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The Very Best of Tad Williams by Tad…
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The Very Best of Tad Williams

by Tad Williams

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I received this copy from the publisher through Netgalley.com and that in no way has influenced my opinion in regards to this review.   This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.com by express permission of this reviewer   Synopsis A collection of short stories that range from the Scifi to Fantasy to Horror to Happy. We even get an Otherland story that takes place AFTER Sea of Silver Light.   My Thoughts I really enjoyed this book of short stories. Some were happy and funny and made me smile. Other stories though, oh man, they made me shudder. They were down right scary! One of them was a movie script and it worked perfectly.   Williams does a masterful job at writing Epic storylines. So I wasn't sure how this was going to work out. And it was great. Short story collections either seem to work out really well for me [Alan Dean Foster is my favorite short story teller] or they bomb so bad it makes me gag [Mike Resnick wrote a whole book with Space Safari themed stories, ugh!]. So I was happy this was the former and not the latter.   And the cover art is gorgeous, as many of you noted on my status updates. I have to thank all of you who mentioned it because I have to admit it didn't even cross my radar.   Finally, the reason I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 was because there were a couple of stories that I found downright anti-Christian. So if you're not a Christian you probably won't even notice it.   Rating: 4 of 5 Stars Author: Tad Williams " ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
Recommended for anyone seeking an overview of Tad Williams' career. He may be better known for his epic and lengthy novels, but he's also published quite a variety of short pieces over the years. The collection really shows the breadth of his work.

“The Old Scale Game”
A very light-hearted and humorous take on the old tale of the traveling dragon-slayer. As in some other similiar stories I've read, the dragon ends up making an agreement with the knight... but this one takes it one step further.

“The Storm Door”
A paranormal investigator goes to talk to his elderly godfather about some of the strange, possession-related phenomena he's been seeing lately. He's hoping for advice... what he gets is something else.

“The Stranger’s Hands”
A re-read – I've actually read this twice before, in the ‘Wizards’ anthology, edited by Jack Dann and in the 'Stark and Wormy Knight' collection. I do really love the story. A village takes in two wanderers - a man who seems to have lost his wits in an injury, and his caretaker. Soon, it is discovered that some who touch the disabled man's hands have their heart's desire magically granted. Soon, the needy flock to the town in hopes of having their wishes granted. But with greater exposure comes the revelation that the village's miracle man is (or was) actually one of the most powerful, dangerous, and evil wizards around. Is there some trick here? A well-crafted and thought-provoking tale.

“Child of an Ancient City”
'Dracula' meets 'The 1001 Nights' in this tale of a trading caravan that meets a supernatural horror in some foreign woods. Nicely done - although the sad tales weren't all that sad... but I guess that was part of the point...

“The Boy Detective of Oz” (An Otherland Story)
A murder mystery (?) set in a weird simulation of Oz, which will be familiar to readers of Williams' 'Otherland' series. As a matter of fact, I'd suggest reading 'Otherland' first, because this story doesn't give a lot of background. It's quite fun (and refreshing), however, to see Williams playing with themes and characters from L. Frank Baum's books, rather than the done-to-death film.

“Three Duets for Virgin and Nosehorn”
Previously read, this one in the anthology "Immortal Unicorn." 'A resentful priest of the Inquisition is charged with accompanying a mysterious box on a sea voyage.
A Dutch maid is asked to model for a visiting artist.
A young Thai princess encounters a handsome and arrogant warrior.
Interesting, and well-written.'

“Not with a Whimper, Either”
A fan in an Internet chatroom (it's 2002) encounters an emergent AI. Feels a bit dated, today - but that's kind of part of the charm.

“Some Thoughts Re: Dark Destroyer”
Written in a format of a formal editor's memo to a professional writer of artist - except that the content is all about a teenage boy's juvenile and less-than-tasteful hand-drawn comics. I feel like other people would find this funnier than I did.

