Masanobu's Reviews > Some of the Best from Tor.com: 2014

Some of the Best from Tor.com by Ellen Datlow
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Aug 29, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: own, free-ebooks, read-in-2016

Gut rating, i.e. the rating I feel it should get: 4 stars
Average rating for the stories: 3.15 stars

This anthology, as any other short story collection out there, is a mixed bag. A 3-star rating would be just, since it includes stories I hated or disliked and stories I enjoyed and loved. However, there is a discrepancy between what would be the average rating and what I feel this collection deserves. I really, really liked this. It honestly felt like a 4-star book, which I guess means the good stories outweigh the bad ones: there is great fantasy and sci-fi here. It's diverse, imaginative, and represents a wide range of women and men and everything in between. And it has been terrible for the state of my TBR pile, which is always a good sign!

If I had to choose a top three, I'd include:
- Among the Thorns (Veronica Schanoes)
- Where the Trains Turn (Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen)
- Reborn (Ken Liu)

Some of the stories that I enjoyed because they packed a big emotional punch were:
- In the Sight of Akresa (Ray Wood)
- The Insects of Love (Genevieve Valentine), though I had to read it twice to fully get it!
- The Mothers of Voorhisville (Mary Rickert)
- The Color of Paradox (A.M. Dellamonica)

And some others that I enjoyed and wanted to highlight just because they're very good:
- Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome (John Scalzi)
- Brisk Money (Adam Christopher)
- Midway Relics and Dying Breeds (Seanan McGuire)
- Daughter of Necessity (Marie Brennan)

And the best thing is that all of them are free on tor.com!
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Reading Progress

