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Cracklescape (Twelve Planets Book 7)

Cracklescape (Twelve Planets Book 7) [Kindle Edition]

Margo Lanagan

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Product Description

Product Description

A presence haunts an old dresser in an inner-city share house. Shining sun-people lure children from their carefree beachside lives. Sheela-na-gigs colonise a middle-aged man’s outer and inner worlds. And a girl with a heavy conscience seeks relief in exile on the Treeless Plain.

These stories from four-time World Fantasy Award winner Margo Lanagan are all set in Australia, a myth-soaked landscape both stubbornly inscrutable and crisscrossed by interlopers’ dreamings. Explore four littoral and liminal worlds, a-crackle with fears and possibilities.
Table of Contents

Introduction by Jane Yolen
The Duchess Dresser
Isles of the Sun
Significant Dust

Twelfth Planet Press is an independent publishing house challenging the status quo with books that interrogate, commentate, inspire.

The Twelve Planets are twelve boutique collections by some of Australia’s finest short story writers. Varied across genre and style, each collection offers four short stories and a unique glimpse into worlds fashioned by some of our favourite storytellers. Each author has taken the brief of 4 stories and up to 40 000 words in their own direction. Some are quartet suites of linked stories. Others are tasters of the range and style of the writer. Each release is a standalone and brings something unexpected.

The Twelve Planets
Book 1: Nightsiders by Sue Isle
Book 2: Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts
Book 3: Thief of Lives by Lucy Sussex
Book 4: Bad Power by Deborah Biancotti
Book 5: Showtime by Narrelle M Harris
Book 6: Through Splintered Walls by Kaaron Warren
Book 7: Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan
Book 8: Asymmetry by Thoraiya Dyer
Book 9: Caution Contains Small Parts by Kirstyn McDermott

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 178 KB
  • Print Length: 78 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Twelfth Planet Press (31 Oct 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A45Z6UK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #529,515 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Confident storytelling 16 Feb 2013
By Dave Versace - Published on
Verified Purchase
Cracklescape is award-winning fantasist Margo Lanagan's contribution to the Twelve Planets series from Twelfth Planet Press. It's a collection of four short stories. The stories are unconnected, though the introduction rightly points out that they are all essentially ghost stories, albeit unusual and diverse examples of them.

'The Duchess Dresser' is a strange tale that seems to be more of a reflection on lifestyle and relationships in inner city apartment dwelling than it is about a piece of haunted antique furniture. The supernatural presence is a puzzle more than a threat, and most of the characters treat it as a mild curiosity when they think of it at all. I found the situation in the story a perfect expression of the routine accommodations that have to be made in living in close proximity with others that - when viewed from the outside - looks inconvenient at best and crazy at worst.

'The Isles of the Sun' is wonderful, a dreamy exaltation of the power of children's imagination on the one hand and a chilling plumb of the depths of parental fear on the other. Alternating perspectives between Elric, a young boy, and then his mother Jenny, Isles has a sense of dreadful inevitability that never quite lets the reader go, even after the point where it seems like it should.

'Bajazzle' is probably my least favourite of the four stories in Cracklescape ('Isles' is my favourite, or maybe 'Significant Dust'). It's a solidly told tale, but there's something lurking behind the narrative that I don't quite grasp. In the first half, a boorish middle-aged train commuter's encounter with a group of young women staging an odd protest prompts him to reflect - not to his credit - on his marriage and unsatisfying sex life. In the second half he is served a supernatural comeuppance of a sort. It's an engaging story, but I didn't grok how the two halves fitted together or why the ending happens. The unpleasant sexist pig of a narrator probably didn't help.

Finally, 'Significant Dust' rounds out the collection with, if not a bang, then a remarkably accomplished piece. It's the story of a young woman who has fled her terrible reputation in her home town. She finds anonymous refuge among the human flotsam who have accumulated at a highway truck stop. There are ghosts and UFOs in the story - well, there might be - but the centrepiece is the slow, merciless revelation of what Vanessa did, its consequences and what she and others sacrificed in order for her to leave. There's a cold horror to the way that the story refuses to end with the tragedy but carries the reader through the aftermath as well. 'Significant Dust' is powerful and accomplished.

