I was looking forward to reading this book for a long time. I first heard about it when the table of contents was announced on SF Signal. That seems tI was looking forward to reading this book for a long time. I first heard about it when the table of contents was announced on SF Signal. That seems to be how I hear about most of the anthologies I read these days. It sounded like a lot of fun, but it was a kickstarted book so I wasn't sure if it would be available at my library. But I put it in my calendar to check when it was supposed to be published and lo and behold, a year or so later, after I checked at the library for a few months, it showed up, I was so pleased. And it pretty much lived up to my expectations. It was nice to read a book that was all fun stories. Most anthologies swing around from nice to pretty grim. Because the authors were trying to tell a space opera in a short story, which is normally a form that requires several books to tell a solar system or galaxy spanning adventure, they all had to stick pretty tightly to the adventure aspect of the stories and just try to figure out a clever twist or show us a clever character portrait or something like that. I started out taking notes on each story, but I petered out after a few because they were, well, not too similar exactly, but didn't have enough going on that felt compelled to take notes. They were fun. I just didn't need to analyze them, enjoying was enough. There were only two that I kept my notes on.
Seanan McGuire's story, Frontier ABCs: The Life and Times of Charity Smith, started the book and it was just top-notch. I don't think I've read a science fiction story from her before, but it was as terrific as her stories always are. What a neat character, it was so easy to imagine her sharp-shooter frontier schoolteacher flying around the solar system for three hundred years meting out her version of justice in the name of the children she'd made herself the protector of. The seeds. The story felt complete by itself, but I could also easily see McGuire writing more stories about this character or this world. What she established in so short a time feels so real and established now, it's out there and waiting if she ever wants to go back. I'd definitely want to go back with her. But if not, that's fine too, because I know that Cherry is still there, taking care of things, whether we're getting reports about it or not. It was a great story and quite distinctive compared to the other stories in the book relative to character and settings.
Then there was Mike Resnick's story, Catastrophe Baker and the Ship Who Purred, which was appalling. Apparently this spacefaring scoundrel is a classic character of Resnick's, which just makes it worse. If this story had been written sixty years ago maybe I wouldn't have been so surprised at the total cheeseball schlock but it was just dumb and offensive on every level, not funny, not cute, just dumb. Even without the parts with the female ship having orgasms just from him touching her buttons, every part of the story was just dumb, dumb dumb dumb. It felt like a parody of an old-fashioned story but I'm pretty sure it wasn't, I'm pretty sure this is what he and lots of other people think is fun. I'm too confused by it. His second story about the same character was just short, dumb and porny, I don't know what the point of that was. It should have been a quicky in Playboy. I don't understand any of it. I like fun and funny characters, big broad humorous silly stories. Throwbacks can be fun. But this is just bizarre to me.
And moving on... A.C. Crispin's stories were quite good. I liked Brenda Cooper's story a lot too. A.M. Roelke's was good, though not a space opera, just a time travel story. And ending the book with Kaolin Fire's poem, The Legend of Rae Raygun, was the perfect ending and the perfect bookend to Seanan McGuire's Cherry Smith story. And the cover is great! Paul Pedersen did a wonderful job with that, people who bought the book got a absolutely super cover for their shelves. Oh, and a small thing, I really like that with the author bios in the back it lists their stories and the page numbers underneath their bio, it's very nicely done. I prefer bios after the stories instead of at the back of the book, I want to read about them and look them up to find more of their work right away after I've read a story. To me learning about the author is part of the fun of reading an anthology, but that's my quirk I guess. But that one little detail in the back is something I haven't seen before and it really works well, it looks polished and makes the book more functional at the same time. And that brings me to congratulating Bryan Thomas Schmidt for pulling it all together, it's a great accomplishment. It was clearly a labor of love, so it's nice to be able to be a tiny part of something like by saying that I enjoyed it. It's a fun book, and everyone who had a part in pulling it together should be proud....more
The detectives: **Danny Hendrickson - from Laura Anne Gilman’s Cosa Nostradamus series. **Cassiel - from Rachel Caine’s Outcast Season series. **Kate CThe detectives: **Danny Hendrickson - from Laura Anne Gilman’s Cosa Nostradamus series. **Cassiel - from Rachel Caine’s Outcast Season series. **Kate Connor - from Julie Kenner’s Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series. **John Taylor - from Simon R. Green’s Nightside series. ? Jessi Hardin - from Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series - who's this? Jill Kismet - from Lilith Saintcrow’s Jill Kismet series. Quincey Morris - from Justin Gustainis’ Morris/Chastain Investigations series. Marla Mason - from T. A. Pratt’s Marla Mason series. Tony Foster - from Tanya Huff’s Smoke and Shadows series. Dawn Madison - from Chris Marie Green’s Vampire Babylon series. Pete Caldecott - from Caitlin Kittredge’s Black London series. Tony Giodone - from C. T. Adams and Cathy Clamp’s Tales of the Sazi series. Jezebel - from Jackie Kessler’s Hell on Earth series. Piers Knight - from C. J. Henderson’s Brooklyn Knight series. ...more
I got this book from the library because I'd reserved Gail Z. Martin's new book Deadly Curiosities and I knew if I liked it if want to read the shortI got this book from the library because I'd reserved Gail Z. Martin's new book Deadly Curiosities and I knew if I liked it if want to read the short stories she's publishing in the series as well. I guess she's writing two different short story series and publishing a new story in one series or the other every month. Sounds lucrative. Since she'd already published several of the stories in the Curiosities series in anthologies, that was the only way I could try them. I liked her story in this book a lot. I'd have liked it equally well if I hadn't read the book. It was pretty short, but it captured the city and characters well and it was very intriguing. It certainly would have made me want to find out more about her work and that series if possible. I'd also hoped to read more of the stories in the book. I've been very into short fiction lately and I was interested to find an anthology with so many different authors than the ones I seem to be starting to see over and over again in magazines and anthologies. But I keep getting distracted by other priorities and the book really needs to go back to the library. Audrey Niffenger's story was just OK. And that's sadly as far as I got. Maybe another time. ...more
