Downside Girls

I’m in a post-migraine stupor so not a lot of production today.

This retro-review is from November 23, 2012.

I’m much more open to reviewing short story collections from authors I haven’t read than novels. This review copy came from the author via LibraryThing.

And a brief note on a subtle format change: starting with Ian Sales’ Adrift on the Sea of Rains, reviewed last posting, the default link for titles is not going to be Amazon US but any web page the author maintains.

Review: Downside Girls, ed. Jaine Fenn, 2012.Downside Girls

Using the old and reliable device of a society split between the haves and have-nots, these are mostly crime stories set in a future city. Here the city is floating. The rich people live Topside, an area of heavier gravity. The have-nots, taller and lighter-skinned, inhabit the Downside. It is from them that the Angels – women who have knives implanted in their arms and gravitic implants enabling them to fly – are recruited. They are authorized and required, under the Concord, to kill politicians who have failed to get a minimum of public good will.

The first three of these stories are braided, characters and events central to one story showing up more peripherally in other stories.

Collateral Damage” plays out a somewhat predictable plot of a newly minted Angel, who still has not executed anyone, happily accepting the friendship, as a way out of her social isolation, of a Topside woman.

Death on Elsewhere Street” is about how some Angels go bad under the strain of their work and their machinations to get around the rules governing their legal sanctions.

Angel Dust” takes its young heroine all the way from Downside to Topside to reluctantly aid a wounded Angel. She eventually meets the Minister, the mysterious man who manages and recruits the Angels. Like most stories here, it does not end happily.

The Three Temptations of Larnia Mier” was my favorite story. Unlike the other stories, it is not primarily a crime story or narrated in the first person. Its fervently religious protagonist, a music teacher facing the trial of losing her hearing, must also face temptations presented by a new pupil.

Those who have read Fenn’s novels Principles of AngelsGuardians of Paradise, and Bringer of Light will probably want to read this collection since, evidently, they share not only the setting but some characters with these stories. These were all well-told stories that I’m not sorry I read, but I don’t think I’ll be diving any further into this particular universe.


More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.


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