Tag archives for anthology

Jared Shurin (ed.) – Irregularity

shurin-irregularityIrregularity is about the tension between order and chaos in the 17th and 18th centuries. Men and women from all walks of life dedicated themselves to questioning, investigating, classifying and ordering the natural world. They promoted scientific thought, skepticism and intellectual rigour in the face of superstition, intolerance and abuses of power. These brave thinkers dedicated themselves and their lives to the idea that the world followed rules that human endeavour could uncover… but what if they were wrong?

Irregularity is about the attempts to impose our order on nature’s chaos, the efforts both successful and unsuccessful to better know the world.

From John Harrison to Ada Lovelace, Isaac Newton to Émilie du Châtelet, these stories showcase the Age of Reason in a very different light.

Reading Irregularity, Jurassic London’s sixth full-length anthology and the second edited solo by Jared Shurin, was a strange reading experience, as I’ve read a lot of seventeenth and eighteenth century literature at university. Much of that was in the Penguin Classic editions (the ones with a black spine and a red bar at the top) and while the cover is in no way reminiscent of those, the font used for Irregularity really resembles the look of those editions. Add to that the fact that a lot of the stories are written in the same language and with the same sensibility as those classics and for a moment it seemed as if I’d traveled back in time to my student days. Thankfully, reading Irregularity in no way felt like an essay assignment, in fact it was fantastic fun.   Continue reading »

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Jonathan Strahan – The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Eight

strahan-bestofsffvol8The best, most original and brightest science fiction and fantasy stories from around the globe from the past twelve months are brought together in one collection by multi-award-winning editor Jonathan Strahan.

This highly popular series is released in the UK for the first time with this edition. It will include stories from both the biggest names in the field and the most exciting new talents. Previous volumes have included stories from Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Cory Doctorow, Stephen Baxter, Elizabeth Bear, Joe Abercrombie, Paolo Bacigalupi, Holly Black, Garth Nix, Jeffrey Ford, Margo Lanagan, Bruce Sterling, Adam Roberts, Ellen Klages, and many many more.

Over the last almost four years that I’ve been running A Fantastical Librarian, I’ve come to appreciate the art of short form more and more. But most of my short fiction consumption comes from reading anthologies and listening to podcasts such as Escape Pod, PodCastle, Lightspeed and Clarkesworld; most of the fiction published in magazines completely passes me by. And when the email about a review copy for The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year volume 8 arrived, it plugged that gap nicely, especially given the fact that I was in the process of putting together my nominations for this year’s Hugo’s. What I found in this continuation of Jonathan Strahan’s series of ‘Best of the Year’-anthologies with a new publisher, was a fantastic set of stories, some of which didn’t completely work for me, but all of them interesting. Below I’ll call out some of the stories I really liked and talk in more detail about my favourites.  Continue reading »

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Jan Edwards & Jenny Barber (eds) – The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic

edwardsbarber-urbanmythicThere is magic on the urban streets. The Mythic are alive and creating chaos in a city near you. Fourteen fantastic fables by weavers of wonder: Adrian Tchaikovsky, Kate Griffin, Mike Resnick, Gaie Sebold, Christopher Golden, Alison Littlewood, Jaine Fenn, Jonathan Oliver, Graham Edwards, Anne Nicholls, Ian Whates, Joyce Chng, Zen Cho and James Brogden. Here are tales of magic and horror; ancient curses and modern charms; strange things in the Underground; murder and redemption; corporate cults and stalwart guardians; lost travellers and wandering gods; fortune tellers and urban wizards; dragons, fae and unspeakable beasts.

There is nothing I like more in my urban fantasy than a dose of magical London of the sort found in Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, China Miéville’s Un Lun Dun, Ben Aaronovitch’s The Folly series, Tom Pollock’s The Skyscraper Throne series, and Rosie E. Best’s Skulk, to name but a few. So to be offered a chance to explore more of these magical metropolises (metropoli?) in The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic wasn’t one I was about to refuse. And by no means are all of these stories set in London, and even more surprising most of my favourites from the anthology weren’t even set in London.  Continue reading »

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Alex Shvartsman (ed.) – Unidentified Funny Objects 2

alexshvartsman-ufo2UFO2 is the second annual collection of humorous science fiction and fantasy short stories. Inside you’ll find:

- A golem on an interstellar cruise ship
– Dragon-taunting for fun and profit
– Time travel gone really wrong
– Cubicle farm wizardry
– Alien behemoths in Central Park

And much, much more!

Last year I read and enjoyed the first Unidentified Funny Objects anthology. When Alex Shvartsman approached me about reviewing the second volume, I immediately said yes, curious to see what he’d found this year. I wasn’t disappointed. There are fewer stories than last year, though they are longer and there are repeat appearances and new big names. I had a great time with the book, but there were some stories that didn’t work as well for me as others did.  Continue reading »

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Jonathan Oliver (ed.) – The End of the Road

jonathanoliver-endoftheroadEach step will lead you closer to your destination, but who, or what, can you expect to meet at journey’s end?

Here are stories of misfits, spectral hitch-hikers, nightmare travel tales and the rogues, freaks and monsters to be found on the road.

