I'm going to get this out of the way: there was a part of me that worried that this volume would be terrible or disappointing, but I feel like it's a...moreI'm going to get this out of the way: there was a part of me that worried that this volume would be terrible or disappointing, but I feel like it's a worthy successor to the Bordertown stories I particularly loved, like "Danceland" and Finder. The gimmick that the way to the Border has been closed for 13 years, from the perspective of the world we know, while a mere 13 days passed on the Border is played with just enough for humor and drama, not to the point of being cheesy.
I'll be posting reviews of the individual pieces later on, but if you'd like to sample some past and present Bordertown stories, go to this page, where you'll find links to "Danceland" and (under Other Tales) pieces from this anthology, including Cory Doctorow's excellent "Shannon's Law." (Particularly recommended for people who work in IT.)(less)
This is a pretty decent anthology; it caught my eye at the library. Almost all of the stories have been collected elsewhere previously, though. Some o...moreThis is a pretty decent anthology; it caught my eye at the library. Almost all of the stories have been collected elsewhere previously, though. Some of them had errors that suggested they had been retyped and that not all the errors stemming therefrom had been caught, particularly the Marion Zimmer Bradley story. (It made me sad. Not because of the typos, because of the subject matter.)
On an unrelated note, I am getting a little irritated at seeing big name fantasy authors take shots at Harry Potter. Not because I'm a huge fan I think the HP series is workmanlike but not stunningly awesome but because it frequently sounds like sour grapes. It seems uncollegial, I suppose. Anyway, in this case it was George R.R. Martin, but I've seen Ursula K. Le Guin do it too.(less)
There are some excellent stories in this anthology. My favorites were probably Beth Wodzinski's "Suffer Water" ("Not everything needs to be fixed.") a...moreThere are some excellent stories in this anthology. My favorites were probably Beth Wodzinski's "Suffer Water" ("Not everything needs to be fixed.") and Sara M. Harvey's "Where the Ocean Meets the Sky." (It's got Emperor Norton!) But when I got about 2/3 of the way through the anthology, I sort of, er, ran out of steam. The stories started to blur together a little, with the exception of Shweta Narayan's "The Padishah Begum's Reflections." And that one was a little more non-linear than I was in the mood for.
This was an interesting anthology because the editor argued, and the stories reflect, the idea that steampunk doesn't have to be all gung-ho white male imperialism. (I was slightly surprised to see someone not afraid to talk about RaceFail 2009 in an anthology introduction. Possibly the only such anthology introduction in existence?)(less)
This seemed a little long, and many of the stories were too serious and/or trying too hard to be lyrical.
To be fair, though, I didn't pick this up bec...moreThis seemed a little long, and many of the stories were too serious and/or trying too hard to be lyrical.
To be fair, though, I didn't pick this up because I wanted to read an anthology about unicorns. I picked it up for Ellen Kushner's short story after reading its prequel in Magical Beginnings.
You can tell that the Kushner story is early-ish work; it's not as polished as her Riverside novels. But it and its prequel are still interesting to read for fans of medievaloid fantasy. I hope she does novelize those stories sometime.
Peter Beagle's short story is also worth a read. Naturally; I mean, it's Peter Beagle. >.> I liked the Tad Williams story, and Dave Wolverton surprised me a little. I don't know that I liked the story so much, but it surprises me a little that someone who's most famous for Star Wars novels can write so evocatively. (Yes, I know, my snobbery is showing.)
It was also neat to read the Charles de Lint story. It's a Newford story, but not one involving the usual suspects. (Jilly, Geordie, Christie, etc.)(less)
This is a cool concept. I couldn't really get into about half of the stories, including some of the ones by authors whose work I'd enjoyed before. The...moreThis is a cool concept. I couldn't really get into about half of the stories, including some of the ones by authors whose work I'd enjoyed before. The ones I enjoyed:
"Ass-Hat Magic Spider" by Scott Westerfeld (even though it was slightly twee); "The Surfer" by Kelly Link; "Anda's Game" by Cory Doctorow (despite being a bit message-heavy, it was an interesting take on video game war); "The Star Surgeon's Apprentice" by Alistair Reynolds (cool to read that he has a bunch of Word files on his hard drive that are titles waiting for stories); and "Pinocchio" by Walter Jon Williams (possibly the most interesting take on celebrity as virus that that I've encountered; for more on this, see 2033: The Future of Misbehavior).
"Orange" by Neil Gaiman was merely okay. The others I can be assumed to have made an effort to read but not been intrigued by, or been put off by.(less)
An inordinate number of these stories start with the gratuitous exposition of the character's full name. Booooooooooooring.
Okay, so that's just my per...moreAn inordinate number of these stories start with the gratuitous exposition of the character's full name. Booooooooooooring.
Okay, so that's just my personal pet peeve. However, only two of the stories held my attention from beginning to end. Two of the others were decent, but not really grabby. The others ... I didn't even come close to wanting to finish them. (The ones that struck me as worthwhile, FWIW, were "The Hum" by Rick Hautala, "Stalking Old John Bull" by Jean Rabe, "Engines of Desire & Despair" by Russell Davis, and "The Historian's Apprentice" by S. Andrew Swann.
I should probably note that I've read a lot of SF, and very few of the stories in here shut off my internal critic. You know, the one that says "Good God I am so tired of stories that tell us the character's full name right off like it's the most important thing in the world" and "Oh, hey, the video game war trope." Someone who doesn't have that issue might get more out of this book.(less)
I was tempted to give this a 2 or 2.5 but the stories I liked, I really liked, and I didn't read many of them in full. I was going to go in order, but...moreI was tempted to give this a 2 or 2.5 but the stories I liked, I really liked, and I didn't read many of them in full. I was going to go in order, but I decided to list the ones I liked most first.
S.J. Rozan's "The Path" was an excellent story featuring Buddhism and the pilfering of antiquities. "Squatters' Rights" by Rochelle Krich was excellent and chilling. Toni L.P. Kelner's story was a nice, quirky way to wind up the anthology. I liked "The Strength Inside," a story about the difficulties of homeowners' associations by Melissa Marr.
"Wizard Home Security" by Victor Gischler was pretty good. Stacia Kane's "Rick the Brave" was decent. "The Mansion of Imperatives" is something that someone who enjoys creepy surreal horror more than I do would probably really like. Suzanne McLeod's "Full-Scale Demolition" was pretty good, but I could have done without the romance plotline.
I skipped the Sookie Stackhouse story, because I've read the author's other series and am not that interested. I bounced off the Patricia Briggs story; about halfway through I realized I just wasn't interested. Something about the characters she creates, or their voices, just seems to not work for me, at least in short form. The Heather Graham story didn't grab me after a few pages, so I skipped it.
I bounced off E.E. Knight's "Woolsley's Kitchen Nightmare" and Seanan McGuire's "Through This House." With the latter it felt like I was missing too much background. This was probably not helped by my knowing that there are 6 books in the series featuring that character. I bounced off Simon R. Green's story.(less)
This was a surprisingly entertaining anthology. Of course the concept is total fluff, but sometimes there's nothing wrong with that. Also, the visual...moreThis was a surprisingly entertaining anthology. Of course the concept is total fluff, but sometimes there's nothing wrong with that. Also, the visual design of the cover, dust jacket, and endsheets are completely awesome. Unfortunately, the top right front corner of the copy I got from the library bent or crumpled a bit just from being in my bag. Could just be a defect in this copy, though. Hard to say. Oh, and incidentally? Team Zombie all the way. Both in general and with regard to this anthology.
Best zombie story: Alaya Dawn Johnson, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (serious); Libba Bray, "Prom Night" (funny, mostly) Best unicorn story: Naomi Novik, "Purity Test" (funny); Diana Peterfreund, "The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn" (serious) Honorable Mentions: Carrie Ryan's "Bougainvillea" and Scott Westerfield's "Inoculata." Best Overall: Ooh, tough call. Very hard to decide between "Purity Test" and "Prom Night." At the moment, I'm leaning toward "Prom Night." Stories I couldn't get into or couldn't keep reading: Garth Nix, "The Highest Justice (U with a side of Z)"; Margo Lanagan, "A Thousand Flowers (U)"; Cassandra Clare, "Cold Hands (Z)"; Kathleen Duey, "The Third Virgin (U)."
Okay, so technically I read the Nix and Duey stories. But in the first case, it was so bland I initially forgot that I'd read it. And in the second case, I made myself keep reading and I can't guarantee that I didn't skip a few pages or paragraphs.
