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Best of British Fantasy 2019

by Jared Shurin (Editor)

Other authors: Leila Aboulela (Contributor), Nick Adams (Contributor), Jess Brough (Contributor), Christopher Caldwell (Contributor), Eliza Chan (Contributor)19 more, Matt Dovey (Contributor), Chikodili Emelumadu (Contributor), Melanie Harding-Shaw (Contributor), Liz Jones (Contributor), Kirsty Logan (Contributor), Tim Major (Contributor), Helen McClory (Contributor), Maura McHugh (Contributor), Dafydd McKimm (Contributor), Tom Offland (Contributor), Karen Onojaife (Contributor), Heather Parry (Contributor), Gareth E. Rees (Contributor), Sara Saab (Contributor), E. Saxey (Contributor), Jared Shurin (Introduction), Natalia Theodoridou (Contributor), Lavie Tidhar (Contributor), Eleanor R. Wood (Contributor)

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This collection of 23 fantasy stories roams the world, time, and reality quite entertainingly. You'll find ghosts, gods, gay whalers, sentient houses and maybe a mermaid. What you won't find is young princes, sorcerers, dragons, unicorns, or other standbys of traditional fantasy. I'd refer to most of the entries as urban fantasy, although some are far from urban and some are not contemporary.

Standouts for me include “Why Aren't Millennials Continuing Traditional Worship of the Elder Dark?” which made me consider that author Matt Dovey was the spawn of H.P. Lovecraft and Terry Pratchett. “Burrowing Machines” reminded me of Ben Aaronovitch. “Wake the Dead” is proper Irish creepiness.

There are several stories that are not for the squeamish, by which I mean those who avoid tales of human consumption. You've been warned. ( )
  wdwilson3 | Sep 27, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
So far, 2020 feels like it could be the backdrop for the kind of story that makes up most of this collection of fantasy stories. Although focused on work from last year from authors working in Britain and Ireland, editor Jarid Shurin, has drawn together a collection of pieces which feel entirely contemporary with the strange times we are living through.

The introduction was written a couple of months into pandemic-caused lockdown across the UK and I can’t imagine the choices were entirely coincidental. Unlike last year’s compendium, which I also reviewed and noted as being full of swords and sorcery, there is precious little of either of those to be found across this collection of tales. That said, if you allow the genre to go further than Robert E Howard’s Cimmeria, there are plenty of gems to be found.

Helen McClory’s A Manual for Avoiding Further Harm from [REDACTED] opens the collection and seems a good bellwether for the likelihood of the reader appreciating the rest of the stories. Many have modern settings although some, like Canst Thou Draw Out the Leviathan (Christopher Caldwell), take us back in time and others, like Sin Eater (Chikodili Emelumadu) take us clearly to other nations.

If I had to pick a favourite, I would probably go for Demolition, where Nick Adams spins a tale of a shopping mall that goes rogue on the eve of its planned destruction. There is certainly some kind of magic going on but it is also the kind of brainworm that is likely to pop into mind when wandering through the bowels of such glass and concrete monsters in real life: fantasy that succeeds by serving to seed the imagination.

This is a very different range of works from the 2018 edition but, if anything, I enjoyed it more. I am looking forward to seeing what next year’s edition shows in its mirrors of what is and what has been. ( )
  wulf | Aug 22, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The first third of this is almost straight horror involving the creeping and also sudden destruction of the habitable earth, with some humor (Cthulhu mythos meets overworked and underpaid youth of today), which seems about the right fit for the moment (the intro was written in early 2020, with lockdowns just starting). E. Saxey contributes a nice solidarity-with-selkies story. Natalia Theodoriou has an eerie story about angels who fell and became pests. ( )
  rivkat | Aug 22, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
When I chose to read this contemporary collection of fantasy tales, I expected to find modern versions of imaginary worlds in which magic is a part of the physical laws of the universem or fantastic creatures confronted with unimaginable situations that would parallel with those of the real world. It seems that contemporary authors don't conceive fantasy that way anymore.

This set of stories happens in the actual world. Their protagonists are mostly normal people, with monotonous existence and the usual work and family responsibilities. Their lives are disturbed by some supernatural event or the appearance of some imaginary creature. Those events are experienced not as the beginning of and epic adventure with a possible happy ending, but as one more obstacle to overcome in the daily existence. Even in some of the stories, the characters have incorporated those events in his life as new ways of earning a living.

In general, It seems this set of stories wants to answer the question: what would happen if those unreal beings, those situations, crossed paths in the lives of normal people of the real world in this time and age? And the answer could be that those situations would cause light fears in their lives. Magic can be very macabre, indeed. Would those normal people become unexpected heroes and adventurers? The Authors think rather not. Those affected by these unreal events would face these paranormal situations with much resignation, a few doses of fear, and in cases where the fantastic disturbance would spread over time, it would be assimilated to the daily monotony like any other new technology.

Despite what has been said, in this collection you can find: ancestral monsters, versions of Cthulhu myths, chinese ghosts, irish myths, african sin-eaters, nordic silkens, misterious giant robots protecting humans, plagues of angels, genies who grant wishes at exorbitant prices, wrathful sea gods, unexpected heroes, shapeshifters willingly looking for equal ones, flying carpets looking for new owners, paradises in cyberpunk dystopias and even buildings with their own life and feelings.

Serve yourself. ( )
  raulvilar | Aug 16, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I found many of these stories fell into the horror/supernatural side of fantasy - not my cup of tea but if you enjoy that genre then I would recommend.

Some stories I enjoyed particularly were No Children by E. Saxey, Tilt by Karen Onojaife and especially Demolition by Nick Adams. ( )
  Cfraser | Aug 14, 2020 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shurin, JaredEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aboulela, LeilaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adams, NickContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brough, JessContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Caldwell, ChristopherContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chan, ElizaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dovey, MattContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Emelumadu, ChikodiliContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harding-Shaw, MelanieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jones, LizContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Logan, KirstyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Major, TimContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McClory, HelenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McHugh, MauraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McKimm, DafyddContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Offland, TomContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Onojaife, KarenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Parry, HeatherContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rees, Gareth E.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Saab, SaraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Saxey, E.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shurin, JaredIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Theodoridou, NataliaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tidhar, LavieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wood, Eleanor R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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