and groups stories thematically. With 42 uniquely rendered stories, readers are sure to find many which resonate with them.
Lilyn G is the founder of Sci-Fi & Scary, and leader of the Coolthulhu Crew. She does book and film reviews for both genres the site focuses on. Her tastes run towards creature features, hard science fiction, and lots and lots of action. She also has a soft spot for middle-grade fiction that rears its head frequently.
Though no longer involved with Ladies of Horror Fiction due to other responsibilities and a too-full plate, she was one of the original 4 co-founders.
Feel free to chat her up on Twitter as long as you aren’t hitting her up to review your book.