“Z is for…”
A man wakes up in the midst of a party, dazed and confused. He can't quite remember where he is, or who the people around him are - although they all seem familiar. Revealing more than that would be a spoiler... but I can say I really liked this one.

“Monsieur Vergalant’s Canard”
This weird vignette features the simulacrum of a duck, presented for the entertainment of the aristocracy.

“The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of”
Noir-style detective fiction. An attractive young woman comes to one of her recently-deceased father's old colleagues with what she believes may be a clue shedding light on his untimely death: a photograph with a cryptic message, and the faces of several of his other former schoolmates - at a program for stage magicians - circled. Magic and mystery mix, as the two investigate whether the supposed suicide or accident may actually have been murder.

“Fish Between Friends”
This may be one of the most entertaining takes on a story of three wishes that I've ever heard. Told in the format of a traditional fable, the familiar elements get an original twist that gave me a good chuckle.

“Every Fuzzy Beast of the Earth, Every Pink Fowl of the Air”
Sofia (wisdom) in the form of a little girl, shows up while the angels Gabriel and Metatron are doing the work of creating the Earth - and gives them some suggestions. Irreverent and fun.

“A Stark and Wormy Knight”
A re-read - from the collection of the same title: 'A humorous dragon story, full of playful language.' Goes very well with 'The Old Scale Game.'

"Omnitron, What Ho!"
Another humorous piece playing on tropes from both space opera and 19th-century fiction. A disfavored nephew is sent by a domineering relative to make sure his cousin doesn't marry a woman that isn't wanted in their aristocratic family. Along with the nephew is sent a robotic butler, to make sure he does as he's told, and to keep him out of trouble. The butler does, indeed, keep him out of trouble - to a larger degree than anticipated.

“Black Sunshine”
Another re-read (from A Stark and Wormy Knight): "This is a screenplay for what would be a really-not-very-good (and rather short) B-movie based on our social paranoia about drugs.

“And Ministers of Grace”
Another one from 'A Stark And Wormy Knight.' I do really like this story. "Really well done. From the point of view of a future religious terrorist/assassin who sees the ubiquitous advertising of the future as evidence of our sinful ways. As Williams notes, it could work well as the opener to an epic story. I especially like that the Christians and Muslims are working together against the science/technology-based society – makes sense."
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Before reading this book received from Netgalley I hadn’t read anything from Tad Williams. However, I had heard of him and being a big Fantasy fan I was looking forward to reading some of his work.
My Fantasy involves dragons, elves, dwarfs, magic and swords. The dragon on the cover had me excited but most of the stories were paranormal/science fiction and although they were beautifully written, engaging and witty they just weren’t the type of stories I can totally immerse myself in. Some of them were actually quite creepy and macabre.

The stories that did appeal to me and would have been 4 or 5 star reads were:
Three Duets for Virgin and Nosehorn
Some Thoughts re: Dark Destructor
The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of
A Stark and Wormy Knight

I do think Tad William’s short stories would have wide appeal to the Science Fiction/Fantasy fans. Just not for me!
I received this eBook from Netgalley to read and review. ( )
  Ronnie293 | Aug 23, 2014 |
I would like to thank NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for granting me the opportunity to read this wonderful collection of Tad William's short stories. Though I received this e-book for free that in no way impacts my review.

This career retrospective from one of the most-beloved authors in the fantasy genre is essential for fans of his internationally best-selling series novels (Otherland; Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn).

Tad Williams has achieved success in multiple genres and forms, whether in epic fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction, or young adult fiction. Readers only familiar with such masterpieces as The Dragonbone Chair and Talchaser’s Song will be delighted to discover that in his short fiction, Williams has been able to explore myriad new possibilities and adventures.

Previously collected in multiauthor anthologies and limited hardcover editions, these superlative talks of dragons, super-soldiers, wizards, cyberpunks, heroes, and fools are now available together for the first time in an affordable trade paperback edition. These stories showcase the exhilarating breadth of Williams’ imagination, in stories hearkening to the tales of such classic fantasists as J. R. R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, Ray Bradbury, and Peter S. Beagle. Included is an original tale written specifically for this volume.

