As a general rule, we at tCR do not review author requests for short stories. We are wing-deep in novels and rarely have time to spare to read even the shortest of one-shots. So it was pure serendipity that Tracy Marchini’s review request for The Engine Driver came through at the height of my work-place boredom. I clicked on the attached PDF before I’d even read the blurb. And I must say that I’m quite happy I did—partially because the blurb needs a little Pitch Slapped lovin’, but mostly because it was an absolutely delightful story.
The story follows Brig, a depressed teenager in a world where any negative emotions are attenuated by an internal playlist of music meant to adjust mood. When her best friend is selected to be a Musician, someone who can actually craft music, Brig sees an opportunity to finally hear a song that she wants to listen to—rather than one that has been carefully selected to attenuate her constantly sad existence.
That explanation actually makes the plot sound about 800% more emo than the story actually was. The characters were engaging even while wading through the subplot of wanting to hear a love song played when standing near a boy. The fact that a 6,000 word story has a flipping subplot should be an indication that Marchini has a knack for story-telling. The Engine Driver had nice subtleties to it, enough to gloss over a couple of places where the narrative stumbled.
Since this is just a Small Chirp and not a review, there’s no official Canary rating, but an unofficial rating would put it solidly in a four happy canaries territory. I hope this is the first of many forays that Marchini takes into Brig’s life. I would happily read an entire novel set in the music-controlled world she lives in.
— in which I return to one of my favorite childhood authors —
When I became a sixth grader and first stepped into my middle school, a wondrous thing happened. I discovered that the squat, red-bricked building with square-maze corridors contained its very own library. So. Many. Books.
Eventually, I noticed several titles by an author whose name I have been mispronouncing as Tamora Pierce right up until two weeks ago. (It’s Tamora, by the way.)
Should I get one? It was a tug of war between the part of me that judged a book by its cover (right), and the part that judged it by the title. Alanna: The First Adventure didn’t sound nearly dramatic enough. But…there was a picture of a horse and a glowy main character there too.
Picking that book up might have been the best reading decision I’ve ever made. It took me into the fantasy lands of Tortall and marked the beginning of over a decade of my hopeless (and happy) obsession with the fantasy genre. Continue reading →
When I was in fourth grade, I got a stack of random books at a clearance sale. Among the pile was Dream-Weaver. I got it for the title, but it turned out to be a really cool book. A ship leaves earth for a planet, many years away, and unbeknownst to the colonists, the planet is already inhabited by a society of people. To keep the peace and correct dangerous behaviors, they have dreamweavers, men and women who create dreams for other people and show them the consequences of their actions.
Crime is nonexistent and the world is at peace.
But decades away, a ship of humans is approaching, and somewhy, one young dreamweaver has an astral connection to it. It was a right awesome, and my first ever sci-fi (outside the classics). I loved it.
Years later, when rereading Dream-Weaver, I was absolutely floored to realize I had no memory of…
…a turning point scene where the main character’s period begins and she realizes that she’s a woman now and so decides she will attempt to approach the issues in her life from a different, more mature angle.