THYLACINE DREAMS is a collection of short stories, plus one novella, that speculate on questions concerning humanity’s future, our relationship with alien “others”, and with our own emotions and capacity for suffering. From a woman who wakes at intervals to steer humanity towards a brighter future – hopefully – to an odd couple who must deal with the dangerous consequences of time travel, with diversions through a strange retirement home, a really bad hookup, an oddly unconquered moon, and a group practicing a rather flammable form of charity, these stories offer intriguing food for thought.
There are old, old tropes in science fiction and fantasy – magical beings, ageless sleepers who awaken when humanity needs them, brilliant scientists with logical minds and no social skills, the walking dead – and THYLACINE DREAMS isn’t afraid to use them. But Maas takes all of these in interesting new directions, and uses them to explore our basic humanity, our compassion and our capacity for suffering, our emotional connection to those of our species and others, and other key questions. Maas is excellent at setting up a background and a context, making stories feel like part of a larger universe, to the point where it feels almost as if the story is an excerpt from a larger novel. This is particularly true of The Diggers and Dead Moon, both of which have background universes that seem to be teeming with potential stories to be told.
These stories are more idea-driven than plot-driven, with more dialogue, inner monologue, and musing than actual action, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Readers who like to spend time mulling over and thinking about what they read will enjoy these far more than those looking for a quick thrill. The best among them, especially the novella -100, draw the reader into the discussion, inviting us to reconsider basic things, things we’ve taken for granted, and to look at life, suffering, and the universe in new ways. A few of the stories are a bit weaker than the others, but that doesn’t mean they’re uninteresting, and the weakest of the lot at least tend to be the shortest.
THYLACINE DREAMS is a thoughtful and intriguing set of short stories, which have far more substance to them than apparent from their size.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader