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 enough...moreI 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. (less)
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 p...moreI'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.(less)
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 interesti...moreI 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".(less)
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 f...moreI 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. (less)
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 ove...moreThis 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 Hamilton...moreSo 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.(less)
I only read Paul Cornell's Catherine Drewe, which was quite good. It's the first story he wrote about Jonathan Hamilton. It's an alternate history sci...moreI only read Paul Cornell's Catherine Drewe, which was quite good. It's the first story he wrote about Jonathan Hamilton. It's an alternate history sci-fi spy thriller sort of thing.(less)
Turns out I've already read two terrific stories from this book, Kiss Me Twice by Mary Robinette Kowal and Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Val...moreTurns out I've already read two terrific stories from this book, Kiss Me Twice by Mary Robinette Kowal and Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente. These two were nominated for numerous awards and actually deserved the recognition, they're great stories. I was already planning to read Aliette de Bodard's The Shipmaker very soon as well. So I've got a head start on what could be a very good book, if these three are any indication. It may be some time until I'm able to get back to the whole book though.(less)
This is a weird book. Most anthologies have the purpose of convincing the reader to buy the included authors' other books and stories. They're suppose...more This is a weird book. Most anthologies have the purpose of convincing the reader to buy the included authors' other books and stories. They're supposed to introduce you to authors you haven't read before by including a handful of high profile authors who's stories readers feel they just must read. But this book is all reprints of previously published stories, most of which were already printed in other anthologies. So it's an anthology that's trying to get me to buy other anthologies? It's like reality TV, especially shows like The Soup. Why create something new if we can just remix what's already been done and just add a few intros to make it seem new? Cheap production at it's finest. Which wouldn't necessarily be a problem, I didn't know about that when I picked the book up from the library shelf. But fans of the (sub)genre might know, if they're reading the same handful of books and magazines that he is. I don't really know, I'm not an expert. It just seems odd.
My bigger issue was that I didn't enjoy the editing. This should have been a fun book.The cover design sure billed it as a fun book.Usually I strongly prefer to have the information about the writer of each story before the story and not at the end of the chapter or the end of the book. I like to have a sense of who they are before I read a story. But this time it didn't work out so well. The editor introduced each author with a few comments about their story or style of writing that should have been interesting and informative. But his comments and tone frequently just rubbed me wrong. It's fine to point out the literary themes in a story, but he sounded condescending to me, like that know-it-all kid in lit class in college. It didn't sound like he had any fun editing the book or reading any of the stories. And I didn't love any of the stories. I kept slogging through because I was trying to get to those authors that I 'd heard of, and hoping to discover a couple of new ones that I'd enjoy.
Anyway, I don't expect anyone to read the detailed review, I just wrote it all so I'd remember my thoughts about the authors in the future when I read their books.
Kim Newman - Übermensche! - An interesting alternate history about what it might have been like if Superman had landed in Germany. A hero to some is a villain to others. Intellectual not action, it's all a conversation between two old enemies.
Chris Roberson - A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows - Although it wasn't actually that long, it felt long, more like a novella. I think it was because it wasn't dumbed down because it was a short story, it was still filled with a lot of detail. It definitely felt like a part of a bigger world. The Wraithe seems to be based on The Shadow but I don't know those stories well enough to say if there were a lot of clever allusions or not, other than the obvious things like him being a writer and the mask, and the fun noir tone. It was fun pulp fiction with a dry wit.
Steven Barnes & Tananarive Due - Trickster - An American finds an alien machine in Tanzania. A good sci-fi story, and I always like reading stories set internationally and especially in Africa. But I don't really see that it fits the theme. It seems odd that it was re-printed from a previous superhero anthology. Just fighting back one time doesn't make someone a superhero. He didn't try to take on an identity, he didn't have any intention that I saw of continuing to fight. The intro says it explores the mythic archetypes of the genre. He was oppressed, he fought back, he had an older teacher, I see the archetypes I guess, but not the hero. He was just a screwed up kid. The heart of the story was the teacher, that was the part that interested me, and the country. It did make me want to bump the Due books on my to-read list farther up toward the top.
Leah Bobet - They Fight Crime! - Partners have a falling out. Short, OK.
J. Robert Lennon - The Rememberer - Haunting to see this woman with such a terrible memory problem, considering my slight memory issues. It's a blessing and a curse, but I sure wouldn't want it her way.
Christopher Golden & Mike Mignola - The Nuckelavee: A Hellboy Story - Well it definitely met the villain criteria. But it was a waste of Hellboy. I was looking forward to reading my first story about him, but be was just a witness, it could have been him or anyone else in the world in his shoes and it wouldn't have mattered at all. I'm already a fan of both of authors, but this didn't do much to convince me to get into Hellboy on it's own, other than getting me to read the Wikipedia article on him and finding that interesting.
A. M. Dellamonica - Faces of Gemini - A cute action story about sisters sharing their powers and their roller coaster of emotions, more what I expected when I got the book. A kind of typical superhero story.
Kelly Link - Origin Story - Slow, long, labored, it didn't have the payoff I was hoping for. The editor reads a lot into this one, I don't see any link at all between Superman and Dorothy, the guy is speculating on on a whole list of characters, Dorothy is just one and the location is a joke. But the question about Angel/Angelus and the black leather pants was funny.
Rachel Pollack - Burning Sky - The editor thinks she's the only one who could do Wonder Woman justice. I don't know about that. It's a sexy story but it isn't positive. These Free Women tortured Julia. Pressing the tips of her breasts into champagne glasses filled with tiny sharp emeralds, among other things. I don't particularly want a story about Wonder Woman that has sexual or sexualized violence as a part of it. I'm not saying that this wasn't a decent story in some ways, but it isn't what I want for a series or movie for sure, whether or not it's true to what Amazons were supposed to have been. I'd like to see strong women who got that way without being tortured and who's loyalty and sisterhood is coerced. And the story wasn't even about the Free Women or Julia, it was about about the other character and her sexual adventures, which had nothing to do with heroes or villains and didn't fit the book at all. Pollack just shoehorned two totally separate stories together. Each has it's positive and negatives as stories, but together they make no sense to me. .
James Lowder - The Night Chicago Died - Tristram Holt, the Corpse, the Scourge of Evil. I liked it all except the last line. Bah.
Ernest Hogan - Novaheads - The woman is addicted to nova and the guy she's with burns up at the beginning. She calls the wrestler for help. It was a good story, but I think I might have liked it better without the editor's intro again. I did find it interesting to learn that lucha noir is a genre, or a sub-genre I guess. It fits the story that Joe Lansdale wrote in Dangerous Women more than this one, this wasn't a hardboiled noir story, it was kind of funny. Well, not funny, but definitely not hardboiled. Or a mystery. I guess it was cyberpunk, as the editor claimed, in the end, in the evil multinational corporation sense, though not in the way I usually think of cyberpunk, but that's cool. Usually I really prefer to have the editor's comments and author info before stories and not after, but in this book I'm not so sure, this guy intellectualizes so much that I'm finding it very distracting.
Kurt Busiek - Clash of Titans (A New York Romance) - Astro City Vol. 1: Life in the Big City is already on my high-priority to-read list. (Just as an aside, the story in this book is from 1991. How old, or young, do you have to be to not know who Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing are without looking it up?) As for the story, I'm not sure what I think about Demonica. On the one hand, evil. On the other hand, she did create those werewolf things that ate Donald Trump. Hmmm. Good story. Believable. It was all an advertising campaign.
Cory Doctorow - Super Man and the Bugout - Very funny. When comic book and superhero fans get a little older they start asking tough questions like, how does she pay her rent and pay for all of the clothes and furniture she keeps destroying. On Buffy, she got a job at a fast food joint that made her wear really ugly uniforms. On a larger scale it's when parts of cities get destroyed instead, like in The Incredibles, with even more serious repercussions for the heroes. This story was definitely in line with the kind of thoughts many of us wonder during moments before and after we suspend our disbelief and just enjoy a good tale. Plus he was nice to his Jewish mama.
Carol Emshwiller - Grandma - Good story about generations of women, expectations and pressures from all sides, love, connection, loss.
Jonathan Lethem - The Dystopianist, Thinking of His Rival, Is Interrupted By a Knock On the Door - Too clever for me.
Jack Pendarvis - Sex Devil - Story pitch, short and silly, yet telling.
Benjamin Rosenbaum - The Death of Dr. Nefario - About a therapist to the heroes, short and fun.
George Singleton - Man Oh Man—It's Manna Man - I liked the idea of Manna Man as a hero and the issues that he would have and how he worked it out. But the story was too short to explore the idea. He meets his nemesis and then it's over. It wasn't a story, it was just sketch about an idea about a cool super power. There was barely a character there. The editor loves it, it's one of three stories that he culled from another anthology about superheroes. If you're interested, it's Who Can Save Us Now?: Brand-New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories.
Paul Di Filippo - The Jackdaw's Last Case - I like historical fiction and alternate history, it can be really fun to look up the subjects and try to figure out what's real and what isn't and just to learn something new. So that aspect was fun. He took Kafka back to when it was nineteen and branched him off from there, so most of his adult history was made up. I found the style of the story to be very wordy and full of way too many flourishes. I think some of that may have been an attempt to copy Kafka's style but I'm just guessing from the tiny bit that I read about Kafka looking into him for this story, I haven't read his stories or Di Filippo's. On the other hand, the reviews of Di Filippo indicate that it might be his style, too, so who knows. But the style, and subject, reminds me to some degree of The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack and I did enjoy this story for many of the same reasons. I didn't like the Brod stuff, changing their meeting from university into a high school bully thing. The age change bothered me, it changed real history too much. It felt like it pushed it from an alternate history too far into a total fantasy that had those characters in it. I don't know the "rule" of the sub-genre of imagining historical celebrities as detectives, but it seems to me that it should be grounded in their actual lives, too many changes negates who they actually were entirely. And it was just way to busy and crowded a story, with too much being thrown at me. The sort of steampunk Talmudic tattoo torture device at the end was just a bit much for this Jew, put it over the top, it was a melodramatic mess. So it had good elements, things I enjoyed, but needed to be edited back a bit and would have been better if t was more consistent with history somehow. And that's that for a review longer than those I write for many books.
James Patrick Kelly - The Biggest - The editor tells me that the author, used "his scholarly sciencefictional gaze on the dawn of the superheroic era, the Great Depression" to write this story. Whatever that means. It was still a good story about what a regular guy hero with not so hot powers might have gone through in the Golden Age of heroes.
Win Scott Eckert -Philip José Farmer's Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke - A fun article that did what anthologies are supposed to do, introduced me to an author's books. In this case, it wasn't this author's, it was Philip José Farmer's, and those of others who've played in this shared universe, but it still made it's point very effectively. Farmer's Wold Newton family line for Tarzan was so extensive that it created a whole new writing space for fictional biography that is still being added to today. It was fun to learn a bit about how this started and grew and it definitely made me want to learn more about it, and fictional biographies in general.
Jess Nevins - The Zeppelin Pulps - This is an interesting article about the popularity and fall of the Zeppelin pulps. Really, it's a well-researched and presented article, I enjoyed it, it's a nice, short, interesting article about a small part of the history of the industry. But I still don't get the editor. I'd hardly call it an ingenious piece, as he did.
George R.R. Martin - Wild Cards: Prologue & Interludes - Fun, the third Wild Cards story I've read lately. (Funny, the most recent was in the book he just edited, Dangerous Women, now that I think about it.) Although sometimes I've thought it was odd that the editor included older stories, in this case, I think it's cool to show that the series is still going strong after all of these years. I really should finally check it out. (I ended up making a list of the books that are available anywhere in my library's consortium of 44 library systems across 12 counties. I'm still only able to get 14 of the currently 21 books in the series. But it looks like the older books are being re-released.) But the Jetboy character did confuse me, I kept getting mixed up with Top 10, Vol. 1. Not a complaint, just a comment. Especially since this was written first. (I really liked Top Ten by Alan Moore, by the way, wish there had been more of it. Gene Ha's art was brilliant too.) Anyway, having read a couple of Wild Cards stories already, it's nice to know now how it happened now, Or some of how it happened, there's always more to it with these guys,
Carrie Vaughn - Wild Cards: Just Cause - Including another Wild Cards story was a great idea, chalk one of for the editor. The series has been going on for twenty-six years, it really showed the time frame and longevity. I'm just not a big fan of Vaughn's short fiction. Mostly it was a good story that focused on the emotional and interpersonal elements and used the characters' powers as a framework for the storytelling, which seems to be the Wild Card way, from my vast experience of now having read four stories. But I initially wrote a few things about why it was either confusing or unsatisfying and then I realized that it was because this was a chapter of one of the Wild Cards books and not a story that was meant to stand alone, so Vaughn wasn't supposed to have to explain what Kate's power was, or what the TV show that they'd all been on was, it was surely something that happened earlier in the book. And I wrote that the end wasn't satisfying for a stand alone story, it felt like the close of a chapter in a book; that was what made me look at the copyright page and realize what the problem was. The story was out of it's original context in this book and the Vaughn didn't build in certain information or story elements because she didn't have to for what she was writing it for. So I apologize to Vaughn, she wrote a good story for the context it was intended for, as far as I can tell. And I take back my good call to the editor and call bad editing on this. He wanted a big name author and didn't care if the story worked for the readers. There are other Wild Card stories in anthologies that could have worked. I read two recently. I doubt they are the only ones in existence. This just wasn't a great choice,
Tim Pratt - Bluebeard and the White Buffalo: A Rangergirl Yarn - A well-balanced story with a lot of good elements. I bet the book its based on 's good. Will Clarke - The Pentecostal Home for Flying Children - The name was better than the story. Another one the editor got from the other superhero anthology. It was OK. Another real-life, what happens to the not-so-super heroes and their offspring story,
Camille Alexa - Pinktastic and the End of the World - Very comic book-like in its angst, and showed some nice levels to what a semi-realisitic picture of heroes and villains living in the real world would look like. It worked well in balance with the rest of the stories.
Gene Wolfe - The Detective of Dreams - This was supposed to be a classic story from 1980 to anchor the end of book.But I found all of the ____ disguising the names of the people involved to be very distracting, as though these people were so important and the detective was soooo very discrete, the readers just couldn't be in on who they were. It was supposed to be cool but it was just hard to read. And Christian symbolism is beyond me, I'm sure it was much more fascinating and revelatory to other people. I think the editor just couldn't resist using the exit line for the book of, "Dear people, dream on."
A very good anthology overall. I enjoyed most of the stories quite a bit, even those that weren't from authors I knew well or about characters that I...moreA very good anthology overall. I enjoyed most of the stories quite a bit, even those that weren't from authors I knew well or about characters that I was familiar with.
Rachel Caine - Forked Tongues - Holly and Andrew stories are always pretty good, but this one was the best so far. The way they were being persecuted for being witches was haunting, the burning crosses were upsetting to read about. Their neighbor's reaction was quite moving. As for the action part of the story, I didn't really understand where the angel came from. If it was from one of Holly’s potion bottles then why was she surprised? That was a very small thing though. Anyway, it’s fun that these characters and this world are being developed throughout several anthologies. The stories are consistently strong and have a number of layers for such short stories. There's a lot of action, a love story, and a surprising amount of depth dealing with the reaction of the world to finding out that witches are real. All in a nice, neat little short story package. It definitely makes the anthologies more of a draw because it’s something you can’t get any other way.
Shannon K. Butcher - Stolen Goods - It was OK. It felt kind of forced. It was hard to fit the fantasy elements into the short story, I didn’t really get them or care about them very much. And the fact that this woman was so very, very sexy and sensual and that the man was so hot felt heavy-handed too. Dunno. It was OK.
Chris Marie Green - The Girl With No Name - Also OK. The boots were cool. The “girl” was OK. The title was dumb, she had a name and she wasn't a girl. I wish every story didn’t need a romantic angle, I could do without it. I’d have been happier if she’d really have just left him unconscious on the floor. It isn’t clear if this story is connected to Green’s books or not, but it was good advertising for her writing, it made me want to find out.
Faith Hunter - The Devil's Left Boot - A good story, and good advertising for the Jane Yellowrock series without making me feel like I needed to know anything about it, just being that tease about it. I've always meant to check the series out and now I'm much more inclined to, anthologies do work. I like that the story didn’t take on too much too, the scope was right for a short story, it was very well crafted.
Chloe Neill - High Stakes - Another bad story from Neill. Neill made Lindsay just completely stupid, she rushes off into danger with no backup, then needs to get rescued by the big strong man who is smart enough to use the resources he has available to him and their friends and colleagues to make sure that they’re safe. She isn't a kick-ass woman at all. The novella about Jeff was terrible too, especially in how it made the supposedly strong woman also into a reactive wimp who kept having to be rescued by the men. Apparently Merit, the star of the novels this story is based on, is the only woman in Chicago who can be strong, even though she’s only been doing her job for ten months and it seems nuts that she’s as capable as she is. But a woman like Lindsay who’s been a vampire for 100 years and a guard for 70, she screws everything up. There's some real tunnel vision going on in this version of Chicago. I'm tired of reading about women who need to be saved unless their name happens to be Merit. (Sorry for the rant.)
Lucienne Diver - The Parlor - The opposite of Faith Hunter’s story, way too much stuff in the scope of one short story, seriously overloaded. It wasn’t clear if she was trying to advertise a series and just cramming to much in but it was nutty. Plus the tropes. She’s the woman who thinks she’s the unattractive best friend with the gorgeous best friend, in this case literally a supermodel. But she has two stunning men chasing after her, in this case at least one is literally a god, and of course he thinks she's beautiful. She puts herself down constantly. She has precognition, which I hate in any story, it’s a lazy author’s way of telling the reader what she couldn’t figure out any other way to tell me. Especially in a short story. And this woman and Apollo already just happen to have a psychic connection, even though she says she doesn’t even like him, so they can warn each other of danger though room walls, how handy. And she’s a gorgon. And the Weaver, that wasn’t subtle at all. And a coliseum? And some other really heavy-handed myth stuff. This was all in about five pages. Too much. It could have been cute, if it wasn’t so forced the tone could have been humorous. And I always like mythology in modern culture if it can make some sense, but there was no explanation of how the all fits in, why these mythological people are around in the modern world at all, we’re just dropped into the story. Some background would have been a better use of time than the nutty story. If she has a series she may have felt constrained by trying to fit her existing story structure into the scope of a short story but there should have been a better way to do it justice. Some readers will probably find it adorable and be excited to discover a story with funny hot guys and a tough chick who keeps putting herself down so she seems a lot like them. It’s just not my thing.
So I looked it up and Tori is the main character in one of Diver's series. I don't know who's decision it was not to label the story as being a part of the series but it would have made a big difference just to know that going in. Either bad editing or a bad decision by the author not to request it. I shouldn't have to look it up. But Diver should have been able to scale things down to fit the scope of the project and she should have provided background and context for her story.
Christina Henry - Red Isn't Really My Color - Exactly representative of the series. A good story, a good example of how to scale your books down and represent them well in a short story. It had everything good about the series, and the bad stuff too. But that's my history with the books talking, not anything wrong with the story, I just get irritated with Maddie being so impulsive and bullheaded (and stupid), but it wouldn’t bother anyone reading this story. Plus there’s no way to judge the suddenly perfect heroine problem in short story. So, good story and very good advertising for the series, probably the best advertising for an author’s work in the book.
Rob Thurman - Snakeskin - A Trixa story, so fun after too long a break from this character. It was a great story and an enjoyable prequel to the series with quick glimpses of the boys just when she found them. I really wish we could get more novels in this series. I can’t afford to buy many books, but I’d buy those books if she self-published them. Kelly Meding did it with her Dreg City series when the publishers foolishly pulled the plug. It could make sense for an established series and author that already has an audience. (Hint, hint, Rob, any chance?)
