Logorrhea: Good Words Make Good Stories
Edited by John Klima
Review by Colleen Cahill
Spectra Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553384338
Date: 01 May 2007 List Price $13.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Over the years there have been many fantasy anthologies that focus on a certain theme, such as aliens, ghosts or even cats. With Logorrhea, editor John Klima's first anthology, we have a collection with a truly unique theme; twenty-one original stories inspired by winning words from the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The authors, some long established and others with less familiar names, have taken this interesting idea to many different places, creating a fantastic and fascinating set of stories.
The implementation of this theme is diverse, with some stories showing a direct connection and other merely a nod to their inspiration word. Lis Williams' "Lyceum" begins in a meeting hall where a human diplomat is hosting a banquet honoring an alien elder race. The thread of a murder mystery is folded when there is a death at the feast. David Prill explores the question of when death occurs in "Vivisepulture" as a young man seeks a mysterious music that leads him to a House of Corpses. My favorite story (among the many very good ones) is Daniel Abraham's "The Cambrist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics" in which a money changer is given three apparently impossible challenges from a decadent Lord. The cambrist proves that even a seemly mundane skill as his can be a powerful tool in the hands of a master. Michelle Richmond's "Logorrhea" is narrated by a woman who cannot stop talking until she meets her perfect mate: a man covered in scales.
The paths that stories take to their genesis word can be short or long, but they are always interesting. Marly Youmans' "The Smaragdine Knot" alternates between the mystic experiences of the Puritan poet Edward Taylor and a discussion of these by two of Taylor's decedents. "Plight of the Sycophant," by Alan DeNiro, follows a young man working at a pawn shop conveniently placed near the border to another world -- one with almost-angels and guns with wings. He finds that helping a lady with car trouble is not so straight forward near this the edge of chaos. It is not surprising that some of the words lead to sad tales, as in Leslie What's "Tsuris," a story of a woman who cannot see past her husband's severe psoriasis, or "Eczema," by Clare Dudman, a melancholy piece of a man troubled by three women in black whose answers could save or destroy him. In Elizabeth Hand's "Vignette," a haunting work about a strange artist's colony, the winning spelling bee word does not even appear in the story. Perhaps the most ambitious piece is the last story in the volume, Jeff VanderMeer's "Appoggiatura," which has 20 sections each titled with the spelling bee words from all the previous stories.
This is a complex and very interesting anthology, one that has allowed the writers great freedom within the restraints of one word. The stories are as varied as the authors, which is to be expected from talents as Tim Pratt, Jay Lake, and Theodora Goss. John Klina should take a bow for not only choosing such an interesting theme, but also for gathering such an stimulating group of authors. I urge you to seek out Logorrhea which has not only some winning spelling bee words but some very winning stories.