Unnatural Habitats and Other Stories. By Angela Mitchell. Fascinated by the boundary between the human and the wild, Mitchell chronicles pivotal moments in the lives of adulterous teachers, drug-dealing insurance agents, and female bank robbers in order to probe just how porous that boundary may be. In Unnatural Habitats , it proves porous indeed. Good story, though without a plot. I'm still buzzing from the last story, so that may have affected my read of this one.
A spaceship set for Ganymede has an unexpected hiccup when it becomes infested with djinn. I would think sci-fi and djinn wouldn't mix well, but this is a solid story. Parker — Message in a Bottle: During the Middle Ages, a scholar tries to determine if a previous now dead scholar's bottle labeled "For the plague" is a cure, or a new strain that will wipe out humanity.
Well written, but couldn't he test it on people in confinement?
Life Interrupted from the book Betel Nuts & Other Stories by Simeon G. Silverio, Jr.
In a post apocalypse where food is scarce, a man decides to start a restaurant with the help of a djinn. This is an excerpt from American Gods , and one of the few chapters I remember completely. It works really well on its own. A man is sent to America to sell his brother-in-laws cheap nic nacs, and finds an unexpected friend in a cab driver. There's a murder, and the detective trying to solve the case runs into some complications that herald to his past. Never understood exactly who the murderer was. In the contemporary Middle East, a sexually repressed guy marries what his mother claims to be a 'good girl.
Reminds me of Victorian era attitudes toward sex. But is she the one with the power? I liked the switch in dynamics here. A group of rich children become obsessed with a spellbook that calls djinn. These are some truly evil brats. A superstar singer prepares for a televised concert, and reflects on a childhood spent in Africa, and the magic she learned there, and the bush baby she caught that lives in her mirror.
I really liked this story, but it felt like it was referring to something else--maybe a novel Okorafor has written? Mar 31, Anum Shaharyar rated it really liked it Shelves: Along with her counterpart Mohammad Hanif, she is the author I knew about before I knew much about Pakistani fiction.
So it made sense to me that in an anthology about djinn which included stories by three Pakistani authors, her story would be the one near the beginning. Maybe she works better with longer word lengths or maybe it was just me, but for some reason the magic usually present in her work, in books like Burnt Shadows or Kartography, seemed to me to be very distinctly missing from this short story about a boy who discovers that he might actually be related to jinn or djinn, or genie; take your pick.
It certainly has a very strong beginning. Qasim, our young protagonist, upon waking up and rushing to the nearby mosque for prayer, accidentally ends up joining a contingent of praying jinn. The carpet is different, the hair on each head is bright red, and most alarming are the feet.
There was a moment when everyone was kneeling and he alone stood tall. Then he saw it. The feet of every man in the congregation were turned backwards at the ankles. A jinn named Zeus had lain with their human mother in the guise of a firebird.
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Pollux, the jinn, was immortal, but his brother was not. Reap is story number eleven in a twenty-one part compilation, and being placed right in the middle was excellent for this anthology since the stories right before Reap were either too boring, pointlessly long or completely incomprehensible. Reap brings the anthology back on track, with the entries following afterwards being equally as fascinating both in terms of plot as well as writing. Grant, our protagonist in the story, is part of a small team using a MQ-9 Reaper Drone for surveillance of a village in a north-western region of Pakistan.
And while the duty itself involves keeping track of the inhabitants of a cluster of houses, Grant and his team mates find themselves getting involved in the lives of the residents. They knew that eleven children lived in House 4, each a year apart. The local loner living in house number three reaches his place a bit later looking suspicious and scared.
It was definitely Miriam; they could all recognize her despite the distorted mouth. Her lips were pulled back in a grin so wide it should have split her cheeks. The long teeth glowed with the same interior light. Her eyes, however, were dark holes in her face. And then all the cameras shut down.
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From there, the story plummets into a chaos of blood-thirsty revenge coupled with rising bouts of hysteria in our protagonist as the village reacts to the dead body. By the end of the story, both the ones involved in the village action as well as those watching from a distance find their stories coming together in a final, horrifying conclusion. Even better if he wrote a full-length novel, because there is something enjoyable about his writing style, something very genuine in his descriptions of things.
In Emperors of Jinn, the penultimate story of this anthology, Malik uses two teenagers spending an end-of-summer weekend at the family farmhouse on the outskirts of Lahore to explore their fascination with jinn, and their own family history of possession. Lots of stuff going on with minimal clarity, at which point I had given up and was reading the text just for the sake of reading it.
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Mystery is power, the bearer of mysteries most powerful of all. That which precedes is Secret. That which proceeds is Empire. I was inclined to be generous and blame the fact that by the second last story in the anthology, maybe I had had too much of this particular subject matter, but since the confusion is pretty common upon reading any of T.
You can give this a miss. Review Part 4 - the whole anthology First of all, can I just say what a brilliant cover? It might not be the most bright and colourful, but it so perfectly represents the subject matter that any other cover would have been a disservice to these stories. The stories contained within this compilation, which could easily have been a mess waiting to happen, manage to impress pretty much most of the time.
Mahwish Murad, whom I knew of beforehand because of her weekly Tor. This is particularly because across the spectrum of the twenty stories and singular poem included in this collection, almost all manage to tackle these particular supernatural creatures in twenty completely different ways. Djinn, jinn or genie, every culture has their own interpretation.
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Going into this book, all I had in my head were the local stories I have grown up with, the witches with their feet turned backwards and women in white who stand on the sides of lonely roads on dark nights, mixed in with some confusing jumble of information imported from abroad about genies who reside in lamps and grant three wishes. This story, with its flashbacks, evokes a sense of timelessness and nostalgia that was great to read. A few of the stories I disliked outright: Malik , and some because they tried too hard to do something creative and failed Authenticity by Monica Byrne. A few had a passing resemblance to a good idea Queen of Sheba by Catherine Faris King while others were excerpts from previously published works Somewhere in America by Neil Gaiman, an excerpt from his famous novel American Gods.
There were a few which I could tell held potential but got lost in what they were trying to say. Certain that Hurrem must have some powerful supernatural entity under her control, the three men attempt to call on their own jinn, with somewhat unexpected results.
While the premise of this story is interesting, the execution left something to be desired. I had also really wanted to know whether stories would tackle the idea that in rural areas and even in some urban ones, possession by djinns is a common explanation for what are considered deviances from the sexual norm i.
Al-Maria discusses this only fleetingly, in a storyline entirely disconnected from our main plot. Another equally promising story was by Jamal Mahjoub. Duende is a murder mystery in a sci-fi setting, with supernatural elements creeping into the narrative, but the strength in world building was let down by the weak characters.
Characters which let down the story were also in Glass Lights by J. Yang, whose brilliant idea and great writing was bogged down by its insipid protagonist. Mena wondered if her vanished grandmother, the djinn, had ever thought of reshaping the world so it was more amenable to her. A world of hot wind and bursting stars, where women walked strong and brown and proud over land that sang to their bones, where the fires that burned in their veins were lights in the firmament, and not threats to be smothered into nothingness at all costs.
A few of the stories, however, really were just so damn good I would be willing to read a whole book based on the premise within these particular stories. The Spite House by Kirsty Logan features jinn who, having become corporeal, are forced to find any shelter they can, and one of them ends up living in spite houses — houses built not for comfort or residents, but in order to grab land or needlessly take up space. Hossain, in which a young boy and a jinn decide to set up a restaurant in the slums.
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Along with Bring your own spoon , which is the strongest in terms of world building, is K. Parker, whose story is set in the same world as his fantasy series The Fencer Trilogy or is it an extract from the series?
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Both these stories are strong in their own rights: While Reap moves fast and builds momentum, Apprentice won more points for its fascinating mixture of science fiction and fantasy. Reap appealed to me because of its desi setting, while Apprentice places its characters in a sci fi setting, and uses this setting to incorporate all the elements of horror and fantasy within one ship.
It was widely acknowledged that Mars was infested with jinn. Allah might have made the red planet specifically for them; they loved its dust, its volcanic landscape and boundless plains.
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Out of all the stories, these two I would definitely be willing to read more of, and with these short stories, both Sami Shah and E. We have wish-granters and shape-changers, immortals and spirits, hoarders and hermits. This collection, featuring authors from countries like Pakistan to Singapore, London, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, and more, provides a wide variety of tastes for all its readers.