Ryan and Bray both produced something that I think is better than their novel-length work. Meg Cabot's "Princess Prettypants (U)" and Maureen Johnson's "The Children of the Revolution (Z)" had their moments, but I think they both leaned a little too heavily on the tropes.(less)
Overall this had some decent stories. I'd say the ones I enjoyed the most were the ones by Scott Lynch and Tanith Lee.
Stephen Erikson, "Goats of Glory...moreOverall this had some decent stories. I'd say the ones I enjoyed the most were the ones by Scott Lynch and Tanith Lee.
Stephen Erikson, "Goats of Glory" - couldn't get into it, skipped.
Glen Cook, "Tides Elba" - not bad although I felt like not ever having read any of the Black Company books was a slight hindrance. Very testosterone-oriented.
Gene Wolfe, "Bloodsport" - interesting concept, the writing was kind of ... heavy, bordering on turgid?
James Enge, "The Singing Spear" - was okay. The story intro had some interesting comments taken from an interview that Enge did with Fantasy Book Critic about how "twenty-first-century literary fiction is looking to refresh itself at the wells of genre."
C.J. Cherryh, "A Wizard in Wiczesan" - not bad, not great. I lost patience in the middle of the story. As much as I love some of her work, I wish C.J. Cherryh would stop making her characters use the same atypical expressions. When you've read enough of her fiction it's as if she'd jumped off the page and hold up a sign that said, Hi, I'm C.J. Cherryh, I'm right here.
K.J. Parker, "A Rich Full Week" - meh. Didn't finish.
Garth Nix, "A Suitable Present for a Sorcerous Puppet" - mildly amusing.
Michael Moorcock, "Red Pearls" - okay, genre classic/genre co-creator - whatever. Elric is still whiny. In the introduction to this collection the editors even called him an angsty teenager. Okay, but as far as I can tell he never actually outgrows that. So annoying. (I'm probably being unfair here. But I've never been able to finish a book or story about Elric, because of the whininess.)
Michael Shea, "Hew the Tintmaster" - amusing setting, overall story concept ... enh.
Tim Lebban, "The Deification of Dal Balmore" - meh. I can do without torture fics tyvm.
Scott Lynch, "In the Stacks" - amusing, with a cute concept. I liked this better than I liked his novels from the same setting. Though the d'name-starting-with-consonant surnames still make me wince. (Kari Sperring's Living With Ghosts is another offender in this regard IIRC and ... call me excessively francophilic, but I just don't like it.)
Tanith Lee, "Two Lions, a Witch, and the War-Robe." Mildly entertaining send-up of various quest tropes. In tone, kind of like a cross between Jane Yolen and Ysabeau Wilce.
There were other stories in here ... I either read them and they didn't really register, or I started and they weren't interesting enough to continue.(less)
This caught my eye mostly because of the Kage Baker and Naomi Novik short stories. Well, the Novik story was okay. The Baker story was all right for w...moreThis caught my eye mostly because of the Kage Baker and Naomi Novik short stories. Well, the Novik story was okay. The Baker story was all right for what happened, but it made me sad because Smith and Mrs. Smith (characters from her novel The Anvil of the World) had none of their interesting nuances here.
Probably the best story here was the one by Peter Beagle. I know, I'm going out on a limb there. While there were certain elements of cliché about it, and while writing about a writer is easy to do poorly and/or boringly, it had a feature I am coming to prefer: it was an adventure story without being Mindlessly Epic, i.e. all the adventure swoops in from nowhere. The adventure developed naturally out of the character's normal daily existence, without that A Wizard Did It/It Happened Because A Writer Said So feeling.(less)
I had actually read this once before; I can't be sure about the dates. I wanted to re-read the Porfirio story. (He appeared in Mendoza in Hollywood an...moreI had actually read this once before; I can't be sure about the dates. I wanted to re-read the Porfirio story. (He appeared in Mendoza in Hollywood and The Graveyard Game. I suppose it may not be her best short story ever, but to me it's interesting.
