Review: Even Greater Mistakes by Charlie Jane Anders

Author: Charlie Jane Anders
Publisher: Tor Books
Released: November 16, 2021
Received: NetGalley

4 1/2 kitties

I am a massive fan of Charlie Jane Anders and the fantastic fictional worlds she creates. Naturally, I was tickled to hear that she has written an anthology, Even Greater Mistakes. If you’re looking for a wild collection from various worlds and ideas, this is the perfect read for you.

Included within Even Greater Mistakes, you’ll find nineteen short stories (assuming I counted right). All of which are listed and reviewed with more detail down below. I honestly adored this collection. But, as with anything, there were a few standouts that came to mind. As Good As NewIf You Take My Meaning, and The Time Travel Club were three of my favorites.

This anthology runs the gambit from solarpunk-esque science fiction, where there’s a genuine feeling of hope infused into the words, to more earthly tales that feel so very human. While they are all significantly different, they do have one thing in common: they’re all brilliantly written.

“Short stories are dangerous: tiny sparks of pure narrative fire that burn hotter because they snuff out sooner.”

As Good as New

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

As Good as New is an imaginative take on both post-apocalyptic tales and – believe it or not – genies. It was extremely clever, if a bit traumatic at times (the descriptions really bring the story home, sometimes in horrifying detail). I really do mean it when I say that this is probably my favorite from the collection. And no, I’m not just saying that because it is the first.

“The real world was in here, in the panic room-out there was nothing but an afterimage of a bad trip.”

Rat Catcher’s Yellows

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

In some ways, Rat Catcher’s Yellows broke my heart. It was also insprising in many other ways. It constantly amazes me how much emotional and force Charlie Jane Anders can write into her work. This short story is proof of that! This short tackles diseases and the loss of memories/minds, and how we hold onto what is left.

“No matter that all the hip teens and twentysomethings are playing Divine Right of Cats right now.”

If You Take My Meaning

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I distinctly remember reading If You Take My Meaning years ago, when it was first made available (online, I think?). I still loved it this time around, and with good reason. Actually, looking back at my previous rating – I think I liked it more this time around! That’s interesting.

If You Take My Meaning is set following the events of The City in the Middle of the Night. So if you’ve found yourself wondering what happened next, this is a short story worth diving into. If You Take My Meaning was a brilliant read, albeit a short one. I honestly would have happily read a hundred more pages (or more) of Alyssa’s story. But then again, I’ve always been desperate to see more of this world that Charlie Jane Anders has created.

“All three of them had their own brand of terrifying dreams, but they’d gotten better at soothing each other through the worst.”

The Time Travel Club

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The Time Travel Club was another favorite of mine. This is a concept I had ironically been thinking about recently, so it really resonated with me here. In this short story, Charlie Jane Anders ponders the practicality of time travel, which has a slightly humorous twist thanks to a blunt acknowledgment of physics.

“Nobody could decide what should be the first object to travel through time.”

Six Months, Three Days

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I feel like I’ve read this short story somewhere, but I can’t quite remember where. Either way, it resonated with me then, and it did so again here. Six Months, Three Days tells the story of two very different people who can see into the future. However, they both see a different future. How do people such as this reconcile their differences, you might ask? Well, that is the question.

“What if two people both saw the future, but they saw it very differently?”

Love Might Be Too Strong a Word

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Love Might Be Too Strong a Word is set on a spaceship full of different humanoids – all of whom serve a particular purpose within their unit. It was an interesting read, though it is also a bit of a mind bend – in the best ways possible.

“The softness startled me so much, it took me a moment to realize the hand had seven fingers, three more than mine.”

Fairy Werewolf vs. Vampire Zombie

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Oh my goodness did this one get me laughing! Fairy and werewolves, and karaoke, oh my! But seriously, Fairy Werewolf vs. Vampire Zombie is really a battle of the voices, as they duke it out via karaoke. It is so original and highly entertaining to read, that much I can promise you.

“The oak door at the bottom of the stairs will only open if you’ve got the right kind of mojo.”

Ghost Champagne

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Ghost Champagne is another highly inventive short story. Though at this point I imagine that isn’t too much of a surprise, huh? I really enjoyed the descriptions and train of thought that unraveled in this one.

“I wish I could just reach into someone’s chest and pull out their beating heart and show it to them, like a movie villain. (And then I would put it back and their chest would seal up and they would be fine. I’m not a monster!)”

