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Some of the Best from Tor.com, 2013 edition

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A collection of some of the best original short fiction published on Tor.com in 2013.

includes the following short stories:

“A Rumor of Angels” by Dale Bailey
“The Too-Clever Fox” by Leigh Bardugo
“Thief of War” by Beth Bernobich
“A Window or a Small Box” by Jedediah Berry
“Contains Multitudes” by Ben Burgis
“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu
“Old Dead Futures” by Tina Connolly
“The Elephant in the Room” by Paul Cornell
“Lawful Interception” by Cory Doctorow
“Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages
“A Terror” by Jeff Ford
“The Hanging Game” by Helen Marshall
“In the Greenwood” by Mari Ness
“The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
“Burning Girls” by Veronica Schanoes
“Rag and Bone” by Priya Sharma
“Equoid” by Charles Stross
“Sing” by Karin Tidbeck
“Terrain” by Genevieve Valentine
“The Best We Can” by Carrie Vaughn
“Super Bass” by Kai Ashante Wilson

600 pages, ebook

First published November 5, 2013

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About the author

Dale Bailey

122 books143 followers
Dale was born in West Virginia in 1968, and grew up in a town called Princeton, just north of the Virginia line. His stories have appeared in lots of places—The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Amazing Stories, Sci-Fiction, Lightspeed Magazine, and various anthologies. Several of them have been nominated for awards, and “Death and Suffrage,” later filmed as part of Showtime’s television anthology series Masters of Horror, won the International Horror Guild Award.

In 2003, Golden Gryphon Press collected his stories as The Resurrection Man’s Legacy and Other Stories. Two novels, The Fallen and House of Bones, came out from Signet books around the same time. A third novel—Sleeping Policemen, written with with his friend Jack Slay, Jr.—came out in 2006. He has also written a study of haunted-house fiction called American Nightmares.

He lives in North Carolina with his wife and daughter.

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Displaying 1 - 25 of 25 reviews
Profile Image for Anna Kļaviņa.
797 reviews198 followers
August 12, 2018
A Rumor of Angels by Dale Bailey The Too-Clever Fox (Grisha Verse, #2.5) by Leigh Bardugo Thief of War (River of Souls, #0.2) by Beth Bernobich A Window or a Small Box by Jedediah Berry Contains Multitudes by Ben Burgis The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu Old Dead Futures by Tina Connolly The Elephant in the Room by Paul Cornell Lawful Interception by Cory Doctorow Wakulla Springs by Andy Duncan A Terror by Jeffrey Ford The Hanging Game by Helen Marshall In the Greenwood by Mari Ness The Ink Readers of Doi Saket by Thomas Olde Heuvelt Burning Girls by Veronica Schanoes Rag and Bone by Priya Sharma Equoid (Laundry Files, #2.9) by Charles Stross Sing by Karin Tidbeck Terrain by Genevieve Valentine The Best We Can by Carrie Vaughn Super Bass by Kai Ashante Wilson

A Rumor of Angels by Dale Bailey ★★★★
Set during Dust Bowl era, beautiful language.
Suitable song Mirel Wagner - The Dirt

The Too-Clever Fox by Leigh Bardugo ★★★½
Fairy tale about clever fox and heartless hunter. Apparently the author has book series somehow inspired by Russian/Slavic culture, then there is no excuse for this: Had it been Jurek who kept his distance, who drowned his fear in bottles of kvas, who stayed away from his sister as much as he could?

Thief of War by Beth Bernobich dnf
Lost interest, generic story. Prelude.

A Window or a Small Box by Jedediah Berry ★★★½
I don't know what was going on but I like it.

Contains Multitudes by Ben Burgis★★★★★
Impressive world building for a short story.

The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu★★★
Winner of the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Short Story.
After reading this short story, I understand why some people were at a loss why it won Hugo. There is nothing wrong with the story itself, m/m romance with some family angst, and magic rain but science fiction it isn't.

Old Dead Futures by Tina Connolly ★★★★
Disturbing short story about self sacrifice

The Elephant in the Room by Paul Cornell dnf
Another short story that is part of a series I don't know and don't want to know.

Lawful Interception by Cory Doctorow dnf
Same as with the previous story. Don't care.

Wakulla Springs by Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages ★★★½
I liked the story. But... if this is fantasy/scifi then so is Charles Dickens's Barnaby Rudge and countless other tales.

A Terror by Jeffrey Ford★★★½
Short horror(?) story about grieving mother who doesn't allow her child to die.

The Hanging Game by Helen Marshall★★
The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children. Meh.

In the Greenwood by Mari Ness★★★★★
Retelling of Robin Hood.

The Ink Readers of Doi Saket by Thomas Olde Heuvelt★½
Whimsical short story.

Burning Girls by Veronica Schanoes★★★★★
Don't make contracts with demons and if you do - don't break them. You and innocent people will suffer greatly when demon has it's revenge. That's the moral of this tale, imo.

Rag and Bone by Priya Sharma★★★½
Well written dark alt history sci fi.

Equoid by Charles Stross
Basically a girl gets raped by a monster, young Lovecraft witnesses it & becomes misogynist, all told by a flippant main character. Nasty.

Super Bass by Kai Ashante Wilson★★
Marriage only valid if 3 people are involved? Sounds horrible.
Profile Image for Metaphorosis.
756 reviews55 followers
December 21, 2014


3.5 stars

Tor.com has some of the best free SFF on the web recently. Even the stories designed to promote long-form authors are generally solid, stand-alone stories. Because of that, their 'best of' anthologies have been a cut above most anthologies. That's not to say they're all good, but as a free download, it's pretty hard to beat this collection.

The best stories were:

The Too-Clever Fox by Leigh Bardugo (whose excellent Witch of Duva is in both Tor Fierce anthologies, and who is clearly a writer to watch). A classic-style fairy tale. Thief of War, by Beth Bernobich. One of those authors anthologies exist for. This story made me look up her other work and add it to my wish list (to buy when prices descend from unrealistic levels). Epic fantasy, magic, good writing.

Lawful Interception by Cory Doctorow. The story isn't astounding, but it's a well thought out exploration of near future surveillance and hacking possibilities.

Wakulla Springs by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages. The Creature from the Black Lagoon and Hollywood, but good despite that, for smooth writing.

The Hanging Game by Helen Marshall. Just what it sounds like.

In the Greenwood by Mari Ness. Another author that, for me, anyway, has suddenly sprung from nowhere, with good stories everywhere you look. This one is about Robin Hood, but surprisingly good despite the tired subject.

Sing by Karen Tidbeck. An unusual story about relationships.

All in all, worth picking up.
Profile Image for Tomislav.
1,002 reviews68 followers
December 3, 2015
This was another one of Tor.com's annual free anthologies. Well, at least it was free when I downloaded it. It now appears that Amazon.com charges for it. There does not seem to be any recurring theme, just a bunch of stories/novellas appended together. So there is no real incentive to limit its length, and according to goodreads, the result is the equivalent of 806 pages. Some of them are nominees or winners of major awards, so I have marked those in the list below.

I've also added comments on some of the stories that made an impression on me one way or the other. In the total, this anthology is a very mixed bag, emphasizing fantasy over science fiction.

“A Rumor of Angels” by Dale Bailey

“The Too-Clever Fox” by Leigh Bardugo

“Thief of War” by Beth Bernobich

“A Window or a Small Box” by Jedediah Berry - The enigmatic phrase captured in the title is explored in this alternate and strange world. Somehow, I did care about the characters, although it all made little rational sense.

“Contains Multitudes” by Ben Burgis

“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu - winner of 2014 Hugo Best Story - an outlandish concept is made interesting.

“Old Dead Futures” by Tina Connolly

“The Elephant in the Room” by Paul Cornell

“Lawful Interception” by Cory Doctorow - a sequel story to Little, Brother. It tells of the maturing of the youthful characters introduced in that book. It reminded me, in a good way, of some relief work I did in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina. In the end, the story grows quite political, along the technologically-enabled libertarian lines that Doctorow typically writes.

“Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages - nominated for 2014 Hugo Best Novella - nominated for 2014 Nebula Best Novella - not really either science fiction or fantasy, it is nevertheless very well written, in an interesting setting, from an interesting perspective. I loved the way the episodes jump the plot forward, leaving the reader to fill in interpolate events that have happened between. In my opinion, the best piece in the anthology.

“A Terror” by Jeff Ford

“The Hanging Game” by Helen Marshall

“In the Greenwood” by Mari Ness - retelling of the Robin Hood legend using formulaic fantasy tropes. Blah blah blah.

“The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt - nominated for 2014 Hugo Best Story

“Burning Girls” by Veronica Schanoes - nominated for 2014 Nebula Best Novella - Another stereotyped telling of immigrant Jewish working girls to New York. I did enjoy the characters, but the "burning" theme seemed forced.

“Rag and Bone” by Priya Sharma

“Equoid” by Charles Stross - winner of 2014 Hugo Best Novella - While I love some of Charles Stross' other work, this was a strong reminder of why I skip over his Laundry Files books. It stretches not the limits of my imagination, but the limits of my patience. How did this win an award?

“Sing” by Karin Tidbeck

“Terrain” by Genevieve Valentine - I very much enjoyed the band of diverse characters that made up the "family".

“The Best We Can” by Carrie Vaughn

“Super Bass” by Kai Ashante Wilson - Maybe there's something going on here I don't understand, but I just didn't see the point of the speculative social and cultural constructs.
Profile Image for Flo.
116 reviews
April 9, 2018
“A Rumor of Angels” by Dale Bailey: 3 Stars. This story had a great atmosphere, but I found the style slightly clunky, and honestly, I still don't really get the point of it all. What was it about? Why did any of the characters act like they did? It somehow feels rough and unfinished.

“The Too-Clever Fox” by Leigh Bardugo: 5 Stars. This one was brilliantly done, it felt just like an authentic folk tale, with the kind of sharp, bloody twist at the end I've come to expect from Bardugo.

“Thief of War” by Beth Bernobich: 1 Star. I'm sorry to say I entirely disliked this story. Although it was busy building its world all along, it never managed to show me why any of it mattered, why I should care for any of the characters. The romance felt forced, the main's mission trivial, and the ending was probably intended to be bitter-sweet, but only felt unsatisfying instead.

“A Window or a Small Box” by Jedediah Berry: 5 Stars. A wonderfully clever piece that combines a 20s-feel with a surrealism akin of "Welcome to Night Vale". I enjoyed every word (many of which were "alpaca") of this little story of a young couple fleeing through a nonsensical world from goons that turn into jelly.

“Contains Multitudes” by Ben Burgis: 5 Stars. A story about tentacled aliens gestating within the bodies of human teenagers. It has brilliant, on-point world-building full of both darkness and quirks, a haunting realness of generational conflict and public politics, and an ending that still manages to be clever in spite of being slightly predictable.

“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu: 5 Stars. A bitter-sweet coming-out story with a fantastical twist. The characters immediately register as unique, and though there isn't much plot to cover, we are taken on an emotional journey through their relationships instead.

“Old Dead Futures” by Tina Connolly: 5 Stars. This story hauntingly combines chronic physical disability and seizures and the ways in which families deal with them with strange powers and great conspiracies. It is sad and painful and dark, with a narration that subtly grows more desperate with each line and is gripping to the finish.

“The Elephant in the Room” by Paul Cornell: 3 Stars. This one just didn't do it for me. The setting, which I understand is part of a larger universe, is interesting, and the style is funny and fluid, but the characters are flat, and the plot seemed just trivial to me.

“Lawful Interception” by Cory Doctorow: 4 Stars. Apparently this builds on an earlier book by Doctorow. I'm not really sure where this story was going, plot-wise, and I'm slightly annoyed that I only found out half-way through that the main character was a white guy named Marcus, and not, as I had decided out of lack of further information, a black lesbian. What makes up for this story's faults, however, is the realness of it all; the author gives one the feeling of being right there in the middle of a modern protest movement.

“Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages: 4 Stars. A Magic Realism tale spanning three generations of a first Black, then increasingly mixed-race family, dealing with the difficulties of segregation, Hollywood, and growing up. This is a story steeped in research and clever allusions that manages to give all of its characters unique and enduring voices.

“A Terror” by Jeffrey Ford: 4 Stars. A story about the premature death of American poet Emily Dickinson, whom I am not very familiar with as an European. I liked the aesthetic and dark imagination of this story, though.

“The Hanging Game” by Helen Marshall: 5 Stars. A brilliantly haunting story about the deadly games children in a lumber town play to divine the future. Deep, desperate horror at its finest, all without special effects.

“In the Greenwood” by Mari Ness: 4 Stars. A clever re-imagining of the Robin Hood mythos, telling the trials and tribulations of Maid Marian, leading up to a perfect ending that puts a dark twist on the classic lore.

“The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt: 5 Stars. Brilliant little story about fate, sex, and wishes in Thailand, as whimsical as it is philosophical!

“Burning Girls” by Veronica Schanoes: 5 Stars. A sad story about a Jewish witch coming to America. The detail of lore, both generally European and Jewish in particular, was mesmerising, and the characters were wonderfully lively.

“Rag and Bone” by Priya Sharma: 3 Stars. A story about the rich prolonging their lives with the skin and flesh of the poor. This one was full of good ideas, but didn't seem to carry any of them to term, appearing unfinished in the end.

“Equoid” by Charles Stross: 4 Stars. This story, which is about Lovecraftian unicorns, had many faults, but I can't deny it was funny and had an eminently good concept.

“Sing” by Karin Tidbeck: 4 Stars. SciFi's not really my genre, but this was an absolutely solid piece that nicely left open to interpretation its central romance.

“Terrain” by Genevieve Valentine: 5 Stars. I don't like Westerns and I'm indifferent to Steampunk, but this story was more than just genre: All of its characters had so much depth and background, and the tragedy of the story was told in just the right way to make it hurt to the core.

“The Best We Can” by Carrie Vaughn: 4 Stars. A painfully realistic piece on the politicisation and commercialisation of space travel, and about the first contact with extraterrestrials (or rather, the lack thereof).

“Super Bass” by Kai Ashante Wilson: 5 Stars. A short scenario set in one of Wilson's fantastical pseudo-African cultures. As always, he is poetic, original, and sexy.
Profile Image for karlos.
39 reviews1 follower
May 12, 2022
In hindsight, I should have been taking notes while reading this thing, because it's been long enough since I started it that I don't remember half of the stories at all. The half I do remember, though, contain enough amazing experiences that I can't recommend this anthology enough.

Highlighting a handful of my favourites below. And yes, I know I'm being effusive as all get out with at least the first two stories here, but they're seriously some of my favourite things I've read in the last year or so.
(Most, if not all the individual stories are available both for free on Tor.com and as individual ebooks.)

“Super Bass” by Kai Ashante Wilson
I started reading this in bed, and could not make heads or tails of it, probably due to it having probably the most unconventional prose in the collection (by a pretty good margin). Picking it up again in the light of day, it didn't take too long to gel for me, and egads what an absolute beauty. A snapshot of a magic-laden community ceremony, Wilson using a psychedelic palette to shade and heighten character work that knocked me on my ass. Also, it's queer in a way that felt so ridiculously soothing.

Wakulla Springs by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (it's a novella, hence the italics, not quotes, formatting fans)
In my mind, one of the big draws of big, multi-generational stories is the way in which they use their expanded scope to add weight and resonance to interconnected human stories over a span of time too long for any one person to experience. You'd think you'd need a pretty hefty page count in order to achieve that impact, but Wakulla Springs definitely disproves that assumption. At the end of this novella, I felt like I'd witnessed a magic trick; the cumulative effect of its four vignettes leaving me in a state of awe and disbelief.

“Terrain” by Genevieve Valentine
There's little romance in this western, its scant sfnal elements as grubby and unromantic as its unflinching perspective on its otherwise faithful real-world setting. Valentine's affinity for her characters and her chosen genres – though it really is more a western than it is anything else – along with her devastating prose, made "Terrain" leave a pretty strong impression on me.

“Sing” by Karin Tidbeck
You could probably blurb "Sing" in a way that would make it sound every bit as harrowing as "Terrain". While her narrator Aino's situation is pretty dismal, Karin Tidbeck takes such care and delight in portraying the otherwordly concepts of this woman's reality. Through Tidbeck's lens, this potentially bleak story about a woman stuck in a community suspicious and barely cordial to her, in a world hostile to her body, "Sing" ends up feeling gorgeous and strangely uplifting.

“Burning Girls” by Veronica Schanoes
Coincidentally, the second thing I've read recently where the main character is a highly smart and competent type-A, and also something of an asshole who's pretty much incapable of getting out of her own way (the other thing in question: Casey McQuiston's I Kissed Shara Wheeler ). "Burning Girls" is as far from a heightened high school romance as you can get – it's a story about Jewish women escaping the Russian pogroms to the sweatshops of New York – but Veronica Schanoes still gets the same kind of stress-releasing mileage out of a flawed heroine fumbling along on the endearing side of annoying.
546 reviews19 followers
April 9, 2022
Não escrevi de todos os contos, mas escrevi de alguns.

Lawful Interception, Cory Doctorow.
Wakulla Springs, Andy Duncan e Ellen Klages.
A Terror, Jeffrey Ford.
The Hanging Game, Helen Marshall.
In the Greenwood, Mari Ness.
The Ink Readers of Doi Saket, Thomas Olde Heuvelt.
Burning Girls, Veronica Schanoes.
Rag and Bone, Priya Sharma.
Equoid, Charles Stross.
Sing, Karin Tidbeck.
Terrain, Genevieve Valentine.
The Best We Can, Carrie Vaughn.
Super Bass, Kai Ashante Wilson.
Profile Image for Francesco.
1,551 reviews97 followers
May 4, 2014
Siccome sono più storie, il voto finale è la media aritmetica dei punteggi dei singoli racconti. Aritmetica, perché non ho voglia di andare a "ponderare".
3.89, arrotondato a 4

A Rumor of Angels, di Dale Bailey: 2
Sinceramente non ho ben capito il colpo di scena finale, e comunque la storia è troppo cupa e triste. Però è scritta bene e le descrizioni del paesaggio sono molto calzanti.

The Too-Clever Fox, di Leigh Bardugo: 5
La recensione sta qui

Thief of War, di Beth Bernobich: 5
Il setting è semplicemente meraviglioso, credo che andrò a cercarmi altri racconti di questa autrice.

A Window or a Small Box di Jedediah Berry: 4
La trama è caotica e incomprensibile come in Pulp Fiction, ma è scritto davvero bene.

Contains Multitudes di Ben Burgis: 3
Drammatico, cupo e pessimistico. Però interessante.

The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere, di John Chu: 4.6
Parlare di omosessualità non è facile. Farlo in un contesto orientale, poi...

Old Dead Futures, di Tina Connolly: 2.9
Anche se gli "scenari alternativi" mi affascinano, non li sopporto quando sono tutti destinati a finire male. Anche un pessimista inguaribile DEVE, per le leggi della probabilità e della statistica, permettere che ci siano degli scenari alternativi a lieto fine: qua però mancano, a meno di voler considerare lieto fine il sacrificio di sé per la sicurezza della madre. Potremmo, ma non è un lieto fine per il protagonista, e io sono sicuro che un lieto fine che comprenda entrambi esista.

The Elephant in the Room, di Paul Cornell: 3.6
Un'altra avventura dell'universo Wild Cards. Martin sa fare bene il suo dovere di editore.

Lawful Interception, di Cory Doctorow: 5
Il voto ineluttabile: Doctorow scrive benissimo e ha un'immaginazione fantastica.
C'è una pecca: non è un racconto breve, ma un romanzo breve. Ed è il sequel di Homeland e Little Brother, anche se per fortuna non contiene spoiler. Però sai che i personaggi principali sopravvivono, e questo toglierà sicuramente un poco di suspence quando leggerò Homeland.

Wakulla Springs, di Andy Duncan e Ellen Klages: 3.9
La storia è scritta benissimo e se ne potrebbe trarre un film con pochissimo lavoro di sceneggiatura. L'ambientazione è semplicemente meravigliosa, i personaggi credibili, il richiamo a film veri (Tarzan) accresce e stuzzica la curiosità di andare a vedere dal vivo i posti del racconto.
Ma per l'amor di Dio, dove sta l'elemento fantasy/sci-fi?
Ora, è vero che il concetto di fantasy per gli anglofoni comprende sia il fantasy sia la fantascienza che il fantastico, ma qua gli elementi fantastici sono appena accennati. Per cui, per come è scritta e per come mi ha tenuto incollato allo schermo (essendo un ebook) avrei messo 4, per il fatto che sia stata candidata all'Hugo Award non prende il punteggio pieno. Però comunque gli va vicino.

A Terror, di Jeff Ford: 5
Spettacolare. Nonostante la mia avversione verso tematiche connesse alla morte (preferisco pensieri positivi), è stupendamente congegnato e ben scritto.

The Hanging Game, di Helen Marshall: 3.6
Interessante, ma qualche limatura necessaria.

In the Greenwood, di Mari Ness: 4
Rivisitazione di uno dei personaggi più famosi del medioevo inglese (no, non è Re Artù). Avvincente la storia e interessante il renderlo molto "peter-panesco".

The Ink Readers of Doi Saket”, di Thomas Olde Heuvelt: 3
Anche qua vorrei sapere come è stato possibile candidarla al premio Hugo. In questo caso almeno siamo "in tema", ma lo stesso se questa è una delle migliori "short stories" disponibili nel 2013 vuol dire che siamo messi davvero male.
Simpatica e scoppiettante umorismo, eccede nel tentativo di voler suscitare la risata mediante continue allusioni e strizzatine d'occhio al lettore.

