"An impressive collection of stories unafraid to explore bleak topics like death and despondency." —Kirkus Reviews
"Reading Velocities is a literary dégustation of dark fiction with speculative elements, rich narrative full of text that’s cunning, loaded with sentiment. You want to go back to a story, and you do, to recapture the moment, and you find it, still there, waiting, just for you. You can’t speak to this astounding collection without lingering on its author. Read Koja like you’re nibbling truffles, each bite a road to metamorphosis." —Eugen Bacon, Aurealis Magazine
"A modern genius of weird and dark fiction, Kathe Koja once again proves with Velocities that she’s adept at plunging the reader into strange and unexpected places. One of my favorite collections of the year." —Jeff VanderMeer, NYT-bestselling author of Dead Astronauts, Borne and the Southern Reach trilogy
“Velocities is prime Kathe Koja, with all that that entails: supercharged, dense as hell, oblique, glorious. Every story is a lesson in how to write faster, more intensely, from angles other people never seem to think of: industrial poetry, word mosaics like insect eyes, multifoliate as the insides of flowers, every image a scattered, burrowing seed, spreading narrative like a disease. I’ve loved her work since long before I ever aspired to produce anything like it—in fact, I’m still not sure anyone else is capable of doing what she does, of coming close, let alone hitting the mark. But damn, it’s equally so much fun to admire the result as it is to even vaguely try.” —Gemma Files, award-winning author of Spectral Evidence
"Velocities is immersive, hypnotic, yet clear-eyed and accessible. These are dangerous, artful tales of mounting tension, impossible to put down. Koja’s fiction has never seemed more alive or daring." —Douglas Clegg, award-winning author of Neverland and The Faces
"Short sharp speedballs of strange. Incantatory, funny, human - ranging from urban dread, to country nightmares, to bite-sized fables so baroque and twisted, you can taste the corruption on your tongue and in your dreams." —J.S. Breukelaar, author of Collision: Stories, Aletheia, and American Monster
"In Velocities, Kathe Koja, delivers thirteen short stories that will have you turning the pages at high-speed." —Curiosity Bought the Book
Thirteen dark fantasy stories feature tortured characters whose lives are drastically changing—or will soon end—in Koja’s (Under the Poppy, 2010, etc.) collection.
These tales have an estimable provenance: “Fireflies” first appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction (2002), “Road Trip” in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 16 (2002), and other stories in similarly respected books. In “Velocity,” an artist creates his art by running bicycles into trees. This act may be his unorthodox way of understanding his famous architect father’s suicide, which likewise entailed driving into a tree. Some of the characters in these generally grim stories come to terms with a tragedy they don’t want to face: The man in “Road Trip” has intermittent flashes of a car accident (or moments before), and he not only mourns losing a loved one, but his responsibility for the fatality. Other characters, like Anne in “Coyote Pass,” have trouble simply moving on. Anne had cared for her ailing art-collector mother, Susan, for years. Now that Susan has died, Anne wants to adopt a dog, which her mother had never allowed—but getting a puppy from the kennel takes a bizarre, unsettling turn. Koja tackles a handful of genres, including SF, somber drama, and sublimely understated horror. Nevertheless, the highlight of this impressive collection is the Poe-esque “The Marble Lily,” one of two stories herein that hasn’t been previously published. In it, a morgue janitor in Paris closely observes a female cadaver that he believes holds some sort of mystery. Koja’s prose throughout the book provides a bevy of indelible passages: “He pressed her leg, the bare skin below the edge of her cutoffs; his hand was warm, with long strong workman’s fingers, small hard spots like rivets on the palm, his skin a topographic map of his days: cut wood, carry water, name and number and know all the plants in the world.”
An impressive collection of stories unafraid to explore bleak topics like death and despondency.