Kaylana Price - Ruby Red - I was looking forward to this, I'm a big fan of her Alex Craft series, but I found it a bit confusing. I have a bad memory and I didn't see the connection Alex's world until the very end, I guess I don't remember how magic works in that world very well. And I just didn't really get the logic of the story once I finished it, what was the point of the shoes at all? The people who were so scared they went catatonic, what did they even have to do with it? I just didn’t get how the pieces fit together. But I liked the characters and I liked the twist at the end. As a bridge to the next Alex book, it worked.
I thought it was funny that the few reviews I glanced at seem to be all about the Martin/Westeros story. Which for big fans I do get, especially becau...moreI thought it was funny that the few reviews I glanced at seem to be all about the Martin/Westeros story. Which for big fans I do get, especially because the guy can't do anything small, it's an 82 page story in small print in a hardback book, so it really does deserve the term novella, as the advertising claimed. Sometimes I see novellas that seem pretty short story sized to me, though I'm sure there's a technical word count definition somewhere I'm not aware of. But anyway, although I am a Westeros fan, the stories I was most looking forward to were from Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson, and Diana Rowland. I was quite interested in a few others and looking forward to trying the authors I didn't know or didn't know well, it seemed like a good mix for once for my desire to read a few familiar authors I'd be sure to love and get introduced to a few new authors that I might like to add to my to-read lists. The anthology system at it's best. Unfortunately, the mix of stories didn't work out so well. The mixed genre anthology was a good idea, but the editors need to be really careful to balance the mix. This was way too heavy on the historical fiction for me. Way. Maybe the editors thought that epic fantasy fans would just go for epic history as a matter of course, but it doesn't necessarily translate. And it seemed to have much more history instead of fantasy.
I was also disappointed in many of the author's ideas what their dangerous women were. I thought this was going to be about strong, cool women and very often it wasn't. Some of the stories weren't really about women at all, just about men who were influenced somehow by women. Some of the stories were just more subtle in their definition of dangerous. I get that the authors were trying to stretch the definition and keep it interesting, but it meant that they were so busy dancing around the obvious idea that only a few actually did the obvious idea, which is a fun idea.
I did like having the author intros at beginning of chapters. But it should have said if the story was part of one of the author's series or not, so we know if we like it that we should get the other books. The point of anthologies is to sell more books. Don't make it hard on me. They listed every book and story the author every wrote but didn't tell me which stories were part of an author's established worlds, it was annoying. And sometimes confusing. It was in the first story...
Abercrombie - I didn't get at all that this was part of one of his series until I saw someone else's review. I found the setting very confusing, I couldn't tell if if was our Old West or another world, the references to the Union sword or the her savage Ghost heritage were just confusing. But it was well told and fast-paced. Fantasy.
Abbott - Good story, seems obvious but isn't entirely and is well done either way. Mystery/Crime, very dark.
Holland - I'm really not into "historical novels" these days. I used to love books like Désirée (about the woman Napoleon was engaged to before Josephine, she became Queen of Sweden) and Katherine (Swynford, who became a matriarch of the Tudor dynasty), they're among my childhood favorites. But they haven't been my cup of tea for a while. Plus it's such a pretentious name. Every historical romance is a historical novel. So is every Western. My mood has just been firmly in the present or future unless it's a good streampunk. This story was almost pretty good. It was a decent history lesson, and not hard to get through. It had the same dramatized feeling as those '60s novels, just soap operas set down among the few facts we actually know, not too different from actual operas. But that was the problem with this, too few facts, too much supposition. And the end stunk. "She waited to disappear. But she didn't." Huh? Dumb. The whole thing was too cheesy, too '60s really.
Snodgrass - A very good story. It presented a complete world and social dynamic in a short period of time to support an interesting story. I've liked all of her stories that I've read in different anthologies. I'll get to those books someday! They keep getting bumped higher on the to-read list. Sci-fi.
Butcher - This was definitely what I'd call a novella, at around 70 pages. Butcher is one of a handful of authors that I know of who always writes good short stories. This was about what apprentice magician Molly was up to while her boss Harry was, um, unavailable. (It also has a big spoiler for fans who haven't read books 12 and 13 yet, if you're working your way through the series you may want to wait until after 12 to read it.) It took me a while to figure out that it also explains why she had some sort of deal in place with dark elves when we saw her new apartment in the last book. Was that the last book? Or 13? I have a terrible memory. Anyway, it was a really good story, he always captures the humor, heart and excitement that make a story sing and balances the elements really well whether the story 20 pages or 400. And he writes stories that always seem to me that would be totally fine as stand alone stories for readers who are unfamiliar with the series, though it's hard for me to judge that. Urban fantasy.
Vaughn - I've found her work outside of the Kitty Norville series to be very hit or miss (and Kitty has been very downhill lately) but this was better than some. A bit dull but the history was interesting. More historical fiction, though the main characters weren't historical figures this time.