Burning Girls, di Veronica Schanoes: 5
Ma non ci sono gatti in America... : questo è il tema della storia. Basta sostituire i gatti coi demòni e ci siamo.
Terrificante e inquietante al punto giusto!

Rag and Bone, di Priya Sharma: 3
Senza infamia e senza lode, ambientazione molto interessante (ma poco approfondita), trama piatta ma con un colpo di scena intrigante.

Equoid, di Charles Stross: 5
Probabilmente il fatto di avere iniziato a vedere Doctor Who mi ha aiutato a superare la "barriera dell'incredulità" e ad accettare con meno problemi l'esistenza di un reparto speciale per la gestione di "problemi" legati all'occulto.
In ogni caso la storia è bella, scritta bene, i personaggi sono realistici e ben costruiti, e il tutto scorre piacevolmente. Davvero fantastico! E scoprire che è parte di una serie, e che apparentemente non ci sono spoiler sugli episodi precedenti (a parte che il protagonista è sopravvissuto indenne) è ancora meglio: me li recupererò!

Sing, di Karin Tidbeck: 4
Idea interessante che ricorda moltissimo le storie di fantascienza di G.R.R.Martin. Però eccessivamente triste.

Terrain, di Genevieve Valentine: 3
Ambientata in un West Steampunk, è la storia dell'inesorabile avanzata del progresso: la ferrovia.

The Best We Can, di Carrie Vaughn: 5
Cosa succederebbe se arrivasse una sonda aliena in orbita nel sistema solare? Questo, molto probabilmente.

Super Bass, di Kai Ashante Wilson: 2
Giuro che non l'ho capito.
Profile Image for Frank Hofer.
Author 3 books5 followers
January 12, 2019
Well, there weren’t any misspelled words and the grammar was fine. And that’s the best I can say.

I gave up about 20 percent into the book. The stories I finished left me saying, “Yeah, so what was the point of that?” The stories I gave up on were incoherent.

The writers seemed to be going for imagery and style over plot and character development. In other words, pretentious crap.
Profile Image for Mary.
Author 2 books3 followers
November 6, 2020
I love a good short story collection, and I think this was exactly that.
Profile Image for Princessjay.
557 reviews26 followers
August 25, 2016
A Rumor of Angels - Dale Bailey. 3 STARS. Written along the tradition of Steinbeck. Spare words illustrating the grinding desperation of people with no where to flee, holding hard onto thin thread of hope. Beautiful in its way, but I personally did not respond to it.

The Too-Clever Fox - Leigh Bardugo. 4 STARS. A folk tale with a truly surprising ending.

Thief of War - Beth Bernobich. 3.5 STARS. A short story based on the world from the author's main series. Palace intrigue, politics, magic, and too-pat love that always seem to come from nowhere. Interesting read, meandering, and slightly anticlimactic ending -- but worth a read.

A Window or a Small Box - Jedediah Berry. 4 STARS. A wild run through a surrealism, and a parable of what it is to be in a relationship, to enter into life-long commitment in an uncertain world. In our world.

Contains Multitudes - Ben Burgis. 3 STARS.

The Water that Falls on You from Nowhere - John Chu. 3.5 STARS. Water suddenly begins falling on anyone telling a lie.

Old Dead Futures - Tina Connolly. 4 Stars. Short and to-the-point, like a dagger to the heart. A tale of pure sacrifice.

The Elephant in the Room - Paul Cornell. 2 STARS. Rambling.

Lawful Inception - Cory Doctorow. Couldn't get into this one.

Wakulla Springs - Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages.

A Terror - Jeffrey Ford. 3 STARS. An interesting imagining of the adventure may have led to Emily Dickinson's poem "Death."

The Hanging Game - Helen Marshall. 4 STARS. Children play a game where, when they hang themselves by the throat, they can blurt out prophecies of the future. Meanwhile, men kill the forest's bears, and the forest extract its price. Dark, chilling.

In the Greenwood - Mari Ness. 4 STARS. Re-telling of Robin Hood from Maid Marian's perspective. Touching, beautiful.

The Ink Readers of Doi Saket - Thomas Olde Heuvelt. Can't get into this one.

Burning Girls - Veronica Schanoes. 4.5 STARS. Jewish mythticism, interwoven with a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, with Jewish pogroms in Poland and the Shirtwaist Fire in early 1900s. The ties of family love, the pain of life itself... Amazing.

Rag and Bone - Priya Sharma. 4 STARS. Grim, harsh world where poor people's lives are worth nothing, are reduced to merely their value as healthy flesh and bones to aid the rich.

Equoid - Charles Stross. 3.5 STARS. A Laundry story. Bob, a member of the Laundry -- a branch of British secret service dealing with monsters from the dungeon dimensions, gets called to the field to deal with unicorns. Non-sparkly, HP Lovecraftian unicorns.

Sing - Karin Tidbeck. 4 STARS.

Terrain - Genevieve Valentine. 3.5 STARS. Steampunk American west, in lawless cowboy country -- a small group of non-white people try to protect their home against the incoming Railroad who wants their land, and won't hesitate to kill to get it.

The Best We Can - Carrie Vaughn. 2.5 STARS. Can't get into this one.

Super Bass - Kai Ashante Wilson. 2.5 STARS. Tropical world where gods possess their mortal counterparts, and marriages occur in trios.
Profile Image for Carla.
543 reviews80 followers
July 24, 2016
Nice anthology. It's the first time I actually read so many short stories and I really enjoyed the experience. Some of the authors will be on my radar from now on.

A Rumor of Angels” by Dale Bailey - 4/5
The Too-Clever Fox” by Leigh Bardugo - 4/5
Thief of War” by Beth Bernobich - 3/5
A Window or a Small Box” by Jedediah Berry - 2/5
Contains Multitudes” by Ben Burgis - 3/5
The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu - 4/5
Old Dead Futures” by Tina Connolly - 3/5
The Elephant in the Room” by Paul Cornell - 3/5
Lawful Interception” by Cory Doctorow - 3/5
Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages - 4/5
A Terror” by Jeffrey Ford - 2/5
The Hanging Game” by Helen Marshall - 2/5
In the Greenwood” by Mari Ness - 4/5
The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt - 3/5
Burning Girls” by Veronica Schanoes - 4/5
Rag and Bone” by Priya Sharma - 4/5
Equoid” by Charles Stross - 4/5
Sing” by Karin Tidbeck - 3/5
Terrain” by Genevieve Valentine - 3/5
The Best We Can” by Carrie Vaughn - 4/5
Super Bass” by Kai Ashante Wilson - 3/5
Profile Image for Francesca.
1,611 reviews120 followers
September 7, 2016

Classica antologia annuale (e gratuita in versione ebook), nella quale Tor.com raccoglie i migliori racconti dell’anno pubblicati sul proprio sito.

Di seguito quelli che mi sono piaciuti di più.

“A Rumor of Angels”
Bello e dal linguaggio evocativo.
È un viaggio, come quello che intraprende il protagonista, attraverso una visione differente del mondo, un luogo in cui ancora sopravvivono il magico e il divino.

“The Too-Clever Fox”
Racconto molto particolare, che amalgama spunti originali con fiaba, narrazione popolare e folklore.
Ne esce una storia intensa, scritta molto bene, accattivante, ricca di messaggi e valori morali. E anche commovente alla fine.

“The Elephant in the Room”
Racconto che raccoglie un insieme di eventi, elementi e temi, legati insieme dalla voce del protagonista, che risuona attraverso ogni aspetto della vicenda, esternando i sui vari sentimenti di fronte a un modo che è dolorosamente familiare e profondamente vero.

“A Terror”
Un’incredibile storia, davvero cupa e venata di elementi paurosi, con protagonista la poetessa Emily Dickinson capace di arti magiche – e non solo attraverso l’uso della parola.

Lirico e terrificante allo steso tempo.
Un’umanità che si è diffusa in mille mondi, ma al contempo è diventata estranea a se stessa e alla sua essenza, quasi una diaspora interiore, oltre che al suo genere.
Un racconto che evoca la divisione dove ci dovrebbe essere comunanza, ma anche la capacità di riavvicinarsi senza appiattire le diversità.

