Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
The Complete Accursed Wives
Bruce Boston
Dark Regions Press, 100 pages

The Complete Accursed Wives
Bruce Boston
Bruce Boston is a 3-time winner of the Rhysling Award for science fiction poetry. He has also won the Asimov's SF Reader's Awards and been selected twice as Best Poet of the Year by SPWAO.

Bruce Boston Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: After Magic
SF Site Review: Dark Tales & Light
SF Site Review: The Lesions of Genetic Sin / Confessions of a Body Thief / The Last Existentialist
Dark Regions Press

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Trent Walters

Bruce Boston presents the horrors of conjugal bliss in his collection, The Complete Accursed Wives, a finalist for this year's Bram Stoker Award for best poetry collection (an award that's been sorely needed). If you've ever held the undead fear that poetry was for the hoity-toity, tea-and-crumpets crowd or that the vulgar fangs of science fiction may sink into your tea-and-crumpets sanctity of poetry, then The Complete Accursed Wives is the embalming fluid to put those fears to rest. In an uncomplicated yet artful manner, Boston renders present-day marital travails anew through SF tropes. Though the collection also includes works of prose, one could place them firmly in the poetry camp as well, maintaining the rhythm and feel of the poetry set into lines.

The obvious advantage Boston's latest collection has over most other SF poetry or even his literary genre counterparts' collection is the thematic structure: wives who are cursed because of their extra-human husbands (though sometimes -- as is the case with "The Curse of the Android's Wife" where the wife, wanting total control of her family, marries a machine to answer to her every whim -- she is accursed in marriage because she had cursed herself). Every collection has weak pieces (the number of exceptions proves the rule), but the unity of counterpointing themes allows even the weaker pieces to contribute to the whole where, in any other collection, the weakness becomes noticeable. Reading the collection en masse, one senses Boston carefully cataloguing the extensive list of relationship crimes we are prone to commit against one another, making this a must-read or those of us endlessly intrigued by the male-female dynamic.

The use of science fiction tropes to bring out the "crimes" of real-life marriage is The Complete Accursed Wives' greatest strength. What is "The Curse of the Cyberhead's Wife" but a tale of the wife who, jealous of her husband's cybernetic polygamy, tested the electronic waters for herself and fell under the same workaholic spell to a mutually blissful yet neglectful end? What is "The Curse of the Berserker's Wife" but the tale of the wife who exposes her spouse's psychological instability by throwing parties where her husband might betray his condition so she may have witnesses in order to commit him? Here, too, are the wives who married the alcoholic "werewolf" becoming abusive under the influence of a full "moon"-shine, who married the hypnotist and awakens from the blissful daze of marriage to discover herself pregnant and disgusted with the old man she married, and who married the telepath -- a man more sensitive than she bargained for. Every woman wants her man to read her mind -- or does she?

This reviewer's personal favorite (and coincidentally a winner of the Best of Soft SF contest) is "The Curse of the Alien's Wife" -- the most subtle work of prose here. A two-job, working woman has fallen in love with a shiftless bum of an alien because of his "night moves," so that she accepts his kindness to the less fortunate -- that is, he gives away what little she has of cash. She borrows from relatives until they refuse to listen to her pleas. Oh, but she is in love... She will follow to the ends of the Earth by bus, by thumb and by foot... until the aliens arrive and change everything.

Of all the contemporary poetry collections, whether within the literary or speculative genres, this one is one of the indispensables and, for me, Boston's strongest effort yet. It must have been one heckuva year for Bram Stoker poetry collections!

Copyright © 2001 Trent Walters

Trent Walters' work has appeared in Speculon, Spires, and The Pittsburgh Quarterly, among others. He has interviewed for, Speculon and the Nebraska Center for Writers. More of his reviews can be found here. When he's not studying medicine he can be seen coaching the Minnesota Vikings as an assistant coach, or writing masterpieces of journalistic advertising, or making guest appearances in a novel by E. Lynn Harris. All other rumored Web appearances are lies.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide