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anthology

Four New Australian Anthologies

Baggage, Belong, Legends of Australian Fantasy & Scary Kisses: four 2010 anthologies, three from small presses and one from a major publisher. Not all of the books are restricted to Australian authors by any means, but in the way of things the majority of stories here are from that continent. I’ll state upfront that not one of these books fully satisfies. Each is ambitious in its own way, and each has some nice work, but across the board I’d say there are two many minor stories, and indeed occasionally some very weak work. But for all that, there is, as I said, some nice work in each of these books: Let’s celebrate that.

anthology

Double Review: Wings of Fire/Sympathy for the Devil

Night Shade has, over the last couple of years, published several striking mostly reprint anthologies, on various fairly broad themes. Here in the summer of 2010 we see two more, one a collection of stories about the devil, the other a collection of dragon stories. Both are obviously significant Fantasy tropes, with a plethora of excellent short stories to choose from. And the editors, in each book, select some exceptional stories, a nice mix of fairly familiar work and worthy lesser known pieces.

anthology

Wilde Stories 2010: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction edited by Steve Berman

All the stories are superior choices. And, in and of itself, Richard Bowes’s is-it-fantasy-or-is-it-mainstream novelette, “I Needs Must Part, the Policeman Said,” is worth the price of admission; and the same is true of Elizabeth Hand’s re-envisioned fairy tale, “The Far Shore.” Wilde Stories 2010 is a worthwhile volume for anyone who enjoys literary speculative fiction.

anthology

Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Fiction, edited by S.T. Joshi

S.T. Joshi notes in his anthology’s introduction that he solicited contributions based on H.P. Lovecraft’s statement: “All my tales are based on the fundamental premise that common human laws and interests and emotions have no validity or significance in the vast cosmos-at-large.’’ The result is 21 stories that mostly pass Lovecraft’s “test of the really weird”—which also serves as this tome’s epigraph: “…whether or not there be excited in the reader a profound sense of dread, and of contact with unknown spheres and powers; a subtle attitude of awed listening, as if for the beating of black wings or the scratching of outside shapes and entities on the known universe’s utmost rim.”

anthology

The New Dead: Christopher Golden, Editor

The New Dead, edited by Christopher Golden, is an example of the “big tent” theory of zombie fiction. Instead of restricting the content to the classic Romero-esque shamblers, Golden threw the gates wide open and the result is a wildly diverse, inventive batch of stories that will please both hardcore zombie fanatics and more casual dabblers in the subgenre…a look at zombies that reaffirms the elements that allow them to maintain their grip on our imagination while showing how broad the possibilities for them are.

anthology

Book Review: Extraordinary Engines: The Definitive Steampunk Anthology, edited by Nick Gevers

It’s tough to compile a definitive anthology, especially when the volume contains only original fiction and lacks most of the genre’s iconic writers, but editor Nick Gevers tackles the challenge in Extraordinary Engines: The Definitive Steampunk Anthology. Overall, it is neither as definitive nor as strong as might be hoped, nor does it achieve “definitive” status. The anthology should, however, please many steampunk devotees, and win it some new fans.

anthology

Interfictions 2: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing edited by Delia Sherman & Christopher Barzak, Introduction by Henry Jenkins

Overall, these twenty-one stories offer high quality prose and a fair amount of unpredictability. But the anthology is uneven in a way that will allow readers to differ—perhaps radically—in their reactions. Still, you too may find the best stories to be Carlos Hernandez’s delightful “The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria”, which walks the tightrope between mainstream and magic realism without a slip, and Theodora Goss’s gemmed beauty “Child-Empress of Mars”. Goss’s tale takes its inspiration—in the finest post-modern fashion—from a Wikipedia entry on John Carter of Mars instead of the series itself, yet still manages to turn the interplanetary romance inside out in a way that would make Jack Vance proud.

anthology

Zombie Raccoons & Killer Bunnies, Martin H. Greenberg and Kellie Hughes, eds.

There’s been a lot of brouhaha about the cover of thr DAW anthology, but very little attention paid to the contents. Can a book be judged by its cover? In this case, for better or worse, the answer is “no.”