I didn't feel inspired to write about each story in this anthology. I think I didn't always feel capable, like I'd necessarily fully understood enoughI didn't feel inspired to write about each story in this anthology. I think I didn't always feel capable, like I'd necessarily fully understood enough to really comment or criticize. And to be completely honest, I didn't always like some of them enough to have much to say. But others were great. Or disturbing. Or kind of fascinating. Some that I didn't like were all of those and some that I did like were all of those. And Aliette de Bodard's Xuya story was just great, pretty much everyone seems to agree on that. I'm getting more and more sucked into reading all of the stories in her Xuya universe, she's compelling and many of them are available online for free. There's a timeline on her website with links if you're interested.
I find it interesting to see that quite a few people did write reviews commenting on each story, more than I see for most big anthologies (for example, those edited by George R.R. Martin which have authors from multiple genres, if not many countries). It's interesting to see that most people also read every story, unlike in so many anthology reviews where you see people say, "I only read the story by...". I enjoyed reading the comments by the people who wrote detailed reviews, it helped me try to understand my reactions to the stories, and gave me that feeling of being in lit class and having a great discussion about the book. And it was just fun to see that the book inspired so much reaction, that people cared enough to want to write about it, even though I'm five years late to the party. I really appreciate all of the work people put into their reviews, it added a lot to my enjoyment of the book. I sometimes feel like a dork when I post super long reviews about anthologies with comments on every story, but I keep my notes for my own sake so I can remember what I thought about the stories and the authors in the future. But maybe someone else will appreciate seeing what I thought sometimes like I do seeing what these people thought today. Anyway, I enjoyed the book and the experiences, and I'm looking forward to the next two installments. ...more
I've been reading a lot of more serious short fiction lately, so I was really in the mood for this for a change. Previous anthologies edited by this pI've been reading a lot of more serious short fiction lately, so I was really in the mood for this for a change. Previous anthologies edited by this pair have been very good and full of a great mix of stories. But these all pretty much blended together and just weren't as fun and charming as they should have been. It was only stubbornness and a lazy sense of momentum that made me bother to finish the book. The only stories that were really good were Seanan McGuire's and Scott Sigler's. Even some favorite authors' stories were just OK. It was just a really mediocre book....more
I got this because The Dead Sea-Bottom Scrolls by Howard Waldrop was nominated for a Locus Award for best short story in 2014. His story was interestiI got this because The Dead Sea-Bottom Scrolls by Howard Waldrop was nominated for a Locus Award for best short story in 2014. His story was interesting, but it did thrill me., I think some others in the category are stronger. And the rest of the book didn't do it for me either, even though I'm very into short stories right now. I picked it up several times, read a couple of the stories, but something about the tone of the book wasn't working for me. Maybe it's because our basic idea about Mars has just changed as a culture, it's not the thrilling adventure that it was imagined to be in the '50 and '60, and that reality permeates the stories even when the authors try to set it aside and write something fantastic. I don't know. And now I just saw that the book won the Locus Award for best anthology this year, so what do I know? Obviously some people liked it. And liked the editors, which helps get it picked up and read by more people with a positive frame of mind maybe. Their names got my attention too, their anthologies are usually quite good. But I marked it "partially-read-was-enough"....more
It took me three months to read this. I have notes on most of the stories and many of the essays, but my body never cooperated enough to be allow me tIt took me three months to read this. I have notes on most of the stories and many of the essays, but my body never cooperated enough to be allow me to b strong enough write the very long review. But the heart of it was that it's a super collection of stories and essays. It was surprised at how much I enjoyed the non-fiction, it wasn't dry, it wasn't boring, it was easy to read, interesting, stirring or moving. And most of the stories were really quite good and a few were great. And it's HUGE! HUGE! You more than get your money's worth with this one, it isn't a double magazine, it's a really thick hardback book size (but paperback). I'm a weirdo who actually bought it in paperback and ebook versions. I bout the ebook but then realized how nice it would be to have the paperback and be able to see the table of contents and know where I was in the book, be able to have the lovely cover in color, etc. But then it was also so nice to have the ebook version on the table when I was outside reading in the sun, I bought it again after I'd returned it. I figured it was a way of making another donation to the cause. Anyway, whatever way you get it, you should get it....more
I had no intention of getting sucked into this book! I was just going to read Caitlín R. Kiernan's story, which was nominated for a 2014 Locus Award fI had no intention of getting sucked into this book! I was just going to read Caitlín R. Kiernan's story, which was nominated for a 2014 Locus Award for best short story, and maybe one or two others. (Kiernan was also nominated in the novella category and for her collection.) But the editor really got me in the intro, "Where did it all start for you?...For me it was a book title Fifty Famous Fairy Stories..." That book is on my shelf upstairs, one of the few I have from my early childhood. How I poured over that book. I think I got it at a garage sale for a quarter, so worth every cent. Then I liked the first story in the book and then kept going. They were all so easy to read, it was a pleasure after some of the hard to plow through stories I've been reading lately. It really struck me after Tanith Lee's story when I was on page 90 and had no intention of switching over to a novel (even though I had just picked up the new Jim Butcher book from the library!) that I was well and truly sucked in. Or enchanted might be a nicer and more appropriate word.
