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review 2015-01-26 19:10
The Solaris Book of New Fantasy by George Mann
The Solaris Book of New Fantasy - George Mann,Mark Chadbourn,Mike Resnick,Steven Savile,Jay Lake,Conrad Williams,Scott Thomas,Lucius Shepard,Steven Erikson,Janny Wurts,James Maxey,Tim Pratt,Hal Duncan,Jeff VanderMeer,Christopher Barzak,Chris Roberson,Juliet E. McKenna

Okay first off I am going to say we all know I love fantasy. I adore it and I adore short stories. It is what got me started as a writer.

 

But! And there is a but. You see one of the things that drives me nuts is a story where the author is taking themselves too seriously. They are not writing a story to entertain the reader, but to get themselves into collections like this one.

 

While there are some good stories in this collection (and i will review them over on my google blog) most of these stories are just the writers attempts to seem literary.

 

While fantasy can be amazing, it can be deep and touching and important, it generally is not literary to the literary snobs out there. This book is filled with stories that literary snobs would adore!

 

Anyone who knows me knows that I can finish a five hundred page book within a day or so. So the fact that I have yet to finish a book that I bought years ago should tell you something. Many of the tales in this book are just...not worth the effort.

 

Yes i have given this book overall a three star review. That is because there are tales in here well worth the read. Once that make me want to read them again. but over all...no, I would pass it by.

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review 2013-06-14 00:00
Fearsome Journeys: The New Solaris Book of Fantasy
Fearsome Journeys: The New Solaris Book of Fantasy - Daniel Abraham,Robert Redick,Saladin Ahmed,K.J. Parker,Scott Lynch,Elizabeth Bear,Ysabeau S. Wilce,Ellen Klages,Jonathan Strahan,Jeffrey Ford,Trudi Canavan,Glen Cook,Ellen Kushner,Kate Elliott Before I get to my review, I want to offer a friendly public service message to those who are fortunate enough to be reading and voting on the various genre awards. Go ahead and pencil in Fearsome Journeys as this year's winner for best anthology, and Jonathan Strahan as winner for best editor. That's right, find your nomination form, jot the title down, put a huge asterisk beside it as the likely winner, and focus your reading efforts on those categories yet be decided.

Okay, so maybe I am being a bit facetious, but it really is that good!

Short story collections are problematic for me. On the one hand, I like being able to sample authors in small doses, and to get a feel for their work, or to simply pay a brief visit with old favorites, no strings (or subsequent volumes) attached. On the other hand, I find them wildly uneven in terms of content and quality, with the weakest entries unfairly dragging down my overall impression of the collection as a whole.

Much to my delight, Fearsome Journeys has proven to be the rare exception to that rule. There were a few stories here that didn't completely wow me, but I can honestly say I still enjoyed them all. While those few suffer by comparison against their companions here, they likely would have come across as some of the better entries in a different collection. There are several authors here who have just shot to the top of my TBR pile, based on the strength of their contributions, and a few others who've absolutely demanded I immediately rectify their absence from that same pile.

The Effigy Engine: A Tale of the Red Hats by Scott Lynch was a great choice to lead off the collection. It's fantastic in every sense of the world, with a world and characters I would gladly revisit.

Amethyst, Shadow, and Light by Saladin Ahmed was another great story, reminiscent (to me) of the tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, with a surprise ending that left me with a satisfied smile.

Camp Follower by Trudi Canavan was a really interesting story, with several twists that worked exceptionally well, and an ending that satisfied immensely.

The Dragonslayer of Merebarton by K J Parker was, for me, probably the weakest entry in the collection. I simply didn't care for the telling, finding it too casual and removed, with no sense of urgency, but the story itself was decent.

Leaf and Branch and Grass and Vine by Kate Elliott more than redeemed that small literary stumble with a great tale, exceptionally well-told, some nice mythology, and characters I really want to read more about.

Spirits of Salt: A Tale of the Coral Heart by Jeffrey Ford is one of the few I had issues with. As well-told as it was, I didn't care for the main character at all. The clever twist ending redeemed it somewhat, but not enough to rise above its peers.

Forever People by Robert V S Redick is a story that I quite liked, finding myself very invested in seeing how it all developed, but I find myself feeling a little . . . well, ambiguous about the ambiguity of the ending. I didn't originally care for it, but found it better on a second read, although I find myself wavering again this morning.

Sponda the Suet Girl and the Secret of the French Pearl by Ellen Klages is an oddly comic tale that almost felt out of place here, but had some really nice elements to it, and won me over with just how thoroughly the tables were turned by the end.

Shaggy Dog Bridge: A Black Company Story by Glen Cook was a serviceable enough story, with some great moments of action and drama, but I found the narrative a bit flat, as if it assumed too much of the reader in terms of Black Company knowledge. Having said that, I can see why Cook is so often mentioned in the same breath as Steven Erikson.

The Ghost Makers by Elizabeth Bear was an absolutely stellar tale, well-told, with a pair of intriguing protagonists, and a nice weaving of magic and mythology. It took me a while to warm up to it, but my appreciation continued to grow as each layer was revealed.

One Last, Great Adventure by Ellen Kushner and Ysabeau S. Wilce was a story where I found the present-tense narrative a bit jarring at first, but eventually settled in to enjoy a decent tale.

The High King Dreaming by Daniel Abraham is a deep, dark, introspective, tale told in snippets and scenes. While it may not have offered the strongest story in terms of plot, it was compelling from a narrative standpoint.

For those of you who are curious, it's Lynch, Elliott, and Bear who are the three authors who've made the most significant climbs in my TBR pile, and Ahmed and Canavan who have won themselves a place. Overall, however, this just a great collection of tales, well-selected and well put together by a man who has an obvious feel for the genre. I cannot recommend Fearsome Journeys highly enough.


Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins
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review 2010-06-23 00:00
The Solaris Book of New Fantasy - George Mann,Mark Chadbourn,Mike Resnick,Steven Savile,Jay Lake,Conrad Williams,Scott Thomas,Lucius Shepard,Steven Erikson,Janny Wurts,James Maxey,Tim Pratt,Hal Duncan,Jeff VanderMeer,Christopher Barzak,Chris Roberson,Juliet E. McKenna Average Rating: 3.16 stars (see comments on status updates for mini-reviews of the short stories in this anthology). Best Bets include: "Reins of Destiny" by Janny Wurts; "The Song Her Heart Sings" by Steven Savile; "Lt. Privet's Love Song" by Scott Thomas; and "Such Small Deer" by Chris Roberson
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