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Some of the Best from 2012 Edition

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  440 ratings  ·  48 reviews
A collection of some of the best original short fiction published on in 2012. Includes stories by Elizabeth Bear, Adam Troy Castro, Paul Cornell, Kathryn Cramer, Brit Mandelo, Pat Murphy, Charles Stross, Michael Swanwick, Rachel Swirsky, and Gene Wolfe.
ebook, 32 pages
Published January 1st 2013 by Tor Books
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Brainycat's 5 "B"s:
blood: 3
boobs: 2
bombs: 1
bondage: 3
blasphemy: 3
Bechdel Test: PASS
Deggan's Rule: PASS
Gay Bechdel Test: PASS

Please note: I don't review to provide synopses, I review to share a purely visceral reaction to books and perhaps answer some of the questions I ask when I'm contemplating investing time and money into a book.

A list of shorts with the likes of Swanwick, Stross, and Bear? Yes Please! This was one of those "you might also like..." suggestions from That Monolithic Online

Tushar Damle
Oct 31, 2013 rated it liked it
I like short stories. I also like to explore new sci-fi and fantasy authors. Reading anthologies is a win-win for me as I can do both at the same time. The fact that this particular anthology is also available for free on Kindle is an icing on the cake. I will update this review as I finish each of the short stories.

Dormanna by Gene Wolfe: I’m not sure if what I took from the story is what the author wanted to convey, but it was a good story and written well. 3/5 stars.

The Portrait of Lisane de
Joel Neff
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Dormanna by Gene Wolfe
Beautiful, quiet portrait of alien, or perhaps fairy visitation, and how even the smallest of things can have profound effects in our lives. 5/5

Portrait of Lisane de Patagnia by Rachel Swirsky
The vividness with which this story was written stayed with me long after the actual story did; Rachel Swirsky wrote as if she were painting, and created a layered, delicate, intricate story of love and death. 5/5

The Mongolian Wizard by Michael Swanwick
Where do I get more of this? This
Aug 12, 2017 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
"Dormanna" by Gene Wolfe - I think this one was OK. "Portrait of Lisane de Patagnia" by Rachel Swirsky & "The Mongolian Wizard" by Michael Swanwick - fantasy seems just not to work as a short story for me.


A Tall Tail by Charles Stross
The Ghosts of Christmas by Paul Cornell
The Finite Canvas by Brett Mandelo
Am I Free To Go? by Kathryn Cramer
About Fairies by Pat Murphy
Our Human by Adam Troy Castro
Faster Gun by Elizabeth Bear
Nov 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 2013-rev
This is a stronger collection than the 2011 edition, perhaps because it was less self-consciously global - the stories were better, but had a narrower reach. There were no weak stories here. Some were no more than adequate, but a number were quite strong. The anthology came closer than 2011's to fulfilling the goal of a simple collection of good stories.

In particular, I enjoyed:
"Portrait of Lisane de Patagna", by Rachel Swirsky, about a painter, her instructor, and magic. The ending could have
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
I am completely hooked to the anthologies that Tor has been releasing - and for free, no less! This was a strong anthology that contained stories ranging across a variety of topics - everything from a young girl with an imaginary friend and a trip to the Wild West to war, magic, art, and time travel. A very enjoyable collection.
Sep 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Some of the best from”, yep, they weren’t THE best, they were mostly ok, with some better.
Doc Holliday finds a wrecked space ship in ‘Faster Gun’, an old human is held by an odd race ‘Our Human’ and ‘The Finite Canvas’ where a tale is told to a tattoo artist as she works are the highlights. Good stories 3/5
May 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed almost all of the short stories in this collection.

Dormana - Gene Wolfe. 4 STARS. So simple, so sweet. (view spoiler)

Portrait of Lisane de Patagnia - Rachel Swirsky. 3.5 STARS. In an alternate Renaissance Italy, art is combination of paint and magic. To paint something with magic is to destroy it. Lisane was famous for her painting and bed-hopping, as she taught and slept
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, free-ebook
This is a free anthology of 10 stories from the website. (Somehow the abundance of free online content by famous genre authors makes me feel vaguely guilty for not reading more of it. Maybe people born into the internet world have a more healthy relationship with it than older folks like me. I tend to snap up free or cheap, even vaguely interesting ebooks left and right and then feel bad because I don't have the time to read them all. Or when faced with the viewing choices at Netflix I ...more
Sidsel Pedersen
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am going to write a little of what I thought about each story. Oh and this is a free e-book, so go grab it!

Dormanna: My note says "such a cute story", lets see if I can say bit more shall we ;) This is a adorable story about a girl befriending a little speck of something. The story is adorable, and by fare the lightest in the collection.

Lortrait of Lisane de Patagnia: Really good gothic story. Full of melloncoly and wishing for a past that never were. Beautiful and dark!

The Mongolian Wizard: A
Joe Martin
Jan 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
The title gives a decent clue about what this is. publishes a new short story every week. The editors collected the best stories from 2012 into this volume.

All of these stories are worth reading. I had a few particular favorites.

* "The Mongolian Wizard" by Michael Swanwick. A young soldier and his wolf stop a plot by a power hungry wizard. Or do they? And what are the consequences of succeeding?

