Word Puppets by Mary Robinette Kowal
After reading Forest of Memory, I decided that I needed even more Mary Robinette Kowal. So when I heard about a few of her short stories, I decided I needed to track them down. I discovered Word Puppets, an anthology with an introduction by Patrick Rothfuss. I was sold. Read the introduction first because it is hilarious. And even with his intro to Kowal, Rothfuss manages to cement the collection with major themes and ideas from Kowal’s work. It’s a great way to think about her writing, because she dabbles in a lot of genres and ideas.
There’s “Rampion,” a short story that expands on Rapunzel’s background, “The Bound Man,” in which a woman is called back in time to fight another man’s wars, but at the cost of living with her own children six thousand years earlier, and “Clockwork Chickadee,” a tale about mechanical birds that live in a cuckoo clock. My two personal favorites are “The Shocking Affair of the Dutch steamship Friesland” and “the Lady Astronaut of Mars.” The former is a Sherlock Holmes adventure as told by the perspective of a young woman about to be married in South Africa. It’s highly engaging and fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously (cough cough, Anthony Horowitz). Mary, you might consider writing some more of those, I’m just saying. The latter is a Hugo-award-winning tale of a retired astronaut who must decide if she goes on one last adventure or spends her time with her dying husband. It’s touching and emotional at the same time.
If you’re a lover of eclectic short stories, then definitely check this volume out. It’s a lot of fun and a quick read.