Quick ‘n Dirty: Jared Shurin (ed.) – Ash

Quick ‘n Dirty is a term used for that first quick search you perform when starting a new research project. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive and all encompassing; it’s just an exploratory search to see what is out there and to collect more search terms before starting a true literature review. I thought it would be a good description for reviews of shorter works, such as short stories or novellas or for less comprehensive reviews of longer works. They may not be as in-depth as I usually try to write my reviews, but hopefully they’ll be a good introduction and indication whether you’d like the stories or books reviewed.

jurassiclondon-ashWhen Krakatoa exploded, it shook the world. The volcano rained fire and unleashed floods, but the worst was still to follow. 1883 was a year of darkness and cold, as the global temperature dropped and the skies were wreathed in ash. It was also a year of fiery sunsets and blue moons, where the impossible could – and did – happen…

Ash explores a world where myths come to life and strange creatures wash up in the shallows – a world where survival is only the first of many struggles, and the monsters can take many forms.

The stories of Ash take place in the same shared setting as 1853, A Town Called Pandemonium and the forthcoming The Streets of Pandemonium and The Rite of Spring.

Ash can be read on its own or part of the series.  

The stories collected in Ash are about the aftermath of an apocalyptic catastrophe and what is released by the opening of the volcano. It’s an interesting collection set in Jurassic’s shared world of Pandemonium. Compared to Jurassic London’s previous short story chapbooks, Ash contains double the amount of stories, but the stories are of a much shorter length, at most 700 words. One could almost consider them flash fiction. Ranging from ship’s logs relating the immediate aftermath of the eruption to stories of survival and the monstrous creatures surfacing not just close by Krakatau, but also as far away as South Africa, these stories show the resilience of human life and the weirdness of this alternate version of Earth. My favourite pieces were those who focused on the human aspects instead of the monsters. Charlie Human’s A Raft is rather entertaining in the utter insanity of its dialogue, until the twist is revealed and it’s not funny, but horrific. My other favourite was Lavie Tidhar’s Waves, a thoughtful piece from the perspective of an inhabitant of a Pacific Island, who remembers his own people’s history with volcanoes.

Ash is a very, very quick read, due to its short length. Despite the shortness of the stories, they provide plenty to mull over and if you’re looking for a collection of quick, bite-size stories to read over lunch or during your commute, Ash is a good choice. The collection is available for free from various online retailers, so at that price of entry, who could resist?