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Beautifully crafted, unfailingly strange, and always moving, Susan Palwick's stories shift effortlessly between fantasy and science fiction, magical realism and horror. Here you will encounter aliens, ghosts, and robots, along with a colorful assortment of eccentric and vulnerable humans. You will see souls trapped in lucite, witness the operations of a magical measuring t Beautifully crafted, unfailingly strange, and always moving, Susan Palwick's stories shift effortlessly between fantasy and science fiction, magical realism and horror. Here you will encounter aliens, ghosts, and robots, along with a colorful assortment of eccentric and vulnerable humans. You will see souls trapped in lucite, witness the operations of a magical measuring tape, and watch the oldest woman on a generation ship bequeath a precious Terran relic to a young friend. Collecting tales published in markets such as Tor.com, Asimov's, F&SF, and Lightspeed, All Worlds are Real also includes three new pieces exclusive to this volume.


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Beautifully crafted, unfailingly strange, and always moving, Susan Palwick's stories shift effortlessly between fantasy and science fiction, magical realism and horror. Here you will encounter aliens, ghosts, and robots, along with a colorful assortment of eccentric and vulnerable humans. You will see souls trapped in lucite, witness the operations of a magical measuring t Beautifully crafted, unfailingly strange, and always moving, Susan Palwick's stories shift effortlessly between fantasy and science fiction, magical realism and horror. Here you will encounter aliens, ghosts, and robots, along with a colorful assortment of eccentric and vulnerable humans. You will see souls trapped in lucite, witness the operations of a magical measuring tape, and watch the oldest woman on a generation ship bequeath a precious Terran relic to a young friend. Collecting tales published in markets such as Tor.com, Asimov's, F&SF, and Lightspeed, All Worlds are Real also includes three new pieces exclusive to this volume.

30 review for All Worlds are Real: Short Fictions

  1. 4 out of 5

    Gabi

    A short story collection with surprisingly even, high quality! I'm used to collections having some jewels for me and several bummers that leave me with a shoulder shrug. But not with this one by Susan Palwick. There was no story that would have been 5 stars for me, but most of the stories get easily 4 stars. Palwick focuses on human condition in her writing in often quite weird, bordering on horror, scenarios. She has this understanding for being the odd one out that I dearly love in SF short stor A short story collection with surprisingly even, high quality! I'm used to collections having some jewels for me and several bummers that leave me with a shoulder shrug. But not with this one by Susan Palwick. There was no story that would have been 5 stars for me, but most of the stories get easily 4 stars. Palwick focuses on human condition in her writing in often quite weird, bordering on horror, scenarios. She has this understanding for being the odd one out that I dearly love in SF short stories. All of the works in this collection are moving and thoughtful, presented in an agreeable prose - exactly like I want my readings to be. Immersing in her stories felt comfortable like visiting an old friend, each tinged with melancholy as well as with the notion of 'I know how you feel.' Definitely an author I have to read more of. Highly recommended!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    My review is solely for the three stories listed. I may get to the others, if I see the book, or find more online. My reaction to other Palwick stories I've read over the years has been mixed. ● Here's the Matisse-loving singing space-cucumbers story, "Cucumber Gravy" (2001): http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fic... Light (mostly) and fun. 3.7 stars, recommended. The first two stories in the collection are in the free Kindle sample you can get at Amazon: ● "Windows" (2014): a woman is visiting her s My review is solely for the three stories listed. I may get to the others, if I see the book, or find more online. My reaction to other Palwick stories I've read over the years has been mixed. ● Here's the Matisse-loving singing space-cucumbers story, "Cucumber Gravy" (2001): http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fic... Light (mostly) and fun. 3.7 stars, recommended. The first two stories in the collection are in the free Kindle sample you can get at Amazon: ● "Windows" (2014): a woman is visiting her son in prison. Her daughter, a crewman on a generation starship, has sent a recorded birthday greeting to play for her brother. Then Mom gets some bad news. Well-written but depressing: 2.7 stars ● "The Shining Hills" (2017). An unhappy young woman is looking for a portal to Faerie. A well-meaning policeman tries to help her. Good but gloomy, 2.5 stars. Also online, not read yet: "Homecoming" (2013, novelette): https://www.tor.com/2013/07/10/homeco... "Recoveries" (2018, novelette): https://www.tor.com/2018/06/20/recove... TOC and story histories are here: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?7... That's where I saw the online copy of "Cucumber Gravy" Gary K. Wolfe's review at Locus: https://locusmag.com/2020/02/gary-k-w... Excerpt: "In her introduction to All Worlds are Real, Jo Walton correctly notes that Susan Palwick is “definitely not as well known as a writer this good ought to be at this point in her career.” While one reason for this is that she’s not been especially prolific – four novels and one prior collection in a career dating back to 1985 – I suspect another is that Palwick’s deeply moral fictions don’t really emerge from the traditions of SF and fantasy so much as they kidnap those traditions for their own purposes. Palwick describes herself “a proud member of the Christian Left,” and while there are themes of faith and spirituality in her fiction, that’s in no way indicative of a Sunday school imagination: few other writers I can think of would begin one story in the gift shop of Dante’s hell (“Lucite”), or set another in a BDSM dungeon after the Rapture (“Sanctuary”), or feature Matisse-loving singing space cucumbers haunting a Nevada drug dealer’s home (“Cucumber Gravy”)."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Berni Phillips