Lansdale - A fun story with a dose of heart and a dash of wickedness. It wasn't really about the woman, but I guess she was the motivation. He's been on my to-read list forever and this really reminds me to bump him up (which is the point of anthologies, to sell more books). I'm not sure how to classify it, maybe just plain old fun fiction? I really like Andreas's review and he called it weird fiction. It wasn't really supernatural at all, or horror, I don't know how to categorize it.
Lindholm - I'm not a Robin Hobb fan, for some reason that I can't remember I just didn't love the Assassin's books. And Sarah was only 67, she and Linda were hardly old women, it seemed really odd. If they'd been a decade older it would have been easier to get behind. Hobb is 62, is this what her friends are going through? Because my dad is 73 and his friends aren't. Way too much cancer, heart disease, cancer, cancer, but memory issues in their mid-60s are still pretty rare and and their kids aren't trying to kick them out of their homes. As far as I know. Maybe I'm totally wrong. Though I do understand the sandwich generation issue that Sarah's son was dealing with, my dad had those issues and my friends are seeing it now too. But it did have a lot to say about what single, older women go through, I don't want to disparage that. I'm facing some of those issues now, two decades earlier, without losing my memory, but with failing health. On the other hand, she didn't look for the dog? Unforgivable. And I wasn't so sure the women in this story fit the term dangerous. So I guess my review is pretty mixed, huh? That's how I ended up feeling about it, very mixed. It was a dark, kind of urban fantasy story, not paranormal. Is this weird fiction? Heck if I know.
Block - I know I've read a few of his Bernie Rhodenbarr and Matt Scudder books a long time ago and liked them, but this was barely OK. It didn't suit the rest of the book, it was very explicit and violent. I guess it was crime fiction.
Sanderson - A very good story. It's 50 pages, so it's probably novella length as well. It was impossible not to like this fierce single mom fighting to take care of her daughter and adopted daughter and remain independent in a very challenging land. Fantasy.
Penman - More historical fiction. Maybe the editors think that because there's so much politics in A Game of Thrones that fans will go for this, and I like the idea of cross-genre anthologies, but it's a little much with the history lessons. And when the author had to try to justify with a note in the end whether the woman was dangerous or not because she knows the readers are all thinking that the answer is probably not, it means to me that the story just wasn't right for this anthology, even if it would have been a decent story for another collection.
Grossman - An OK story, but the girl didn't seem dangerous. The ghost was pretty dangerous, but I'm not sure she could be classified as a woman. And the hints about the girl's past were as much annoyingly as intriguing, I want a story that makes me want to read more of the author's books, but I also want it to feel complete. I don't like to be left hanging. Tricky. I was hoping to get excited to finally start the books in this series. It helped by introducing me to the world, but only a little. Urban fantasy.
Kress - Dystopian/Sci-fi. Good story.
Rowland - Dark. She always knows the South and the police mentality perfectly, though seeing the police from the dark side was a bit creepy. It was an odd crime drama, not really sci-fi, only a few years in the future, post-apocalyptic I guess, though the apocalypse seemed primarily localized.
Gabaldon - More historical fiction, romance this time and pure fiction except the historical setting. It's a prequel to her Outlander series about a character named Jamie Fraser. I've only read the first book, so I'm not a fan. It was another novella, which kinda sucked for me, but is probably great for fans of the series. It was 25 pages before a woman even showed up. It should have been good, I like stories about Scots, Jews, heists. But it was way too long, way too slow, way too much about men and just really boring. It was the only story in the book that I didn't want to finish. I almost stopped half way through but it seemed like it was picking up. I was wrong, I should have skipped it. It was a really disappointing story from an author I've heard so much about.
Kenyon - A decent ghost story. Not as fun as I expected from another author that I've heard so much about. It didn't make me want to pick up her books. But it was fine.
Stirling - A bit too preachy and it was hard to buy into the premise that that many people would be convinced to follow that religion and society after eighteen months. Just telling me that they did bit because it worked doesn't convince me that this country full of Christians, atheists and agnostics would even be able to remember all of those new words, much less want to in a crisis. A small "Clan" maybe, but that many that quickly was hard to believe. But what do I know about what the world will be like after the collapse? But the point was good, putting up with bullies shouldn't be the answer. Waiting until a person is actually raped or killed really shouldn't be the answer. I just read a really important article about this issue and why women aren't welcome on the Internet, it's very disturbing and relevant to this story, you should check it out. What's being done to transgender and gay kids every day, the way they're pushed and pushed until they are in fear for their lives, but if they respond they're the criminals, that's criminal. We just have to find a way to protect people before they're actually raped or assaulted when there's evidence that they're in danger. Anyway, the story is alternate history, I guess. Or maybe sci-fi only a few years into the future.
Sykes - I wasn't smart enough to understand it. It was probably a really cool story. But I really didn't get it. Traditional fantasy, I think.
Spector - The end was weak but the rest of it was good, fun and it had heart. It definitely made me want to read the Wild Cards books. And it was about what I thought the book was going to be about, strong, smart, dangerous women. Urban fantasy.