August 29, 2015 – Shelved
August 29, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
September 12, 2015 – Shelved as: own
January 23, 2016 – Started Reading
January 23, 2016 –
7.0% "Rereading Charlie Jane Anders' As Good as New took out a star from it. It doesn't feel so new after a year. Then Dale Bailey's The End of the End of Everything is partly narcissistic prose and meaningless violence, as much as he wants to disguise it as truth in madness/beauty spiel. It follows comfortably on the legacy of many OWG authors, if you're into that sort of thing."
January 24, 2016 –
10.0% "Kelly Barnhill's Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch is a very cute and charming little story. It's heart-warming. And beautifully written without being self-conscious or pretentious (I'm looking at you, Dale Bailey). 3/5"
January 25, 2016 –
13.0% "Richard Bowes' Sleep Walking Now and Then lacks a third act. I'm tempted to leave it at that. It is gothic in atmosphere, but sadly never delivers and it goes on for too long (which is a strange thing to say about a 32-page novelette). I felt the same after reading Night Film. Atmosphere is not enough to craft a good story! 1/5"
January 26, 2016 –
14.0% "I've really enjoyed Marie Brennan's Daughter of Necessity. It is a retelling of part of the Odissey where Penelope is given more agency. It's nearly perfect (also I can't resist retellings), so 4/5."
January 30, 2016 –
18.0% "Adam Christopher's Brisk Money was a page turner! Noir sci-fi, is that a thing? Because I love it. If you want to read something similar to memento, give this a shot. (4/5)"
January 30, 2016 –
21.0% "John Chu's A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Proposed Trade-Offs for the Overhaul of the Barricade was too confusing and had too much unexplained world for such a short story. Cool concept, cool character development. But it reads just like the start of a novel. I bet Chu has thought about writing the rest, because this doesn't feel rewarding. 2/5 for lack of closure."
February 1, 2016 –
23.0% "A.M. Dellamonica's The Color of Paradox is so so good, but at the same so frustrating! Dellamonica has a knack for world- and character-building. This story about time-travellers who must save the world before it ends after WW2 is extremely addicting, but the ending felt too abrupt. 4/5"
February 1, 2016 –
23.0% "So apparently Dellamonica confirmed that (1) Willie is definitely a nod to Connie Willis and (2) The Color of Paradox is part of a larger story that isn't ready yet. Yay! Will be waiting for the day it is."
February 2, 2016 –
27.0% "Ruthanna Emrys' The Litany of Earth is a wonderfully-written story based on the Cthulhu mythos created by Lovecraft and expanded by a hundred authors. Only shame is that I'm not familiar with Cthulhu, save for the fact that he is a many-tentacled god who takes life away. And yet this story stands powerfully on its own - and can double as commentary on the Holocaust. 4/5"
February 3, 2016 –
30.0% "I thought Max Gladstone's A Kiss With Teeth was going to be the first story to truly disappoint me - I've read a million variations on the middle-class man with a middle-life crisis story and I don't really think the world needs yet another one, not even one with vampires. But oh, the ending! It's its saving grace. (4/5)"
February 13, 2016 –
35.0% "Kathleen Ann Goonan's When You Wish Upon a Star is a perfect story of the space race, Disney, feminism and US political history. I enjoyed every word of it. Not really scifi, though. (5/5)"
February 14, 2016 –
37.0% "Nicola Griffith's Cold Wind has an undeservedly high rating here on GR. Interesting concept, powerful writing, but too flowery and too little substance. A story of shapeshifters, prey and predator, who meet in a lesbian bar. Lacks conflict and resolution. (1.5/5)"
February 14, 2016 –
38.0% "I haven't really enjoyed Maria Dahvana Headley's The Tallest Doll in New York City. It's weird and pointless. At most one could say it's cute (1/5)"
February 18, 2016 –
46.0% "Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen's Where the Trains Turn is easily my favorite story of the anthology. A story about trains, and maybe dragons, and the reliability of memory. The translation from Finnish is jarring at times, but don't let it deter you, because this story is so perfect it hurts. 5/5 obviously."
February 22, 2016 –
47.0% "I have not enjoyed Yoon Ha Lee's Combustion Hour. Too heavy on imagery and not clear enough: are the characters really shadow puppets or is this some kind of weird metaphor about the end of the world? There is no tension and while there is an ending, it doesn't really change things. To make an ending effective you have build the need for that ending during the narrative. (1/5)"
February 25, 2016 –
51.0% "I adore Ken Liu's short stories, and Reborn was no different. An interesting exploration of memory and alien invasion. The only thing I didn't like about this was the interspecies sex. Eww. But I guess it makes sense exactly as it is, playing with our own pop culture about aliens. (5/5)"
February 28, 2016 –
56.0% "I've really liked Seanan McGuire's (i.e. Mira Grant's) Midway Relics and Dying Breeds. It's green sci-fi with impeccable worldbuilding. If I summarized the story it would sound terribly dull: a woman in a carnival must face the big man who makes decisions in her place, and choose between her traditional life or her Indricothere. Yet it was riveting and also soothing, for some reason. (4/5)"
March 2, 2016 –
59.0% "I never had any interest in Daniel José Older's Bone Street Rumba series, but after reading Anyway: Angie, I've changed my mind. I like his worldbuilding skills. (3.5/4)"
March 5, 2016 –
73.0% "M. Rickert's The Mothers of Voorhisville contains multitudes, as the mothers themselves. I really liked and was really moved by the story, but I was also tremendously frustrated by it, especially by the end. Motherhood is treated as I'd neverr seen it before: it's acknowledged that motherhood is not a universal experience, but at the same time the Greek chorus of the Mothers undermines this same statement. 4/5 anyway"
March 11, 2016 –
80.0% "Why have I been avoiding John Scalzi for so long? Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome is well-written, well-researched, immersive and a page-turner short story. This is the kind of sci-fi I like. (5/5)"
March 13, 2016 –
85.0% "Veronica Schanoes' Among the Thorns is a perfect story: a retelling of a tale collected by the brothers Grimm (The Jew in the Thorns), from the POV of the Jew's revenge-seeking daughter, using Jewish lore by way of magic, and intertwined with actual history. According to Wiki, in 1636 Dornburg suffered the Plague and only one family survived. It was refounded in 1971. (5/5, one of my favorites from the collection)"
March 15, 2016 –
88.0% "I've read Genevieve Valentine's The Insects of Love and I think I like it. But I'm going to reread it to see if I can understand it better and find out why I like it."
March 20, 2016 –
88.0% "I've reread The Insects of Love and now I can positively say I like it. Beyond the poignant descriptions of love and rivalry between sisters and the dream-like prose, I love how the sci-fi in this story is so subtle. It can get confusing, but it's a story about time as a real fourth dimension Soraya and Fairuz can alter. It's not time travelling exactly, but creation of new timelines. 'We're out of time'. 4/5."
March 22, 2016 –
89.0% "I liked Jo Walton's Sleeper, but it didn't have as much of an impact as I'd hoped for. It's a really short story about the conversation between a biographer in 2064 and a simulation of her subject of study, who died in the 1990s. It reads as a parable, and it's quite blunt. But it throws some interesting concepts in the story that I'd like to see developed. (3/5)"
March 23, 2016 –
95.0% "Kai Ashante Wilson's The Devil in America is powerful, meaningful and is singularly well-written. It tackles racism in America like no other story I've ever read. It's violent and confusing, and while it's not my favorite story in the anthology, it deserves to be read. (3.5/5)"
March 29, 2016 –
98.0% "Ray Wood's In the Sight of Akresa was hard to stomach, yet I really liked the story (although I did not enjoy reading it). My favorite aspect of this bleak high fantasy is that it can be taken at face value as the tragic story of two star-crossed lesbian lovers, or it can be read as the account of an unreliable noble lady who lusts after a former slave, but is not willing to risk her position to help her. (4/5)"
March 30, 2016 –
100.0% "I'm unsure about Isabel Yap's A Cup of Salt Tears. I love the exquisite writing, her ability to evoke different emotions and the mythology woven into the modern setting, but I'm unsure about the ending. It fell flat. I'm not entirely sure I understood it, though, so take my rating with a grain of salt (2.5/5)"
March 30, 2016 – Shelved as: free-ebooks
March 30, 2016 – Shelved as: read-in-2016
March 30, 2016 – Finished Reading

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