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Leviathan Wept and Other Stories by Daniel…

Leviathan Wept and Other Stories (2010)

by Daniel Abraham

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***** The Cambist and Lord Iron
Re-read - previously read in 'Fantasy: The Best of the Year, 2008.'
The subtitle, 'A Fairy Tale of Economics,' is technically accurate, but doesn't really give a clue to how clever and entertaining this fable is. Here, we're introduced to an unassuming man who seems fairly content with his humble life, and is notably skilled as his job at the currency exchange desk. However, when his path crosses that of a cruel and depraved aristocrat who will destroy lives - and even kill - merely because it amuses him, the cambist will have to use all his wits to escape the trap that's been set.

**** Flat Diane
In general, I don't seek out writing that deals with issues of parenting, broken homes, and the possibility of child abuse. If I read this story described that way, I probably wouldn't have sought it out. And I would've missed out.
A father's creative attempt to make his daughter feel more connected to her family backfires in a terrible way... and some problems aren't so easy to put right.

**** The Best Monkey
A reporter is put on an investigative case - it's rumored that the company known as The Fifth Layer, which 'just happens' to be headed by his ex-, is on the verge of a startling new breakthrough. The enigmatic clue is that this innovation has something to do with three men: "a mathematician, a choreographer, and a pedophile." The idea-focused story that follows is a fascinating inquiry into the nature of beauty, attraction, and what it means to be human.

**** The Support Technician Tango
Awww... this one is just heartwarming. Have you ever suspected that following the advice in self-help books might be a really, really bad idea? Here, an enigmatic volume gives different - and uniquely tempting - advice to everyone who picks it up. Disaster looms ahead, for the proto-romance of a tech support guy and the office paralegal.

**** A Hunter in Arin-Qin
Powerful story of a hunter who pursues the beast that stole her young daughter. A fantasy tale that speaks of love, loss, justice and acceptance.

**** Leviathan Wept
Full of frustration and sadness, this is one of those stories that eloquently articulates complexities in such a way that I say, "Yes! That's exactly it! But I never could have said it quite that well!"
Terrorist and anti-terrorist forces work against each other (the difference is hard to tell.) Innocents die. Ethics fall victim to agendas. Triage units rush to the scene. From a distance, all of humanity's scurrying might look like small parts of a greater organism - but what if that organism is ill and dying?

**** Exclusion
What if you could 'block' people in real life? In this future, technology has made 'exclusion' popular: much like a Facebook 'block' does in the virtual realm, an 'excluded' person can no longer see you, nor can you see, hear, or otherwise contact them. An insightful exploration which takes into account both the fact that sometimes you're really just better off without someone in your life, and the temptation to use 'blocking' as an excuse to avoid engaging with others and working out conflicts. Something to think about here for everyone who's every 'blocked' anyone, for any reason - and who hasn't?

**** As Sweet
It's been mentioned before that 'Romeo & Juliet' is perhaps not actually a very edifying story to hold up as an example of true love. But I'm not sure I've encountered a Shakespeare-influenced story that I like better. A woman going through a midlife crisis and unsure about her relationship with her aging husband, is haunted by a manifestation of Rosalind (Romeo's ex-) - which helps her see her life and relationship in a new light.

**** The Curandero and the Swede
A guy brings his fiancee to meet his family for the first time. Full of trepidation, he asks her to hide her tattoos, watch her topics of conversation, etc. At the family gathering, his elderly relative goes off on a rambling, tangential tale full of various ghost stories. Our young man doesn't feel there's a point to any of this blather - but a more patient reader will see that it's looping around...
And it does actually close a circle, impressively so. In less-masterful hands, this could've turned into a mess, but each 'tangent' is powerful on its own, and together they form a powerful message touching on history, racism, love and acceptance - and the dangers of underestimation.
In conclusion, it's really about the power of stories to create meaning in our lives.

Overall, this is really a 4.5 - the collection really shows the breadth of Abraham's talent, even more so than his epic fantasy and hard sci-fi novels do.
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
I have to thank Ceridwen for turning me on to this author. Because of her review of book #2 of his fantasy series, I picked this up instead when I chanced upon it at the library since I'm not too excited about epics lately. I don't have the aversion to short stories that many have described but I don't seek them out, either. I would never have read this...amazing, thought-provoking, shiver-inducing set of tales. Damn, Abraham, this book good! I've noticed my memory has been for crap since I finished school, as if my mind has gotten as flabby as what little muscles I once had for the same reason, going from an environment that constantly kept me scrambling with a variety of exercises to one that had me sitting dumpily in an office chair working at tasks that take a long time to finish. But I find that I can recall details of a couple of these stories a few days afterwards, meaning they're locked in. I hope!

These are fantasy or science fiction, so that may shave off some readers there. I hadn't thought of why certain people like certain books until reading so many discussions on gr threads, where people who think about stuff that never occur to me pound things out in ways that leave me gaping. Now, when I'm thinking about shyly (or pushily) recommending books I've loved in order to spread the love, I hesitate. Most of my favorite books had the worst writing and other-words-describing-style-and-method-that-I-don't-know (although I could go to karen's advisory group and reference her how-to (plug for karen's group! http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/43519.readers_advisory_for_all)) but an exciting pace and great fight scenes and parts that make me tear up. I went with emotion and humor rather than quality. There are so many books in the world and I didn't know how to find books with both. This site by itself hadn't really helped since it's just another overwhelming pile of opinions, blind sifting is a gamble. But the other users have been the best. For me, it was key to interact with other people first and see how they think, how their opinions match to mine. I'm regularly blown away by books I read now that are based on their readings (another plug for karen's advisory group which is meant to do that! blow you away! http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/43519.readers_advisory_for_all).

Where was I? These are fantasy or science fiction and it's unfortunate that this fact can cause people who might like it to avoid it. Not those who know their taste well but those who think FSF is just fairies and lazers. Not to tsk-tsk like a jerk, since I'm the same when it comes to books labeled as romance (although it's been fun to read them for giggles with others), philosophical, educational, and more, and recently, epics. But in defense of FSF, and to repeat thoughts that I've read other places by better thinkers and writers, it's another way of exploring the unthinkable (I'm trying to mean stuff like murder and war, but they're so common now that I guess it's not "unthinkable" really), the indescribable, the divine, the everyday, concepts that might be important but dry to lightweight minds like mine but graspable when presented differently.

"Flat Diane" - I didn't realize this is probably based on a real children's book called [b:Flat Stanley|348564|Flat Stanley|Jeff Brown|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1173961142s/348564.jpg|1132] until just today when I saw Ceridwen's review of it. Um, there's a reason why this story won some horror award. I think it's about how parents can't protect their children from everything in the world. It reminded me of when I would rage about the unfairness of certain strict rules, my mom found the perfect line (and I just heard it used on some tv show or movie! they copied my mom! hah, she probably heard it somewhere else and used it on me) to make me sputter: "I trust you! I just don't trust the world. No you can't do that/read that/go out/see that boy/have fun." Well, not the last one, but you get the sense. I was obedient to the parent's wishes for an embarassingly long time, beyond when it was probably necessary. Anyway, this story could've been an answer. I'm not skilled enough to talk about the story itself without giving it away and it would be a douche thing to do, spoiling it. There's a reason why it was also nominated for a Nebula (sci-fi award).

"The Support Technician Tango" - Programmers! An evil self-help book! Hijinks! I wonder if this is connected to "Code Monkey" somehow (listen to it here: http://www.jonathancoulton.com/2006/04/14/thing-a-week-29-code-monkey/).

"Exclusion" - What the world might be like if we could completely ignore people, the effect on history and on a personal level. Sci-fi.

"As Sweet" - What love is. My favorite of this collection. A modern-day woman and Romeo and Juliet's Rosaline.

"The Curandero and the Swede" - The importance of having stories to live.

There are 4 other stories in here, all worthwhile, about wealth, on what can happen when the real rule of attraction is manipulated, justice, cycles of violence.

Huh. I didn't talk much about the book. This probably isn't a useful review.

A couple of these seem to be written for certain people, like Elizabeth may enjoy the support technician one, or bird Brian might like a couple of the ones that have that warning-against-conspiracies feel. I'm undecided about who would like "Flat Diane," but it's a wow one.

And because of this book I then tried out his fantasy series, which turned out to also be amazing. Gr works! Or rather, gr users work! ( )
  EhEh | Apr 3, 2013 |
...All in all Leviathan Wept and Other Stories is a varied collection of excellent short fiction. The breadth of Abraham's writing is showcased here. What each and every one of these stories have in common is the attention to the characters. Abraham uses very different characters in these stories, men or women, old or young, all of them are very well drawn in the limited space a short story offers. Like his novels the characterization is exceptional. So far I have only read Abraham's fantasy. From this collection it is quite clear he is capable of much more....

Full Random Comments review ( )
  Valashain | Oct 1, 2010 |
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Presents a collection of high fantasy and science fiction stories, including "The cambist and Lord Iron," "Flat Diane," and "Exclusion."

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