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Wakulla Springs by Andy Duncan
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Wakulla Springs (2013)

by Andy Duncan, Ellen Klages (Author)

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Fine, but no real plot. Fortunately, I read this long after acquiring so forgot the book description. If I read it with the description of monsters and mystery in mind I'd have been quite disappointed.

This is a nice narrative with interesting character development, particularly in first 2 parts. Recommend for a light summer read. ( )
  kparr | Dec 31, 2015 |
Not What I Expected!

It’s said that the Wakulla Springs wilderness – including the fifteen miles of caves which cuts through the water’s depths - is home to a menagerie of creatures, both real and mythical: black panthers, rhesus macaques, the Clearwater Monster, the Skunk Ape, and a thousand-pound hammerhead known as Old Hitler. Yet “Wakulla Springs” is less a tale about monsters than it is the journey of one family (and, by extension, the evolution of social mores and attitudes). Beginning with matriarch Mayola, the story of the Williamses is inexorably linked to the Springs: by culture, tradition, and superstition – and a series of cheesy Tarzan movies shot on location in Wakulla County, Florida.

The plot’s surprisingly sparse, especially given the story’s length and description. (“Wakulla Springs” reads more like a novella than a short story.) Each of the four parts or chapters focuses on a different member of the Williams clan, and his or her experiences with Wakulla Springs and the exclusive, “whites only” resort situated on its banks. Cultural signposts indicate each segment’s particular timeline; while African-American Mayola tries to pursue her education in the Jim Crow south, by story’s end we meet her granddaughter, Dr. Anna Williams – a multiracial woman of African-American, white, and Cuban descent – visiting Wakulla Springs during sabbatical to study the encroachment of invasive species into the area.

It makes for an enjoyable and engaging read, even if most of the “monsters” we meet are of the human and institutional variety.

P.S.: Free Cheetah!

http://www.easyvegan.info/2014/10/16/wakulla-springs-by-andy-duncan-and-ellen-kl... ( )
  smiteme | Sep 28, 2014 |
Wakulla Springs is one of those places I've always dreamed of visiting. It's the largest and deepest freshwater springs (some say in the world). It's been the home of manatees and monsters, and, once upon a time, movie-stars, too. Wakulla Springs is also a 2014 Hugo nominated original fiction (novella) and I was able to read it as a free download, courtesy of the publisher, Tor.

I read a huge variety of fiction, so something that carries a bit of speculation, magical realism, and history is a treat to read. To me, the best kind of science fiction is that which can actually dip into our daily lives and swirl around in the undercurrents of our world. Sure, big, scary monsters, or sleek metal warriors are science fiction fun, too, but give me the stuff that lurks in the shadows and I'm happy. This novella took a place that has captured my imaginings since childhood, wrapped them up in a historical context and tied them with a pretty ribbon of surrealism. The story is really a multigenerational one, beginning with Mayola, a young black girl who works at the Lodge at the Springs, when Hollywood came to call. It's a wonderful glimpse into the filming of one of the Tarzan movies, with Johnny Weissmuller. The first part of the novella, Mayola's story, captures not only the days before segregation, but also the last days of Roosevelt's reign. I was not alive then, but the world of my childhood arose from that era, so there were many, many everyday things that caused me to reminisce: buffalo head nickels and mercury dimes, pulling a bottle of RC out of an ice cooler at the store and adding salted peanuts, even the feeling of cotton absorbing perspiration on your back on a sunny summer day. When the author wrote "the air felt thick and close, like it was considering changing it's name to steam.", I knew I'd felt that.

The story moves on, often with abrupt endings between sections, which allows the reader to fill in the blanks. I'm sure it bothered some, but I was okay with it. Mayola's son and her granddaughter take the focus of the next three sections, but always Wakulla Springs weaves through the tale. If you look closely, you can catch a glimpse of something strange and sinister lurking in the waters and forest. ( )
  bookczuk | Jul 30, 2014 |
This novella, while interesting, disappointed my expectations of something categorically SF. Told as a sequence of childhood 'day-in-the-life' stories from three generations of characters, it seems best described as a tribute to the titular Florida locale where most of the story takes place. There is a very tangible and deeply native familiarity to the setting that puts the reader into the scene quite believably, without lecturing at length about the local biology. While completely terrestrial, it does have an otherworldly feel to those of us not familiar with the area. However, that is as close to 'Science Fiction' as this story gets, unless you count a few brief closing moments in the final 10% of the text that could just as easily be interpreted as the imagination of an unreliable narrator. Throughout the entire story there is the tantalizing hint of something, a lurking creature perhaps, that will more classically justify the Hugo nomination, and while it never materialized in the way this reader expected, I can’t help but admit that the coming-of-age moments were nonetheless, worthwhile of the read. ( )
1 vote SciFi-Kindle | May 1, 2014 |
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: Wakulla Springs, in the deep jungle of the Florida panhandle, is the deepest submerged freshwater cave system in the world. In its unfathomable depths, a variety of curious creatures have left a record of their coming, of their struggle to survive, and of their eventual end. And that's just the local human beings over the last seventy-five years. Then there are the prehistoric creatures...and, just maybe, something else.