The Very Best of Tad Williams is a true delight to those who have imagined themselves in fantastic worlds beyond the everyday and mundane.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Old Scale Game
The Storm Door
The Stranger’s Hands
Child of an AncientCity
The Boy Detective of Oz: An Otherland Story
Three Duets for Virgin and Nosehorn
Diary of a Dragon
Not with a Whimper, Either
Some Thoughts Re: Dark Destroyer
Z is for...
Monsieur Vergalant’s Canard
The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of
Fish Between Friends
Every Fuzzy Beast of the Earth, Every Pink Fowl of the Air
A Stark and Wormy Knight
Black Sunshine
And Ministers of Grace

This set of short stories brilliantly showcase the phenomenal depth and range of Mr. Williams' creative ability. His writing runs the gamut, shifting through such moods as humor, horror, joy, terror, fear, love, and depression, to name but a few. Without fail his stories are all thought provoking, be they two pages or twenty pages. This collection clearly shows many more aspects of Williams' than might be familiar to a reader of his fantasy/Sci-Fi series.

Some tales, such as The Boy Detective of Oz: An Otherland Story, are brief additions to existing series. Others, like Fish Between Friends, are brief tales that touch upon intelligence and the importance of recognizing what you already have. And the value of what you possess versus the value of trading that away for an unknown that may never arrive.

The story that surprised me the most was Black Sunshine. It was totally different than anything I've ever read by Mr. Williams before. It was written as a script, set as if for the stage or television, which made it far more compelling than any other form I can imagine. What really reached me was just how frightening it was - enough so that I'd avoid reading it after dark. In fact, if you've ever tripped, especially if you've had the poor luck to experience a bad trip, I would skip this story altogether. Which would be a shame given the power it possesses. Yet for peace of mind, I stand by my original assessment.

The story of the possible genesis of a god, Not with a Whimper, Either, is set circa 2002. It begins in an online chat room, where Fantasy readers have squared off against Sci-Fi readers. They are discussing books by authors like Heinlein and Tolkien - how they are viewed, means of certain constructs within the books, etc. Just as the discussion is about to devolve into a flame war the AOL server starts flashing a message about server problems. The 'Net goes down, as do all phones and broadcast signals of any sort. One user in chat room is able to get back online after a few minutes of seeing what looks like messed up code. The user chats with Moderator, and it quickly becomes clear that Moderator is not a joke, nor even an AI, but rather something that came into being in the pauses between electrical impulses on all our systems. It explains how it came into being in stages; first it was 'alerting and thinking', then came 'awake and thinking', now it is 'awake and talking.' It explains its plans for humans; in the end Moderator simply tells that first user to have "faith" in it.

And Ministers of Grace is another story that focuses on religion. It is a story of a holy war and one man's self realization. Set in a distant future, this religious war is wage between planets. One planet wants to convert the population of the other planet, and of course the government of the planet slated for conversion is dead set against any such thing happening to their people. Yet the story is really more about the holy warrior and his experiences. Very interesting piece and a fascinating note to end the book on.

Without a doubt I was once again surprised by Williams' superb command of the written word. Not a large fan of the short story as a medium, I may need to rethink that feeling after reading this compilation. For readers unfamiliar with Tad Williams' writing, this may be the perfect springboard, as opposed to launching into epic fantasies, or even series of any sort. One of the more surprising books I've had the pleasure of reading this year, and I say that in spite of the fact that I was already a huge fan of Williams' work. ( )
  Isisunit | May 13, 2014 |
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"The Very Best of Tad Williams collects Williams' finest work in multiple genres, including epic fantasy, urban fantasy, and YA. These superlative tales, many of which were previously available only in limited editions, introduce dragons, wizards, assassins, heroes, and fools--even a few cyberpunks."--Amazon website.… (more)

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