THE TOPIARY GARDEN

Stomping down the road, away from her all-male family in a rage, Liz meets ancient Sally Beck, who invites her into the local manor's topiary garden to hear how she once became a boy. Fleeing her own family, Sally donned her brother's clothes, changed her name to Jack, and found a job as a gardener's boy. Though forced to unmask after several years, she was allowed to stay on, becoming at last head gardener and living out her days surrounded by carefully trimmed, oddly shaped greenery. Liz finds both disturbed dreams and solace in Sally's tale: visions of horned figures and huge shears, but also, ultimately, a firmer sense of self as well. For a story about transformation, what better illustrator than Browne? His seven enigmatic paintings feature looming, massive topiary, in which an occasional female body is the only recognizable shape, and garden tools or shadows the only sign of habitation. This strange, subtle episode, originally published in Howker's Badger on the Barge and Other Stories (Greenwillow, 1984), stands on its own in this small, neat volume, printed in well proportioned but tiny type. Thoughtful readers shouldn't be bothered by the many Briticisms, but there's an appended glossary just in case. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-531-06891-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1995

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BETWEEN TWO FIRES

BLACK SOLDIERS IN THE CIVIL WAR

Brought together in what novelist Hansen (Which Way Freedom?, 1986) calls a ``great experiment,'' black troops in the Civil War faced not only enemy armies but their own side's vicious racism while proving their ability. They had already fought in every previous American war, but never in permanent units; faced with a manpower shortage, Lincoln overcame his reluctance and allowed black companies to form—though some had to assemble and march in secret to avoid civilian riots. Quoting frequently from contemporary sources, Hansen describes their recruitment, their struggle for proper pay, supplies, and training, and their heroic performance in dozens of actions. She contends that, for them, the war had no complex causes: first, last and always, it was a crusade against slavery. Her methodical, well-documented study is ranges wider than Cox's Undying Glory (about the Massachusetts 54th Regiment). Murky b&w photos and reproductions; notes; substantial bibliography; index. (Nonfiction. 12+)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-531-11151-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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A change of pace from the teeming swarms of fantasy and paranormal romance but too underpowered to achieve escape velocity.

FUTUREDAZE

AN ANTHOLOGY OF YA SCIENCE FICTION

A low-wattage collection of original stories and poems, as unmemorable as it is unappealingly titled.

The collection was inspired by a perceived paucity of short science fiction for teen readers, and its production costs were covered by a Kickstarter campaign. The editors gather a dozen poems and 21 stories from a stable of contributors who, after headliners Jack McDevitt and Nancy Holder, will be largely unknown even to widely read fans of the genre. The tales place their characters aboard spacecraft or space stations, on other worlds or in future dystopias, but only rarely do the writers capture a credibly adolescent voice or sensibility. Standouts in this department are the Heinlein-esque “The Stars Beneath Our Feet,” by Stephen D. Covey & Sandra McDonald, about a first date/joyride in space gone wrong, and Camille Alexa’s portrait of a teen traumatized by a cyberspace assault (“Over It”). Along with a few attempts to craft futuristic slang, only Lavie Tidhar’s fragmentary tale of Tel Aviv invaded by successive waves of aliens, doppelgangers, zombies and carnivorous plants (“The Myriad Dangers”) effectively lightens the overall earnest tone. Aside from fictional aliens and modified humans, occasional references to dark skin (“Out of the Silent Sea,” Dale Lucas) are the only signs of ethnic diversity. Most of the free-verse poetry makes only oblique, at best, references to science-fictional themes.

A change of pace from the teeming swarms of fantasy and paranormal romance but too underpowered to achieve escape velocity. (author bios) (Science fiction/short stories. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9847824-0-8

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Underwords

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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