Collision is a group of dark, thought-provoking, and wonderfully told strange and speculative fiction short stories written by J.S. Breukelaar. It was released on 2/19/19 and each story is so different and they drew me in with their oddities and prose. My favorite story is of the no-armed pianist that opened the collection and really made me scratch my head. I knew from that first story that this was going to be quite the interesting, original, and weird read! Breukelaar writes with such a mesmerizing style in dream-like stories. This is definitely a collection that will make you think! I gave this 4.5 stars and am seriously still thinking of some of those story endings!
The synopsis for Collision is as follows:
A collection of twelve of J.S. Breukelaar’s darkest, finest stories with four new works, including the uncanny new novella “Ripples on a Blank Shore.” Introduction by award-winning author, Angela Slatter. Relish the gothic strangeness of “Union Falls,” the alien horror of “Rogues Bay 3013,” the heartbreaking dystopia of “Glow,” the weird mythos of “Ava Rune,” and others. This collection from the author of American Monster and the internationally acclaimed and Aurealis Award finalist, Aletheia, announces a new and powerful voice in fantastical fiction.
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Check out this excerpt from one of my favorite stories in the collection, Glow. Here you can get a glimpse of the kind of stories you will see in this collection as well as the style of Breukelaar’s writing!
On the night of the elections I am with my cousin Ray and his human wife, Janyce. Footage flashes from the living room screen showing water-cannoned activists squirming on the asphalt, flayed detention survivors arcing across the crowds in heart-shaped orbitals singing Maria Callas arias. Jeering voters wave placards, saying “Lock ’em up!”
My cousin and I are smashing shots, but we are drinking for different reasons. He is hailing presidential nominee Bud Towers as the Second Coming and I am trying to get drunk enough not to argue. Janyce has made her famous lobster burritos. My little sister would hate them.
I lower my voice and say in our language, “You do realize that Towers has been running on an antialien platform since day one?”
“Hostile media shenanigans!” Ray cries out in reverberant English. The reflection from the swimming pool makes craters across the pale moons of his eyes.
Even before his name was Ray—when we were still eking out survival deep in the bowels of our wounded world, long before it spat us out to face the radioactive vomit of our bloated sun—what entranced him about earth were its shenanigans. Its youth, and light, but mostly its spirit, he said. Humanity so frail, and yet so consumed by the need to empower their gods. So acquisitive, but yearning for dispossession, he enthused. So solitary, yet committed to the crowd. But I always wondered if my cousin’s attraction to Earth was just because his name in our language is Uli, God of Bad Jokes.
From the kitchen you can hear Janyce saying, “Sugar. That’s the secret behind my coleslaw. Tenderizes the cabbage.”
One of her daughters says, “You tell us that every time, Janyce.”
Janyce says, “Call me Mom. Please? Just for tonight.”
I think my little sister would like Janyce’s daughters. She was the same age as the youngest when we arrived at the detention center. Fourteen. That was eight years ago.
“Towers will make us great again!” Ray says.
He lowers his voice. “Speak English. You know how Janyce gets.”
One of Janyce’s daughters is telling her sister about Oceanika, a new orbital space habitat with an ocean but fifteen miles above the earth, with beaches and sunsets and bars.
Janyce comes in with sliced limes. “Lisa, you ever been to sea?”
“The detention camp,” I say.
“Of course. Sorry.”
ICE keeps newly arrived aliens imprisoned on disused oil rigs in the Amundson Strait for a minimum of thirty-six lunar months for processing. Another week to get through the checkpoints after transfer—you need papers, a letter of acceptance from a halfway house or shelter, and they give you a new name. The immigration officer shoved a battered pink suitcase at us, made us empty our pouches at gunpoint. “For your own protection,” he said. “Anything found in a random body search gets confiscated. No ifs, ands, or buts.”
At “buts,” he jammed the barrel of his rifle into my belly slit, parted the flaps. My eyes watered at the reek of cologne on his skin, sour coffee on his breath.
I remember how Ray’s claws shook as he transferred our meager possessions from his pouch into the suitcase—the remainder of our cash, Grandcousin’s medals, and the diaphanous shroud that had been my sister’s skin. Amy—that was the name they gave my sister—sat quietly in her wheelchair beneath the Humanity First cap they made her wear, dwarfed in a greasy bridge coat. The officer, licking his lips, motioned for her to take it off but Ray was quick to shove her medical papers at him. Soon as the officer saw those, he had no choice but to wave us through, Geneva Convention and so on. I hated Ray a little at that moment, despised his fear of being turned away. There was a part of me, even then, that wondered what might have happened if he’d allowed the officer to take her coat, allowed my sister to sit there exposed, naked. Show everyone what detainment had made her into. But that would have landed all of us back in detention, so instead Ray’s bioluminescent markings just flashed a queasy green, which they mistook for a smile.
“Welcome to New Liberty,” the officer said. “Have a nice Day.”
In case this is your first time hearing about this author, let me fill you in on a little more about her! J.S. Breukelaar is the author of the Aurealis-nominated novel Aletheia, and American Monster, a Wonderland Award finalist. She has published stories, poems and essays in publications such as Gamut, Black Static, Unnerving, Lightspeed, Lamplight and elsewhere. She is a columnist and regular instructor at LitReactor.com. California-born and New York raised, she currently lives in Sydney, Australia with her family. You can find her at www.thelivingsuitcase.com.
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