I'm also fond of "Standing in His Light," which features the rarely seen facilitator Van Drouten in a behind-the-scenes-of-history role. "Hellfire at Twilight" is okay, and "A Night on the Barbary Coast" is a mildly amusing Joseph and Mendoza story. "Welcome to Olympus, Mr. Hearst" is ... all right. I'd have to go back and read the later books in the series to be sure (and I don't really want to), but I think it may slightly contradict the canon.(less)
I thought there was a reference to this in Libriomancer, but apparently not. (Unless Amazon's Search Inside results are lying to me.) I guess I just f...moreI thought there was a reference to this in Libriomancer, but apparently not. (Unless Amazon's Search Inside results are lying to me.) I guess I just found it through wikisafari, either through looking up stuff about Jeeves and Wooster (P.G. Wodehouse) or Raffles (E.W. Hornung).
Anyway, however I found it, it was just an okay read. Carnacki made me think of Mercedes Lackey's Diana Tregarde, and to a lesser extent of Mulder from The X-Files — he is a believer and practitioner of occult knowledge, but he is also aware that fraud is common and tries to debunk it when he finds it.
The style of storytelling here is old, and it shows. The only story that really gripped me was "The Whistling Room." It was genuinely a bit scary, even at the end, even if it did it by making a woman a potential victim, if Carnacki hadn't averted the crisis.(less)
I snagged this at the library because another review led me to think that the Bujold story in this collection was new. However, it isn't; it's the cod...moreI snagged this at the library because another review led me to think that the Bujold story in this collection was new. However, it isn't; it's the coda to Shards of Honor.
The stories that I enjoyed were "Life-Suspension" (L.E. Modesitt), "Different Day" by K. Tempest Bradford, "Swanwatch" by Yoon Ha Lee, "The Culture Archivist" by Jeremiah Tolbert, and "The One with the Interstellar Conquest" by James Alan Gardner. "The Other Side of Jordan" by Allen Steele wasn't bad, and "Like They Always Been Free" by Georgina Li makes me think she might be worth checking out, though this particular story ... let's just say the beginning is a bit squicky.(less)
This is so very fanfic-ish, in concept at least. (And sometimes in execution. Please note that that's not meant as an insult. While some fanfic is bad...moreThis is so very fanfic-ish, in concept at least. (And sometimes in execution. Please note that that's not meant as an insult. While some fanfic is bad enough to make run screaming into the streets, some of it is of pro or near-pro quality.) It's a pretty cool idea, but I started losing interest after a few stories.
The Neil Gaiman piece at the beginning was excellent. I know that's a "really going out on a limb there" thing, but ... Neil Gaiman doesn't push my readerly buttons that much. (I know, that makes me a comparative rarity. >.> This might be the best thing by him that I can recall reading.) The Elizabeth Bear story that followed was almost as good. After that, the stories gradually began to seem very similar. It probably didn't help that I'm not that familiar with the Holmes canon.(less)
I'm going to be lazy and copy a comment I made to Hirondelle earlier, because it says most of what I have to say about this book.
There were some I lik...moreI'm going to be lazy and copy a comment I made to Hirondelle earlier, because it says most of what I have to say about this book.
There were some I liked. I felt like about half the stories held my interest/were worth reading.
The ones I thought well of, or at least was able to finish reading:
"Love Hurts" by Jim Butcher "Hurt Me" by M.L.N. Hanover "The Thing About Cassandra" by Neil Gaiman "His Wolf" by Lisa Tuttle "Kaskia" by Peter S. Beagle
Okay, so that's actually less than a third.
Others' mileage may vary. There were a lot of authors in here who I've tried reading before and found they were not really my thing. I made the attempt here but, sadly, no go.
I'm glad that someone tried the concept, and more generally the spec fic/romance crossover thing. (Well, okay, not that it hasn't been done before, in Irresistible Forces for example ... but I like the idea of it.)(less)
Only a few of these stories were really brilliant (par for the course for most anthologies, really), but it's interesting to see what's happening in E...moreOnly a few of these stories were really brilliant (par for the course for most anthologies, really), but it's interesting to see what's happening in European SF. The mini-overviews from the introductions to each story are also useful in this regard. So far as I could tell (not having read the originals), all the translations were good.