The critically acclaimed editor of Magic, The End of The Line and House of Fear has brought together the contemporary masters and mistresses of the weird from around the globe in an anthology of travel tales like no other. Strap on your seatbelt, or shoulder your backpack, and wait for that next ride… into darkness.

Scary stories are still tricky reads for me. The balance between deliciously scary and nightmare-inducing is a thin line. As opposed to End of the Line which was straight-up horror, End of the Road takes road stories on with a slant to the weird, but still there are some pretty scary stories here. However, they stayed firmly on the side of deliciously scary, even if some of them pushed the line quite closely.   Continue reading »

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Jared Shurin (ed.) – The Book of the Dead

jurassic-bookofthedeadThe Book of the Dead addresses the most fascinating of all the undead: the mummy. The mummy can be a figure of imperial dignity or one of shambling terror, at home in pulp adventure, contemporary drama, or apocalyptic horror. The anthology will be published in collaboration with the Egypt Exploration Society, the UK’s oldest independent funder of archaeological fieldwork and research in Egypt, dedicated to the promotion and understanding of ancient Egyptian history and culture.

This anthology includes nineteen original stories of revenge, romance, monsters and mayhem, ranging freely across time periods, genres and styles. The stories are illustrated by Garen Ewing, creator of The Adventures of Julius Chancer and introduced by John J. Johnston, Vice Chair of the Egypt Exploration Society.

Continue reading »

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Quick ‘n Dirty: Jared Shurin (ed.) – Ash

Quick ‘n Dirty is a term used for that first quick search you perform when starting a new research project. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive and all encompassing; it’s just an exploratory search to see what is out there and to collect more search terms before starting a true literature review. I thought it would be a good description for reviews of shorter works, such as short stories or novellas or for less comprehensive reviews of longer works. They may not be as in-depth as I usually try to write my reviews, but hopefully they’ll be a good introduction and indication whether you’d like the stories or books reviewed.

jurassiclondon-ashWhen Krakatoa exploded, it shook the world. The volcano rained fire and unleashed floods, but the worst was still to follow. 1883 was a year of darkness and cold, as the global temperature dropped and the skies were wreathed in ash. It was also a year of fiery sunsets and blue moons, where the impossible could – and did – happen…

Ash explores a world where myths come to life and strange creatures wash up in the shallows – a world where survival is only the first of many struggles, and the monsters can take many forms.

The stories of Ash take place in the same shared setting as 1853, A Town Called Pandemonium and the forthcoming The Streets of Pandemonium and The Rite of Spring.

Ash can be read on its own or part of the series.   Continue reading »

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Tehani Wessely (ed.) – One Small Step

tehaniwessely-onesmallstepSixteen stories of discovery from Australia’s best writers. Each story in some way addresses the idea of discoveries, new beginnings, or literal or figurative “small steps”, but each story takes you to places you far beyond the one small step you imagine… Journey through worlds and explore the reaches of the universe with this collection.

Looking at my shelves a surprising number of my favourite female authors is Australian: Rowena Cory Daniells, Fiona McIntosh, Trudi Canavan, and Jo Anderton. So when I was offered a review copy for an anthology featuring an all-female, all-Australian line-up, including two of the afore-mentioned authors, I didn’t have to think twice really; I said yes. And I’m glad I did, because I didn’t just get new stories from Anderton and Daniells, but I was also presented with a host of other stories by very talented writers.   Continue reading »

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Ian Whates (ed) – Solaris Rising 2

ianwhates-solarisrising2Having re-affirmed Solaris’ proud reputation for producing high quality science fiction anthologies in the first volume, Solaris Rising 2 is the next collection in this exciting series. Featuring stories by Allan Steele, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kim Lakin-Smith, Paul Cornell, Eugie Foster, Nick Harkaway, Nancy Kress, Kay Kenyon, James Lovegrove, Robert Reed, Mercurio D. Rivera, Norman Spinrad, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Liz Williams, Vandana Singh, Martin Sketchley, and more.

These stories are guaranteed to surprise, thrill and delight, and maintain our mission to demonstrate why science fiction remains the most exciting, varied and inspiring of all fiction genres. In Solaris Rising we showed both the quality and variety that modern SF can produce. In Solaris Rising 2, we’ll be taking that much, much further.

In 2011 Solaris revived the Solaris Book of New Science Fiction series with Solaris Rising. I greatly admired the book and really enjoyed it. In my conclusion to the review I said I hoped that the book would be a success so there would be more instalments in the series. Evidently it was, as here I am with a review for Solaris Rising 2. The collection of authors is quite different from the last one with some names I wouldn’t have expected in an SF setting, such as Adrian Tchaikovsky.    Continue reading »

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Carrie Cuinn and KV Taylor (eds) – FISH

cuinntaylor-fishWhat secrets belong only to a fish? Dive in and find out.