    Susan Palwick doesn't publish often, but when she does, it's worth the wait. These are stories that will make you think, that will touch your heart and your soul. We can all identify with the feeling of not fitting in or with feeling like others are willfully denying reality. Palwick explores these topics and many others, giving us perfect little gems that we will return to, over and over. Susan Palwick doesn't publish often, but when she does, it's worth the wait. These are stories that will make you think, that will touch your heart and your soul. We can all identify with the feeling of not fitting in or with feeling like others are willfully denying reality. Palwick explores these topics and many others, giving us perfect little gems that we will return to, over and over.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lindy

    I would retitle this one Chicken Soup for the Granola Christian Soul.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alicia O'Donnell

    I loved this. Typically in short story collections there are some really good ones and others....not so much. I enjoyed every single story. Although many were sci fi, fantasy, even horror, she captures the humanity of her characters so well; it all felt very real. I also really enjoyed her brief blurbs explaining her inspiration for the stories; it seems like she’s led an interesting life!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael Hanscom

    Good collection of bittersweet and thoughtful short stories that often left me pausing to consider one before moving on to the next. Particular favorites are “Cucumber Gravy”, “Lucite”, “Homecoming”, “Remote Presence”, and “Recoveries”.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dan Trefethen

    Susan Palwick is a wonderful writer. Period. Full stop. I put it that way because the way she writes is deceptive: it is so fluid and well structured and so easy to read that you don't realize all the craft that's in it, unless you slow down, pay attention, look for the foreshadowing and notice the way she's leading up to the main point. The brief introductions she gives to each story usually tells the idea that came to her that started her off, but the craft of the story is all her own. Ideas ar Susan Palwick is a wonderful writer. Period. Full stop. I put it that way because the way she writes is deceptive: it is so fluid and well structured and so easy to read that you don't realize all the craft that's in it, unless you slow down, pay attention, look for the foreshadowing and notice the way she's leading up to the main point. The brief introductions she gives to each story usually tells the idea that came to her that started her off, but the craft of the story is all her own. Ideas are, basically, a dime a dozen. Every author has a quip about a friend or acquaintance who said to them “I've got this great idea for a story – I'll tell it to you, then all you have to do is write it out.” As if ideas were all that there was to storytelling. Reading a collection of stories like this shows an author's ongoing concerns. With Palwick, it seems to be the vital role that connections between people serve to mitigate the rolling disaster that humans can do. Family, including those who don't share a blood tie, is important. Resolve to care for others is critical. Her characters feel real, and their dialogue rings true. They tell wonderful stories, even the ones that are heartbreaking. Highly recommended.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    It took me a long time to read this collection of stories because I needed to give each one a bit of space to settle. Many of them ended with me being a bit teary, yet more understanding of how life can be so hard, yet tempered with kindness and hope. This is not a common reaction to science fiction. My most succinct description of SF is that it's an exploration of what it means to be human. Maybe that describes all literature but SF is mostly what I read. And these stories are deeply about what It took me a long time to read this collection of stories because I needed to give each one a bit of space to settle. Many of them ended with me being a bit teary, yet more understanding of how life can be so hard, yet tempered with kindness and hope. This is not a common reaction to science fiction. My most succinct description of SF is that it's an exploration of what it means to be human. Maybe that describes all literature but SF is mostly what I read. And these stories are deeply about what it means to be human. Very much worth reading.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Corinne

