Push of the Sky: Short Works by Camille Alexa

PUSH

Push of the Sky: Short Works by Camille Alexa
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical, Futuristic, Action/Adventure, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (175 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A young woman and her mandroid wander the Twelve Domed Cities of Mars, looking for a place to call home…

A young man in the age of practical alchemy eschews incantations he can’t utter for fantastic creatures built of cogs and springs…

A prehistoric inventor living at the cusp of change finds an ancient winged carcass at the edge of a melting glacier, and has the inspiration of a lifetime…

Over two dozen short speculative works from the pages of Fantasy Magazine, ChiZine, Abyss & Apex, Space & Time Magazine and more, including SpaceWesterns.com’s most-read story of all time, “The Clone Wrangler’s Bride” and its sequel, “Droidtown Blues.”

What do proto-humans living during an unforgiving ice age, peasants and dragons maintaining an uneasy peace and the dangers of crashing your spaceship onto another planet have in common?

The best entries in this collection are the ones that dabble in other genres. Matty in “The Clone Wrangler’s Bride” acts like a character from a romance novel at first. She’s headstrong, intelligent and fiercely determined to grit her way through an arranged marriage which only makes what happens to her next even more memorable. “Flying Solo” starts out with a dramatic crash on a barely inhabitable and uncharted planet far from the narrator’s true destination. Katherine chronicles her struggle to survive as she waits for assistance by writing a series of letters to her brother. Gradually the correspondence begins to include her interactions with the other living creatures she finds on the planet and that’s when her adventures truly begin.

The missteps in Push of the Sky happened when more attention was paid to flowery language and describing the scenery than character or plot development. “The Butterfly Assassin” in particular evoked vivid imagery in my mind as I read but never quite got around to sufficiently explaining how a medieval civilization could be technologically developed enough to keep someone with severe disabilities alive or build machines that require delicate parts or are easily damaged. “The Beetle Eater’s Dream” was another good example of an intriguing concept that spent more time describing how the main character adjusted to the mundane realities life on a spaceship after growing up on a nearly uninhabitable futuristic earth than it did explaining her motivation for deciding to travel in deep space on a whim.

Even though not all of the tales in this collection were appealing to me Ms. Alexa left this reader wanting to know more about almost all of them. She consistently packed a novel’s worth of intrigue into a few short pages and I would gladly pay to learn more about almost all of the men, women, robots and dragons I met in this book. Push of the Sky is a great choice for anyone interested in pushing the boundaries of modern science fiction and fantasy and I recommend it.

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