Anyway, the editing of the book was very good. I liked that each story had introductions by the author. Their thoughts on what fairy tale they wrote about and how they approached their tale added a lot to the book. Plus I hadn't heard of a number of the tales being referenced and had to look them up before reading the story to properly appreciate it. The illustrations were nice too, a pleasant change to have each chapter started with a full-page picture, even if most were just clipart. It was also nice that the stories varied in length so much, some were very brief, almost like flash fiction, and others were much longer. It gave the book a nice flow that I really haven't seen in any other anthologies. I liked reading so many international authors, there were several from Great Britain and Australia, among others. And the choice of authors seemed very deliberate. There were several authors who said that they had a specialty writing about fairy tales, sometimes with a twist, so it wasn't not just people taking a wild swing at the theme. I'd much rather read author's I've never heard of who are right for this anthology and a bunch of big names that don't have anything special to add to this theme. There was a lot to give the book variety and texture even with a strong theme like this. The book was well-edited and overall one of the better anthologies that I've read.
Yoon Ha Lee - The Coin of Heart's Desire - This story was originally written in exchange for a donation to help survivors of Hurricane Katrina. It's an neat little tale about an empress and a dragon, a little light in the end, but really pretty good. It was fun to see a completely original story to anchor the book, using Korean folklore about the Dragon King Under the Sea remembered from her childhood as an inspiration, as well as some personal family memories. The imagery of the story was very effective and lingering, which makes sense since she said that it was the illustrations from the Korean folktales that she grew up with that that she remembered more than the stories themselves. She did a good job of conveying the spirit and visuals of what she was imagining. Also, don't be fooled by her short bio, she has written a ton of short stories in addition to the collection mentioned in the book. There's a lot available online in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Tor.com at least, that was enough for me, but there might be more.
Genevieve Valentine - The Lenten Rose - It was funny to see her here, I'd just read my first story by her the day before on Tor.com. But this story wasn't such a success for me. For one thing, if I hadn't taken the time to read the article about "The Snow Queen" in Wikipedia to refresh my memory then I'd have been totally lost, it's very dependent on the original fairy tale to have any meaning. Which is fine to some degree, I ended up reading a lot of the original stories that I was unfamiliar with. But the other stories would have made sense without having read the background, they just wouldn't have resonated as much. This one was really confusing, I don't think I'd have followed well without knowing where it was going. It was so disjointed, I don't see how all of that jumping around added to the story at all. It didn't make it mysterious or mystical it just made it confusing. It didn't work. Disappointing.
Jane Yolen - The Spinning Wheel's Tale - It was fine but it's very, very short. There really wasn't much to judge here, a bit of cleverness about who the witch might have been, not so much about the wheel. Cute, short. It did intrigue me about her over eighty-five original fairy tales, as mentioned in her bio, so that was a win for the anthology model of marketing. I liked her clear style without many unnecessary flourishes. (Of course the contrast seemed even greater after the confusing last story.) Her style reminded me a bit of Seanan McGuire somehow, maybe something about the wittiness.
Tanith Lee - Below the Sun Beneath - It seemed like a pretty faithful version of the story of the twelve dancing princesses with a few added elements to make it her own and to resonate for modern readers. He "saves" her and she saves him right back. The language was a bit heavy with the fairy-tale style if you know what I mean, but it was a good story.
Cinda Williams Chima - Warrior Dreams - I've lived in Cleveland most of my life and I never heard of the Storm Hag of Lake Erie of the Black Dog of Lake Erie, so that was interesting. She included many other mythological elements too. And if was a pretty good story. But it was so urban fantasy, it didn't feel at all like a fairy tale. Putting in mythological elements doesn't make it a fairy tale, does it? I don't know, it has some elements, he was offered the sword, he killed the wicked "queen". There's certainly no happily ever after, but that doesn't matter, the real Grimm stories were pretty grim too. It just didn't feel anything like a fairy tale at any point. I don't need flowery language, I don't even like too much of it. I don't know what bothered me so much. What makes a fairy tale a fairy tale? Not just fae? It did make me curious if all if the talk about him being a Warrior was connected to her warrior YA series, which does look pretty good.
Kaaron Warren - Born and Bread - A fine short story, much shorter than the one that inspired it, "Sivka Burka". A bit more gruesome too! It didn't make me hungry, that's for sure. Nice to read an Australian, and Fijian, author, nominated for many awards including the Aurealis Award and the Ditmar Award. I've been frustrated that I wasn't able to get to any of the award-nominated stories this year, so this book is helping to sooth my frustrations.
Richard Bowes - Tales That Fairies Tell - Puss in Boots with an extra helping of Renard the Fox. He recently wrote a collection of modern feminist-centered fairy tales. I liked most of it but the end was abrupt, the intro of dragon felt out of place though the idea that the cat was indeed a monster was not. "I am a monster, but never to you." Good fairy tale stuff. Overall a good story just the pace felt kind of off, it didn't feel like it was building to an end then it was over, no crisis the end. Reynard was wasted too.
Ekaterina Sedia - Sleeping Beauty of Elista - I like her point from the intro, one thing fairy tales can do is extract some comfort from terror. They were often attempts to explain and warn about some pretty scary things, so maybe someone brave lived through the terror you should now avoid by listening to the tale you're being told as a warning, and they won a kingdom or lived happily ever after. Or died if it was some of the real original stories. Anyway, it reminded me of the article I just read on Tor.com about why we should let kid read horror. Grim, dark fairy tales can not only be actual warning of what not to do (don't go down that road or into that castle!!) but can be an emotional comfort and release that people of all ages really need.
Sedia is great at giving her modern books a fairy tale quality anyway. I've read a few that I'd qualify as urban fantasy. (I hate the term literary urban fantasy or literary anything, what does that mean, that just for fun stuff is crap with no literary value?) But her modern has a eerie, haunting quality that feels fairy tale like to me, like there's a mystical magical element floating beneath the surface of everything going on. Like I said above, just because stories have myths in them doesn't mean that they feel like fairy tales. I've read tons of urban fantasy with mythological elements that doesn't at all feel like it would fit in this book. Sedia's stories have that quality to more of a degree than most.
The story was good, she definitely transported a traditional fairy tale into a modern setting. And as I often do with her, I appreciated the international setting, this time a small city in Russia. There were no answers though. It did make me want to check out her collection, now that I'm reading so many short stories.
Caitlin R. Kiernan - The Road of Needles - This was a remarkably complete world, character, and story right from the opening and all throughout. It was a bit odd the way the woman was always referred to as Nix Severn, her full name, when she was on the ship. I guess it was to show that she was caught up in the tale, the way that Little Red Riding Hood was referred to by her full name, never Red or Hood. I loved the way the author took a fairy tale into science fiction and outer space, it wasn't at all literal and it worked great. She writes a lot of great fairy tale themed stories so this was really up her alley. It was cool that she took it in such a different direction.
Nisi Shawl - Lupine - Very short, the into and bio together were almost as long as the story. Definitely a fairy tale. The animal fixed everything but who knows why, just because the girl was so good like Cinderella was I guess. Not exactly a retelling of any story, original as far as I can tell but definite strong Cinderella influences despite the very un-Cindy like telling.
Angela Slatter - Flight - I hadn't heard of "The Raven" or "White Bride, Black Bride" but after reading them I was pretty intrigued at how she was going to weave them together, much less make them "reloaded" perhaps as she'd done in her MA work, which was writing reloaded fairy tales. Another Australian author, or I'm guessing that from the Aurealis Award she won. It's so hard to get any fiction by Aurealis Award winning authors sometimes, it's good to see them included here. She was also nominated for a BFSA and WFA so she might not be as hard to track down if I look. Anyway, she made the stories work, I was impressed.
Priya Sharma - Egg - A British doctor, another international author. I really liked this one. She wrote something new instead of reworking something old. It was very touching, very effective, on a literal and symbolic level. Mothers and daughters, a gold mine for authors, eh? She was the first one that I immediately looked up and sent stories to my kindle, instead of just looked up casually with vague ideas of paying more attention to them later.
Cory Skerry - Castle of Masks - Based on"Beauty and the Beast". I didn't like it. It isn't cool to just decide people's fates, just because it was done to you doesn't make it OK to turn around and do it to others. It doesn't matter if you think they're better off, it isn't your decision. Evil people in fairy tales do that stuff, not heroes. This wasn't a happy ending.
Nathan Ballingrud - The Giant In Repose - He has a Norwegian background so he was interested in Scandinavian folklore for his story, another one I had to look up and found interesting. His approach was interesting too, what if his hero's journey got interrupted so long ago and was resumed in a more modern era? What would it mean to him after so much time? It reminded me a bit of the Fables graphic novels in the idea that he remained young as long as he remained true to the "Story." When he came to American and abandoned his myth, his Story, he began to change and age, a cool idea. I also really liked that you didn't have to have read the original tale to enjoy this story, the author captured all of the elements in his tale. If this story was reprinted in another book or magazine without the introduction so a reader didn't know that it was about that myth, or didn't take the time to look it up like I did, the story wouldn't suffer for it. It made sense since the author knew that Scandinavian mythology isn't well known in the countries where this book was probably primarily going to be sold. It was quite a good story. A good one for this book as well, more good flow and balance.