* "A Tall Tail" by Charlie Stross. As you read this story, it helps to have a basic
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
A completely free collection of fiction from one the top markets of Science Fiction and Fantasy? Why are you still reading this review instead of the collection itself?

With all collections, you like some stories, but hardly all. The same is true here. I always love a Gene Wolfe story, though this was not one of his best. I had heard of Michael Swanwick, but after reading his story here, I plan on picking up his novels if I can. That's the best thing about these collections; you try out authors
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned-on-kindle, 2014
The inevitable problem with short story anthologies is that one likes some of the stories better than others. And although there were gems in this collection, how much I disliked the ones that didn't do it for me far far outweighed how much I liked the ones that did.

Dormanna by Gene Wolfe: 2/5

The Portrait of Lisane de Patagnia by Rachel Swirsky: 4/5

The Mongolian Wizard by Michael Swanwick: 4/5

A Tall Tail by Charles Stross: 2.5/5

Ghosts of Christmas Past by Paul Cornell: 3/5

Finite Canvas by Brit
Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really, really good anthology. It was free, and worth every penny. Seriously though, I'd gladly pay for it.

The standout piece, for me, was Pat Murphy's About Fairies (which you can read online on its own, I don't know -- there's just something haunting about the narration. A sort of a quiet desperation combined with an undercurrent of compassion that really got to me. Sounds fuzzy, I know, but it's a worthy read, I promise.
Mar 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
A pretty good anthology, considering that it was totally free to download. Some of the contents are award nominees.

Portrait of Lisane de Patagnia - Nebula nominee 2012 novelette
The Ghosts of Christmas - Locus recommended reading list 2012 novelette
The Finite Canvas - Nebula nominee 2012 novelette
About Fairies - Locus recommended reading list 2012 short story
Faster Gun - Locus recommended reading list 2012 novelette
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Like any collection, you like some stories more than others, I had one 1 star, one 5 star and several 3-4 star ratings here, but as the quality overall was high, and I've discovered 2 new authors I'm REALLY looking forward to reading more from, (Michael Swanwick and Pat Murphy) it's an overall 4 :-)
Sep 29, 2013 rated it liked it
A bit hit and miss for me, there were a few stories I enjoyed and only one I almost skipped because it was boring. I actually remembered to highlight the ones I enjoyed in my Kindle for once. So I can say with some certainty that the three I enjoyed the most were Portrait of Lisane de Patagnia, The Ghosts of Christmas and The Finite Canvas.
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Lots of killer, very little filler. The pieces by Swirsky, Stross, Murphy and Swanwick were the standouts, though the latter feels more like a prologue than a short in its own right. Delicate and slightly creepy fairy tales, hard sci-fi meets gonzo conspiracy yarn, and alt-historical fantasy in an interesting setting. And it's free, why WOULDN'T you have a look?
MB (What she read)
Some very enjoyable stories in here but what I most enjoyed were the beautiful and evocative chapter illustrations.

The Mongolian Wizard and Faster Gun were my favorites. I'd be interested in full-length novels set in these worlds.

This is awfully good value for being free. Thanks Tor!
John Welch
Dec 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Like all similar collections, there were some I liked and others that didn't float my boat. Some stories were 5 star, others worth a lot less in my opinion. I would have liked to have given 3.5 stars, but rounding down to 3 was more representative than rounding up.
1. Dormanna by Gene Wolfe 3 stars (fairy)
2. Portrait of Lisane da Patagnia by Rachel Swirsky 4 stars (painting)
3. The Mongolian Wizard by Michael Swanwick 4 stars (alternate universe, steampunk elements)
4. Tall Tail by Charles Stross SF tbr
5. The Ghosts of Christmas by Paul Cornell
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
Fun collection of recent science fiction and fantasy stories (novelettes?) - I thought 9 out of the 10 here were really enjoyable, which is great odds for a collection. Bonus points for the fact that the ebook is a free download!
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good anthology. Some stories are actually very good. I particularly liked "About Fairies" by Pat Murphy and "Portrait of Lisane Da Patagnia" by Rachel Swirsky. I am actually astonished that such quality content can be found free. Really recommended.
Nov 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Holy crap, Portrait of Lisane de Patagnia is amazing. And I loved some of the other stories "Our Human" among them. I was a bit surprised how weak the Gene Wolfe was though, and the Charles Stross I just found vaguely clever and mostly lazy.
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, e-books
Short SF stories taken from Tor's website in 2012. The title says it all, these are some of the best and I don't tghink there was a bad one in the bunch. Best of all the e-book is free.
Jul 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a fantastic collection. I really really enjoyed almost every single story.
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Average of all of the stories (3.7).

Best stories (5 stars, no order)
Faster Gun by Elizabeth Bear
Our Human by Adam-Troy Castro

Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Some were really fantastic, 4 or 5, and some just did not grab me.
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished
The stories were pretty good, but felt minor -- not enough space to do anything particularly interesting, I guess.
Lawrence W. Lee
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this compilation of short stories to be well worth reading.
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Patrick James Nielsen Hayden, often abbreviated as PNH, is an American science fiction editor, fan, fanzine publisher, essayist, reviewer, anthologist, teacher and blogger. He is a World Fantasy Award and Hugo Award winner (with nine nominations for the latter award), and is a Senior Editor and the Manager of Science Fiction at Tor Books. He changed his last name to "Nielsen Hayden" on his ...more
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