Love and Romanpunk – Tansy Rayner Roberts
Twelfth Planet Press, 2011
Everyone knows Ancient Rome was full of monsters. They just don’t know how literal it really was – and is. In these four interwoven novellas, Julia Agrippina chronicles a story that is both bestiary and family tree; lamias roam 18th century Europe in search of a new home (and new blood); an Australian tourist town becomes the centre of a very old battle; and the past finds new faces aboard the very last airship you’d ever want to board. Welcome to the wide, wicked world of Romanpunk.
This book is one of the Twelve Planets, a series of novella collections highlighting short fiction by Australian women writers. I won my copy in a giveaway on Tansy’s blog by speculating about how Elizabeth I would handle a sea serpent, which is probably the best way I’ve ever acquired anything. Having just finished The Grass Crown, I was in an excellent mindset for reading about Romans, and this collection is a deliciously irreverent spin all the way from Ancient Rome to a future Sydney. My favourite was probably ‘The Patrician’, simply because the idea of a replica Roman town in the Australian bush is simultaneously entirely believable and delightfully strange, but these stories are at their best read together. You can listen to audio versions of ‘Julia Agrippina’s Secret Family Bestiary’ and ‘The Patrician’ on Tansy’s podcast Sheep Might Fly.