Tara Calaby

writer, editor & phd candidate

Review: The Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gitat book cover

Details: The Bhagavad Gita, trans. Juan Mascaró (Penguin, 1962). Original date c. 500 B.C.

Category: Religion: Hinduism; Philosophy: Ancient India

Setting: Ancient India

Key Words: Philosophy, Religion, Poetry

In Brief: Reviewing a work that is a sacred text for a lot of people is a complicated endeavour. Here, I am discussing it entirely as a piece of literature, and as that alone it didn’t really work for me. In this particular translation, I didn’t find a lot of beauty in the language, and the content was repetitive. I am not a philosophy person, and The Bhagavad Gita didn’t change that fact.

Review: The Fog (James Herbert)

The Fog book cover
James Herbert, The Fog (New English Library, 1975)

Category: Adult Fiction: Horror: Non-Supernatural

Setting: 1970s  South England and London

Keywords: Biological Weaponry; Epidemics; Madness

In Brief: A fast-paced and entertaining read, with high stakes and high-level violence obscuring a rather bland cast of characters.

Plot: A fog causes a mass outbreak of extreme violence.

Protagonist: Male, lower-middle-aged public servant, surprisingly adept in the action hero role.

Female Characters: Very few. Only two continuing characters, neither much more than an outline of “naïve young love interest” or “doctor”. Apart from the doctor, everyone doing anything remotely useful in here is male.

Diverse Characters: A gay man and a lesbian are in here briefly; homosexuality is not depicted well. Cast is almost entirely white.

(content warnings beneath the cut)

Review: “The Popularity Plan” by Rosemary Vernon (Bantam, 1981)

The Popularity Plan book cover

Series: Sweet Dreams, #2

Genre: YA Romance

Setting: Contemporary USA

Quotable: “Don’t worry, Dad. Mom’s not going to let them make me into a wanton woman.”

The Good:

  • The protagonist, Frannie, has a realistic reaction to her newfound popularity, but ultimately she understands it for how performative it is.
  • Frannie’s parents are present and active in her well-being.
  • The writing is engaging and the book is a swift read.

The Bad:

  • Frannie’s friends are horrible bullies, and yet she’s always the one apologising to them.
  • Ronnie isn’t very well developed as a love interest

The Unbelievable:

  • Frannie arranges dates with five different boys in a week and that just earns her a reputation as a girl who doesn’t want to settle down yet. In 90s Australia, that would’ve earned her a much worse reputation than that. (Unfairly, of course, but still.)

Review: The Dark

Title: The Dark

Author: James Herbert

Read: 10th – 15th June, 2020

Published: 1980

Setting: London, England / the near future

Key Words:

  • good vs evil
  • science vs paranormal
  • philosophical
  • extreme violence
  • human nature
  • life after death


  • strong building tension
  • genuine high stakes
  • interesting concept
  • forgettable characters
  • abrupt ending

(content warnings under the cut)

Review: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

Author: Stephen King
Read: 7th-8th June, 2020
Published: 1999
Setting: Contemporary New England, USA

Key Words:

  • child protagonist
  • lost child
  • suspense
  • supernatural (maybe)
  • divorce
  • isolation
  • survival
  • bad parenting
  • poor decisions


  • good writing
  • overlong
  • excellent sense of place

Review: P.S. I Love You

Title: P.S. I Love You

Author: Barbara Conklin

Series: Sweet Dreams, #1

Published: 1981

Setting: 1980s Palm Springs, USA

Key Words:

  • first love
  • romance
  • holiday romance
  • class/wealth
  • divorce
  • family
  • young adult
  • illness
  • loss


  • simplistic writing
  • genuine emotion
  • likeable protagonist
  • good love interest

(content warnings under the cut)

Within These Walls

Another writing announcement!

My piece “Within These Walls” is now available to read for free at
Daily Science Fiction. Hope you like it.

Three Days with the Kid

Another writing announcement! My piece “Three Days with the Kid” has just been published as part of Strange Horizons‘s climate crisis special.

You can read the piece online, or listen to it on the podcast.

Make sure you check out the gorgeous art by Dante Luiz while you’re there!


A very belated update! I am pleased to announce that my piece “Plucked” was published in January. “Plucked” is a new, feminist fairy tale, and it has found the perfect home at Corvid Queen, which focuses on mythology, folk lore and fairy tales, all with a deliciously feminist bent.

You can read “Plucked” online if it sounds like your kind of thing!

On Clockwork Wings

I’m pleased to be able to announce that my piece “On Clockwork Wings” has just been published in the current issue of Galaxy’s Edge. I’m particularly excited to have my writing alongside that of such speculative fiction greats as Mercedes Lackey and Robert Silverberg and all the other excellent authors featured in this issue. You can currently read my story online at http://www.galaxysedge.com, but please consider supporting the great work editor Mike Resnick does by purchasing a paperback or ebook copy (links at that address).

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