Review: Suzanne Church’s “Elements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction”


Title: Elements
Author: Suzanne Church
Published: 2014
ISBN: 9781770530423
Publisher: Hades Publications, Inc.
Imprint: Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing

I enjoyed Suzanne Church’s Elements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction yet; I haven’t quite finished the book for I know when I read those last few stories, my journey will end.

Suzanne is a Canadian author who dabbles in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. She is a 2012 Aurora Award winner for short fiction. Her writing has appeared in Clarkesworld, Cicada and On Spec, to name a few.

Her collection contains over 21 short stories – 14 of which are reprints – and features cover art by Neil Jackson.

I admit, I love to read and, sometimes, I love to read stories that are short – they call them ‘short stories’ – original, right? I also admit, I love speculative fiction. Sure, I knew speculative fiction covered Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror and not necessarily in that order, but I never quite read a book that included all three genres under one cover.

Did I mention the cover art by Neil Jackson sparked my interest just as much as the idea of reading Elements? I love the blueness of it all, the blue of ice, and coldness – whatever the reason may be, the cover drew me to the book. I pulled out my credit card and I was one book richer.

Elements sat on my bedside for a couple days urging me to read it. By the third day, I randomly opened the book and read the first story that I came across, March of the Forgotten.

March of the Forgotten – The Origins of Sebbee is new to the collection. The story is about a travel mug named Sebbee who becomes lost in a mall’s food court and begins marching around with other lost objects, hoping their owners come back to find them.

At first, I smile and read along thinking this is a cute little catchy thing, until the lost objects begin telling their stories, each high-tech object taking on emotion sharing their affection to their owners. I felt pulled into the story like a lost puppy who wasn’t quite sure how to find home, hoping they weren’t replaced and realizing that some of them will meet the trashcan.

I loved it and flipped again to another story, a shorter story for I had only a few minutes before I needed to get read for work. I read, Hot Furball on a Cold Morning. Interestingly, Suzanne Church published this with a horror magazine, Doorways.

I admit the Horror piece of the speculative genre isn’t my favorite part of the experience, but its part of the genre and whom am I to disagree. I read the three pages quickly, and then reread them again.

A sick monkey shows up in the middle of winter and this man wants to put the monkey out of its misery, so he dumps a bucket of cold water on him, and in essence, torments the poor little guy a little more, before taking a pipe and ending him. The story was powerful, direct, matter of fact and had that psychological impact of every good little horror story.

Later that night, I did random selection again, and read Everyone Needs a Couch, which was Suzanne Church’s first published short story – published with Oceans of the Mind back in 2002 – the company has since gone out of business. She calls it, “a Science Fiction comedy mystery”.

The story is about a guy named Tank Lazier whose ex-girlfriend cuts the couch in half – takes her share and leaves off-world and Tank is short on money. He is offered a writing gig to write a story about teleportation – scientifically proven teleportation. He accepts the request, writes his story and within days, people are disappearing. It’s quirky and cute and makes you smile.

I have three remaining stories, and the book Elements sits on my bedside table once again, sitting there tempting me to finish.

Elements by Suzanne Church is a delightful read, its short stories cover the gamut of speculative fiction and covers each style, giving the reader a little bit of everything. A great introduction to the genre from a writer we’ll all be seeing more of.