Mannetje, mannetje Timpe Te,
botje, botje in de zee,
mijn vrouwtje die heet Ilsebil,
ze wil niet zoals ik wil.
Van de Visser en Zijn Vrouw in De Sprookjes van Grimm,
Van Holkema & Warendorf, 1984

O man of the sea!
Come listen to me,
For Alice my wife,
The plague of my life,
Hath sent me to beg a boon of thee!
The Fisherman and His Wife in Grimms’ Fairy Tales.
Puffin Books, 1971

Before I started this blogging lark, if you’d come to me and said ‘Listen in three years you will read a short story anthology filled with nothing but stories inspired by the concept of fish AND you are going to really enjoy it,’ I would have thought you’d lost your mind. Indeed I hardly read anthologies and come on, an entire anthology pf fishy stories? Who would think of that and then publish it? Well, Carrie Cuinn would and did. And what’s more, I really did enjoy this anthology tremendously. Who knew, past me, who knew?

So, 33 stories inspired by fish, what do those look like? Perhaps not unexpectedly, there are several stories inspired by the fairy tale of the fisherman and his wife and several folk and mythological tales from around the world. But there are also fish in space, magical fish familiars, adventure fish and even a narcissistic eel. All of the stories are surprising, even if not all of them worked as well for me. To shake my anthology reviewing format up a little, I’m going to review my favourite stories individually.

Paul A. Dixon – One Let Go
A layered story about choices, crossroads, and wisdom that resonates down the years. I love the separate stories Dixon manages to fit into this gem of a story. At the heart of it is the history of a magical talking salmon, how he chose to stay out to sea instead of traveling upriver to the spawning grounds to procreate and die, how he’s seen the world’s oceans and has finally found his way back to his birth river. But it is also the story of the boy Ian, who catches the salmon together with his grandpa and the choices they make when the salmon offers them a deal: release him in exchange for wisdom. But it is also the story of the man Ian, who has to decide whether he’ll settle down to raise his son or get back out on the highway and freedom. All three stories end in choices, but only one of those choices is revealed to the reader, the others are implied only and how the reader interprets them is largely up to her. I loved the thoughtfulness of the story, its layering and its build-up to the end. I know what I hope Ian chooses to do in the end, but the fact is I’ll never know and my hopes are based on the person I am and how my life looks. I think others might wish him to make a different choice.

Andrea Zup – Maria and the Fish
A variation on the magical, boon-granting fish, I loved the prolonged interaction between Maria and the Fish. There is an absolute smugness to Maria, which instead of making her unsympathetic, is rather endearing and the Fish’s vindictive interpretation of her wish is fabulous. There is a sense of fun and whimsy to the story and a snarkiness to the dialogue that is highly entertaining. It ends on a perfect note and left me with a smile on my face.

Corinne Duyvis – The Applause of Others
I adored this story almost as much for its setting as its narrative. It’s set in Amsterdam and is written not with the eye of a stranger but someone familiar with the city and its character, who knows to look beyond its tourist trap façade to its everyday magic. I loved how Duyvis incorporated details about Dutch life and culture without signposting them, dropping in names and features. The connection between Floor and the narcissistic eel is fascinating and disturbing and its ways of seemingly taking revenge on those who ignore it, threaten it, or take attention away from it is very fitting both as its a fish and due to the eternal Dutch struggle against the encroaching sea. This is the first time I’ve read a Dutch speculative author and I can’t wait to read more from Duyvis.

April L’Orange – Quick Karma
Orange’s Quick Karma may just have been my favourite story out of the bunch. I adored the characters and the premise. Wizards and familiars, a reincarnated gold fish, a wizard-in-training, a roller-derby playing roommate, and that only covers half of it. The tone and pace of the dialogue was quite snappy and the pacing overall was very good. I really enjoyed the story and the resolution. Quick Karma also felt as a fantastic set-up for a series and I’d love to read more about Merritt, Davey, and Susan!

Andrew S. Fuller – A Salmon Tale, 2072
This is a gorgeous, post-apocalyptic tale, cast in the mould of a mythological origin tale. I absolutely adored it. From the glimpses of society’s collapse to the rebuilding of life in a new setting and the importance of traditions therein, it struck a perfect note. It’s also a tale of man helping nature reclaim her natural state, taking down man-made structures and setting her free. I loved the cadence of the writing. I actually read this one out loud to my daughter as she was fussing and despite stumbling on the pronunciation of the Native American words and names, the rhythm of the sentences carried beautifully. It’s a beautiful story with quite a hopeful ending.

Suzanne Palmer – Lanternfish in the Overworld
Sometimes the journey is as important as the destination and for the little lanternfish who needs to deliver a massage to the Overworld it’s a big journey indeed. I loved the richness of Palmer’s ocean setting and the way the different fish interacted. The eventual moral of the story was beautiful and the ending lovely. It felt like a fairy tale, a tale you could read to children too and I really loved it.

These six were my favourites, but all of the stories were interesting, even those I didn’t end up liking much. The idea behind FISH is an interesting concept and the stories found within show the versatility of the genres collected under the umbrella of speculative fiction. Cuinn and Taylor have gathered together an interesting and talented bunch of authors and created a memorable reading experience. As with their previous release, In Situ, Dagan Books have published another interesting and beautiful anthology; one that doesn’t just contain beautiful words, but beautiful art as well. If you like short fiction and are looking for a quirky and unique collection of stories, you can’t go far wrong with FISH.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.

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