Review of the anthology Glitter & Mayhem – “the most glamorous party in the multiverse. Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror tales of roller rinks, nightclubs, glam aliens, party monsters, drugs, sex, glitter, and debauchery”.
My review of Glitter & Mayhem
Not every story is a smash, but the ones that are oh boy! There were some really great stories among the stories of Glitter & Mayhem. A lot of stories played really intelligently with the party theme. There were some that played with fairy tales, which right now is like candy to me for some reason.
The lineup of authors is truly glittering.
My review from 2013 of Glitter & Mayhem
Glitter & Mayhem is one strange mixed bag of candy! I am reading it in bits and pieces. Jumping back and forth from story to story. Starting with the pieces I knew I would like – like picking out the chocolate from a ball of candy first, leaving the less familiar pieces for later, knowing that you will probably eat them all at some point. In this post I will tell you what I thought of the pieces I have eaten so far and once I am done I will probably write-up a more fleshed out review of the book as a whole.
I read this story in August in Apex Magazine, so I skipped it while reading the book. I liked the story, it is a fun take on the original fairytale (The Twelve Dancing Princesses) that explains perfectly where the princess went. It also delves into the horror of their situation as it is explained in the story. After reading Barzak’s version I went and read the original fairytale, which I did not know. Barzak shines light on just how problematic their situation really is – which the original story skates right over. He shows how the king is more interested in his honor than any of his daughters’ happiness. Barzak shows us how dark the real story really is – how the happily ever after in the original story really isn’t. At the same time his story is playful and full of glitter and disco. The Sister Twelve even gets something like a happy ending. I definitely want to seek out more of Christopher Barzak’s work.
Apex Jump by David J. Schwartz
Roller derby and space travel in the same story. You have not seen that before have you? I know I haven’t! That is for sure. The story is really silly but also pretty cool. The protagonist is a trans-woman so kudos for that! The story is very much about being a team and about giving it your best shot even when you know you do not have a chance but doing it anyway. Apax Jump is great fun and much lighter than some of the later stories.
Bad Dream Girl by Seanan McGuire
I jumped forward to read the Seanan McGuire story, because squee! This is another roller derby story and I of course ended up on YouTube to actually see some derby. Bad Dream Girl is set in the InCryptid universe. Which is McGuire’s other urban fantasy universe. Instead of following Verity Price we follow her younger sister, Antimony Price.
It was a very entertaining story and I really liked it. There were some great D&D references that she got right – which is always nice to see. The story gave me a wonderful sense of justice.
The Minotaur Girls by Tansy Rayner Roberts
Having to go back and skim the start of the story because my notes are crappy and I can’t really remember what this story is about. It is not the story’s fault just my notes and the amount of other stuff I read in the last month. Ah yes it is the story about the people eating disco club. Oh yes.
The story really plays with your assumptions along the way. As most of Tansy’s stories it does not take the straight road anywhere. It takes you places where you did not expect to end up and it plays with you. The ending was surprising to me and I liked where we ended up. That’s just so glitter!
With Her Hundred Miles to Hell by Kat Howard
Lets go to Hades and let’s make that a dance club… right, I did not see that one coming either. The premises of these stories are all so wonderfully bizarre and surprising. Howard really plays with Greek mythology and draws on the lesser known aspect of the stories. The story follows a dreamer who longs for her time in hades and fear her own dreams in the world of the living. The story is dark and beautiful at the same time.
I did not know of Kat Howard before hand but I think I will have to check out her fiction now. I hope for more mythology based stuff.
Star Dancer by Jennifer Pelland
Star Dancer was a story with a very strong 80s vibe to it and I thought it was more strange than good. There is odd sex, weird aliens, ecstasy, belly dancing and international agencies. It wasn’t bad, it just did not suck me into it.
Of Selkies, Disco Balls, and Anna Plane by Cat Rambo
This was a very strange story that for the first long while didn’t feel like it was going anywhere. The setting was a gay dance club mixed with a cabinet of curiosities. Throughout the whole story it was hinted that our female protagonist was in love with Anna Plane – her good friend and that she had been for a while. But in the end it turned out that the protagonist was straight and her big secret was that she wasn’t gay. Which somehow felt very odd afterward. I might have to re-read it but I got the feeling that the parts of the story didn’t make much sense that way. I think I might have read too many selkie stories of late because nothing about that part of the story really surprised me.
Sooner Than Gold by Cory Skerry
Another story that left me wondering if I liked the story or not. The story was told in the present tense and part of it in second person, which did not make it easier to make sense of. It is a fay story so I suppose it is allowed to be a bit weird. It is the story of a thief who steals the wrong thing and end up a slave to a fay master and get immortal in the process. I did read the story with a few books in between the first and the second half and I am sure that did not give the story the best change.
Subterraneans by William Shunn & Laura Chavoen
The ultimate escapist drug lets our protagonist swap bodies with other people in a night club. The story left me with a very odd taste in my mouth. This stepped into the territory of horror and weird tales – neither is my favorite genres. But I guess that is kind of the point with an anthology like this one, to step outside your comfort zone.
Unable to Reach You by Alan DeNiro
This is just plain weird and I’m skipping the story. I am not saying it is bad story, it is just not for me at the moment. Short stories have to catch my interest pretty quickly or I will drop them – especially in an anthology where I have so many other stories to choose from.
