The first story in this collection, “Cruising Through Blueland”, is probably the strongest. Jeri Cristobel enlists the help of a drug dealer to find his brother who’s been kidnapped by a paramilitary organization known as the Blueboys. The Blueboys have the technology to give themselves super speed and super strength, as well as control the weather and trick people with holograms. Their leader is a woman who can force any man to love her using pheromones. They’re a formidable villain indeed, so I was disappointed when they didn’t show up in any of the subsequent stories in this collection. It would have been great to have a story from the point of view of one of the Blueboys, but they inexplicably disappear after the first story.
The world building in this first story is strong. It really gives you the feeling there’s more going on that we aren’t shown happening just around the edges. In a flashback, we’re told of how Jeri and his brothers got revenge on a rapist priest by using candiru, a fish that lodges itself in your urethra. This is a suitable punishment for a rapist, since the only way to get rid of them is castration.
Another strong story is “Holos at an Exhibition of the Mutant Rain Forest” in which holograph photographer Genna encounters mutated animals and other fearsome things during an expedition through the rain forest. Each section starts with a description of one of her photos that foreshadows what’s about to happen. Like Jeri in the first story, she too encounters a woman she finds irresistibly attractive, but for a different reason.
We also get some more stories about photographers and biologists going on expeditions into the Mutant Rain Forest where they encounter mutant animals, plants, fungi, and even mutant bacteria. In this world, people, animals, plants, fungi, and even the forest itself can all merge with each other.
There’s a couple stories which are so short, they might as well have been poems. Speaking of which, I wasn’t too impressed with the poetry. The only poem in this collection I liked was the sonnet “A Cautionary Note to Travelers Through the Mutant Rain Forest” which reminded me a bit of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky.
The necrophida moths grow huge as planes,
and feast on corpses hung in cauls of moss.
The kongii sloths will make the treetops toss
to shape unearthly music from the rains.
Overall, though, I didn’t find the poetry very poetic. Most of it might as well have been prose: “The vast seasonal fall of rains/upon the Mutant Rain Forest/shapes a recurring climate cycle,/a self-contained vortex that deposits/moisture deep into its cloud banks.”
I personally found this collection a bit hit or miss overall, but there were a few highlights.