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The Mammoth Book of Extreme Fantasy (2008)

by Mike Ashley (Editor)

Other authors: A. A. Attanasio (Contributor), Leah Bobet (Contributor), Orson Scott Card (Contributor), Ted Chiang (Contributor), Peter Crowther (Contributor)19 more, Paul Di Filippo (Contributor), Andy Duncan (Contributor), Jeffrey Ford (Contributor), Melissa Mia Hall (Contributor), William Hope Hodgson (Contributor), Rhys Hughes (Contributor), R. A. Lafferty (Contributor), Jonathan Lethem (Contributor), David D Levine (Contributor), Sean McMullen (Contributor), Michael Moorcock (Contributor), John Niendorff (Contributor), Lawrence Person (Contributor), Tim Pratt (Contributor), Christopher Priest (Contributor), Tom Reamy (Contributor), Michael Swanwick (Contributor), Howard Waldrop (Contributor), Liz Williams (Contributor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Mammoth Fantasy

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1002217,794 (3.22)5
Here is the future of fantasy-25 short stories from top contemporary writers. This collection embraces all the newest forms of fantasy in vogue, from urban fantasy and extreme dystopian fiction, to alternate history and entire new fantasy worlds.

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The editor describes his definition of "extreme fantasy" this way: "In all of the stories, the authors have taken a fantastic idea -- and I mean fantastic in both its senses -- and then seen how far they can push it."

Like most anthologies, this one is a bit of a mixed bag. Some of the stories do, indeed, have fantastic (in both senses) ideas, but fall down in the execution. A couple of them puzzle me with their inclusion, as their only claim to extremity is some actually pretty mild horror elements. One or two are just kind of unpleasant. But there are also some brilliant little gems of wonderful weirdness, and the book as a whole left me, in the end, feeling as if I'd just taken a nice, long walk through a fascinatingly surreal landscape.

Rating: It's always difficult to know how to rate an anthology like this, but since the good stuff was so good, and since the collection as a whole felt so worthwhile to me, I feel pretty good about giving it a 4/5. ( )
  bragan | Jul 29, 2016 |
Many themed anthologies have difficult sticking to their nominal theme. The more ethereal the theme, the more the stories tend to wander. Most often, they seem in fact to be mere compendia of the stories the editor could dig up, with little in the way of connective tissue. This anthology is no different. "Extreme" means different things to different people, I suppose, and certainly I could construct a case for why each story is extreme, but in simply reading through them, I certainly wasn't often struck by the thought "Wow! That was really far out!"

That's not to say the anthology is bad; it's not. In fact, most of the stories are quite good, and it's nice that the editor, Michael Ashley, made an effort not only to find new stories, but to include older ones that he felt strongly about. As with anyone else's taste, there are hits and misses, but they're mostly pretty solid hits.

Despite a cover suggesting epic fantasy, Ashley's taste seems to hew much closer to the urban/historical realm. Relatively few of the stories take place in created universes, and some of them could just as easily be classified as horror or something else than fantasy. That was a disappointment, despite the quality of the stories.

Some of the highlights:
Elric at the End of Time, by Michael Moorcock - I start with this because it was the most surprising. Who would look to Moorcock for humor - especially about Elric, the gloomy Prince with a soul-eating sword? Certainly not me, so this was an especially fun discovery. I grew tired of Elric many years back, but this is a whole new take on him and much of Moorcock's Eternal Hero cycle that's not afraid to make a little fun of itself.

Sandmagic, by Orson Scott Card - A classic by Card about the perils of power.

A Ring of Green Fire, by Sean McMullen - I know McMullen only from his longer work, which is generally good, but has ups and downs. It was nice to read a short piece, and this one (about a man's struggle to cure a highly personal malady) was well done.

Tower of Babylon, by Ted Chiang - I'd never encountered Chiang before. This story, combinging Babel and Babylon, was intriguing and well written. It was stronger on journey (construction of the tower and an assault on heaven) than arrival, but still a good read.

Lost Wax, by Leah Bobet - I've read some of her short work before, but this piece, even with its somewhat unresolved ending was stronger than most of what I've seen. It deals with the efforts and hopes of a floor-sweeper to magicians.

I am Bonaro, by John Niendorff - the editor suggests this story will stay with you, and I think he's right. It's a short piece about a man on a search, but it delivers a powerful impact.

Using It and Losing It, by Jonathan Lethem - Another author new to me. This story about the power of language is both dark and striking.

Boatman's Holiday, by Jeffrey Ford - What exactly does Charon do when he's not on duty. Another story stronger on journey than arrival, but well worth reading for its unusual setting and descriptions.

Cup and Table, by Tim Pratt - A very unusual quest for god. This, unlike some of the others, is good most of the way through, but it's really the finish that makes it worthwhile.

One of the reasons I read anthologies is to discover new authors. I can't say this selection drove me out to immediately pick up anyone's books, but there are certainly enough interesting new names that I'll keep an eye out for them should I see them again.

Overall, this anthology stays no closer to its nominal theme than most such books, but it's a strong selection of good Earth-based fantasy nonetheless, and worth exploring, especially for the reduced price you can now find it at. ( )
  BMorrisAllen | May 14, 2013 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ashley, MikeEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Attanasio, A. A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bobet, LeahContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Card, Orson ScottContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chiang, TedContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crowther, PeterContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Di Filippo, PaulContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Duncan, AndyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ford, JeffreyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hall, Melissa MiaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hodgson, William HopeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hughes, RhysContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lafferty, R. A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lethem, JonathanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Levine, David DContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McMullen, SeanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moorcock, MichaelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Niendorff, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Person, LawrenceContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pratt, TimContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Priest, ChristopherContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Reamy, TomContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Swanwick, MichaelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Waldrop, HowardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, LizContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Roberts, JoeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In my previous anthology, The Mammoth Book of Extreme Science Fiction, I defined "extreme" as those stories that took a basic idea, whether simple or complicated, and developed it to some extreme, beyond what the reader might normally expect.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Here is the future of fantasy-25 short stories from top contemporary writers. This collection embraces all the newest forms of fantasy in vogue, from urban fantasy and extreme dystopian fiction, to alternate history and entire new fantasy worlds.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Anthology contains:
  • Beyond the Impossible / Mike Ashley
  • Senator Bilbo / Andy Duncan
  • Sandmagic / Orson Scott Card
  • Dream a Little Dream for Me / Peter Crowther
  • Lost Wax / Leah Bobet
  • Save a Place in the Lifeboat for Me / Howard Waldrop
  • I am Bonaro / John Niendorff
  • The Old House Under the Snow / Rhys Hughes
  • Banquet of the Lords of Night / Liz Williams
  • Charlie the Purple Giraffe was Acting Strangely / David D. Levine
  • Master Lao and the Flying Horror / Lawrence Person
  • Using It and Losing It / Jonathan Lethem
  • The All-at-Once Man / R.A. Lafferty
  • Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani / William Hope Hodgson
  • Boatman's Holiday / Jeffrey Ford
  • The Detweiler Boy / Tom Reamy
  • The Fence at the End of the World / Melissa Mia Hall
  • Elric at the End of Time / Michael Moorcock
  • Cup and Table / Tim Pratt
  • I, Haruspex / Christopher Priest
  • Radio Waves / Michael Swanwick
  • Tower of Babylon / Ted Chiang
  • Jack Neck and the Worry Bird / Paul Di Filippo
  • The Dark One: A Mythograph / A.A. Attanasio
  • A Ring of Green Fire / Sean McMullen
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