A.C. Wise - A Hush of Feathers, A Clamor of Wings - I've read her Women to Read column in SF Signal. I like her idea from her intro that fairy tales are skeletons wanting skin. (There was more to the analogy than that.) It helps explain very simply why so many books, comics, movies, TV shows and who knows what more can continue to be created around the same simple frameworks. Old bones, new skin, new story with similar shapes, familiar yet haunting resemblance. Powerful stuff. The story was OK. It used elements from mythology and fairy tales but it didn't really feel like a fairy tale itself. Maybe because it was more a recounting of history than actually a journey In real-time. But so was the giant's tale and that worked. Whatever. It also bugged me that although I liked her idea, as stated in her into, that she was giving voice to one of the cursed birds in the original story and suggesting that all of them might not be innocent victims, I had no idea what original story she was referring to. I searched the internet for far to look for seven princes with a sister, I looked up some Sleeping Beauty stuff because the princess does have those pricked fingers from seeing the nettle shirts, I just don't get it. Circe I know, but what does that has to do with not so innocent birds? I didn't get it and it was annoying.
Christopher Barzak - Eat Me, Drink Me, Love Me - Based on the poem, "Goblin Market." This one definitely wasn't a fairy tale, it wasn't a journey of any kind or any present tense story. It was a tale about a fairy tale and it was a good story, I'm not complaining. I liked the way he read nuances into the poem and what might have been going on behind the scenes and brought it all to life as well. It was fun to have a reason to read the original poem too, after seeing the Goblin Market referred to in several urban fantasy books lately.
Erzebet Yellowboy - The Mirror Tells All - A "Snow White" story. Another one that is reminiscing of a story instead of any actual action. Makes me question the editing at the end of the book that it has so many similar stories in a row. It story was fine.
Theodora Goss - Blanchefleur - This is a fairy tale! An innocent, a dead mom, a fairy auntie instead of godmother to give him/force him Into an apprenticeship, a journey, a court of cats, three tasks, three gifts, lots of good stuff. It felt like one of the classic stories that my grandma read to me when I was a kid, I could almost see the bright colors of the book with Puss In Boots and the other characters in her hands, could imagine the lizard children in their furniture fort or the clever Professor Owl with a quill in his hand. And she did it all without using flowery language, how'd that work so well? A great story to co-anchor the book. Other than the part where they're cousins, but that makes them even more suited to be European royalty, right? It was fun to end with another original story as well.
In the end I was intrigued enough by Lee, Sharma and Ballingrud to collect several additional stories from the internet by each. I already have Kiernan's latest collection on my kindle waiting to be read. And I'm thinking about getting Sedia's short stories as well. ...more
There was a bit of a preponderance of high fantasy compared to the other books that I've read that these two have edited, and less of a mix overall ofThere was a bit of a preponderance of high fantasy compared to the other books that I've read that these two have edited, and less of a mix overall of genres. But maybe fantasy just sounded fun to some of the authors when they thought about writing about rogues, it isn't as though the editors told them what to write. There were a lot of stories from author's existing worlds, many more than usual in anthologies and in the previous anthologies that I've read by these two editors. Which is great for their fans. And sometimes good for new readers. But sometimes not so great, like the authors were trying to shoehorn their favorite characters into the idea of being rogues even though they really were good guys and gals and not roguish at all.
A note on bios - listing every book the author ever wrote isn't helpful. List genres they fall in and the first book in a series. Tell me if the author has done something else different than those novels that I should check out, something particularly representative of her work. And please tell me of the story I'm about to read is related to those novels or other short stories I should look for. Definitely intrigue me so that I can't wait to turn to page and read the story and add more of these books and stories to my to-read pile. But listing all of the books is a huge waste of paper. Intros should be anything but dull!
Joe Abercrombie - Tough Times All Over - A very cute story chock full of rogues in a thieving round robin that should keep you chuckling. It was the perfect opener for the book. I'm not familiar with the his First Law books, but this appears to be set in that world, I can't tell if any of the characters cross over. High fantasy.
Gillian Flynn - What Do You Do? - A twisty psychological story, slightly spooky at points, it definitely held my attention. It was also a good take on rogues from a couple of angles, very good use of the theme. I haven't read any of her novels but I think I can see what some of the fuss is about if she pulls these same kind of keeping the tension high and switchero tricks, making you have to go back and look at everything you read and see from a fresh perspective what you may, or may not, have missed the first time. Thriller?
Matthew Hughes - The Inn of the Seven Blessings - Another high fantasy. Raffalon and the story crossed the line from amusing rogue to not fun anymore when he was willing to rape the woman, and the only reason he didn't ask the other guy to help him do it was that he didn't want to cooperate with him more than he did want to rape her. Not funny in the least. I sure as heck didn't buy into the happy ending after that and I don't want to read any of his books anymore. I deleted his book that had been my to-read list for a while.
