cover image Wrestling with Gods: Tesseracts Eighteen

Wrestling with Gods: Tesseracts Eighteen

Edited by Liana Kerzner and Jerome Stueart. Hades/EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy, $15.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-77053-068-3

The enjoyable but unexciting eighteenth installment of Tesseracts, an anthology series collecting short science fiction, fantasy, and horror prose and poetry by Canadian writers, is focused on religious themes. Some of the religions discussed are real, such as the Christianity of Robert J. Sawyer's rather clich%C3%A9d priest building a congregation on Mars in "Come All Ye Faithful"; some are real but extrapolated into possible future strangenesses, such as the kitschy android maybe-messiah of Derwin Mak's "Mecha-Jesus." But the standouts of the collection make up their own religions and cultures, such as James Bambury's charming "Chromatophoric Histories of the Sepiidae," which traces the entire course of a civilization of octopi, or Megan Fennell's powerful "Where the Scorched Man Walks," in which a young woman has to confront her feelings about her culture's enigmatic death god. The poems are generally slight, but Tony Pi's "A Hex, with Bees," structured around the I Ching, is the book's best single piece. When the collection errs, it's on the side of clich%C3%A9 and occasional clumsy language, and a higher percentage of the book is set in post-apocalyptic hellscapes than seems necessary. (Apr.)