Martin - I think it would be incredibly tedious for non-fans. If I wasn't familiar with some of the names I'd have hated it. As it was my eyes glazed over a lot and skimmed past a lot. Talk, talk, talk, list, list, list, almost no action. And actually, using so many of the same first names that are used in the main series, while is made sense that they're family names and would have been handed down, it also made it even more confusing to remember who was who. No one felt unique, especially when several people in the generation in this story had the same name too. Realistic, sure, that's what happens in families, especially royal families, but confusing. And I wasn't particularly convinced on who the dangerous woman was. Yeah, there was more than one. But the story wasn't about the main "queen". It was about war and all of the players were equally culpable. She wasn't more dangerous or driving the story. She certainly wasn't more of a driver of the story than her brother who she was fighting against. Martin edited the book, but his story wasn't really about a dangerous woman. And the whole story had a very distant feeling, like reading a history book, which makes some sense since it is a historical tale compared to "present day" in this world, but there was no way to connect with any if the characters or care about them. Without more action and also without personal connections it was just too dry. Fantasy. (less)
The summation at the beginning was interesting. A little paternalistic, but interesting, and useful as...moreThis one is going to take a long time to read!
The summation at the beginning was interesting. A little paternalistic, but interesting, and useful as a source Coe finding great stories. When I go over it again my to-read list will grown even longer.
I already read a couple of the stories in this book. I really enjoyed Aliette de Bodard's The Waiting Stars, set in her Xuya universe. It was nominated for the Hugo Award (results not in yet) and won the Nebula Award. Val Nolan's The Irish Astronaut was nominated for the Sturgen Award, but I wasn't too find of it.
I just read Robert Reed's Precious Mental, which was nominated for a Locus Award, and really enjoyed it. It was set in his Great Ship universe, my first story of his in that series. It was one of those stories that proves that award-nominated stories can actually be fun, they don't all have to be dark and dreary. Too bad that none of the around two dozen other stories in the series are online at this point. -- Update already! Reed put The Greatship out at the end of 2013. It has 12 Great Ship stories that he edited and rewrote, and added new materials to bridge the centuries between the stories. It's very reasonably priced as an ebook ($5 or less), hard to resist for someone like me who gets sucked into an intriguing series and wants to read more right away. Of course I reserved Marrow, the full length book, too.
The book is due back at the library. I may get one or two more stories in before it has to go back. My kindle is full, so I'm trying to resist buying it, but it's a great book, it would be well worth the price.
This wasn't as successful as the first volume for me. Sometimes, often times, it felt like the authors/artists were trying so hard to "say something"...moreThis wasn't as successful as the first volume for me. Sometimes, often times, it felt like the authors/artists were trying so hard to "say something" that I didn't have any idea what they were trying to say. Or they just didn't manage to say much at all. I didn't add any of them to my to-read list. The only one that I really liked a lot was Kean Soo, and I already knew about him from the first book. And I was aware of Hope Larson from other sources. I did like Jen Wang, Rudolphe Guenden, Justin Ridge, Bannister, Richard Pose, and the continuation of Neil Babra's personal journey.(less)
I definitely didn't mean to get another fairy tale book or one where the theme was rewriting and reimagining other well-known tales, not necessarily f...moreI definitely didn't mean to get another fairy tale book or one where the theme was rewriting and reimagining other well-known tales, not necessarily fairy tales, after just having completed Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales. But Neil Gaiman's story was nominated for the 2014 Locus award for best novella and the rest sounded good so I tried to read the book. Unfortunately, the book was really badly designed. I just couldn't take it by the middle of the second story, I just didn't want to pick it up anymore. It just came out in 2013 but it feels at least forty years old, maybe more. The font is so old-fashioned, and the word spacing is very off to allow the paragraphs to be flush right, there are big gaps between many words that make reading sentences very awkward. Something about the entire layout is old-fashioned and unappealing. It feels fussy and stuffy and just like a boring text book from my childhood, it was very off-putting every time I sat down to it, just not an appealing book to read. It was just the opposite of the other fairy tale anthology, which dragged me into it with it's appealing design and well-edited flow of stories. So I only read 2 stories, even though there were stories by authors I enjoy like Holly Black, Kelley Armstrong and more. Carrie Ryan and Neil Gaiman's stories were both good, interesting reinterpretations of the original stories, if not hugely thrilling or fascinating. (less)
I was really excited to read this when I found out about it when Ken Liu's story won the Hugo award in 2013. I thought the concept was great, and it s...moreI was really excited to read this when I found out about it when Ken Liu's story won the Hugo award in 2013. I thought the concept was great, and it seemed to be a wonderful opportunity to read some international authors. But it was mostly pretty disappointing. Anthologies are tricky, they need to a well edited so there's a flow and balance as you move from story to story. And this book didn't have that at all. There was really no connection between the Japanese and non-Japanese authors at all, the tone of their stories felt very different so that going from story to story was often quite jarring. And the tone of the book overall, if there was one, was just kind of sad and depressing. But maybe that was in part because I was so disappointed by so many of the stories. I'm glad I read it, there were a few gems, but overall the experience wasn't what I expected.
