Lisa Bennett

Though its origins are unknown, the earliest sense of the word ‘quirk’ was as a subtle verbal twist or a quibble. Over time, its definition has become more nuanced: a quirk now also refers to a person’s peculiar or idiosyncratic traits, chance occurrences, and sudden, surprise curves appearing on paths or in facial expressions. Quirks can also be accidents, vagaries, witty turns of phrase.

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In their earliest incarnations, fairy tales are gruesome stories riddled with murder, cannibalism, and mutilation. Written in early seventeenth-century Italy, Giambattista Basile’s Cinderella snaps her stepmother’s neck with the lid of a trunk. This motif reappears in the nineteenth-century German ‘The Juniper Tree’, but this time the stepmother wields the trunk lid, decapitating her husband’s young son. In seventeenth-century France, Charles Perrault’s Bluebeard kills his many wives because of their curiosity, while in his adaptation of ‘Sleeping Beauty’, the Queen’s appetite for eating children drives her to commit suicide out of shame. Jealous, Snow White’s stepmother (and in some versions her biological mother) wants to kill the girl and eat her innards, but is ultimately thwarted; her punishment is to dance herself to death wearing red-hot iron shoes.

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Lisa Bennett reviews Exhalation by Ted Chiang

Lisa Bennett
Thursday, 23 May 2019
Mainstream science fiction is a genre that thrives on quantity as much as quality. Such narratives pose the deepest questions; as Douglas Adams once famously put it, these are stories about Life, the Universe, and Everything. Why publish stand-alone space operas when storylines, character arcs, worlds, and revenues can be elaborated across trilogies? ... (read more)

There is an observation in the titular story of Indonesian writer Intan Paramaditha’s first collection to be published in English, which can be read as the thematic spine of the book: ‘Sometimes it seemed like there was nothing new to talk about. It was the same old story, repeated over and over, all stitched together.’  This notion ...

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Lisa Bennett reviews 'The Art of Navigation' by Rose Michael

Lisa Bennett
Thursday, 21 December 2017

Conceptually, The Art of Navigation is as intriguing as it is ambitious. The narrative is part near-future time travel, part historical drama, part nostalgic Australian Gothic – and all slipstream fiction. The novel braids, unbraids, and rebraids three main threads of time and place: suburban Melbourne in 1987; the royal courts ...

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