Catherine Lundoff's Out of This World: Queer Speculative Fiction Stories was published by Queen of Swords Press in January 2017.
Information about Catherine Lundoff:
Catherine is originally from Brooklyn, NYC, and currently lives in Minneapolis with her wife Jana, an amazingly talented book artist, and a couple of cats. When not writing, she works as a professional computer geek. In former lives, Catherine owned a feminist bookstore (Grassroots Books in Iowa City) and has lived in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Mexico. She was once a professional archaeologist and before that, worked at a bar in St. Louis that that claimed to have the world's largest collection of Elvis memorabilia outside Memphis. Catherine started writing professionally in 1996 while in law school. She sold the first story she ever wrote and quit law school a week or two later.
Catherine is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), Broad Universe, GCLS and the Erotic Authors Association (EAA) - useful organizations to belong to at any stage of a writing career.
Catherine was also a member of the Arise! Bookstore Collective (now defunct). Arise! was one of a shrinking number of independent bookstores. As a former bookstore owner and frequent bookstore visitor, the survival of indies is near and dear to Catherine's heart. She asks that you please support your remaining local independent bookstores; their survival is essential for new writers and nonmainstream voices to be heard.
Click here to visit her official website.
Information about Out of This World: Queer Speculative Fiction Stories:
Eleven tales of the queer fantastic by award-winning author Catherine Lundoff. A bookstore clerk goes on a quest for the Norns while a couple of mercenaries wake up to some big surprises at their favorite inn. Shakespeare’s sister, Judith, forms an alliance with playwright Christopher Marlowe. A witch attempts the wrong love spell and a young prince meets an irresistible monster. Swordswomen, ghosts, the Queen of the Fay, the occasional gentleman of the evening and other unforgettable characters populate these stories rich and strange. Includes the Gaylactic Spectrum Award finalist “At the Roots of the World Tree” as well as several other stories not previously collected.
A REVIEW OF CATHERINE LUNDOFF'S OUT OF THIS WORLD: QUEER SPECULATIVE FICTION STORIES
Catherine Lundoff's Out of This World: Queer Speculative Fiction Stories is an excellent and highly enjoyable collection of eleven stories that can be classified as the queer fantastic and feature LGBTQ characters. It's the first book from Queen of Swords Press, which is a new independent small press.
As many speculative fiction readers are aware of, LGBTQ characters are seldom seen in speculative fiction stories, because heterosexual characters can be found everywhere. LGBTQ characters have mostly been featured in novels and stories published by independent presses, because independent presses tend to be more open-minded towards elements concerning sexual orientation and gender issues than bigger presses. Because LGBTQ characters still remain rarities in modern speculative fiction, it's great that Catherine Lundoff writes about them and explores their lives.
The contents of this collection are satisfyingly versatile, because the stories range from fantasy and science fiction to horror and steampunk. Because the stories feature such things as ghosts, witches and vampires, they have something for everybody and will please a wide range of readers. It's amazing how easily the author writes about different elements and how effortlessly she combines them in her stories.
This collection contains the following stories:
- Great Reckonings, Little Rooms
- Medium Méchanique
- The Egyptian Cat
- At the Roots of the World Tree
- A Scent of Roses
- At Mother Laurie's House of Bliss
- Spell, Book and Candle
- Red Scare
- A Day at the Inn, A Night at the Palace
In these stories, Catherine Lundoff transports her readers into wondrous worlds where anything can and will happen. They evoke a marvellous sense of wonder in the readers and invite them to explore their fantastical and strange happenings.
Great Reckonings, Little Rooms:
- A brilliant alternate history story about William Shakespeare's sister, Judith, featuring crossdressing, intrigue and dangerous situations.
- This story features the British playwright Christopher 'Kit' Marlowe.
- I found this story entertaining, because it was fun to read about Judith, Will and Kit. I enjoyed the ending, because it was excellent.
- A story about a young lady who visits a medium called Madame LaFarge who has a mechanical eye. She wishes to speak with her beloved Annabel who has died.
- The author's descriptions of Madame LaFarge are fascinatingly chilling and unsettling, because she is not an ordinary medium and has a glowing mechanical eye.
- This is a fascinating steampunk-flavoured horror story that has an excellent ending.
The Egyptian Cat:
- A story about a professional editor, Erica, who receives a box which contains a statue of a cat. Soon she meets Rashida who tells her an incredible story about the statue.
- This story has amusing references to H.P. Lovecraft that will delight those who enjoy Lovecraftian stories.
- An enjoyable story with romantic elements.
At the Roots of the World Tree:
- In this story, a bookstore clerk Ash finds himself in quite an unusual situation as he goes on a quest for the Norns.
- I enjoyed this story, because it was something different. It was fun to read about Ash's quest.
- A clever and highly entertaining fantasy story.
