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Andrea K Höst

Australian writer of science fiction and fantasy.
Next - Simon Petrie, Robert Porteous, Martin Livings, Steve Simpson, Shauna O'Meara, Daniel   Simpson, Ian McHugh, Gillian Polack, Robert Phillips, Leife Shallcross, Craig Cormick, Chris McGrane, Catherine Whittle, Helen Stubbs, Richard L. Lagarto, Adam Browne, Kris Ashton, Davi A nice thick collection of original fiction.Usually I don't notice themes of short story collections (unless the book is suitably branded with a title like "Witches and Warlocks"). The theme for this collection is "show us what happened next" but I have to admit I wouldn't have made that connection from reading the stories.Instead I became hopelessly distracted by a coincidence of the first two stories featuring abused women, and the question of the kind of stories we tell about women. Below is a spoilerific summary of the stories in this volume, grouped by gender.Women:- Woman with violent partner saved by alt world circumstances.- Part mermaid girl morally compromises self because broken heart and patriarchal oppression.- Disdainful mirror watches ditz fairy woman morally compromise herself because broken heart.- Girl raised as spouse for tree (by nuns in oppressive patriarchy?). Is betrayed by boy then goes through with ritual but not in apparently expected way. Has no life outside cloister.- Bookish girl does not want meaningless sex with crude fauns. Finds bookish faun and develops taste for sex. Dumps him for crude fauns because he wants both books and sex not just sexsesxsex.- Archaeologist investigating fifth century British grave which is supposedly cursed finds alien mechanism and has part alien cuckoo baby.- Timid lady receives magic object (future seeing spectacles), finds them frightening, gives them back.- Ghost of imprisoned raped noblewoman does not fully understand her situation but is released by girl.- Single mother trapped in life of indentured servitude at casino because of brother's crimes takes way out arranged by brother. [She is a competent woman, but her circumstances are all engineered by someone else.]- Timid cleaner is stalked by post industrial monster and saved by faeries.- Woman receives transplanted heart and has sex with the former owner's asshole husband, then dies. Heart moves on to 'infect' another transplantee with emotions for asshole.- Downwardly mobile woman finds skeleton key which can take her places. [This story has an active female not cast in role of victim or love plot, and the story has a positive resolution but a singularly unlikeable protagonist.]Men:- Evil man makes everyone's life a misery, dies, haunts sport uniform. Another man interested by evil man's wife/widow, who was trapped in abusive relationship until saved by circumstances. [Story POV is male, but lot of focus on victim-woman.]- Ocean man avoids fish out of water fate with musical distress call.- Two men go on expedition where butterfly effect is more sympathetic magic than science- An electrician engrossed in his work fails to tear himself away when his girlfriend needs to go help her family. She dies and he has a vaguely spiritual experience which makes him want more than his job.- Paralysed cop is jacked directly into net doing investigations, runs into virtual trap.- Clan of the cave bear where all the tech advancements come via visions.- Four convicts escape Port Arthur and trek through a dangerous dreaming putting humanity aside for the sake of survival.- Ned Kelly makes his last stand during the zombie apocalypse.- Three children seek to watch the wild hunt. Two join, one boy resists and returns to tell the tale. Mistress of hunt acts as mercy giver.- Driver in search of toilet finds hell.- Automatons put miners out of a job. Miner with a broken automaton become good luck charm puts mine owners out of business.- Manic depressive guy becomes minder for phoenix healer.- Gambler tries to win gamble with leprechaun. Wins battle loses war.- Son/construct of clockmaker uses devices to escape patron by time shift. The narrative culminates in a little girl being nearly killed and having mechanical heart given to her.- Terrorists sabotage a machine which allows people to glimpse their own futures. Only primary female role is to distract a guard with her tits.- Envious poet buys fame and glory in a pill.Non-gendered:- A robot rescues and repairs another robot which is for some reason gendered female and her presence causes the first robot to remember being the killer of all, leading to another murder, another memory purge.- A poem in Dr Seuss format protesting mashups of classics and zombies.The bulk of these stories were well-written and entertaining, but I read through them noticing that stories about/from the POV of men tend to be about all sorts of things, while so many stories focused on women are about:- Trapped victims of patriarchy/abusive relationships.- Winning/losing/being messed up by a man.- Women things happen to, but who are not actively _doing_ things.This is a side-point, however - my pet bug bear. It's a readable collection, with only a couple of stories which I thought didn't work or had serious flaws.