Anthology of strange and excellent stories2009/11/6
A. D. MacFarlane
This is one of the better anthologies I've read. The stories are imaginative and often quite thoughtful. My favourites were:
Leah Bobet's "Bell, Book and Candle", about three people who are tied into a rite, and who do not particularly enjoy this; Vandana Singh's "Oblivion: A Journey", about a person pursuing revenge across a future heavily informed by Indian mythology, mapping their journey to that of Ram in the Ramayan; Joanna Galbraith's "The Moon-Keeper's Friend", about a café owner who protects the moon; Michael J DeLuca's "The Tarrying Messenger", which is about what it means to tarry, and to deliver a message; and Cat Rambo's "The Dew Drop Coffee Lounge" and Catherynne M Valente's "The City of Blind Delight". I rather liked most of the others, such as those by David Sandner, Marie Brennan, Deborah Biancotti, Ekaterina Sedia and Jennifer Crow.
Very few anthologies have a success rate this high.
One thing I particularly liked about it is the diversity of influences. These stories are not all about North America and Western Europe, and the anthology is considerably strengthened by this fact.
There were some stories I liked less. Rape as a plot device pretty much immediately turns me off a story, and the instance in this anthology was no exception. Tanith Lee's had some distractingly hilarious sexual euphemisms, and the rest of the story didn't particularly engage. Two others were just boring. But I think most of my complaints lie closer to personal preference than indicating weakness with the story; overall, I really enjoyed this anthology, and I recommend it to readers of unusual fantasy.
An amazing collection2008/11/20
These stories stuck in my mind for weeks after I read them. Better than Kelly Link's "Magic for Beginners," which was my favorite short story collection before I read this one. I found myself searching out other stories by the authors, some of whom I'd never heard of before but are now my favorites. Looking forward to Clockwork Phoenix 2.
The subtitle of this anthology, "Tales of Beauty and Strangeness," is a fitting one. The anthology joins the differing styles of many authors. Some tales are crafted with complex and poetical language while others are leaner. Each story, though, takes us inside an author's fantastical vision. Some are very close to home, and others utterly foriegn.
I suspect that every person who reviews this will pick different stories as their favorites. I loved Cat Rambo's "The Dew Drop Coffee Lounge," the story of a place where assignations go awry, and how the universe seeks to ease the pain of broken dreams. Joanna Galbraith's "The Moon-Keeper's Friend" is a charming tale of two friends that brings the fantastic (and the moon) within man's reach. And Catherynne M. Valente's "The City of Blind Delight" mesemerized me with its lush imagery and fascinating possibilities.
If you're looking for well-written and thought-provoking stories, this is a wonderful place to start.
Tales of beauty and strangeness indeed. Mix of fantasy and science fiction, all of them quite accomplished and lovely. Two that stand out the most in my mind are "The Woman" by Tanith Lee, a melancholy tale of how it would feel to be the last woman left on earth, and "All the Little Gods We Are" by John Grant - completely unexpected, a memorable, moving story about a boy meeting his soul-twin.
If you like twists and turns and unexpected...2013/2/14
There is humor, fear, and incredible imagination in this collection of stories. Highly entertaining and the perfect book for the night table. You can gobble it whole or savor a story or two each night before bed. Each one is a reward in itself. Marvelous read with lots of unexpected perspectives.