A Scent of Roses:
- A story about Janet and her husband, Tam Lin, who has been rescued from the Queen of the Fair Folk. Janet finds herself falling for the Queen.
- In this story, the author wonderfully touches on themes of regret, longing and yearning as she writes about Janet and her feelings.
- A brilliant and thought-provoking story with a fairy tale-like atmosphere.
At Mother Laurie's House of Bliss:
- An interesting story about a young man, Arin, who works in a brothel and has to prove that he's innocent of killing a nobleman with poison.
- I like the author's way of writing about how the death of the nobleman is investigated, because it involves sorcery.
- This is one of my favourite stories in this collection, because it has a faint touch of dark fantasy.
Spell, Book and Candle:
- In this story, Selena meets her old college sweetheart Mona who she dumped for another girl. Mona comes to Selena's shop and asks for ingredients for a love spell.
- The author writes well about how Selena feels about Mona and how she tries to get her lover back with spells, although she knows that spells may not work. The spirit of an ancestor adds a cool touch of style to this witch story.
- I found this romantic and supernatural story highly enjoyable.
- A story about a Prince, Allain, who has blood of the Old Ones and whose sister, Aruna, has a vampire bridegroom. Although the vampire prince is supposed to marry Aruna, he shows interest in Allain and seems to prefer him more than his sister.
- The author writes excellently about what happens between Allain and Prince Raven. She writes surprisingly erotically about them and their relationship.
- This long and fascinating story is one of my favourites in this collection, because it is satisfyingly dark.
- A fascinating story about a private eye called Mr. Dash McDermott and alien invasion.
- I have to mention that this story was an unexpected pleasure, because it's a wholly successful combination of different elements.
- I like the author's way of blending hardboiled detective story with science fiction, because it works well.
A Day at the Inn, A Night at the Palace:
- In this story, Maeve wakes up at the inn and finds out that her cousin, Raven, is in Princess Miaqi's body.
- I was positively surprised by this story, because it's been a while since I've read as good a story about body swapping and its consequences as this one. I enjoyed reading about the political intrigue, because the author wrote fluently about what Princess Miaqi tried to do.
- An excellent and wonderfully entertaining story that will delight many fantasy readers.
- This is an interesting and rewarding story, because it's simultaneously a tale about a talespinner and her fascination with Vadija and a tale about the power of storytelling.
- Because I've always enjoyed reading beautifully written stories, I was instantly captivated by this richly told story. The author writes excellently about the protagonist's search for Vadija and where it leads her.
- A beautiful and lyrical tale for adults.
Here are a few additional thoughts about some of the stories:
- I must say that "Great Reckonings, Little Rooms" is one of the best stories of its kind I've ever read, because the author easily evokes a sense of age gone by and fluently tells about what Judith and Kit do. There's an almost Shakespearean quality to this story, because it has been written in such a manner that it could well be one of Shakespeare's plays.
- In "The Egyptian Cat" the author showcases her sense of humour, because she has given new names to a few well-known Lovecraftian tales. These clever names will amuse everybody who has ever read H.P. Lovecraft's stories. This story also contains intriguing references to Egyptian mythology, because the author writes about Servants of Set.
- "A Scent of Roses" is a brilliant story about Janet who has rescued her husband from the Queen of the Fae. The author writes captivatingly about how Janet becomes interested in the Queen and what she thinks about her husband. I think that this story will enthrall everybody who loves stories about the Fae.
- "Beauty" is a fascinatingly dark story with erotic and romantic elements. It was interesting to read about how the Prince found out about his secret ancestry and how he felt about his father and sisters, because he disliked and hated them. This dark and seductively written vampire gay love story is simply brilliant and will captivate many readers.
The characterisation is fluent and impressive, because Catherine Lundoff writes captivatingly about the characters, their lives and their feelings. It's nice that the characters' sexuality is never the focal point of the stories, but more like a spice that gives a distinct flavour to them. The characters and their lives will captivate many readers regardless of their gender or sexuality.
The challenging themes and issues related to sex, sexual identity and homosexuality are handled deftly in these stories. It's great that the author doesn't make a fuss about the various aspects of human sexuality, but writes boldly about the characters' feelings and needs, because it brings realism to the stories.
Based on this collection, it's possible to say that Catherine Lundoff is a gifted author who writes good and fluent prose. She clearly aims to entertain her readers with captivating stories and succeeds in it, because each of her stories is good and well written. I like her way of giving a new spin to familiar plot elements, because it makes her stories feel fresh and exciting.
If you're looking for something different and intriguing to read, you should take a look at Catherine Lundoff's Out of This World: Queer Speculative Fiction Stories. This collection won't disappoint those who are looking for well written stories, because each of the stories is worth reading. Please, invest a bit of time into reading this amazing collection, because it's a genuinely entertaining and fascinating collection of fantastical tales for adult readers.