Monday, March 30, 2015
Review: Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho at Strange Horizons
Today at Strange Horizons, I review Zen Cho's Crawford-winning short story collection Spirits Abroad. This is something of a milestone for me--the first review I've had published in Strange Horizons since stepping down as a reviews editor. It's also a welcome return to writing full-length book reviews, and for both of those occasions I couldn't have chosen a better subject with which to mark them than Cho's vibrant, funny, brilliantly-written collection. The stories in Spirits Abroad are remarkable for how they capture their worlds--be they Malaysian villages, ex-pat communities in the UK, or fantastical worlds--in a few well-chosen sentences, and for the equal weight that Cho gives to folklore and more hard-nosed worldbuilding elements such as politics and history. Cho uses fantasy to shed a light on her stories' worlds, and on the relationships that drive her plots, but her fantasies are also coherent and engaging in themselves. Spirits Abroad is easily one of the best short story collections of the last few years, and hopefully promises a bright future for Cho's career.