Fiddlehead Press has a whole series of ONCE UPON A … sets of retold fairy tales and this newest one may be its best. The fourteen fairy tale-inspired science fiction tales are all fresh and inventive and lots of fun to read, from Sarra Cannon’s Matrix-meets-Robin Hood spin on the classic tale (“Loxley”) to Christine Pope’s “The Cyrano Solution,” which is an epic take on “The Princess and the Frog.” The “inspirations” for the stories run the gamut from a trio of Russian tales to “The Goose Girl,” and while there’s a Cinderella story, it’s quite unlike the classic tale. One of the best things about the set is that it doesn't fall back on the same old/same old stories that everyone seems to retell--Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, the Little Mermaid, but bring in a much more diverse set of stories.
The writers all seem to be having a lot of fun, but there are some lessons to be had here as well—revenge and redemption figure large in several of the stories.
There’s also nice world building. Some of the stories, like those by Anthea Sharp and Christine Pope, take place in between “episodes” of their long-running series, while others are “one-offs” the writers admit were a genre stretch. Moreover, while it’s possible to see some of the influences on the stories, the writers have augmented their ideas with other bits and pieces of lore and myth and folktale. And so, we have Grimm’s fairy tales coexisting with Pinocchio and Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow. Wrapping a science fiction skin around these old stories makes them feel as shiny as the titanium hull of a space craft.
If you like science fiction and fairy tales, this is a boxed set you NEED to get. You can buy it here.