I read two of the stories here — "Two Delays on the Northern Line" and "The Diary of the Rose", as the setting is the same as that of Orsinian Tales a...moreI read two of the stories here — "Two Delays on the Northern Line" and "The Diary of the Rose", as the setting is the same as that of Orsinian Tales and Malafrena. "Diary of the Rose" had an SF/dystopic feel and "Two Delays" (in keeping with rest of the Orsinia works) did not.
I didn't have time to read the other stories, but I think I would like to later.(less)
Yes, the future is worth reading about, but ... most of these futures are pretty boring. Come on, people ... taking a swipe at Spears, Hilton, Ritchie...moreYes, the future is worth reading about, but ... most of these futures are pretty boring. Come on, people ... taking a swipe at Spears, Hilton, Ritchie et al is just going for the low-hanging fruit. Pathetic. (Not all did this, but more than one took this approach.)
However, if Jardine Libaire's "Pirate Daddy's Lonely Hearts Club Call-In Show" doesn't make you get all sniffly ... you may want to have that checked out. Pity she doesn't seem to have written anything else like it.
I suspect that the more familiarity you have with science fiction as a genre, the less likely you are to think this is great ... but I may be wrong.(less)
I forget why I checked this out from the library originally. To re-read the Delia Sherman story, maybe? Well, anyway, sadly I am coming to the conclus...moreI forget why I checked this out from the library originally. To re-read the Delia Sherman story, maybe? Well, anyway, sadly I am coming to the conclusion that "La Fée Verte" is one of the stories that I like less with each re-read.
A number of the stories that are here I had read elsewhere. However the Valente story and the Barzak story were new to me, and I liked them.
I had to stop reading the Peter Beagle story because it was called "Chandail" and all I could think was that chandail means sweater or jersey in French, and I kept waiting for that to become relevant. It may be that I didn't wait long enough. >.>(less)
I only picked this up for the Kage Baker story. So strictly speaking, you can't really say I read the whole thing. I gotta say, the Kage Baker story w...moreI only picked this up for the Kage Baker story. So strictly speaking, you can't really say I read the whole thing. I gotta say, the Kage Baker story was kinda weird. It was like when someone writes a really out there fanfiction reimagining of their favorite TV show. Only in this case, her favorite TV show is the life of Will Shakespeare, and she's into pre-Germanic and pre-Roman Britain. Which I can't really criticize her for, but man, this was weird. It sort of put me off reading the rest of the anthology, though some of the authors are more than capable of doing interesting things.(less)
I've never cared much for the horror genre*, and perhaps that's why I started reading each of the first four stories in this book and gave up and skip...moreI've never cared much for the horror genre*, and perhaps that's why I started reading each of the first four stories in this book and gave up and skipped to the next one before deciding to abandon the volume entirely. The intro informed me that one of the things that distinguishes New Weird from slipstream and interstitial fiction is influence from the horror genre, along with an eschewing of "postmodern techniques that undermine the surface reality of the text (or point out its artificiality)."
*I make an exception for zombies, though I tend to think of that as SF.(less)
A solid anthology. Not all the stories were previously unpublished. The introductions to the urban fantasy and paranormal romance sections were intere...moreA solid anthology. Not all the stories were previously unpublished. The introductions to the urban fantasy and paranormal romance sections were interesting. (I'm not as much of a horror fan, but Susan Palwick's short story "Gestella" was about as chilling as gender-based horror can be without involving rape. Still possibly triggering for people who have been emotionally abused, though.)
I forget why I got this from the library originally ... looking for more stories by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel after reading something of hers in anoth...moreI forget why I got this from the library originally ... looking for more stories by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel after reading something of hers in another collection, perhaps? Anyway, it has an impressive lineup, but I'm just not in the mood to read a short story collection and deal with the need for rapid focus/mood/setting shifts. I read the stories by Steven Brust, Walter Jon Williams, and Jack Williamson, but the rest will have to wait.(less)
3.5, I think. I think I only passed on four stories, and a couple of those were because I wasn't in the mood for the style of the piece or author at t...more3.5, I think. I think I only passed on four stories, and a couple of those were because I wasn't in the mood for the style of the piece or author at the time. But it also has a really useful and interesting introduction.
