Thursday, 6 March 2008

Review: White Time by Margo Lanagan

'White Time' is Australian writer Margo Lanagan's first collection of short stories. The writing in the collection is solid enough, but after reading her second (Black Juice) and third (Red Spikes) collections, 'White Time' definitely feels like a first collection. I think the stories in the volume are... less sophisticated perhaps, maybe younger, maybe a bit less other-worldy. I'll think about it more :-) The book is marketed at (if not entirely for) the YA audience and this comes over quite strongly, particularly those stories with a teen protagonist (which is six out of ten: White Time, Tell and Kiss, The Night Lily, The Boy Who Didn't Yearn, Welcome Blue, Wealth). Interestingly my three favorite stories probably all come out of this group:

'Tell and Kiss' would be a fairly straightforward teen romance, but for the fact that in this world it is not excess calories that make a person get fat, but instead when when worries or concerns become a 'weight' on your mind. Some nice forboding in this, as a boy with a previous weight problem begins to slip again.

'White Time' is one of the more science fiction-based stories (which apparently appeal to me more than Lanagan's more fantastical works) about Sheneel (bogan name!!) undertakes work experience at the White time Laboratories, where entities stuck in time are redirected.

'Wealth', possibly the longest story in the collection, has perhaps for me the most interesting themes of all the stories and explores wealth, status and rebellion in world operating on a caste system where people are separated into Ord and Leet (presumably based on l33t, etc).

Although I have said that this first collection is less sophisticated than her latter collections, I do think I preferred the stories in the book to others. I'm not sure what that says about *me* :-) All in all, a good read, but it didn't inspire me as perhaps collections by other writers have.

(And the ant story really didn't do it for me).

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