Joe R. Lansdale - Bent Twig - I was excited to finally read my first Hap and Leonard story, I've had Savage Season on my iPod for way too long. But I didn't get any sense of Hap's voice in this. Maybe it's because Leonard is gone for so much of it. Or maybe it's because he's thinking to himself instead of talking to other people a lot. But I didn't get much of a feel for him being any different than any other guy, he "sounded" the same to me as the guy in the story before this, and that guy was in an entirely different world running around in a forest, not in Texas. And it's super weird because the other book I just happened to be reading at the same time as this just happened to end up at a Joe Lansdale story too. It was Games Creatures Play. I'm not sure I loved that story for different reasons, but the kid who's the narrator has his own voice, as does the whole setting and situation, much more than the one in this book. I know Lansdale is a master. I've read a few very good stories of his before, I'm not doubting it. It was just odd that Hap was so bland here. I did listen to the first few minutes of Savage Season and it sounds terrific with Phil Gigante's voices for Hap and Leonard so I'm still looking forward to it. Anyway, this story wasn't exactly a mystery, but it was an investigation, whatever genre you want to classify it as. Violent PI story.
Michael Swanwick - Tawny Petticoats- Apparently the author has written several other short stories and a book about Darger and Surplus before. It's alternate history/urban fantasy. Fine, kind of cute, not so unique.
David W. Ball - Provenance - I didn't like the beginning of the story. I can't remember what it's called when stories use real history in them, like Dan Brown or Sarum, maybe just historical novel or something. But you have to work the history or the facts into a story, not just lecture. If I wanted to read pages of encyclopedia entry or an art history book then I'd be doing that, not reading a book of short stories. Then it did turn into a story but it was still weird. It's still plenty dry but isn't even interestingly peppered with real history. And he totally wasted my time and battery life checking to see if any of it was true. Then the one thing that was real is that there was a real artist named Otto Walter Beck born in the late 1800's in Ohio. Naming one of his Nazi characters after a real person in a historical fiction story does not seem right. Maybe he was trying to make it alternate history? Making Becks never having moved to America or something. If that was my family I'd be pissed
Carrie Vaughn - Roaring Twenties - The atmosphere was fun. As usual, her stories kind of leave meh at the end. It was urban fantasy set in the 1920s.
Scott Lynch - A Year and a Day In Old Theradane - Another high fantasy, this was very entertaining, just terrific. The cast was all strong females, except the automaton. I hope he writes more about this gang.
Bradley Denton - Bad Brass - I'm not sure a guy who hopes a chihuahua ends up as stir fry, and seems to mean it, is a rogue, which implies likability. But I do like the idea of the substitute teacher being so invisible that he can hear everything the kids say in the halls or see their texts over their shoulders when they aren't supposed to be texting in class. It's was kind of a thriller, with some cross/double-cross kind of action going on. I liked it better than I thought I would at the opening with the bad dog joke. But it was long and I literally couldn't keep my eyes open by the end so I missed some nuances.
Cherie Priest - Heavy Metal - I liked the story, but other than being told that he was a very bad man in the intro, he sure as heck seemed like a very good man in every way. That Ammaw Pete was pretty roguish though. Urban fantasy.
Daniel Abraham - The Meaning of Love - Amusing. It was interesting that when I read it the first time I thought that the main character was a male. It wasn't until I read other peoples' reviews that I realized that it might be a woman. On reading it again, it wasn't really clear, it could go either way really. I just didn't think a woman would be living along with a prince,
Paul Cornell - A Better Way To Die - I had been looking forward to this because it's the fourth of Cornell's Jonathan Hamilton story, all of which have been award nominated. Is Hamilton a rogue? Sometimes more than others. He definitely did not seem to be one here with his obey the military machine mentality and crisis of faith. I do like to some degree how every Hamilton story has been so different but it also makes it hard to relate to him. I liked the alternate worlds idea. But after four stories I still don't understand what Cornell is talking about with the Balance concept in these stories, it's just confusing. And if I don't get it then people who have only read this story really won't know. And this story didn't work. I didn't get it. I wouldn't have started to if I hadn't read the other stories. And don't get why Hamilton would let her get way with it, he's totally capable of lying but all about duty. And he seemed so dull here, not roguish at all. Alternate history/sci-fi
Steven Saylor - Ill Seen In Tyre - The intro says he does historical mystery, but this was just historical fiction. Pretty cute, I think much better than the one in Down These Strange Streets, which I didn't like because it was too full of lectures. It was pretty heavy handed on the rogue thing though, it would have been better to write a story where I didn't need him to explain who the rogues were or mention the word rogue so many times.
Garth Nix - A Cargo of Ivories - Nix has been forever on my to-read list because of his collaborations with Sean Williams, who's a real favorite of mine. I did find it a bit too convenient that the other two things that could banish a godlet that's gotten that powerful are incredibly difficult to come by, but they just happen to have an albino moklek right there, what a coincidence. But it was a pretty good story.