I jumped right to the Caroline Stevermer-Ellen Kushner story, because I am a huge Caroline Stevermer fangirl. Then I kind of forgot about the rest of the collection, possibly because it blended together in my mind with Willful Impropriety. The collections aren't actually that similar, at least not in the sense of being redundant. I think this one actually had a better ratio of punch-packing stories. Delia Sherman's book set a good tone, but I think that Veronica Schanoes Got It the most: her afterword talked about how everyone sees the cool bits, but not the class oppression. I mean, if you offered me a chance to be born as a member of the Victorian English upper classes, preferably a male one, I'd probably take it. But would I want everyone to live in that world? Not particularly.(less)
If you are an avid Kage Baker follower, you have probably read most of these stories. The only ones which had not previously appeared in an anthology...moreIf you are an avid Kage Baker follower, you have probably read most of these stories. The only ones which had not previously appeared in an anthology or collection were "Bad Machine" and "The Carpet Beds of Sutro Park." (I had not read "The Faithful", though — it seems not to have appeared anywhere since its 2003 appearance in New Voices In Science Fiction.) For a full listing of the contents of this collection, see here.
I had been looking forward to reading "The Carpet Beds of Sutro Park" ever since it was mentioned on Baker's web site, before her death in 2010. The immortal cyborgs of the Company series plus public gardens, a topic which interests me extremely? Yes please. (For pictures of and information about the carpet beds, see this page and this page, particularly page 2. For a very info-dense history about the park that is probably more detail than most people will care for, see this PDF.)
"Carpet Beds" does not involve any characters we had seen before. Rather, it features Ezra — a cyborg whose transformation from human to machine rendered him unable to speak — and Kristy, a human whose transformation from shy teenager to lonely woman and finally elderly cancer patient he can only watch. Given that Kage Baker knew what it was like to try to resist cancer and die from it anyway — this is a heartbreaking story.
If you are a fan of the Company series, then "Carpet Beds" is a must-read. I felt that "Bad Machine" (an story of adolescent Alec) provided some interesting background. "Welcome to Olympus, Mr. Hearst" and "Son Observe the Time" are must-reads too, if you haven't read them. ("Son" appears partly but not entirely in The Children of the Company, IIRC.) If you haven't read the series and think you might like to, then I recommend Black Projects, White Knights: The Company Dossiers or Sky Coyote as a starting point, depending on whether you prefer to read short stories or novels. This will expose you to a wide range of Baker's writings, but personally, I think it's not the best place to start.
The cover art is gorgeous, and the interior illustrations are nice but suffer somewhat by not being printed in color or designed from the first (I suspect) for greyscale printing. I think the anthology suffers somewhat by not having any supplementary material about these stories, whether produced by Kage Baker before her death, or by her sister Kathleen after it. (For Kathleen's post-Kage writings, see this blog.)(less)
I got this from the library for the Califa story by Ysabeau S. Wilce, even though I knew going in from her Twitter that this one involved characters w...moreI got this from the library for the Califa story by Ysabeau S. Wilce, even though I knew going in from her Twitter that this one involved characters we haven't seen before as protagonists. (Though in the background there are some minor characters we've seen before.) I feel like it lacked a certain amount of the humor and sparkle that the Flora and family stories have provided. But the ending made me laugh.
I read the rest of the stories, and sadly, none of them really worked for me. Not even the Kelly Link story I usually love her work. The Christopher Rowe and Libba Bray stories came the closest to being satisfying from beginning to end.
I want to like steampunk I love the concept but somehow nothing new and recent has really worked for me. Maybe I'm trying too hard or something....(less)
My main thought is that every vampire story that came after Twilight will in some way be in response to it. Whether you're trying to do better, making...moreMy main thought is that every vampire story that came after Twilight will in some way be in response to it. Whether you're trying to do better, making fun of it, or trying to cash in on the trend by imitating it, you're still responding to it. That said, there are many good and deep and powerful stories in this anthology. Maybe the vampire mythos hasn't been completely disinfected by the sunlight yet. But if you only read and want stories with hot sexy happily ever after vampire romance, or hot sexy unresolved sexual tension and danger, and will be unhappy without one or both of those things, then this is probably not the anthology for you.
The introduction has a good introduction to vampire stories through the ages, starting with myths and legends and going through Buffy and Twilight. (Though I think it could have been interesting to try to work White Wolf's Vampire: the Masquerade gaming setting in there somewhere.) For my thoughts on the individual stories, keep reading. :)
"Things to Know About Being Dead" by Genevieve Valentine — a strong start. I liked it. One hilarious poking-fun-at-Twilight moment. But it'd be easy to miss if you hadn't read Twilight, and it made perfect sense within the story context.
