Sunday, November 21, 2010

REVIEW: Thrace by Penelope Friday

All 3 stories are set on the alien world of Thrace, a concrete jungle with an atmosphere poisonous to humans. As the closest inhabitable planet to Earth, however, it has proven to be a natural target for . . . well, let's call it colonization. Humans have largely taken over the world, placing the native Tsygons - three eyed, dark skinned, genderless aliens with tails - in a subservient state, leading to the shared theme of racism amongst the stories.

"Let Tsygons Be Tsygons" starts us off with an interesting medical thriller. There's a definite some sexual tension between the human doctor and his Tsygon assistant, and some nasty demonstrations of racism and poor ethical judgement amongst the rest of the human hospital staff. This one sets the expectations for what comes after.

"Electric High" is proves an abrupt change of pace, transplanting us from the human run hospital to a Tsygon run dance bar. Here we encounter 2 humans, both out of their element, who encounter love and betrayal under the watchful eyes of the Tsygon staff, some of whom are friendlier than others. Once again, the scum of human society makes itself known.

"An Equal Opportunity Murderer" is a police procedural and, perhaps, the most disturbing of the three pieces. Everything that's hinted at in the earlier stories is fully explored here. The depths of human violence hinted at in the first story is bloodily and explicitly on the page here. Similarly, the sexual tensions between humans and Tsgyons is both of the first two stories are finally realised here, resulting in a pleasingly subtle scene of eroticism. Finally, the racism of the first two stories gains another facet here, placing human against Tsygon against robot.

Definitely an interesting read, even if it doesn't make us feel too good about ourselves as a race. As short stories, these tales work well. Any one of them has the potential to be expanded into a novel, but they're so succinct, you don't feel as if you're truly missing anything. As much as I would have loved to see the sexuality of the Tsygons explored in a bit more depth, the stories do not suffer from neglecting my fetish.

Thrace is available directly from the Manifold Press website.


  1. Delighted you enjoyed it, but would much appreciate a link to our website ( where it can be ordered! ~Fi, Editor.

  2. My appologies, hon - the book cover was intended to link to the site, but it doesn't seem to be working. I've updated the review with a text link instead. Thanks!

  3. Thank you! I'm glad you liked it. I may well write more Thrace stories in the future - will keep you posted if I do!

  4. Oh, please do, Penelope!

    There's a lot of potential there . . . both in the world itself and in the characters. I would definitely love to see what else you can come up with!