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Fantasy: The Best of the Year 2008 by Rich…

Fantasy: The Best of the Year 2008

by Rich Horton (Editor)

Other authors: Daniel Abraham (Contributor), David Ackert (Contributor), William Alexander (Contributor), Erik Amundsen (Contributor), Noreen Doyle (Contributor)15 more, Andy Duncan (Contributor), Karen Joy Fowler (Contributor), Theodora Goss (Contributor), Daryl Gregory (Contributor), Matthew Johnson (Contributor), David Barr Kirtley (Contributor), Carrie Laben (Contributor), Kelly Link (Contributor), Ian R. Macleod (Contributor), Garth Nix (Contributor), Holly Phillips (Contributor), Benjamin Rosenbaum (Contributor), Rachel Swirsky (Contributor), Marly Youmans (Contributor), Zoran Zivkovic (Contributor)

Series: Fantasy: The Best of the Year (2008)

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572297,798 (3.55)2



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Above-average collection of short stories. Most are 'modern' rather than 'classic' fantasy.

“Unpossible” by Daryl Gregory
“Light” by Kelly Link
“The Teashop” by Zoran Zivkovic
“The Rope” by Noreen Doyle
“Buttons” by William Alexander
“Brother of the Moon” by Holly Phillips
“A Diorama of the Infernal Regions” by Andy Duncan
“Heartstrung” by Rachel Swirsky
“Something in the Mermaid Way” by Carrie Laben
“Public Safety” by Matthew Johnson
“Stray” by Benjamin Rosenbaum and David Ackert
“The Comb” by Marly Youmans
“Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz Go to War Again” by Garth Nix
“The Last Worders” by Karen Joy Fowler
“Singing of Mount Abora” by Theodora Goss
“Save Me Plz” by David Barr Kirtley
“Bufo Rex” by Erik Amundsen
“The Master Miller’s Tale” by Ian R. MacLeod
“The Cambist and Lord Iron: a Fairy Tale of Economics” by Daniel Abraham
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
A good collection of short fantasy, with consistently strong writing, variety of theme and locale, and some good twists on old classics.

In order of appearance:

"Unpossible" by Daryl Gregory - A man tries to go back to the fantasy he lived as a child. A little bittersweet, but for anyone who often dreams of returning to their old fantasies it's a story that hits close to home.

"Light" by Kelly Link - I didn't really get this one. It felt like a concept piece. Woman and her twin-born-of-shadow live life, have lovers. References to pocket dimensions are made, many iguanas, sleeping people who show up out of nowhere... There wasn't much in terms of plot, but there was a lot of fantastical picture painting.

"The Teashop" by Zoran Zivkovic - An amusing, tightly written story that has none of the usual 'fantasy' elements in it so much as it is a story of whimsy through and through. An older lady decides to have some 'story tea' at a train-stop teahouse and ends up getting more than she expected. Although there are no magical princes or dragons, there's a fairy tale quality to the storytelling that made it a joy to read.

"The Rope" by Noreen Doyle - A rope charmer and young lady team up to make some coin. This is one of my favorites in the group. I love the way Doyle managed to create such unease without many clues at all until the very end of the story.

"Buttons" by William Alexander - This is a one page concept wonder. It's basically a 'hey guys, what if...' in narrative form. Neat idea, but way too short for any development.

"Brother of the Moon" by Holly Phillips - Now we're in Russia! In case you haven't noticed almost all of the stories in this anthology place themselves on earth somewhere and twist reality to create their versions of the fantastic. This trend is noted in the introduction even.

Anyway, this was a somewhat forgettable story, which may be because it fits into the standard fantasy plot. A man leaves home on a quest, ends up somewhere, isn't sure what's going on but figures that needs to happen will happen, what needs to happen happens, he goes home. There is more to it of course, and the writing is much better than most other stories from the same mold, but there was something missing for me in this one.

"A Diorama of the Infernal Regions" by Andy Duncan - This is a fantasy of the south, complete with devil and civil war. Very tongue and cheek. An amusing little tale.

"Heartstrung" by Rachel Swirsky - Another sort of concept piece in which a woman comes of age by having her heart literally sewn onto her sleeve. This apparently removes from them all intense emotion, and they become perfect darlings for their husbands and children. Depressing, and perhaps a metaphor for the way things used to be more than an imagining of what could be.

"The Cambist and Lord Iron: a Fairy Tale of Economics" by Daniel Abraham - Another one of my favorites. A humble cambist enters the crosshairs of a fiery lord and must use his wits to survive. I love the riddles and lateral thinking that come up in fairy tales, and this one is full of them.