Walter Jon Williams - Diamonds From Tequila - A good reminder that This Is Not a Game has been on my to-read list for a long time. Though it looks like the first two books in the series are a lot more serious than the third, or at least that the third has a sense of whimsy that the others don't. I could be wrong about all of that though. But I'm intrigued about what this story had to say about Dagmar, who appears to be not the ingenue but the supervillain, at least by the time of this story. It could be interesting to see how that happened.
It was mystery and an investigation, with some sci-fi element, 3D printers exist just not that sophisticated yet. It was a very good story, it didn't matter that I hadn't read any of the books, I didn't feel frustrated about what I didn't know, just a bit intrigued to know more if I felt like it some day. But the story was very complete, it felt very finished, it didn't feel short story like somehow, whatever the heck that mean. The character just felt very real. They all did. 3D! But I haven't read Daryl Gregory's Afterparty yet but they do have the same idea about 3D printers making meds available, if different executions. But that's sci-fi for you, extrapolating where the technology can take things and thinking up a story of what could happen with it. I did wonder how did an actor found out that the biggest crime lord in Mexico has a profit of $6 billion a year on income of about $20 billion and employs about 150,000 people. Is that kind of thing public knowledge? It kinda ended with a whimper but it was good.
Phyllis Eisenstein - The Caravan To Nowhere - She wrote stories about this character, Alaric, in the magazines a long time ago and later turned them into two novels. This is the first new story about him in decades. It was fine but he wasn't much of a rogue, a pretty good guy all around. It was another author who was more enchanted with the idea of writing about her beloved character than the theme.
Lisa Tuttle - The Curious Affair of the Dead Wives - It's a blatant Sherlock Holmes knock-off, and by blatant I mean that it makes no bones about it and mentions Holmes several times, with the client even saying that she'd hoped to hire Holmes at first. I do wish that the female detective had done more detecting or had a more active role somehow. I guess having a reputation as a feminist author set up an expectation that wasn't really met. And the ghost stuff was kind of cheesy. And who was the rogue? The Not-Sherlock? He's cute but I didn't see him be bad except for when they broke into the house. And the woman detective says something on one paragraph near the end about having spent time over the last few years at séances. It sounds like the author was referring to other stories to establish their roguishness. It really wasn't clear here, they definitely came off as heroes. The story was OK. And a good balance for the book, which didn't have much by way of mysteries.
Neil Gaiman - How the Marquis Got His Clothes Back - A Neverwhere story. It was kind of fun, certainly richly imagined. But again the character, The Marquis de Carabas, didn't feel much like a rogue. He actually felt kind of whiny. Don't come after me with pitchforks, fans! I'm a big Gaiman fan, too. And if you're a diehard Neverwhere fan, I'm sorry. The brother, Peregrine, was roguish. I don't know if they were in the book, I forgot that I started it but never got very far into it when the dog ate it many years ago. I put it back on the high-priority to-read list even though the story was only OK.
Connie Willis - Now Showing - A near future science fiction story that was really fun. It was packed full of movie references that were very enjoyable, from Audrey Hepburn movies to Despicable Me. I'm sure some people will think it was overkill but I liked it. She really thought about how movie complexes could continue to get people to go and spend money in the near future when streaming video on our huge TVs is becoming so fast and easy. And she then took it even a step further and though about how those movie complexes and movie producers would take further advantage of their new business model, legal or not. It was a very good story, clever, stylish, romantic and smart.
Patrick Rothfuss - The Lightening Tree - I don't know from Kingkiller Chronicles or Bast, but it was fun. I guess the innkeeper is the guy in the books? Bast is his apprentice?
George R.R. Martin - The Rogue Prince, or, A King's Brother - This was even worse than the one in Dangerous Women. I was at least able to read some of that one. It's just beyond me what he's doing with these stories, since he's obviously able to write really terrific, gripping tales. I didn't read more than a few pages. I tried. I really did. I tried flipping through to see what happened as it went along, to see if it picked up a plot that I could grab on to. It made my junior high school history books seem interesting. And it will probably be nominated for a Hugo Award next year too because you people just love George. I love him too, but not like this, that's for sure....more
This was one of the best anthologies I've read. Almost every story was good, and it had a very good balance and flow overall. I did read it slowly oveThis was one of the best anthologies I've read. Almost every story was good, and it had a very good balance and flow overall. I did read it slowly over quite a period of time, putting it down and picking it up again many times, but I think this one would have held up pretty well for a straight read through.
Ian Tregillis - The Mainspring of His Heart, The Shackles of His Soul - A very good story, an intriguing alternate history and a moving story perfectly sculpted to fit the time available. I don't always like heart-tugging stories, I don't like feeling manipulated, and it's so easy for an author to cross that line. But this one work for me. It was a good opening for the book, setting the tone for the theme very well.
Jay Lake - The Blade of His Plow - The point of view changes weren't useful. Sometimes it's first, then it's third, it's too short of a story for that and it didn't add anything to it. And I just didn't buy into his motivation for being a soldier, for being killed and killing over and over again. I didn't like him, or feel sorry for him. I didn't actually feel much of anything, I just didn't connect with this one. If it had been a more original idea it could have saved it but I've read a ton of wandering Jew stories so it was all about the emotional impact.