    So far read: -- Recoveries - (2018) - 4.5* - I was trying to read a memoir by a blackout alcoholic so I started this one which also features a blackout alcoholic. I had a few "which story did this thought come from" moments. I ended up DNFing the memoir but loved this one. It has one of those ironic ending I grew to love from my experience with 1980s horror shorts or maybe Twilight Zone type shows. I found it enjoyable from start to finish and look forward to other stories by this author. I'm not So far read: -- Recoveries - (2018) - 4.5* - I was trying to read a memoir by a blackout alcoholic so I started this one which also features a blackout alcoholic. I had a few "which story did this thought come from" moments. I ended up DNFing the memoir but loved this one. It has one of those ironic ending I grew to love from my experience with 1980s horror shorts or maybe Twilight Zone type shows. I found it enjoyable from start to finish and look forward to other stories by this author. I'm not sure I would recommend it as a "must read" but for me it was just right. Free here: https://www.tor.com/2018/06/20/recove... -- Weather - (2014) - short story (available Clarkesworld, #96 Sept 2014 podcast also) - 2.5* An estranged father is trying to get to his daughter before she dies in the hospital. It was a bad divorce and he has been a shit dad, he doesn't have a good relationship with her. It's a futuristic SF story and he wants to say goodbye in person before her mind is uploaded to a computer. It's snowing real bad and he stops by a friend's house whose daughter died but didn't have her uploaded. His friend helps him get to the hospital. (view spoiler)[ the daughter dies in route and calls him "from the computer". She shows no mercy. "I told her I was sorry I wasn’t there. She said, ‘Daddy, you’ve never been there.' I don’t know how I can make it up to her now, except by talking to her whenever she wants to talk." (hide spoiler)] -- Remote Presence - (2017) - novelette (available from Lightspeed April 2017) listening now, narrated by Stefan Rudnick - 3.5* Very unique. Ghosts are a normal part of life in this story but they can't stick around, they have to move on. The "minister" encourages a woman who doesn't realize she is dead to move her spirit into a computer so she can communicate. He wasn't supposed to do that, he was supposed to help her move on. He thinks she would like to stick around helping people in this condition but it is against the rules. -- The Shining Hills - (2017) - short story (available in Lightspeed mag. Aug 2017) I listened to the Lightspeed podcast narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir. She is a fantastic narrator. This is the story where the title of the collection came from. “All worlds are real,” Seamus said, and she looked at him, startled, feeling herself give a grudging nod of admiration. Not many people knew that. We have a girl desperate to leave our world and go to the fairy world and at certain times and in certain locations you can. We also have a copy who (view spoiler)[ lost his daughter in that way. It is an unknown world so he has no idea if she is okay and it hurts. (hide spoiler)] To Read: -- Homecoming - (2013) - novelette a dark fantasy about a young girl on the cusp of womanhood who yearns to leave her village and go to sea with her best friend, a boy about her own age, despite natural and supernatural dangers. Available tor.com: https://www.tor.com/2013/07/10/homeco... ~ Windows - (2014) - short story ~ Ash - (2016) - short story ~ Cucumber Gravy - (2001) - novelette (available in Lightspeed mag. Jan 2011) ~ Hhasalin - (2013) - novelette ~ Sanctuary - (2013) - short story ~ City of Enemies (2019) - short fiction ~ Lucite - (2016) - short story ~ Hodge - (2019) short fiction ~ Hideous Flowerpots - (2018) - novelette ~ Wishbone - (2019) short fiction