"Something in the Mermaid Way" by Carrie Laben - A strange little story where a community is dependent on the sale of mermaids for survival, but the mermaids are all sold up. One family comes up with a solution. Little creepy, but I liked it.

"Public Safety" by Matthew Johnson - I love detective stories. This one is great, because it's a sort of throwback to the old detective stories, and the fantasy element too has a vintage air to it.

"Stray" by Benjamin Rosenbaum and David Ackert - A god is picked up by a black woman in what I assume is the segregated south and tries to make a life for himself. This was an emotional story, and felt a little deeper than many of the others in the anthology.

"The Comb" by Marly Youmans - A lady recovering from love falls in love. I'm not a fan of love stories, so it makes sense that I didn't enjoy this nearly as much as the others. Most of it is the lady talking about how screwed up she was after losing her first man and how enamored she became of this golden stranger she ran across on a walk one day. There's reference to the ageless stories of love between mortal and fey, but in the end this felt like just another swoon story to me.

"Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz Go to War Again" by Garth Nix - My first Garth Nix. His is the only name I recognize here, but I've never read him. His story is also the only story that seems to sit firmly off Earth. A man and his autonomous puppet friend seek employment in war, but end up having to execute their higher purpose instead. This was the most familiar story to me as a fantasy reader, but at the same time it was unique and well written.

"The Last Worders" by Karen Joy Fowler - Two twins rush off to a foreign town to demand a boy to choose between them. The exposition of the town's history was certainly the best part of the story in my opinion, as it is an interesting, whimsical history. The history of the twins is not so much, perhaps again because I have no taste for romance. It was all good set up for the end of the story, which was strangely satisfying in a frustrating way.

"Singing of Mount Abora" by Theodora Goss - A story within a story within a story. A lady is talking about herself, and singing about a legend, and dreaming about a place. It was disorienting at times but relatively well tied together, and I liked the legend (is it a legend if you come up with it right there really?). There seemed like something was missing though. If you have not read the poem Kubla Khan you may not get the point.

"Save Me Plz" by David Barr Kirtley - A man finds a glitch in his game that lets him remake the world. His girlfriend is his unwilling accomplice. This is a simple concept well executed, and one of those stories where I think to myself, "I should have thought of that!"

"Bufo Rex" by Erik Amundsen - A toad reminisces. Humans make his life hard, and he eventually gets fed up. Good voice in this story, and a matter-of-fact cynicism that I appreciated.

"The Master Miller's Tale" by Ian R. MacLeod - Made me cry a little. Loss and conflict that feels both inevitable and avoidable at the same time always does it to me. The title made me think I was in for something along the lines of Chaucer, but this is more like The Good Earth with a magical touch. It tells the story of a child, then a man, who is raised in the traditional ways of the master miller, and is forced to contend with the encroaching magic of steam and industrial alchemy. ( )
  bokai | Sep 28, 2009 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Horton, RichEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abraham, DanielContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ackert, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexander, WilliamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Amundsen, ErikContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Doyle, NoreenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Duncan, AndyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fowler, Karen JoyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Goss, TheodoraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gregory, DarylContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johnson, MatthewContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kirtley, David BarrContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Laben, CarrieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Link, KellyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Macleod, Ian R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Nix, GarthContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Phillips, HollyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rosenbaum, BenjaminContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Swirsky, RachelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Youmans, MarlyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Zivkovic, ZoranContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Table of Contents:

The year in fantasy, 2007 [Introduction] / Rich Horton -- Unpossible / Daryl Gregory -- Light / Kelly Link -- Teashop / Zoran Zivkovik -- Rope / Noreen Doyle -- Buttons / William Alexander -- Brother of the moon / Holly Phillips -- Diorama of the infernal regions / Andy Duncan -- Heartstrung / Rachel Swirsky -- Cambist and Lord Iron / Daniel Abraham -- Something in the mermaid way / Carrie Laben -- Public safety / Matthew Johnson -- Stray / Benjamin Rosenbaum & David Ackert -- Comb / Marly Youmans -- Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz go to war again / Garth Nix -- Last worders / Karen Joy Fowler -- Singing of Mount Abora / Theodora Goss / Save me plz / David Barr Kirtley -- Bufo rex / Erik Amundsen -- Master miller's tale / Ian R. MacLeod -- Contributors -- Publication history
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