This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

29 January, 2011

REVIEW: THE SOLARIS BOOK OF NEW FANTASY

Cover Art: Jon Sullivan

THE SOLARIS BOOK OF NEW FANTASY
EDITED BY
GEORGE MANN

ISBN: 978-1-84416-523-0
Published by: Solaris
Publishing date: 3 December 2007 



  This is the first time I have reviewed a short story anthology, and I have decided to write a little bit about each story, and finish off with my overall impression. I would very much like your opinion on reviewing it this way. Should I continue doing it this way in the future? Or should I do it as it is usually done, with a review of the book as a whole and only mentioning the weakest and strongest stories?
    I would appreciate you giving your opinion in the comments.

 
WHO SLAYS THE GIANT, WOUNDS THE BEAST by Mark Chadbourn

   A story of Christmas eve in an England at war with the Faerie.
   Chadbourn manages to convey quite a lot about the larger world in this short story. You get a feel that there is much more that could be told here, without that distracting or detracting from what is being told. The story itself is a well executed tale of suspense, and love.

REINS OF DESTINY - A WARS OF LIGHT & SHADOWS STORY by Janny Wurts

   Wurts' story doesn't stand to well alone. I've never read anything of hers before, and I felt this was more of an excerpt than a stand alone. But as an excerpt it functions well. It gives a glimpse into a much larger story that seems interesting. There's a real possibility that I will pick up Wurts' Wars of Light and Shadow books in the future after reading this short story.

TORNADO OF SPARKS by James Maxey

   A very nice little story of dragons. At first glance it may seem like many other fantasy stories, and the themes of it are not new, but Maxey manages to give it some good twists that sets it above its common Fantasy tropes. Well worth a read.

GRANDER THAN THE SEA by T. A. Pratt

   A good little contemporary fantasy about a town. Pratt manages to give us a good deal of information in a limited space, and the setting seems fully realized. The story in itself is also a fun take on the stories about weird religious groups and their gods. Pratt also manages to put in a sweet little love story.

THE PRINCE OF END TIMES by Hal Duncan

    A very complex story, at least when it comes to language and structure. Duncan does it very well, but having only read it once, I feel a bit too distanced from the story by the complex prose. This definitely needs a re-read to really get a grip on it.

KING TALES by Jeff VanderMeer

    The title is certainly accurate. VanderMeer has managed to tell three complete tales in a few pages. All of them are in the traditional fairy tale style, and they are all very good. These absolutely needs to be read.

IN BETWEEN DREAMS by Christopher Barzac 

    An interesting story about a woman in Tokyo. It's done well, and I didn't see where it was going before it had taken me there. That being said, it is barely fantasy. And what little there is of fantasy elements here is in my opinion not really necessary for the story to work. But I still really enjoyed it, and it is well worth the read.

AND SUCH SMALL DEER by Chris Roberson

    This is a strange story. Not so much for what it is about, but it is a prequel story to two well known characters in fantastic literature. I found this to be a very interesting tale, and Roberson has presented it in a way that suits the story and the literary legacy of the characters perfectly.

THE WIZARD'S COMING by Juliet E. McKenna

    I thought a story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It's debatable if this is a beginning or a middle, it certainly does not have an end. To me this felt like either a prologue or the first chapter of book two of a trilogy/series. This is a shame since McKenna's writing is very good, and despite its shortcomings this made me want to read more of her work. I just did not get why this was chosen to represent her in a short story anthology.

SHELL GAME - A JOHN JUSTIN MALLORY STORY by Mike Resnick

    This is a pretty standard detective story, except for a few minor details. It's humorous and it's Urban Fantasy. Resnick has written a funny little story, and I liked it very much. I'll also be on the lookout for stories with the same main character, because this is a sort of story I would like to read more of.

THE SONG HER HEART SANG - A STORY OF THERA by Steven Savile

     A combination of romance and quest fantasy. Maybe not the most original combination in the world, but Savile has managed to draw in some very thoughtful observations on the fact that you should be careful what you wish for, into the mix. A very nice story, with just enough sugary sweetness.

A MAN FALLS  by Jay Lake

     A story with a very good, and interesting, central concept. There is much to love here, in fact too much. This deserves much more than the short story it is crammed into. It doesn't help that the ending is both a bit weak, and very unfulfilling.

O CARITAS by Conrad Williams
     Set in a post-apocalyptic London devastated by an earthquake. This is a strange story, that seemingly shifts focus at one point. Williams pulls together an ending that is both chilling and surprising.

LT. PRIVET'S LOVE SONG by Scott Thomas

     Thomas has written what at first seems like a traditional love story. But it has a twist that turns it in another direction, and makes it much more than that. A very satisfying tale that manages to encompass both personal events and some greater events.

SHINANDAGA by Lucius Shepard

     This story is very much of the lit fic type. And the fantastical elements, that make it fit into this anthology, are more ones of surrealism than fantasy in my opinion. But that does not mean I didn't like it. Shepard has written a great weird story.

QUASHIE TRAP BLACKLIGHT by Steven Erikson

     A humorous story that is a bit hard to follow. Not only because there are multiple points of view, but because it is decidedly insane. It is a bit difficult to know if this tale should be credited to a great imagination or a good "medicine cabinet".

SUMMARY

    Usually with anthologies like this I find about half the stories to be good, a quarter very good/great, and the final quarter meh/bad. This is not the case here. I've read quite a few anthologies over the years, and I would say that this is without a doubt one of the top fantasy ones, maybe even the best. I think every fan of  fantasy should have this book in their collection. And it can also serve as a great introduction to anyone who has not read fantasy before. Get one for yourself, and one for a friend who doesn't "get" fantasy.

Note: I was going to label all the authors, but Blogger only allows 200 characters in the labels. So for the sake of fairness I chose to label none of them.

2 comments:

  1. I don't generally read short stories, but this collection sounds good, and I love the cover!

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  2. @Brenda I think this is a great anthology to read if you don't usually read short stories. It's varied, and very good. Hope you give it a try :-)

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