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Dangerous Space [Paperback]

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Item description for Dangerous Space by Kelley Eskridge...

Dangerous Space showcases a collection of seven seductive stories by Kelley Eskridge, whose novel Solitaire was a New York Times Notable Book, with an introduction by Geoff Ryman (author of Was and Air). The opening story, "Strings," takes us to a world that tightly controls musical expression and values faithfulness to the canon above all else. By contrast, in the title novella, "Dangerous Space," we see the full power of music unleashed to sexually enthralling as well as risky effect; original to the volume, this tale features Mars, the intriguing narrator of "And Salome Danced" (short-listed for the Tiptree Award), on tour with an indie rock band on the verge of breaking out. Closing the volume, the moving, edgy "Alien Jane" (a finalist for the Nebula Award and adapted for the SciFi Channel's Welcome to Paradox series) delves into the importance of pain for the human organism and finds hope in the most unlikely of places.

Jeff VanderMeer writes on Amazon's blog: "As short story collections go, this is one of the best of the year, with incisive, often subtle character studies combined with down-to-earth contemporary fantasy elements. The great writing here is at the service of fascinating people and unusual situations." And Julie Phllips, author of James Tiptree, Jr.:The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, writes: "Richly imagined, moving, and very sexy, these stories about music, art, sex, and identity will make you rethink all the categories you thought you knew."

Gwyneth Jones, author of White Queen and Life, writes: "Characters slip from story to story, role to role, delineating a fascination with the ruthless hunger for sensation that possesses all great artists; and the complicity of those who love them. Kelley Eskridge's collection is a treat: unassuming, deceptively gentle, packing a subtle punch."

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Item Specifications...

Pages   255
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2007
Publisher   Aqueduct Press
ISBN  1933500131  
ISBN13  9781933500133  

Availability  0 units.

More About Kelley Eskridge

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Kelley Eskridge is a novelist, essayist, and screenwriter. Her short stories have been finalists for the Nebula and Tiptree awards, winner of the $11,000 Astraea Writer's Award, collected in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, and adapted for television. Her novel Solitaire was a New York Times Notable Book, a Border Books Original Voices selection, and a finalist for the Nebula, Endeavour, and Spectrum awards. A movie based on Solitaire is currently in development. She lives in Seattle with her partner, novelist Nicola Griffith.

Kelley Eskridge currently resides in Seattle, in the state of Washington.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Short Stories > General
2Books > Subjects > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Anthologies
3Books > Subjects > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Dangerous Space?

Dangerous Spaces  May 10, 2008
I had previously read some of these stories on Eskridge's website, after having become intrigued by her beautiful novel "Solitaire" when it first came out. That being said, even skimming the table of contents and realizing that there would be a bit of repetition in what I read gave me no pause while purchasing this book. So although I was prepared for a few of the stories, and reacted sort of in the same way you would when meeting an old friend that you hadn't seen in a while, what I was not prepared for was the impact of the stories as a collection. It's breathtaking.

The gender ambiguity that threads through the stories, particularly in the character of Mars but also subtly accented in the sexuality and qualities of Eskridge's other characters, was not, for me, the main focus. It evidences the author's skill in her prose, as well as an incredible openness about human potential. To me however, the book is about people, the way they become broken or mended, the way they become open or closed.

But "Dangerous Space" is not just about those places, geographic and symbolic, where we can become vulnerable. It's also about the thresholds that we need to cross, the moments that we need to share with other people to get there. Whether though love, or affection, or friendship, or lust, or just though a single moment of shared understanding, this is a set of stories filled with hope about the human capacity to connect. It is consistently delicately raw, and delightful.
The best collection of short stories - ever!  Apr 27, 2008
Rarely have I been so amazed, so impressed, so flat-out blown away by a collection of short stories. Even among those few writers who are skilled at the form (John Varley and Connie Willis spring to mind for science-fiction readers), their short stories can't compare to their full-length novels. They may be enjoyable, interesting thought exercises, but short stories never seemed to carry the heft or the excitement that I knew an author was capable of.

Well, scratch all those assumptions when it comes to Kelley Eskridge. As much as I loved "Solitaire," her only novel to date (and let's work on that, can we?), "Dangerous Space" moves Eskridge into another level entirely, as far as I'm concerned. The stories in this collection span the spectrum, from contemporary fiction to classic sword-and-sorcery fantasy to hard sci-fi and speculative fiction. And yet, while in another author you might be frustrated by this flitting from one genre to another, Eskridge is so talented at whatever she sets her hand to that I found myself wondering what else she might be capable of.

