With the Braxiatel Collection still missing founder Brax, it’s up to Bernice Summerfield, Bev Tarrant and co to keep things ticking over — coping with condescending alien visitors the Quire, gravitational fluctuations and — perhaps hardest of all — each other.
Collected Works’ 23 short stories reflect the edgy mood — from Bev’s tense but feisty confrontation with the Collectors’ Guild over a major theft in ‘The Cost for a Collection’, to ‘Mother’s Ruin”s sense of panic as — without Brax to call on for advice — temporal distortions lead to vivid nightmares and frayed tempers.
Calmer offerings include the quietly contemplative ‘Outside the Wall’, an eloquent diary extract unusual for taking Killoran Adrian Wall’s perspective, and ‘Key’ which, viewing the Collection as Benny’s young son Peter sees it (‘Uncle Brax’s Palace’), has an innocent, adventurous quality. Lightening the mood is Lance Parkin’s ‘Anightintheninthage’, a witty, well-observed piece where Benny’s awkward attempts at alien bonding over a bottle of vodka are interrupted by one of the Quire removing her own eyeball.
An interesting, varied, and sometimes uncomfortable, mix.