cover image Tyrannia: and Other Renditions

Tyrannia: and Other Renditions

Alan DeNiro. Small Beer (Consortium, dist.), $16 (200p) ISBN 978-1-61873-071-8

DeNiro (Skinny Dipping in the Lake of the Dead) has crafted the rare work whose setting is the realm of pure imagination. “The Flowering Ape” takes us to the furthest reaches of “wherespace,” the stage for an emotionally poignant coming-of-age story of a young intersexed telepath. “Walking Stick Fires” returns to terrestrial for a tale of two buddies riding motorcycles across mean desert roads, two friends who happen to be two multi-eyed, and clawed alien friends who refuel their bikes at gas stations manned by the chained human slaves of a colonized Earth. Across these 11 stories and two prose poems, sprinkled with unrepentant weirdness, DeNiro creates emotionally compact tales suffused with humanity—even when the characters are not human. The stories are at their best when they fully embrace and inhabit their altered worlds. “(*_*?) ~~~~ (-_-): The Warp and the Woof” is the standout in the collection, dedicated to the relationship between a writer and his agent in a dystopian publishing future, which seems fully felt and positively plausible. In contrast, “A Rendition”—a story occurring in the present that details three college students’ attempt at kidnaping a professor who helped draft the torture memos used in the War on Terror—feels heavy-handed and out of place. It’s worthwhile to accompany DeNiro as he follows the unmarked paths of his stories wherever they lead. (Oct.)