"All Smiles" by Steve Berman — had some very poignant and true moments. But the ending was weird and confusing. I understood it, it just didn't quite compute for me. (view spoiler)[Something that is initially present as an abusive boot camp for juvenile offenders/troubled boys is actually a boot camp/proving ground/whatever for potential vampire hunters? That's how this works? I'm sorry, my brain is gibbering. More than usual. (hide spoiler)]
"Gap Year" by Christopher Barzak — Even though Barzak's short stories have their moments of heavy-handed moralizing, I find that I can count on them to be basically well-crafted and enjoyable. He's good.
"Flying" by Delia Sherman — Had its moments. A bright note of humor I don't want to say too much about, because you should get to appreciate it for yourself. (view spoiler)[The way/reason the heroine runs away to join the circus is just too awesome. (hide spoiler)] But I saw the reveal coming. Would I have if this weren't a vampire anthology? Maybe.
"Vampire Weather" by Garth Nix — excellent. A really awesome story of how an Amish/Mennonite-type community might change, and not change, after a vampire apocalypse. (But also a story with people doing interesting things.)
"Late Bloomer" by Suzy McKee Charnas — Oh hey, it's that trope I can never remember the name of. (Yes, I'm writing this review at a dumb time of night and I did get up partly to see if I could find the name of that trope.) I did think the ending was just right and conveyed the feelings of the moment perfectly. Even if I am sort of exasperated or bored with that trope. Which, for the record, is this one.
"The List of Definite Endings" by Kaaron Warren — a really excellent piece. Grappled with the difficulties of the vampire existence in a way that didn't seem hackneyed.
"Best Friends Forever" by Cecil Castellucci — a good one. I don't think I can say too much about it without giving too much away, though.
"Sit the Dead" by Jeffrey Ford — At first I was expecting a stereotypical insipid happily ever after ending. I should have known better, because after all, it's Jeffrey Ford. That's not a complaint; it's praise. Though there were some things that seemed faintly ... orientalist? You know, look, they're from the old country, it's so quaint. Oh, and this seemed more like a zombie story than a vampire story. But I liked it.
"Sunbleached" by Nathan Ballingrud — this one was pretty creepy. And it had one image which actually upset my stomach. Definitely more toward the horror end of things.
"Baby" by Kathe Koja — not bad but not really my particular cup of tea, either.
"In the Future When All's Well" by Catherynne M. Valente — this was a good one. Very YA but also very true to itself. A nice feeling of suspense and doom hanging over the whole story.
"Transition" by Melissa Marr — a story with some interesting relationship dynamics.
"History" by Ellen Kushner — decent work. An interesting premise, but somehow it didn't feel like a very broad or deep story.
"The Perfect Dinner Party" by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black — There was nothing that really felt unexpected here, but all in all it's a pretty good short story.
"Slice of Life" by Lucius Shepard — This was the first short story in here that really lost me. Not because it was confusing but because it just wasn't holding my interest. And unfortunately, the same was generally true of the last story, "Why Light?" by Tanith Lee.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This was an impulse read; I was browsing in the library and it looked interesting.
Short summary: brilliant with words, brilliant with imagery and atmo...moreThis was an impulse read; I was browsing in the library and it looked interesting.
Short summary: brilliant with words, brilliant with imagery and atmosphere, not quite so capable with characters and story generally. I found out that most of the stories in this book didn't quite convince me to want to read them with the attention that they need to really appreciate them.
If I were to re-read this sometime when I was feeling a little less tired, I might appreciate it a little more, and give it a higher rating than 3. (Really 3.5, but Goodreads doesn't allow for that.)
Saffron and Brimstone might have suffered by comparison to In the Cities of Coin and Spice, which I finished a few days ago. Both are what you might call atmosphere-and-feelings stories (or sets of stories, really). I spent a goofy-long amount of time thinking of what the structure of this book is like: nested code, matryoshka dolls, etc. Of course, this was before I got to the ending, which probably would have changed my thinking if I had been aware of it in advance. But I wasn't, well, not until I flipped ahead to the ending before I was actually there. (less)