Review: Engraved On The Eye

Saladin Ahmed is a great follow on twitter.  I’ve been enjoying his wit and insight in 140-character chunks for a while and decided to check out some of his longer writing. He’s been nominated for Hugos and Locus awards, which is encouraging.

Engraved On The Eye is a collection of his short SF works. His work lives up to his reputation quite nicely.  Almost all of his work is informed by his Muslim and Arab background.  When he alludes to conventions and background in those areas, one gets a feeling of authenticity.  Of course I don’t know enough about the customs in question to know if that’s because he knows what he’s talking about intimately or because he’s a confident and persuasive writer.  I don’t much care about the cause when the result is so effective.

While the local color of the works in Engraved is always worthwhile, I found I enjoyed the stories that stretched the genres to be his most interesting.  Again one gets the feeling of a writer who is stronger when he challenges himself and convention.  Several of the earlier pieces are traditional fantasy set in what I would naively call a Middle Eastern tradition.  These are certainly well executed and good fun, but his work is brighter when he’s challenging superheroic tropes or writing about duped cyborgs.

Strongly recommended.

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