Authors: Julie Bozza, Barry Brennessel, Charlie Cochrane, SamEvans, Lou Faulkner, Adam Fitzroy, Wendy C. Fries, Z. McAspurren, Eleanor Musgrove, Jay Lewis Taylor
Manifold Press (April 2015)
This is anthology of WWI-related stories about LGBT people coping with war. Some of the characters are in the military, some are civilians, but none are unscathed. And—realistically—some of them don’t survive.
These stories are all good, although one had a confusing juxtaposition of flashbacks that broke concentration. A minor issue, but one that did pull me out of the story.
My favorites? Per Ardua Ad Astra, because of the incredible research Lou Faulkner did. Follow the Wikipedia link in his afterword. You will not believe the design of that airplane. The Men Left Behind—a transgender boy who can’t fight because he’s living in a girl’s body. And perhaps my very favorite, Ành Sàng, set in what was known as French Indochina – Vietnam. I like stories that teach me something, and this explained a lot about the roots of the Vietnam war. Did you know Vietnamese men were drafted to fight for the French in WWI? Neither did I.
Some of the profits from this book go to the Royal British Legion, a support group for the British armed forces. The change in the world shows even here—50 years ago, that organization would probably not have wanted funds raised by a queer book. Today, they were happy to accept.
If I have one small criticism, it’s in the layout. When a collection has more than one story by the same author, it’s hardly necessary to put the author’s bio after each story. A page or two at the end would have kept the focus on the stories. Also, a summary of each story was put at the end – where no one would look for it until after the stories were read. This would have made more sense at the beginning…
A good collection of stories, and an excellent reminder that even when things are tough, we can remember that for LGBT people a hundred years ago, they were much more dangerous.
This review was provided by Ace Katzenbooks for the Sept 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.