It was also annoying that it didn't say when the stories were written. Context is important. Maybe the editor didn't want to make it seem like some of the Japanese stories were dated, but the information should be in the book somewhere. I know that Project Itoh sadly passed away in 2009, so I wanted to know when his story was written, it's relevant to the poignancy of the legacy of his story about child soldiers in Africa.
I was reluctant to put my detailed review on Goodreads, I don't like to be so negative, but I have a terrible memory and I do want to remember a few of the specifics for the future. And now I'm glad I did because after going through the details again I decided that I have to give it three stars because I really did enjoy a couple of the stories. But the experience of trying to read the book straight through wasn't good at all. I'd recommend reading a couple of stories at a time in between other books with this one.
Liu - The perspective of how the Japanese people would likely handle such a huge disaster and betrayal versus how other countries would was striking. Gradually, in an orderly fashion, the people packed up and went home. No looting, no soldiers mutinying. "This was Japan." Haunting. Some people are very critical in their reviews, saying that it's very cliché. Of course it won the Hugo award so some people didn't agree. I thought the connection to his father, poetry and nature rang very true, knowing how my Japanese cousins live their lives.
Savage - A not very good time travel story. It started well, I liked some of the ideas, but it quickly lost me.
Moles - This one made me curse a lot, I was really upset by it. It could have been really good if it was the beginning of a longer story, but to just end there was total crap. That isn't a short story, it's an aborted novella or novel and it sucked. And what was the point of having the girl say she was a dyke and making a lewd comment about the officer? It didn't have anything to do with the story. If it was the start of a longer story, sure, but again, it just starts without good anywhere. The whole story was a total let down. A waste of a well-created world and situation. I looked him up and he's included in a heck of a lot of big anthologies, so it looks like he should know better. Just total crap.
Project Itoh - I had a hard time buying into the Captain lecturing about constructed histories and the very concept of "I" existing only to fuel war, a guy like that wouldn't be so self-aware. But it was a very good if depressing story. It was interesting to read about (imaginary) African child soldiers, from the perspective of a Japanese author. Imaginary isn't the right word. They were examples, everymen who could have been any boys from any tribes in any war in Africa or anywhere in history. It was disturbing on a deeply fundamentally level. This story really stuck with me. I read a terrific review of the story by a blogger that you might want to check out, it really identifies all of the complex elements that helped make the story so special. But in the end, it was the emotional impact that just punched me in the gut and won't let me forget it that really makes it so haunting.
Swirsky - I have to remember the term, "bug-shudder," it's so perfectly descriptive. As in when the tendril of the ghost's hair grasped her shoulder and she bug-shuddered it off. It ceated both a physical and emotional sympathetic response, very effective. But she shouldn't have used it twice, it made it lose it's effectiveness. And the story wasn't to my taste, too melodramatic.
EnJoe - Odd, confusing story. The language/ideas were hard to follow. It felt as though even though it was translated into English the subtleties of the original ideas didn't quite make it because it was supposed to be very nuanced. Either that or it was pretentious. I can't say I enjoyed it.
Cadigan - I didn't think she pulled the plots together very well. Or the Japanese theme. The woman was part Japanese, the detective was part Japanese, but there wasn't any connection to Japanese culture at all.
Ogawa - Good, except an eighteen year-old's awareness of the limitations of his society. "On Yamato, everything begins with setting ourselves up in opposition to others." They'd just think they were right, not that they were argumentative or too bold or whatever. He's too educated, reasonable, logical, philosophical. And the change was too abrupt at the end. But it was a good story.
Valente - A very odd fairy tale. I enjoyed all of the mythology. It definitely made me want to finally read Deathless.
Sedia - It could have been really cool to have a Russian/Japanese story from this Russian-born author. And it almost was, but then it was just disappointing. Like a lot of the stories in this book, it felt like a young author who was trying to hard to "say something." Which she certainly isn't, and most of them aren't, these are established pros. This book is just confusing me.
Kikuchi - It was fine except the 10,000 year time frame seemed really extreme.
Sterling - He edited the big cyberpunk book in the '80s, and now he's a big visionary and futurist. OK, sure. I was so close to just quitting when I saw how long the story still was after ten already confusing pages. Only thirty more pages to go! Is it the longest story in the book? Maybe it just felt that way after so many mediocre stories. Only stubbornness kept me going, to see if he could somehow pull it off, his rep is good, and I wanted to try the last Japanese author and really complete the book since I was so near the end. I decided to put it down and try it again the next day to see if it made any more sense. - Nope, it still sucked.
TOBI - I was so discouraged by the whole book that I almost didn't even read this story, but I'm very glad that I did. It was a fascinating mix of technological sci-fi and psychological drama. Probably the best story in the book. Including the first one, which won the Hugo. This story won the Seiun Award, the Japanese equivalent of the Hugo, in 2010, and I'm not surprised.