“The Best We Can”
Uno dei più intensi dell’antologia, un grido disperato contro una solitudine devastante e profonda, quella di non essere soli nell’universo. Ma è anche uno sguardo sulle possibilità del presente e le ricadute che le nostre azioni, obiettivi, avranno sul futuro.
Profile Image for Adam.
276 reviews6 followers
February 2, 2014
A great (and free!) collection of short stories from Tor! If you're wondering, the majority of them were either loosely fantasy or just somewhat "unreal", while a few of them were science fiction or more typical fantasy. One thing I found very interesting about this collection was how high the quality of writing was! Many of these short stories exhibited traits of real literature (not just some amateur author giving it a shot), and for the writing quality alone, this set of short stories is worth reading. I was also interested to see so many of the authors being women. Maybe I haven't read enough new fiction in these genres, but I was under the impression that they were usually men. So to find so many women authors in this batch meant some great new perspectives and subtleties that aren't always there with many male writers. There were only a few stories in the whole batch that I didn't find worth my time. And a few others seemed to end too abruptly or not so well-rounded. While there were a few that were whole, cohesive, and brilliant pieces of writing from start to finish. But because of the somewhat mixed enjoyability for me (though all high-quality writing), I can't rate it higher. Still, a great read and a great set of stories.
Profile Image for Jenny.
64 reviews3 followers
April 9, 2014
I don't often read short fiction, but a friend reccomended this collection, and free is always a good price, so I decided to give it a try.

Many of these stories would have gotten five stars from me. As far as the ones that would have gotten only three stars, well they're short. One or two trips on the bus, and you're reading something else.

My favourites were:

“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Beautiful. Simply a beautiful story)
“Equoid” by Charles Stross (Really fun treatment of Lovecraftian themes and style)
“The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Another beautiful one)

25 reviews
January 1, 2015
Mostly disappointing collection. “Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages was the best of the lot. Fitting for the winner of several awards, including the 2014 World Fantasy Award, and several nominations. This is not strictly a sci/fi of fantasy novel, but it a compelling history of the Jim Crow south set in and around the filming of Tarzan and Creature from the Black Lagoon fantasy movies at Wakulla Springs. I also enjoyed “A Window or a Small Box” by Jedediah Berry, and “Burning Girls” by Veronica Schanoes. The rest were just OK, not great.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Pfaller.
72 reviews43 followers
September 4, 2015
A solid collection of speculative fiction from one of the biggest names in the genre. Some of the pieces, like "Wakulla Springs," were enjoyable to read but didn't really contain enough fantastical elements for me. I enjoyed "Equoid" by Charles Stross the most - the premise of unicorns actually being a horrible Lovecraftian monster is humorous in and of itself and Stross absolutely nailed a light-hearted tone that counter-balanced the horrific images well.
Profile Image for Renee Babcock.
380 reviews9 followers
April 30, 2014
A consistently good volume of short fiction from Tor.com. A few stories didn't speak to me but some were exceptional, including Thief of War by Beth Bernobich, which was my favorite story of the anthology, Wakulla Springs by Ellen Klages and Andy Duncan (justifiably nominated for a Hugo) and Burning Girls by Veronica Schanoes.
Profile Image for Ricky Kimsey.
619 reviews3 followers
September 26, 2015
Nebula Nominees

This collection of stories published on the Tor books website in 2013 contains three stories that were nominated for the Nebula awards the following year.
Plus it contains stories set in the worlds of Cory Doctorow's
Little Brother and George R.R. Martin's Wild Cards series.
Profile Image for Andrew Brooks.
327 reviews14 followers
July 16, 2023
Attempted a bit over half of this book. I'm leaving it unrated because I really don't know what to make of it. From the stories that I did read,, i can't say that It's bad fiction, but It's a collection of what I call bizarre fiction, not any of what I'd call SF, or Fantasy. Except for two, at any rate, I'm shelving it for hard times.
Profile Image for ThomasAH.
8 reviews
March 3, 2014
Few stories are boring (I skipped one), most are good and some are very good.

I really liked the beautiful language of "Thief of War" by Beth Bernobich, which alone rises the rating from 4 stars for the full book to 5 stars for just including it.
Profile Image for Erin Price.
158 reviews4 followers
January 27, 2014
These really are some of the best stories published on tor.com this year, including some I passed up the first time around. I love "The Water That Falls On You From Nowhere" and "The Hanging Game", which are both also pretty short. Pick this up!
Profile Image for Daniel Powell.
Author 28 books43 followers
January 27, 2016
Many hits and just a few misses, which should be expected from such a diverse collection. Simply not into as much sci-fi and fantasy, which are gaps you can attribute to my tastes because the authors did a nice job with the work...
Profile Image for Michele.
328 reviews52 followers
July 20, 2016
“Burning Girls” by Veronica Schanoes, 3.5 stars
"Lawful Interception" by Cory Doctorow, 3 stars
"Thief of War" Beth Bernobich, 3 stars, too YA for me
"Equoid", 3 stars
put it down after that
27 reviews2 followers
January 7, 2015
Some stories in this collection are interesting, but the quality is very uneven.
Displaying 1 - 25 of 25 reviews

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