The Long Past & Other Stories

The Long Past & Other Stories

1858 - Warring mages open up a vast inland sea that splits the United States in two. With the floodwaters come creatures from a long distant past. What seems like the End Times forges a new era of heroes and heroines who challenge tradition, law, and even death as they transform the old west into a new world. In the heart of dinosaur country a laconic trapper and a veteran...

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Title:The Long Past & Other Stories
Author:Ginn Hale
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Long Past & Other Stories Reviews

  • Chris, the Dalek King

    Historical Western Steampunk with Dinosaurs…need I say more?

    Well, ok. I guess I can say

    more.

    Lately it has felt like I haven’t read anything really unique in quite some time. Sure there have been some good stories, but it has been a while since I’ve looked at a book and gone…

    . That is pretty much what happened when I saw the cover for this story, though. It is kinda exciting when you open a book and honestly have no clue what it is hidden in the pages below you. And it doesn’t happen nearly as often asgone…well,

    Historical Western Steampunk with Dinosaurs…need I say more?

    Well, ok. I guess I can say

    more.

    Lately it has felt like I haven’t read anything really unique in quite some time. Sure there have been some good stories, but it has been a while since I’ve looked at a book and gone…

    . That is pretty much what happened when I saw the cover for this story, though. It is kinda exciting when you open a book and honestly have no clue what it is hidden in the pages below you. And it doesn’t happen nearly as often as I would like it to.

    Here in this book are three steampunk stories that take place in alternate world where mages–those who wield magic innately–and theurgists–those who use it in context of religion and tradition–clash and create chaos around them. Both with good and bad intentions and results. The world is better explained as it goes on from story to story, but the basics are thus:

    A group of rifts in time and space where opened up around the world. Through those rifts came catastrophic amounts of sea water, causing massive flooding. The world map was drastically changed by it. England and large sections of Europe and Asia have practically vanished. Huge inland seas have opened up in both North and South America. Needless to say, it created havoc, killed millions, and drastically altered the political landscape of most of the world. And then the dinosaurs showed up–doing pretty much what dinosaurs do.

    While I enjoyed all three of these stories, the first is probably my favorite. If only because it is the longest and had more time to really flush out the characters and the world. But the way the history of this world, as well as the political and social atmosphere, grows over the 40 or so years from beginning to end, made these stories seem grounded in reality. Even if that reality is one in which dinosaurs exist alongside humanity.

    There is also a great cast of multi ethnic characters here–both main and secondary–which only made the stories all the better.

    I’ll give a review of all the stories individually, but on the whole I would like to say this is well worth the money. The characters are all well written, and while the two shorter stories could have been fleshed out a bit more, I didn’t have a hard time reading any of them. And really, when was the last time you read a book with real live dinosaurs in it? How could you say no to dinosaurs?!

    The world might have been turned on its head by the sudden and devastating rifts opening around the globe, but some things don’t change. Being a black man in the wild west of the United State (or what parts of it that are not under water) is still not an easy prospect. But Grover has to admit that for all the damage done by the rifts that brought the floods and dinosaurs, the freedom he has in his little backwater town is not something he’d easily give up. Change is on the move once again, though, when an airship comes to town bearing some fancy mages and mysterious tidings. And one man he never thought he’d ever see again.

    The first of the three stories told in this book is by far the largest. It centers around the lives of Grover and his first love Lawrence. It was an excellent set up to this world. While I would have liked a bit more explanation up top about how the rifts happen and how they are connected to what has happened to this world, I think the slow unfolding of the truth over the 150 or so pages, actually worked well. It wasn’t info-dumpy, and help build the tension between Grover and Lawrence. As well as helping make the two(ish) bad guys in this story be a distant if constant threat to the MCs as well as the rest of the world.

    I am a little mixed on the accuracy of some of these dinosaurs coming thru the rift existing in the same time period though. I’m pretty sure that some of these totally didn’t live along with some of the others. But in all fairness, I don’t actually care all that much about the scientific accuracy, because DINOSAURS!!! The ten-year-old boy inside of me is just totally in love with this steampunk/Jurassic Park fusion of sorts and will stand no haters.

    This was an excellent set up to the rest of the book. I’m certainly curious what the other two stories have in store for me.

