cover image Opulent Syntax: Irish Speculative Fiction

Opulent Syntax: Irish Speculative Fiction

Edited by Don Duncan and dave ring. Neon Hemlock, $18.99 trade paper (180p) ISBN 978-1-952086-50-2

Story itself, more than style or worldbuilding, dominates this immersive anthology of 13 tales and 2 poems, all of which deliver entertaining experiences described in distinctive voices. Duncan and ring spotlight early-career queer Irish writers to deliver a highly readable smorgasbord of fairy tales, hypotheses, and horror. The opening tale, “The Last and Fatal Light” by Samuel Poots, is characteristic of the whole: a retelling of Faust rooted in concerns both universal and particular to Ireland—NIMBYism, tourists, self-righteous conviction—and viewed from the angle of queer experience within patriarchy. Groundbreaking? No. But sympathetic, vivid, and well-told? Yes. Other standouts include “hotBooley” by Natasha Calder, which uses a Bright Lights, Big City–esque voice to sketch the near future of Dublin’s housing crisis, and “Gortcullinane Man” by Val Nolan, a revisioning of Frankenstein with that novel’s first-person anxiety turned to harsh glee. Story poems “Experience: Cave Hill” and “Merrow,” both by Anna Loughran, are tone-perfect blends of past, present, and future that beautifully frame the prose writers’ depictions of mystical Ireland. The result is a not to be missed anthology for readers seeking fresh tale-spinners to follow. (Dec.)