I had been getting used to the Twelve Planets series having a strong sense of interconnectedness between the stories, but Cracklescape's stories (like the Kaaron Warren collection) are linked by themes rather than plots. Cracklescape continues the series' impressive run of showcasing the talents of remarkable writers at the height of their powers. I didn't care for a couple of the stories, but there was never a moment reading them that I was not certain that Lanagan knew exactly what she was doing and what she wanted to accomplished. Cracklescape is confident storytelling.
4.0 out of 5 stars Everyday life mingled brilliantly with the fantastical 24 May 2014
By Jane R - Published on
I love Margo Lanagan’s writing so much. I love her brutal skewering of human failings, and her sympathy for those failings. I love the unflinching way she rolls out a story like Bajazzled, refusing to let you look away until she’s wrung every last drop out of it. I love the way she mingles everyday life and the fantastical – a howling otherworldly feminist cult on a Countrylink train trip to the coast, a thong fallen to the ground as a child flies away, another thong left by a tragic beachside wall, a hard-rubbish dresser in a share-house which holds a ghost who is just another run-of-the-mill person. I love that even when things have gone horribly wrong two sisters can give each other s***. And I hope that a girl running away to the desert will be picked up and dropped back just in time to avert disaster.
5.0 out of 5 stars A collection of beautiful short stories 24 May 2014
By Melina Dahms - Published on
Verified Purchase
Another of the Twelve Planets series this book contains four short stories connected by something a little bit fleeting and indescribable – a bit ghostly.

The first story, The Duchess Dresser, is a story about a share house and the ghost that is invited in when Tan brings home a dresser with a mysteriously locked drawer. Tan and the other members of the household are curious but accepting of the dresser, and the woman who seems to live among them, particularly in their sleep. The Isle of Suns, which is probably my favourite story is about a group of children who set off, Pied Piper style, lured by tall and thin and golden people. The third story, Bajazzle introduces Sheelas and a deeply unlikable main character and is better read than reviewed. The last story, Significant Dust, slips back and forward between times, as Vanessa run from the ghosts of her past.

Margo Lanagan’s writing is like poetry – even if you’re not exactly sure what’s going on in the story (and at times I definitely felt like this – it’s been great thinking it over for a couple of days) you’re carried away by the pure beauty of the words. Her characters feel very real, like people you should know, even if they’re ghosts who reside in a locked drawer. A lot of people talk about the genre bending quality of the author’s work and I can understand that – this is a very accessible collection of stories, even if speculative fiction isn’t really your thing. It wouldn’t be out of place with a literary collection of short stories.
4.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous prose with a dash of the fantastical 17 April 2014
By Julia Dvorin - Published on
I picked this collection up at World Fantasy Convention in Toronto back in 2012. I first heard of Margo Lanagan back in 2009 when I attended the World Fantasy Convention in San Jose. At that time, her book Tender Morsels won Best Novel in the World Fantasy awards, and I read it and was completely blown away by it. So when I had an opportunity to read something else by Lanagan, I was really excited (even though yes, it took me over a year to finally get to should see my crazy TBR pile, it’s a looming threat to my bedside security. Good thing this one was an ebook). This collection is apparently part of a series of other books in the “Twelve Planets” series by Twelfth Planet Press, an Australian publisher of women-friendly speculative fiction--sort like of Hadley Rille Books’ Down-Under counterpart.

Anyway, enough intro, let me tell you about this collection.

There are four unrelated stories here. If anything does unify them, it is perhaps, as Jane Yolen says in the introduction, that they are all about ghosts or some kind of unreal being. But it is also, as Yolen points out, the lush poetry of Lanagan’s writing. Like any great poet, Lanagan’s language is evocative, perceptive, specific in its details—it is worth reading slowly, on a sentence-by-sentence level (if you can be that patient...sometimes I can’t be so I have to go back and read again).