    Ashni Naugai and her assistant, Geula Mandelbaum, are in Chicago performing their magic show to the masses in town for the World’s Fair. A show full of slight of hand may not have drawn much attention in the past, but after a catastrophic event involving two mages, that ended with hundreds dead by burning, the country has banned all “unlicensed” mage work, so the titillation of magic without any of the danger is worth a few pennies and a half hour of people’s time. They must never, though, know that Ashni is in fact a mage. Because if they do it is very likely she will be arrested and put under the “care” of a theurgist. But times are hard–and train tickets to a freer west are expensive–so when Geula is approached by a group of theurgists to help find a missing woman, they both see their freedom and their doom on the horizon. Which way their fates will turn is unclear though.

    This second story was the shortest of the bunch. While I really liked the characters and the plot, I don’t think it really got quite enough time to grow to its full potential. A lot has happened in the thirty years between the two stories, and I would have loved to have spent more time flushing out all those changes. Ashni and Geula were interesting, and I would have loved more on both their backgrounds, but the story did give enough so that they could function in the plot. Their romance was a bit lacking, however. Where with Grover and Lawrence I could feel their connection, here I had to go on simply what the book was telling me. Maybe if they had not been already together at the time of the story it would have been better. I don’t know.

    The theurgists are still dicks, as far as I can tell, though. And Edison…still a massive asshole no matter what universe he exists in.

    When Dalfon Elias made his way into Edgewater the first time, he was after a bounty on a killer. And while he certainly got his man, he also stole the heart of one Luc Spivey, otherwise known as Lucky. Now three years later, Lucky hasn’t forgotten the man who stole his heart…and then left him without so much as a goodbye. When Lucky spies the man back in town, he knows he shouldn’t trust the newly minted Pinkerton Detective, but old habits–even short-lived ones–die hard. Unfortunately he can’t say the same about either himself or Dalfon.

    This third and last story in the collection is pretty much a good ol’ western. Gunslingers, lawmen, and shootouts over land, money, and prestige. I really dug it. And unlike the last story, this one did a lot better job selling the romance between the two MCs. I do wish we had gotten a bit more before the time-jump, but there was enough of that part of their tale retold in the main portion of the story that it worked well enough. The subplot between Lucky and some of the other people from Edgewater was a nice addition, and while it was a bit obvious where it was going once the situation became clear, I didn’t mind all that much. Overall it was a very nice wrap-up to this short collection of stories.

    4.5 stars

  • Lisa The Novel Approach

    Who but Ginn Hale would think to weave together the 19th century Western frontier, an alternative America bisected by a great Inland Sea which has done away with much of the Midwest and Southern states, a place where magic and clockwork technology intersect, and then introduce prehistoric beasts to the mix? I can’t even with this author’s seemingly infinite supply of imagination, and there’s a reason I have long said I worship at the altar of it. Yes, I’m an unapologetic fangirl.

    The

    Who but Ginn Hale would think to weave together the 19th century Western frontier, an alternative America bisected by a great Inland Sea which has done away with much of the Midwest and Southern states, a place where magic and clockwork technology intersect, and then introduce prehistoric beasts to the mix? I can’t even with this author’s seemingly infinite supply of imagination, and there’s a reason I have long said I worship at the altar of it. Yes, I’m an unapologetic fangirl.

    The Long Past & Other Stories are three independent novellas spanning from 1864 to 1896, and while I say they are independent, they are also connected in the anthology’s overall arc. The characters themselves don’t overlap from one story to the next, but the contributions to the world made by Grover and Lawrence in the first story, The Long Past, influence the times in which both The Hollow History of Professor Perfectus and Get Lucky take place. I suppose that’s to be expected, though, when two men quite literally save their world.

    In an 1864 America where airships and mages coexist with a man who’s tamed a giant prehistoric bird he rides like a horse, there is also an interracial love story at work between that man, Grover, and his first, and only, love, Lawrence—the man Grover had long thought dead. Theirs is a second-chance romance that plays out against the willing sacrifice Lawrence is committed to making which will right the wrong that instigated the rift and the resulting great flood that not only altered the landscape of the country and caused mass casualties but that also allowed dinosaurs to crossover out of their own time and into this era in the process. There is such a sense of despair mixed with hope in The Long Past, and I loved how it influenced the tone of the story, from Lawrence’s calling to he and Grover rebuilding what they’d thought was lost.