My Breath Is a Rudder

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

I’m starting to think that I really did love (or at the very least highly enjoy) every short in this collection. My Breath Is a Rudder blew me away with it’s descriptive nature, as many of the lines tugged at both my heart and mind.

“I’m standing on Ocean Beach, but I can’t see the ocean.”

Power Couple

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

I think the thing I love the most about Power Couple is that Charlie Jane Anders didn’t go into it intending to write a science fiction short. There’s something very compelling about a story that forces it’s own genre, don’t you think? Anyway, I feel like this a short that many people can relate to, as it refers to two people torn between their careers and their love for one another. I’m not going to lie, the ending to Power Couple absolutely wrecked me.

“His name was John, and he was going to change the world.”

Rock Manning Goes for Broke

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Rock Manning Goes for Broke is one hell of a ride, I can tell you that much. It starts of feeling like one sort of story, and before you know it you’re in an entirely different story. I loved it for that reason. I’m struggling to describe this one, so I’m just going to describe it as a cross between existential crises and stunt double passion.

“From my dad, I learned there were just two kinds of bodies: falling, and falling on fire.”

Because Change Was the Ocean and We Lived by Her Mercy

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

There is something so beautiful and hopeful about Because Change Was the Ocean and We Lived by Her Mercy, it broke my heart and inspired me all at once. I think this is going to be one of those stories I come back and read again at a later time.

“At times I fancied the candlelight could filter down onto streets and buildings, the old automobiles and houses full of children’s toys, all the waterlogged treasures of long-gone people.”

Captain Roger in Heaven

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

While the title made me laugh a little bit (I immediately thought of Steve Rogers, sorry, not sorry), I’ll admit that the whole concept had me highly amused. There’s a lot of thought that went into Captain Roger in Heaven, as it deals with cults, sex, life, and death.

“Marith didn’t mean to start a sex cult, she just wanted to feel sexy for once.”

Clover

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Much like If You Take My Meaning is connected to one of her novels, so is Clover. Clover is the followup to All the Birds in the Sky, and it answers the very important question: what happens to the cat? Naturally, I devoured this one.

“This is Berkley,” he said. “If you take him into your home, you’ll have nine years of good luck.”

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nasty Things

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nasty Things feels like a love letter in remembrance. It’s a treasured memory of a place long gone. While the title is humorous, the story feels very somber to me. Very real, you know?

“I have something to tell you. I’m leaving. I still love you, but I can’t love this city anymore.”

A Temporary Embarrassment in Spacetime

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

A Temporary Embarrassment in Spacetime is apparently part of a series of short stories written by Charlie Jane Andres. Currently there are only two (I think?) in the series, but it sounds like there are plenty more bouncing around in that brilliant mind. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Kango and Sharon, so clearly I’m going to have to track down that other short story.

“The worst discomfort of all was having to pretend to be the loyal servant of a giant space blob.:

Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Oh my heart. This one hurt guys. Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue is absolutely brilliant, but it is also gut-wrenching and at the same time all too real in such a horrifying way. I’m not going to describe this one – no words I have would ever do it justice.

“The intake process begins with dismantling her personal space, one mantle at a time.”

The Bookstore at the End of America

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

The Bookstore at the End of America is very much a political read, and this is not what I would consider light reading. And yet it is an essential read, one that digs into the heart of so many people, turning our thoughts into story.

“Nobody knew how many books were inside that building, not even Molly, the owner.”

The Visitmothers

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

The Visitmothers is arguably the best story for this anthology to end on. It’s absurd and entertaining, and helps end things on a happier note. Like many of Charlie Jane Anders’ works, this one is a bit brain breaking, but in a good way.

“Four Visitmothers descend from the sky, but also seem to glide sideways, as if they were on a conveyor belt coming from someplace off to the side of the hill.”

Thanks to Tor Books and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About Liz (AKA Cat)

I am an avid animal lover, photographer, reader, and much more. While my photography blog is feeling a bit neglected at the moment, the other sites I'm involved in are going strong. ✧I review books, comics, and basically anything else in the literary world over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks (of Books). ✧I review comics and books, as well as write content for Word of the Nerd. ✧I review comics for Monkeys Fighting Robots. ✧I write content for Screen Rant and CBR. ✧I write book reviews for The Review Crew.
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