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Solitaire by Kelley Eskridge

26 Apr

Solitaire cover

Solitaire
Kelley Eskridge
Small Beer Press, 2011
isbn 9781931520102
Review by Nicola Clarke

There was no risk in letting herself believe that these trees belonged  to her; the rough trunks, the startling soft meat of a broken branch,  the knobbled twigs rising in rows like choirs. The ground belonged to  her, the human-made rises and falls of root and rock, carefully random,  beautiful. The flowers were hers, stuporous in their mulch: the light  and the stippled shadow, the stones and the rich rot underneath them,  were all part of this place that felt like part of her. For the few  minutes of passing through it, she was drawn into it like a breath.

Back in October (2010), there was a very long discussion thread over at Torque Control – sparked by an interview with Tricia Sullivan - about why so little of the science fiction published in the UK these days is written by women. One of the ideas that came out of this fascinating conversation was that we should celebrate women’s genre writing, both in the UK and elsewhere, by putting together a list of the best sf by women from the past ten years. (Voting is open to everyone, and runs until the end of December 5th; details of how to vote are here: go on!)

I’m still mulling over my own list of nominations, but one of them is certainly going to be Solitaire (2002, returning to print next year with Small Beer Press), by Kelley Eskridge. It’s a coming of age story done as psychological thriller: a compelling portrait of a young woman battling both the system and her self after her world collapses, to emerge older, wiser and sadder from an extremely long dark night of the soul. The first chapter is available online here. Continue reading

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