Have you heard the term “Actor’s actor”? It refers to a thespian who is so good at their craft, that other actors can’t but admire them, because they teach them things that are not possible for the rest, without being a showoff or overbearing, because their work has an attention to detail, a finesse that is not seen frequently. Well, there should be a similar term from authors, an “author’s author”, someone whose skill with the written word only needs a few pages to shine.
The point of that intro was to say that Maria Haskins is an “author’s author”, and her latest book, a short story collection entitled “Six Dreams about a Train and other stories” is solid proof of that. Writing short stories takes a lot of skill because one as a writer has to do the same heavy lifting in terms of character development and worldbuilding in way fewer words than a novel, but without it being cumbersome for the enjoyment of the reading. Haskins does that with such ease that one can’t but marvel. The twenty-three stories on the book show a wide range of genres, philosophies, unabashed love for rock & roll, of liminal and dreamlike realities all woven into stories with a lot of heart. Some of them could easily be expanded into a novel, or even be transformed into a movie franchise, like “Tunguska, 1987” with its surprising twists and turns. Others, like “Dragon Song” or “Six Dreams about the train” could easily be made into animated shorts that should be included in the Netflix anthology series “Love, Death & Robots”. They are that good and need more recognition.
My personal favorite though, was “Seven Kinds of Baked Goods”, a fantastical mix of fantasy, bakery, following your own path, revenge, and humor. Some bits of it touched some personal fibers (not the revenge part, but the one of breaking the mold of your family to go following your dreams), others made me laugh. But to me is a masterclass in worldbuilding, the clever use of ‘Chekov’s gun’ trope, and a well-planned ending. Yes, I’m unabashedly a fan of Maria’s writing. This story is a reason why
My only complaint, as is a very small complaint in the larger scheme of things, is that there is a story that Maria wrote that I would have loved to see in the collection: “Stars Above, Shadows Beneath”, another personal favorite of her stories. Other than that, this book is a must for any lover of short stories.
It would be the perfect reading, the best present for this Christmas season. I suggest you get your copy now, you won’t regret it.
5 out of 5 Ninja Stars. Yes. 5. Because now there are 5 Ninja Turtles as well. And this book gets them all.
You can find the link to order the book at the Zon, here.
Next book in the dock? A Few Good Elves, by Diane Morrison.