We’re given a glimpse of the world of the androgynous beyond-human Wraeththu in this anthology published by Storm Constantine’s Immanion Press. There are stories Storm Constantine wrote from the 1970s, in her first exploration of the Wraeththu, and then much later, covering the full spectrum of Wraeththu struggle: to take their place as custodians of a ruined Earth, coming to terms with their reputation to humans as deadly magicians and evil catchers of young boys, coming across new variations of Wraeththu, and seeing the mistakes made in the glorious epoch of Wraeththu society’s golden age.
We are given remarkable glimpses into the lives and characters we learn of in the first book The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, even going as far as to cover the creation of the Wraeththu species in the first story Paragenesis: the post-apocalyptic nature of Earth is one of the rich and the poor with the rich working repetitive shifts; and the poor and urban decay characterised by nature’s reclamation of the land, corners of crime and violence, gangs, and secret deeds made in blood. When visualising this post-apocalyptic world I saw focused rooms for interactions of the Wraeththu, showing luxury, war, excitement, and education.
One of my memorable stories was Pro Lucror, detailing the moments where two factions of the same tribe come head-to-head, and we know this will have a future impact on how Wraeththu will thrive as a species. An ‘alternative path’ to this war-like mindset is suggested, with some Wraeththu ‘hara’ wanting to step back from the bloodshed and chaos to seek a life elsewhere. In some of these stories, there was a bit of symbolism, of male versus female and how failure to accommodate both can lead to downfall, and this may be owing to the male Wraeththu wanting to dominate over power, decision-making, sexual encounters, and more. It makes you wonder how the beneficial unity is achieved between both halves of the Wraeththu, through inception, and how it is maintained afterward.
Painted Skin was another memorable favourite, about a fascinating Wraeththu who visits the main character’s performances, and they’re later introduced. We don’t know anything about this individual except it’s not your average Wraeththu ‘har’ and there is excitement, curiosity, and mystery; a suspect ‘wrongness’ of character coupled with sexual attraction. I loved the cultural atmosphere in this story, and how it takes us step-by-step on the road to discovering the identity of the Wraeththu har. The feeling I got from this story was worth every page.
Did I get what I wanted?
Yes, beyond those stories that were exceptional favourites, I did feel I was given a panoramic experience of Wraeththu life and perspectives, and it was what I was looking for. A Raven Bound With Lilies is another creation of Storm Constantine/Immanion Press that was a quality experience, and I recommend this anthology with confidence.