  10. 4 out of 5

    Shel

    Fun, quirky, and compassionate stories. Every story pulls you in and makes you feel. Reminds me of Karen Joy Fowler's "What I Didn't See, and Other Stories" another collection where every story grabs attention. Also, in the vein of Carol Emshwiller. I'd previously read --and loved-- some of these stories in Lightspeed Magazine, "The Shining Hills," and "Remote Presence" and was happy to revisit them here. I particularly love "Remote Presence." "Hideous Flowerpots" was also a standout for me as I Fun, quirky, and compassionate stories. Every story pulls you in and makes you feel. Reminds me of Karen Joy Fowler's "What I Didn't See, and Other Stories" another collection where every story grabs attention. Also, in the vein of Carol Emshwiller. I'd previously read --and loved-- some of these stories in Lightspeed Magazine, "The Shining Hills," and "Remote Presence" and was happy to revisit them here. I particularly love "Remote Presence." "Hideous Flowerpots" was also a standout for me as I find myself in quite the Hideous Flowerpots stage of life. Completely agree with Jo Walton's introduction and will echo her, "Look, look, she's so great, look over here!" If you're reading science fiction and not reading Palwick ??? you're missing out.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Raluca Balasa

    Palwick writes with equal doses of realism and cynicism, yet, ultimately, with optimism and compassion -- something difficult to pull off tonally but very satisfying to read when the author succeeds. I sympathize with just about every character she pens, no matter how flawed. I particularly enjoyed "Cucumber Gravy." Every character's voice is unique, rich, and engaging. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys character-driven speculative fiction! Palwick writes with equal doses of realism and cynicism, yet, ultimately, with optimism and compassion -- something difficult to pull off tonally but very satisfying to read when the author succeeds. I sympathize with just about every character she pens, no matter how flawed. I particularly enjoyed "Cucumber Gravy." Every character's voice is unique, rich, and engaging. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys character-driven speculative fiction!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Warren Dunham

    I'm usually not a big fan of anthologies. I like short stories just not them bundled together they often don't mesh well together and will very widely in quality. This was different the stories had consistent quality, felt coherent and felt like they went with each other. I'm usually not a big fan of anthologies. I like short stories just not them bundled together they often don't mesh well together and will very widely in quality. This was different the stories had consistent quality, felt coherent and felt like they went with each other.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nat

    Lots of hope and sadness packed into these stories. My favorites were "The Shining Hills," "Hodge," "Hideous Flowerpots," "Remote Presence," and "Recoveries." Lots of hope and sadness packed into these stories. My favorites were "The Shining Hills," "Hodge," "Hideous Flowerpots," "Remote Presence," and "Recoveries."

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jac

    A book full of worlds. A most imaginative collection of both worlds and fascinating ways of seeing them. I definitely recommend this book. Escape into each world.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shelley George

    Not my style. Didn't grab my attention. Not my style. Didn't grab my attention.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Coggin

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stacey Foley

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ardis

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joseph J

  20. 4 out of 5

    B Palmer

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leith H. Eades

  22. 5 out of 5

    Julian

  23. 4 out of 5

    Allison

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alam

  25. 4 out of 5

    Miriam Seidel

  26. 4 out of 5

    John Folk-Williams

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rachel (Kalanadi)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Duncan Coulter

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jthack

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brian Sullivan

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