Monday, September 12, 2011

Conmergence by Tara Maya

I interrupted my reading of Chekhov stories this weekend to (finally) read Tara Maya's story collection, Conmergence. Yes, she published it some time ago and it's been sitting on my bookshelf at work looking at me sidelong for all this while and I kept forgetting to read it.

Conmergence presents a solid batch of stories that are crafted to a high standard. Tara Maya's prose is quite fine, and I forgot right away that I was reading a collection of science fiction stories (I am, after all, a literary fiction snob) and settled in to enjoy some well-written tales. They range from 2-page "flash" pieces to longer stories that verge on being novellas. The longer pieces were my favorites, possibly because they were more character-based stories. A couple of the shorter pieces were clearly more idea-based and that's not really my thing, but "Tomorrow We Dance," the penultimate story in the collection, is really really cool.

One of the things I'm impressed with in Tara Maya's writing is the way she creates new terms. Most of her stories take place in fictional worlds, and her characters are using fictional objects to do fictional activities. A lot of SF breaks down at the prose level when the author is confronted with the task of naming imaginary items and actions. Tara Maya has come up with a lot of believable new words, which fit into the sounds of English pretty well. Her new words are either Latinate or Anglo-Saxon, or at least have the sounds of Latinate or Anglo-Saxon words. It was really cool to come across these invented words and Tara's work here deepens the reading experience. Again I say that it's really cool and I'm really impressed. "Delighted" is probably the word I'm looking for here. I'm a big fan of detailed craftsmanship, you know.

Anyway, I don't really review books but Conmergence has been out for a while and I've been remiss about actually reading it and it is a good book. I do not mean, "good for SF." I mean it's plain old good writing. I don't know why Ms Maya doesn't have a publishing contract already. I don't know why her novels aren't on the shelves at your local book store. I really don't. Because she can really write.


  1. Thank you, Scott. This means quite a lot to me, coming from you, since I think you are one of the best writers I know.

  2. You flatter me too much! Anyway, Conmergence made me happy. I wanted the Vio story to go on and on. When's Dindi's story come out in paper? It's ebook only right now, isn't it? Don't make me buy a Kindle!

    The Painted World stories were cool, too. I liked the intimacy of the characterizations in the second one ("Drawn to the Brink"?). And, again, the fictional bits of language were really well done.

  3. Scott, this is beautiful! I have been remiss in reading Tara's book as well and there's really no excuse. This is going to make me bump it right up my list. :)

  4. I'm lousy at reviews. I hope this post doesn't come across as sort of damning with faint praise, because I really enjoyed Tara's book and I don't understand why she hasn't got a publishing contract.