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About the Author

Gillian Polack is a writer, editor, historian and critic based at the Australian National University. Her main research interests are cultural development and transmission in both the Middle Ages and the contemporary period. She has published several novels and seventeen short stories and has show more edited two anthologies. One of her stories won a Victorian Ministry of the Arts award and three more have been listed as recommended reading in the international lists of world's best fantasy and science fiction short stories. Her non-fiction includes work on historiography, the Middle Ages, Arthurian studies and literature. show less


Works by Gillian Polack

Associated Works

Nevertheless, She Persisted: A Book View Café Anthology (2017) — Contributor — 47 copies
Other Covenants: Alternate Histories of the Jewish People (2020) — Contributor — 17 copies
Subterranean Magazine, Issue #4 (Spring 2006) (2006) — Contributor — 12 copies
It Happened at the Ball (2018) — Contributor — 10 copies
Next (2013) — Contributor — 2 copies
Lace and Blade 5 (2019) — Contributor — 1 copy


Common Knowledge



This is an academic text for a field that I'm not in, and thus I was expecting some amount of difficulty getting through. It has taken me many months to read, and it was very helpful that each chapter is quite short, and that the topics discussed were carefully introduced and expanded upon.

However, this desperately needed a better edit than it got. Stray punctuation, repetition of phrases where it didn't make sense (ie. sentences that felt like they'd been half re-written, after part of the idea was moved earlier in the chapter). Polack acknowledges that there were multiple events that interfered with the production of this book, and my guess would be that print deadlines won out over robust editing.

I hope that this will become a foundational work on a topic that isn't widely written about, if at all. There are sections where Polack only has their previous work to point at, acknowledging that the scholarship just isn't there. Which must be frustrating as the writer--as it is as the reader--because the value of this kind of work for me is in the dialogue amongst and between the experts, which couldn't happen.
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fred_mouse | May 10, 2024 |
I feel that this is one of those books that I will come back to and appreciate something new in it each time. On the first read-through, the one I have just completed, I felt most drawn to Rhonda's story. I felt an affinity with her, and I spent most of the book sure that it would turn out that all her online friends would be other screennames of her own. The fact that they didn't speaks to Gillian's ability to challenge her readers' expectations, and it's only one example of how she does.

I really liked how matter-of-fact the usage of magic was throughout the book. It went so well with how matter-of-fact everything was: there wasn't a whole lot of infodumping about the characters' backstories; everything just came out organically. It seems like that's something basic that any book should provide, but unlike some books I've read I never had a sense of frustration that I didn't know enough about the characters to understand what was going on.

There is just so much gentle wisdom in this book that I know I'll be rereading it more than once.
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LaurenThemself | 1 other review | Feb 20, 2024 |
There are some really interesting ideas in this story -- about fantasy places, and how we inhabit them vs our 'real' lives. And I liked bits of it. But for some reason it didn't all gel into an enjoyable whole. I think that I was missing some aspect of it, reading from the wrong viewpoint. I really didn't understand what the ending did, or how it worked.

It didn't help that I didn't particularly like any of the characters, because that is often the most important part of a story for me. I can enjoy and understand a story where I don't get the characters, but there has to be something else to fill that space in.… (more)
fred_mouse | Jan 2, 2024 |



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