Seanan McGuire - Cinderella City - This was a very enjoyable story, a good idea and well executed. It made me hope that the characters were a part of a series. I later found out that McGuire had written a previous short story about these characters in After Hours: Tales from Ur-Bar as well. This story didn't have the emotional depth that the first story in this book had, but it did have a cool idea and a sense of wonder that was a lot of fun, and it was a good change of pace for this point in the book.
Anton Strout - Tumulus - It was OK. It was good editing to have something a little darker at this point, the book was flowing well. I'm a fan of his but this wasn't my favorite thing he's done.
Fiona Patton - The Sentry - I found it hard to believe that a young woman (a girl really) could masquerade as a World War I soldier for more than a day or two without being caught. They didn't exactly have private latrines in those foxholes, much less in the barracks where they trained or anywhere else. It took away from the impact of the rest of the story, which was supposed to be very touching. Remember what I said about being a grumpy curmudgeon who doesn't like to be manipulated? It was still kind of touching.
Erik Scott de Bie - Ten Thousand Cold Nights - I'm glad I read the information about the author at the end of the book before reading this. It explained that the story draws upon the Japanese myth about the legendary competition between masters Muramasa and Masamune. In a test, Muramasa's blade was so bloodthirsty that it cut everything in its path including water and even air. Masamune's did not cut any of the things that Muramasa's did. Master Masamune's blade was declared the victor because it did not cut that which was innocent and deserving of preservation.
So, knowing all of that wasn't necessary going into the story, but it made it resonate more. It was a very good story, with a strong feeling of being firmly in the crossroads of historical fiction and fantasy, a legend of what might have been.
Dylan Birto - Mortality- I've read too many stories like this angel come down to Earth tale to enjoy this one. It was very predictable. It's just a story I've read in so many novels explored with so much more nuance (of course, they're longer). But it did fit the theme.
Tanith Lee - The Dog-Catcher's Song - A good story for the theme. A little creepy to think that one of our dogs might look at us romantically. But if it was turned into a human those loving emotions could certainly change. The teenage hormone point helped. I'll go with it for the sake of the story. I just read a story by Caitlin R. Kiernan because it was a finalist for the 2014 Locus Award that said that we shouldn't pick fairy tales apart with too much logic or fact and she was totally right. Anyway, it was kind of sad and sweet, a good fit for the book.
Laura Resnick - Mortal Mix-Up - This one was very disappointing. I'm a fan of her Esther Diamond series. She always balances adventure and humor in those books. But this wasn't funny and didn't go anywhere, it was just stereotypical and irritating. I hope it tickled other people's funny bones.
Jean Rabe - Band of Brothers - Such a bloodthirsty tale! I lost track of the number of broken arms, 30 dead men, and a dead-ish duck. But an original idea that I won't soon forget. The last line was great.
Tim Waggoner - Zombie Interrupted - This is more of an advertisement for his series than a real story, it felt like a tour guide of all of the different sites and creatures in Nekropolis than much of a story itself. I'm sure it intrigued some people into reading the series. I'm kind of intrigued, it sounds fun, a lot like the Dan Shamble books by Kevin J. Anderson but these came first by a lot of years. Usually the anthologies that I read , filled with stories by popular authors, are supposed to serve the dual purpose of entertaining you now and getting you to read more of the authors' works later. This didn't feel like so much that kind of a book, the stories are really strong, more the kind that get nominated for awards than just fun stories or between-the-book stories by popular authors that sell books. So this story seemed out of place. It was fine, it fit the theme, it just wasn't a story that would stand on it's own so much the way the others would.
Eugie Foster - Beneath the Silent Bell, The Autumn Sky Turns to Spring - A good story, the kind that seemed like it could earns awards. Not that it was perfect, just that it was the kind that judges seem to like, from what I can see from the award nominated stories that I've been reading. But I can't really figure out what they like.
Jody Lynn Nye - The Very Next Day - A cute Santa story. Bittersweet, but it didn't make me annoyed. The theme is human for a day, I can't get mad at all of the authors who take the description literally.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch - The Destroyer - I liked this story from a feral cat's perspective.
David D. Levine - Into the Nth Dimension - It wasn't perfect, but I liked the idea of the comic book world layered underneath ours with flatter colors, and how disorienting it would be to land in our with all of the extra vibrancy. The way the author described the change was great, very visual and easy to picture. The conflict between the characters was a bit predictable, duty versus freedom, responsibility versus love. It felt a lot like not so well disguised fanfic of the dynamic duo. But the concept was very cool.
Jim C. Hines - Epilogue - Very touching, a great way to end the book, though not a chipper one. But the story had it's light moments too, and definitely it's sweet ones. Good writing. And good editing to wrap things up.
So far I've only read One of Our Bastards Is Missing by Paul Cornell. It's a Hugo nominated novelette and his second entry into his Jonathan HamiltonSo far I've only read One of Our Bastards Is Missing by Paul Cornell. It's a Hugo nominated novelette and his second entry into his Jonathan Hamilton series of short fiction. But a lot of the stories in the book look great. Unfortunately my library system doesn't have it, but I'll try to see if I can find some of the stories online....more