Books

Off the Shelf: The Crow: Shattered Lives and Broken Dreams

The Crow: Shattered Lives & Broken DreamsThe Crow: Shattered Lives & Broken Dreams by James O’Barr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 instead of 4. I came across this book as I was searching my library’s catalog for stuff by Janny Wurts. This collection contains both stories & art inspired by the character the Crow. While the forward is loaded with plenty of philosophical assertions & mythological discussion, it doesn’t really hint at the excellent variety of fiction within. There’s some straight-up neo-noir, cyberpunk, historical fiction, fantasy & all manner of genres in-between. All of them are excellent or, at the very least, sound explorations on the themes of vengeance & violence. In fact, there are really only two stories that take place in line with the movie franchise; the rest borrow general elements to craft a unique tale.

Some of the stories that stood-out for me are as listed. Storm Constantine’s Paragenesis crossed Imago & Snow Crash to excellent effect. S.P. Somtow’s Red as Jade is a sort-of Chinatown noir by way of Anne Rice, with a spectacular showdown in a Bangkok shopping mall that has to be read to be believed. Caitlin R. Kiernan’s King of Birds is a dreamlike elegy to Ireland’s numerous troubles, past & present. And finally, Christopher Golden’s Lament For the Gunwitch is your typical Western revenge showdown transported into a fully mechanical transhumanist future. In short, many of these stories are genre mash-ups of the best kind: weird, relevant, & full of depth. Even Janny Wurts’s Triad is a stylistic exercise that held this reader’s rapt attention.

I can’t fully give the 4 stars because the portfolio-style of art & text didn’t totally work for me. The art is interesting & impressionistic, sure, but there was nothing that really stood out for me or added much to the text. I would probably feel differently if I had read the full-color limited edition, but with this edition I was more captivated by the stories.

Recommended for genre readers who are looking for something bleak but poignant as well as aficionados of the franchise.

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