    In ‘Professor Perfectus’, the year is 1893, the setting Chicago during what might have been the World’s Fair in our reality, in a time and place where magic is most certainly real but is played off as sleight of hand entertainment for an enthusiastic audience. There’s danger and mystery in this short story for our heroine Abril, and I loved the villain in this one as well as the sinister invention meant to enslave women in a clockwork Stepford Wives way. As much as I’d love to tell you all about the villainy in this piece, to do so would spoil so much of the surprise, and that would be the definition of reader evil. So, I won’t say a word about it. Let me just say, though, that it’s inspired. It’s up to Abril and her love, Geula, to stop this crazed genius from carrying out his plans and to save a woman, and all women, from becoming unwilling automatons. This story resonated with me on a personal convictions level, which I loved.

    In the final story, Get Lucky, the year is 1896, the rift long closed and the flooding ended, but the landscape of the New United America is forever changed. Dalfon Elias is a hired gun who’s tracking his next mark when he meets Luc Spivey, also known as Lucky. Once again, without revealing too much, Hale gives a wink and a nod to H.G. Wells in this piece, and I loved Dalfon’s penchant for finding the most appropriate literary quotes for every situation. Amidst this, Hale also layers the story with a touching romance between Dalfon and Lucky, one that takes a poignant turn before resolving in the end. Extenuating circumstances and what could only be called a twist of fate come between them, but love and luck prevail the way they should.

    I realize short stories and novellas aren’t everyone’s cuppa, and I’ve read more than my fair share that forget the beginning-middle-end arc of storytelling, often making it feel as though I’ve been dumped into the middle of a story with no context to lead up to it. What Ginn Hale does with a capable hand is to not only give each novella its due substance, layering details—even ones that might seem insignificant, if isolated, but serve the whole of the world building—into the setting and characters that make each story richer for it. These characters represent a cross section of people in race, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality, and I appreciated the real-world context of their storylines in the fantastical setting. The post abolition/pre-women’s suffrage frame of reference offers a realism set against the religious overtones of the earth magic that’s present here. Ginn Hale is, simply put, a master of unique and incredible Alt U fantasy. I don’t devour her work as much as I work hard to savor every word of it because to do otherwise is a guarantee of missing something amazing.

    Reviewed by Lisa for

  • Xing

    I usually shy away from anthologies and short stories, but I had to take a deep breath and trust Ginn Hale to not lead me astray. I was not disappointed, and only wished these stories were longer (i.e. full novel-length).

    The Long Past is an introduction to this alternative, historical-fantasy/science fiction story that blends alchemy, magic and the space-time continuum. The world building is Ginn Hale's strength and I find myself absolutely lost (in the GOOD WAY) to this fascinating

    I usually shy away from anthologies and short stories, but I had to take a deep breath and trust Ginn Hale to not lead me astray. I was not disappointed, and only wished these stories were longer (i.e. full novel-length).

    The Long Past is an introduction to this alternative, historical-fantasy/science fiction story that blends alchemy, magic and the space-time continuum. The world building is Ginn Hale's strength and I find myself absolutely lost (in the GOOD WAY) to this fascinating world. The characters, Grover and Lawrence, were a delight to experience this world with. Rating: 4 stars.

    The Hollow History of Professor Perfectus takes a time jump into the future from The Long Past, and boy did the future take a dark turn. Even though at this point, the world isn't completely new, the changes brought by time has me feeling re-immersed to something familiar, but new. While I feel that the two characters didn't appeal to me as much as Grover and Lawrence from the previous story, they were still pleasant to read about. Rating: 3.5 stars

    Get Lucky put me in my happy place, mainly because Lucky and Dalfon pulled at my heartstrings. I felt their meeting and developing relationship appealed to the adventurer romantic inside of me. Otherwise, expect the same great writing in the previous story.

    I'm not really sure what more to say. I really enjoyed this anthology and don't really feel ready to leave this world behind.

  • Mir

    Excellent. The first, longest novella was my favorite. Grove is maybe my favorite Hale character after Sykes and Harper from

    , whom I would love to see more of. I'd like to see more of Grove and Lawrence, too, if only to get to know Lawrence better. I'd also love to read more about the secondary character Lady Astor (how did she get so good at impersonations, for instance?). Fun stuff.

  • Ami

    While I might not always understand this universe, as well as the mage/magical plot but I am rounding this up because of the idea. It's so fuc*ing cool and I don't think I've read it anywhere before.

    and

    both featured second-chance romance trope. The romance was sweet and tender, I loved it when the love interest call the other "

    ".

    first published in

    but this one has""./>/>3.75

    While I might not always understand this universe, as well as the mage/magical plot but I am rounding this up because of the idea. It's so fuc*ing cool and I don't think I've read it anywhere before.

    and

    both featured second-chance romance trope. The romance was sweet and tender, I loved it when the love interest call the other "

    ".

    first published in

    but this one has prologue and epilogue.