The first story is “The Duchess Dresser”, about a young urban flat-dweller who finds his dresser is possessed by a female ghost from a previous era; she possesses him as well, and then appears to his flat-mates. I really liked the set up of the whole story, the gorgeous and vivid descriptions, and the relationships between both the main character and the ghost and the main character and his flat-mates, but ultimately I was frustrated with it because the story felt like it ended far too abruptly and unsatisfyingly. We never found out who the ghost was or why she was there or what ultimately happened to the main character and his flat-mates....for a few minutes there I actually thought I might have gotten an incomplete book, it ended so mid-stream.

The second story is my favorite of the collection: “The Isles of the Sun”, about a boy named Elric (no, not of Melniboné) who sees beautiful golden aliens and winds up leading the kids in his small town to follow them to another, lighter, world. I loved Elric’s insistence on The end of the story really hit me in a personal way when it switched point-of-view to the boy’s mother, who discovers her son missing early one morning and follows his tracks just in time to watch all the kids seemingly disappear. Though she doesn’t encounter the grim disaster she expects, she still loses her child in a way that makes no sense—and Lanagan really made me feel that parental loss and despair and confusion.

The third story, “Bajazzle”, is the most “horror”-genre story of the collection, about a self-centered, self-righteous, sexist pig of a man we first encounter on a train with his wife on his way to a beach party. He definitely gets his comeuppance in a very creepy and graphic way when he encounters a succubus at the party, and Lanagan’s description of the whole encounter (complete with freaky tikis) is really hard to scrub out of your brain. This story also felt not completely successful to me because the first part (on the train) and the second part (at the party/with the succubus) were so different and didn’t seem strongly related enough to me. Howeer, to Lanagan’s credit, I was so happy just wallowing in her language and the sheer “ewww” factor of the fantastical elements that I didn’t mind.

“Significant Dust”, the last story in the collection, was about Vanessa, a young woman out on her own trying to make sense of her life and her traumatic past by living out on the edge of nowhere, and the area 51-like alien encounters that start to happen there. It was my second favorite story, though I felt like it too suffered from a rather abrupt ending just when things started to get interesting. The speculative element was very light in this story, definitely serving as more of an intriguing mysterious background to Vanessa’s own unfolding backstory, which was beautifully drawn and compelling.

This is definitely a collection to pick up if you love gorgeous prose with a dash of the fantastical. It definitely made me want to pick up some of Lanagan’s other story collections (Black Juice won some World Fantasy awards also, apparently). I’m also intrigued to try some of the other Twelve Planets series from Twelfth Planet Press. I’ll have to get that TBR pile down to a reasonable level first...nah, why wait for something that’ll never happen? ☺

A Heroines of Fantasy review
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'd recommend this collection to your Lit. friends 9 Dec 2012
By Sean the Bookonaut - Published on
Margo made me cry again with one of her stories in this collection. So yes, I liked it. Like it so much that I saved reading the last story for some six months after buying.

I also love the Twelve Planets range and the cover art of Amanda Rainey. The wasabi green cover of Cracklescape is no different, it helps make an impressive alternative rainbow on my bookcase.

But you're here for the stories.

There's four, in line with the brief of the Twelfth Planet Series. They offer a range of what Lanagan is capable off while also being decidedly more grounded in an Australian setting.

The Duchess Dresser is an offbeat ghost story, a great mood piece that I found unsettling but not distressing.

The Isles of the Sun is a tale of magical disappearance told from the point of view of the child experiencing it and the mother left behind.

Bajazzle I'll let you discover for yourself. Witchcraft, an unlikeable but recognizable misogynist protagonist and a whole lot of feeling uncomfortable if you're a bloke.

Significant Dust, a story of escape woven into a tale of a historical reported UFO sighting.

Significant Dust was the story that had me reaching for the tissues. It's not quite so gutting as my favourite Lanagan, Singing My Sister Down, because there's a hopeful ending or at least Margo has left enough room for me to imagine one.

I'd recommend this collection to your Lit friends that think that the fantasy genre is populist and lacking in depth and quality of prose. Margo's one of those writers that you can't pin down, or pigeon-hole. A writer who can turn her hand to almost anything and make it her own.
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