Ranging from the late 1930s to the present day, Wakulla Springs is a tour de force of the human, the strange, and the miraculous.

At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.

My Review: This novella, approximately 99 pages, is free because it's nominated for a 2014 Nebula award. While I liked the story a lot, and saw the good writing and the deft plotting, I don't see how on earth it's SFnal.

I was very taken with the multi-generational premise. We travel from mother to son to granddaughter to mother again, and that kind of structure mirrors many of my experiences of the world: We frequently return to origin points to discover, to nourish, to measure ourselves against a yardstick we know others in our personal world have used before us. The fact that the yardstick is Olde Tyme Movies made it more fun for me. I like the 1930s and 1940s B-movies because, like TV shows in our day and age, they represent the low culture, the mass market, the common sensibility of their time. It's fascinating to compare the bugaboos and the stereotypes of those times to our own times.

So as we visit the deeply circumscribed world of African-American women under Jim Crow laws, moving to the early civil rights struggle, and finally to the modern era's deep concern with the environment...the highlights of the past 75 years...I was carried along as characters I liked and admired did their best and lived their lives and made their peace with what life handed them, and made the best and the most of what that had to offer.

At novella length, there isn't room to do much more than rough in the kind of shades and shadows that make a novel such a satisfying read. The authors did a very good job of this indeed.

The last of the sun touched the very tops of the trees; everything else was shadows. Then even that light faded, the blue of the sky deepened, and the stars began to wink on. The moon rose over a bend in the river, and a trickle of white light made a river of its own, sparkling down the middle of the dark water.
All around her the grass and trees were a-hum with the soft shirring of unseen creatures. Mayola remembered what Odell had said in his tourist voice, about the fairies that lived deep below in the springs. In the daylight, she had known it for a tale, but now it seemed like it might really be true.
But the form "novella" means, by definition, less room to maneuver, and so these moments are like Florida's hammocks...bits of solid land amid a watery world. The trip is an eventful one, like any visit to an untamed landscape is. The events aren't all equal heights, either. They shouldn't be, of course, but the abandonment of the setting so lovingly described for the built environment, and not the nice part of it, in Los Angeles feels like the brakes of a jetliner do when you're landing in one: crunchbouncebouncescreeeeeeeewhoooooompaaaannnnnd stop. When the shift happened, I mentally dropped the book to three stars in sheer annoyance.

I was grudgingly adding back a half-star for the authors' continuing to follow the thread of monster-movie/Hollywood film/civil rights, in spite of the annoyance I felt at the change of scene, when the last chapter came along and back I was in Wakulla Springs.

Ah. Yes. That's better.

And the ending itself, the last paragraph of the tale, left me with a smile and an appreciative murmur of praise. Don't read this paragraph if you're spoilerphobic:

And beneath the river's surface, a creature reached for Anna's boat with a webbed hand, its talons approaching the metal hull. The it changed its mind and kicked away, back down into the depths where it dwelled, away from the light.
That's a very apt, fitting, suitable ending for this tale of place and personhood and the world's infinite mystery. For all we look and study and learn and classify, there's always a deep place that is itself, and not ours nor any of our kind's business.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. ( )
2 vote richardderus | Mar 12, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Duncan, AndyAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Klages, EllenAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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"Well, there you is, Mayola." Vergie Jackson looked up from the porch of the shotgun cabin on the edge of the piney woods, waving a paper fan with a faded picture of Jesus.
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Wakulla Springs, in the deep jungle of the Florida panhandle, is the deepest submerged freshwater cave system in the world. In its unfathomable depths, a variety of curious creatures have left a record of their coming, of their struggle to survive, and of their eventual end. And that's just the local human beings over the last seventy-five years. Then there are the prehistoric creatures...and, just maybe, something else.

Ranging from the late 1930s to the present day, "Wakulla Springs" is a tour de force of the human, the strange, and the miraculous.

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