Love, and the many maddening, variable, indefinable forms it takes, are major themes of Eskridge's work. That's what makes the character of Mars so wonderful. It might seem a gimmick to have such a gender-neutral recurring character - indeed, from a lesser writer, that's exactly what it would become. But Mars is more than an exercise. S/he challenges our very assumptions about gender, making us first obsess about his/her sex, and then gently showing us, by the end of each story, how silly and unimportant such concerns are. Man, woman - it doesn't matter, Mars is a force of nature, one of the most complex, complete, and fascinating characters I've ever had the pleasure to read. I wish we could get a Mars novel, but I suspect that Eskridge couldn't keep the secret for that long without it becoming awkward. For now, we have "And Salome Danced," "Eye of the Storm," and the title story "Dangerous Space."

Other stories address the irrepressible creativity of the human spirit (the Harrison Bergeron-like "Strings"); the nature of pain and our humanity (the heartbreaking "Alien Jane"); and the rarely-discussed price that must be paid to balance the scales when someone is offered a unique, even magical gift ("City Life"). Few of these stories have typical happy endings, and many of them are downright disturbing, in that delicious, claw-their-way-into-your-subconscious fashion. These are stories that will stick with you long after you put them down.

Ms. Eskridge, please, please don't make us wait another five years for your next offering!
'Dangerous Space' - Mars: My favourite parts  Dec 1, 2007
Although I loved Dangerous Space as a whole, the character that appeared in 3 of the stories and who stood out for me the most was the gender ambiguous Mars. I have tried to put into words just how powerfully and interestingly I thought Mars was written below (there may however, be spoilers in this review, so please do not read on if you would rather wait to discover Mars for yourself).

Mars And `Dangerous Space'.

"And Salome Danced"

This first Mars story did not fail to haul me in and intrigue me about Mars from the very beginning. Here, the character's voice strikes me as strong, vibrant and female, even though no allusion to gender is ever mentioned, apart from where concerned with the morphing of Salome. I am not sure if this is just me imposing my mental voice and liking of strong female voices on Mars or if it is something else about the character that does this.

Within this first Mars incarnation, the raw and magnetic dance of power and sexuality that (s)he has with Salome is almost like a duel for each other's soul. Salome strikes me as the ultimate emotional vampire, eager to manipulate one's concept of perception and self for the rich energy and life source that can be derived from the passion of desire, and yet - Mars, quite uniquely, where others (like Lucky) are confused, at every step of the way - seems to understand this hidden game and draw on the power of essence almost innately, no matter how much (s)he is both pulled towards and repelled by this attraction and the dangerous space it compels Mars to.

By the end of the account, I was almost mentally breathless with both wanting Mars to fight Salome's spell, and an intense curiosity to find out what would really happen if (s)he succumbed to this strong and seductive desire as well.

Throughout the 3 incarnations in this book, I love that Mars is so deeply connected to his/her centred feelings of emotion, desire, and overall, control. Mars is so *there*, so *present* - so assuredly themselves, and in "And Salome Danced", and other carnations within "Eye of the Storm", and "Dangerous Space", (s)he seems so wonderfully and finely tuned to that unique essence that gives Mars that deeper view of the world. (S)he is like a finely attuned musician, who can hear the beauty and patterns of the music of life, where the rest of us can only wonder. Beautiful.

Finally, in "And Salome Danced", even after the tumultuous dance, I got the sense that although Mars had his/her most inner desires and temptations are forcefully manipulated from the inside out, the fact that (s)he had the strength to hold onto her core seems to make Mars stronger.

By the end of this tale, one feels as if that sense of understanding of one's own dangerous space has been enhanced, tinged with a little bit of stark realisation, but also a sense of renewed understanding as well.

"Eye of the Storm"

In this second incarnation of Mars, again, the gender of the character remains unmentioned, leading to that subtle hint of ambiguity that lends to the richness of Mars character throughout. And here, this younger version of Mars is on the cusp of their lives - a difficult childhood, spent fighting for the right to be his/herself due to the unfortunate circumstance of his/her birth as the child of a war rape has left Mars both torn and saddened at the relationship with his/her mother, and also on the fringes of the village life that she has no choice but to exist in. From the start, Mars is both complex and beautiful, a product of her environment, but also a constantly evolving form, adapting and changing as life happens, and all along, forming a unique sense of self.

I love the way that Mars so wonderfully learns how to fight as the "Eye of the Storm", and how, because this is the only way (s)he has been taught how to truly feel desire, it becomes such an intricate, unusual and beautiful part of Mar's emotional make-up, that is the core of how (s)he relates to things/people, is able to teach others, and ultimately governs the way Mars survives.

Again, throughout, Mars is so finely tuned into the rhythms of nature and the patterns of life, that when later on (s)he is confronted by a different kind of magic with the prince's character (who is also refreshingly gender ambiguous until a little later in the story) and secret, magical dance , Mars knows innately how to deal with it, because at a very core level Mars understands where the prince is coming from. Stunningly beautiful in and of itself. With each incarnation I can't help but become a little more in love with Mars, and on a deeper, more personal level both understand and empathize with his/her unique take on things. It is so reassuring to see how complicated can also seem so beautiful too.