    I skimmed most of the 2nd story,

    ". Not because I don't like F/F ... I read a number of F/F stories this year. I just thought that strangely, Ashni's 'voice' didn't feel like a female character. I mean, to me, she can also easily be like the men in the first / third story. Somehow it just threw me off the story completely.

  • ~ Lei ~ Reading Is An Adventure ~

    ★★★★☆ ~ 4 Stars

    Three short stories comprise this anthology (Get Lucky has been expanded in this anthology, I originally read it in the Once Upon A Time in the West anthology).

    Assumed dead Lawrence returns to close the last rift and reconnect with his boyhood friend and first love, Grover. They have a second chance to build a long life if only Lawrence can survive repairing the rift. Grove is quite his own character, taming a ridingbird dinosaur and is probably some sort of/>The

    ★★★★☆ ~ 4 Stars

    Three short stories comprise this anthology (Get Lucky has been expanded in this anthology, I originally read it in the Once Upon A Time in the West anthology).

    Assumed dead Lawrence returns to close the last rift and reconnect with his boyhood friend and first love, Grover. They have a second chance to build a long life if only Lawrence can survive repairing the rift. Grove is quite his own character, taming a ridingbird dinosaur and is probably some sort of a mage in his own right.

    This was the weakest story for me. Not as fleshed out as the other two, Abril is horrified that the scientist that she has been running from for nine years is also at the Chicago World's Fair and her love, Geula has been tasked to find a missing woman who has been kidnapped by her nemesis and is now the Mechanical Maid.

    As I was reading this, I had a deja vu that I've read this before and it was my favorite story in this anthology and the other anthology I'd read it in. This is also a second chance story, Dalfon had left Lucky three years prior and now is on a hunt for a missing heir who just happens to be Lucky. Can they survive who is hunting them both to make a life for themselves?

  • Aldi

    -“Hey, whatcha reading?”

    -“Oh, just your basic American Old West alternative history/steampunk fantasy with magic and airships and alchemy and dinosaurs and time travel in a 19th century landscape rearranged by a magically induced cataclysmic event that introduced prehistoric creatures and flooded half the world, with a bit of a mystery/adventure story and exploration of how this changed world affects 19th century pioneering society and leads to an alternative history of emancipation in opp

    -“Hey, whatcha reading?”

    -“Oh, just your basic American Old West alternative history/steampunk fantasy with magic and airships and alchemy and dinosaurs and time travel in a 19th century landscape rearranged by a magically induced cataclysmic event that introduced prehistoric creatures and flooded half the world, with a bit of a mystery/adventure story and exploration of how this changed world affects 19th century pioneering society and leads to an alternative history of emancipation in oppressed people of colour communities of North America, particularly former slaves and Native Americans, oh and with a side of “former lovers with complicated/painful personal history have to set aside their differences to work together against a common enemy” interracial queer romance sort of thing. And then two more stories in the same world, one of them featuring lesbian lovers taking on the patriarchy and an evil steampunk version of Thomas Edison and kicking ass at magic and such, and did I mention the dinosaurs?”

    -“Ah, that old chestnut. Any good?”

    -“Pretty bloody awesome, actually.”

  • G.

    So good, and that's not much of a surprise, because Ginn Hale's work is quite amazing.

    This book collects a novella and two short stories set in the same world, which is an alternative version of 19th century United States. There's some interesting changes to familiar territories, magic and bonus prehistoric animals. Yes, there are dinosaurs. Ginn Hale is really good at worldbuilding. I would love a novel set in this world, because it feels ripe with stories that want to be told.

    The novella is

    So good, and that's not much of a surprise, because Ginn Hale's work is quite amazing.

    This book collects a novella and two short stories set in the same world, which is an alternative version of 19th century United States. There's some interesting changes to familiar territories, magic and bonus prehistoric animals. Yes, there are dinosaurs. Ginn Hale is really good at worldbuilding. I would love a novel set in this world, because it feels ripe with stories that want to be told.

    The novella is m/m, so is one of the short stories. The other short story is f/f.

  • Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

    $0.99 at Amazon US 2/14/18

  • Vivian

    The mount on the cover reminds me of chocobos from Final Fantasy; I had a whole victory dance choreographed that I could do on it. Love my chocobo.

    Yes, that was a deciding factor in my purchase. Plus the sale price. AND Hale is a great read.

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