Such & Such Said to So & So by Maria Dahvana Headley
This story has a strong noir feel and our protagonist feels very much like the noir anti-hero. Down on his luck and his life in ruins. The story is very strange. It is more weird fiction, which I am not really in the mood for at the moment, so I might have to give this another chance at a later time. It was this story that convinced me that I needed to pick up something novel length and fairly straightforward.
Revels in the Land of Ice by Tim Pratt
I love stories about the fae, they rock. I both like stories from inside the fay and stories about humans encountering and interacting with the fay. This story is one of the latter. What do you give up to dance with the fairies and is it worth the price? The story was not the best fairy story I have ever read, but it was nice. I have probably read too many story about the fay to be surprised by anything it. I did however really like the relationship between the two main characters. The young college student and the much older man. I liked that they had been lovers and this was not what the story was about and that the story did not try make a moral judgement about this relationship – it just was a fact of their relationship.
Bess, the Landlord’s Daughter, Goes for Drinks with the Green Girl by Sofia Samatar
From the start of the story I had this nagging sense that I was not getting the references. What is a “green girl”? Who is Bee and why can they change their bodies at will? And what does Ofelia have to do with anything? Something really strange is going on. The two girls are clearly playing with their identities somehow – they are changing their bodies at will but somehow remaining party girls. They are of course ghosts those party girls, ghosts with a new way to hunt the world. The story is sad and empty in the same way a nights out can be if you find yourself outside looking in. Oh and I don’t particularly like ghost stories – but it is nicely written and told in an interesting way. Just a shame it is still a ghost story.
Blood and Sequins by Diana Rowland
Uh a story set in the Kara Gillian universe, but not with Kara as the protagonist, but rather some of her colleges entering a costume contest. Awesome story, there is action and sex and cool ice skating in costume and not arty stuff. Not that I mind arty stories, but I needed something a bit more straight! Love it. And the two dickheads are not total dickheads – awesome.
Two-Minute Warning by Vylar Kaftan
A zero-gravity dance-killing gamer on a hunt for her brother trying to wake him up and drag him out into living again. It is about reality escape and about gaming and about living, really living. Nice story and it made me smile.
Inside Hides the Monster by Damien Walters Grintalis
I didn’t care much for this story. It was another horror story and those just do nothing for me. Sirens are not all that interesting monsters at least not to me, I had a very hard time finding the protagonist compelling or really just care. But I do not care much for horror stories so that is probably why.
A Hollow Play by Amal El-Mohtar
I liked the writing and the story quite a bit. The idea of writing to a lost friend with all the stuff you wanted to tell them. Wondering if they were lost or hurt, wondering why they did not answer. Finding out that they had chosen to stop answering, that you had to leave them behind and start living without them. Seeing the people around you instead of mourning the loss. There are some fay people in there as well – but that isn’t really what the story is about, but hey fay is always welcome.
Just Another Future Song by Daryl Gregory
In this story a man is stuck in his own mind. Or rather in an interface created for his mind. Where others tries to convince him to either commit mental suicide or take over a new mind-body. A new body that is his fans’ version of the best possible him. He decides to rebuild him self anew. It is strongly hinted that the protagonist is a real rock star, but I a didn’t get any of the references, so I don’t know who that might be. But clearly it was someone who is an old man with a decaying body. He is stuck in a web of rules – probably program rules. I am not quite sure if I liked the story or not but I was rather intrigued by it.
The Electric Spanking of the War Baries by Maurice Broaddus & Kyle S. Johnson
While many of the other stories in this anthology is about the disco culture, this one is all about funk. Many of the other stories are quite white, but this one is distinctively black and working class to beat. The protagonist is from a neighbourhood where nobody got a future and the world is in some kind of war zone, but where the local roller ing is a safe heaven. The protagonist gets abducted by aliens just before getting attacked by other aliens. Apparently the funk movement is all about trying to get in contact with the mother ship, so they can all go home. This is kind of a messias story. I wasn’t really captured by this story, and I kind of had to force myself to read it – mostly to finish the anthology. I am just not that into this kind of alien story.
All That Fairy Tale Crap by Rachel Swirsky
This story was pure postmodern metafiction. It played so with the reader and the reader’s perceptions, while commenting on doing that to the reader, constantly breaking the fourth wall. I totally loved it. It was funny, cool and pretty awesome. I could easily have read twice the length of this story.
This fit right into my run of reading fairytale stuff so that was really cool. I still have to read Cinderella again. There is this lovely scene in the story where Cinderella interacts with the mother-bear from Goldilocks while the bear is drinking tea and Goldilocks is passed out next to them.
The story is funny, crude, intelligent, quite short and definitely worth your time.
Overall review: Glitter & Mayhem
Far from every story in Glitter & Mayhem was one I liked but the ones I liked I liked a lot. There were some really great stories among them. And a lot of them played very intelligently with the theme. There were some that played with fairy tales, which right now is like candy to me for some reason.
The stats: Glitter & Mayhem
Published: August 21st 2013 by Apex Publications
Format: Short Story Anthology
Read: September 9th – November 28th 2013
This review was originally posted: November 28, 2013. Updated and edited June 26, 2023