"Dangerous Space"

This is my favourite of the Mars incarnations. Reading this, again, felt like one was witnessing an exquisite dance of souls. Though for me, there were three souls involved in the dance this time. (1) Mars, the ultimate musical conductor, who at an innate level can understand, tune into, and harness the raw power of the band's music. (2) The band leader himself (Duncan), who is the tortured and complex channel of the raw talent of the music that drives him to create. And then, (3) music itself, which to me seems like an like an entity all of itself, a wild child - raw, demanding, powerful, inquisitive, driving and beautiful - almost like that perfect storm sailors speak of - all that wild energy that one can never quite tame, but can only hope to harness so one can get to the other side, and hopefully live. A wonderfully described and evolving element throughout, that seems to bend with, play and almost consume the key characters at times.

The connection that this raw power of music has between Mars and Duncan, is at the same time a lure, and a bane. They both know that for all the right reasons they must resist, for the good of the band, its members, and the music that is eventually half-tamed and produced. Yet at the same time, it is also that magical pull of raw musical energy that also manages to turn them both inside out. Mars is the focus for it, both a muse and an anchor that Duncan is tempted and inspired by. And for Mars, Duncan, with his raw channelling of this wild essence of himself through the music is something Mars is both fascinated and in love with. Mars' connection to the energy of this raw music and Mars' talent for mastering and tuning it to the public's ears is a wonderful thing to see.

Again, the writer makes reading/witnessing all of this such an effortlessly intricate and visual experience, that one feels one is a hidden and highly honoured observer in this beautiful dance.

The ending of this tale is thoroughly engaging, raw, passionate and organic, and something that definitely does not disappoint. In a way, this also mirrors the character of Mars, who throughout, remains a strong, evolving, magnetic and thoroughly intriguing entity. Again, I was quite captured with how, in each incarnation, Mars remains true to self, in that unique way that (s)he is tuned into the intricacies of life - forever observant, and wonderfully skilful in a most unusual way - and filled with an innate understanding of honour, the intertwining patterns of life - all painted in such an interesting way by the author, that reading about Mars is almost like experiencing a rather individual and intriguing piece of organic art.


All I can say is that I really loved the experience of 'Dangerous Space" - it was like having my mind and soul invited to an unusual, complicated, intriguing, fascinating and dangerous dance, that left me both awed and inspired. I don't think I have ever read anything that has been able to reach inside me and play my thoughts, perceptions and emotions in as much as this writing seems to have so effortlessly done, and in such a unique and intelligent way too.

The writing is very, very visual, and even reading on a crowed London train, at the height of morning rush hour and in the midst of commuting hell, I was effortlessly transported to another space - not always comfortable, but definitely always interesting, and always challengingly beautiful.
I was strangely saddened to have to put the book down afterwards (which very, very rarely happens with me). Vainly hoping for some more (very soon), but also feeling as if I had learnt something about the world and my own dangerous spaces too.

Kelley, thank-you.
Kelley Eskridge captures the essecnce of what makes humanity tick.  Dec 1, 2007
This collection of stories gives more than reading pleasure, it gives a view into many places most people don't even think to look. Using various settings and characters Kelley Eskridge tells the story of people. Through these characters we are in their skin as Eskridge skillfully reaches into the feelings and motives of the stranger you are sharing a public space with or acquintainces who you can follow from limited knowledge to the most intimate of friends and lovers.

Using art in all it's forms makes it possible for the author to share insights through the eyes and feelings of her characters. In doing this the author shows her observational abilities to the nth degree. For me the most powerful of these arts was the music. I don't know if this author is also a musician but she really gets the scene, it's authentic. It's difficult to say in just a few words how smart this book is.

The water is deep here...  Nov 29, 2007
Greatness in writing is hard to achieve. But it's not as hard to recognize. Great writing reaches right through the page to you, so that you are no longer reading, you are experiencing the world the author has created. Most writers never touch it, or touch it only for a moment. So when you find an author who lives in that space, you are blessed. You see life in a different way, and you are never the same again.

Kelley Eskridge is such an author. Her new collection, Dangerous Space, proves it. Weeks after reading it, I find myself wondering, "What's Mars up to? How is it working out for him and ..." Then I stop. For a moment, I might have sent him an email, or picked up the phone. But the Net doesn't go where he lives, and the country code is nowhere listed. For a moment, reality hangs by a thread, and I might go over to that music bar, Lillie's Place in Seattle, and see him working the board for Noir, a band that just might be the next big thing...

In the title story, Noir does a song with the refrain, "The water is deep here, the ground is uncertain / It's dangerous space this far inside of me". You don't read it, you hear it. And your world expands to hold it...

Buy this book.

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