Among the many hats I wear besides novelist and faithful Omni correspondent is as
founder of Cheeky Frawg, an indie press devoted to international fiction. This
fall we've released Swedish writer Karin Tidbeck's Jagannath: Stories. This unique fantasy collection's been very well
received, including a rave review by NPR's "All Things Considered"; the author
even attended the World Fantasy Convention in Toronto recently.
As the book's publisher, one task I always undertake is checking out the
competition. And therefore I'm intensely aware that this is a really great year
for fantasy and SF story collections. It would be easy to name as many as 15 or
20 collections in compiling a year's best list. However, I'm instead going to
make it hard and restrict myself to 12 that I find the most interesting and
unique, besides Jagannath, and then
count on you, the readers, to tell me if I'm wrong and what I missed.
So, here goes, in alphabetical order by author"¦
Shoggoths in Bloom by Elizabeth
(Prime Books) "“ This new collection from Bear includes the Hugo-winning title novelette and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award-winning "Tideline." A World Fantasy, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick nominee, Bear is one of speculative fiction's most acclaimed,
respected, and prolific authors.
the Liquid Skin by Berit
(firthFORTH Books) "“ Short, sharp shocks of the surreal and the strange,
anchored by Ellingsen's clear eye for detail and for the most psychologically
interesting aspects of narrative. This Danish-Korean author is just starting
what promises to be a major career, but already giving readers a unique and
by Brian Evenson (Coffeehouse
Press) "“ As you might expect from Evenson, a transplanted ear with a mind of
its own is the least of the surreal strangeness found in this collection,
anchored by the unblinking clarity of the prose. Another
brilliant exploration of the darker and more unsettling parts of the human
psyche from a critically acclaimed master of the short form.
Palace by Jeffrey Ford (William Morrow)
"“ It really doesn't matter what this multiple World Fantasy Award-winning
author writes about; he always finds the characters and story worth telling.
Dr. Moreau's Island, automaton generals, and the Pine Barrens of his native New
Jersey all have a place in these sometimes dreamlike stories.
Errantry by Elizabeth Hand (Small Beer
Press) "“ Collecting more recent stories, Errantry
is just more evidence of the self-assurance and complexity Hand has brought to
fiction in the middle part of her career. One of the novellas herein, "The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon,"
was recently nominated for a Hugo Award.
the Mouth of the River of Bees
by Kij Johnson
(Small Beer Press) "“ Ranging from the more traditional to tales that push
buttons and boundaries, from fantasy to science fiction and beyond, Johnson's
short fiction has won the Nebula Awards for three years running.
by Margo Lanagan (Twelve
Planets) "“ Australian writer Lanagan once again shines in this collection. These stories from a four-time World Fantasy Award winner
are all set in Australia, a myth-soaked landscape both stubbornly inscrutable
and crisscrossed by interlopers' dreamings.
Real and the Unreal: Selected Stories
(volume 1 and volume 2) by Ursula K. Le Guin (Small Beer Press) "“ What can be said
about Le Guin that hasn't already been said? She is one of the most iconic of
all living writers, in or out of genre. This two-volume set provides an amazing
look at the sheer depth and breadth of her short fiction"”and should further add
to her influence and her legacy.
of the Invisible World by Patricia
Publications) "“ The creator of the classic Riddle Master of Hed novels,
McKillip also has a true talent for spinning short stories rooted in fairy tale
and mythology. Beautiful
writing is paired with classic approaches to narrative.
the Edge of Waking by Holly
(Prime Books) "“ It has been far too long since Phillips' published
her first collection, In the Palace of
Repose, which won the Sunburst Award and was nominated for the World
Fantasy and Crawford Awards. This second collection builds on the promise of
the first, often portraying human beings in situations of dire change, intermingled
with the fantastical.
+ Far by Cat Rambo (Hydra House) "“
A finalist for the World Fantasy Award this year, Rambo's latest collection is
a clever "double," with two covers and two remits: to collect her fantasy and
SF separately yet together. Whether
set in terrestrial oceans or on far-off space stations, Rambo's masterfully
told stories explore themes of gender, despair, tragedy, and triumph.
Ancient by Kiini Ibura
(Aqueduct Press) "“ Magic and sexuality permeate these stories that seek the
emotional core of their characters. Interesting settings and Salaam's exuberant
but controlled prose help to anchor narratives that are continually questing,
pushing for something beyond the usual.
But Dreaming by Ekaterina
(Prime Books) "“ Sedia is a slippery writer who crosses between genres with all
the ease of a true literary fantasist. The prose is lively and vivid, often
with a view of the world that is both passionate and sardonic. This is,
astonishingly, the first collection for this critically acclaimed novelist.
Charles Yu (Pantheon) - The author of the brilliant
novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe returns with his
second story collection, much of which skews toward fantasy and science
fiction. You'll find zombies, virtual warriors, companies that outsource grief,
and much more"”all of it made unique by Yu's unique perspective. He's funny
without being trite, and he knows his characters well.
As for Karin Tidbeck, I asked her for her selections for favorite collections of
all time. So here are another five (classic) collections to seek out:
Ursula Le Guin: The Birthday of the World
Tove Jansson: Tales From Moominvalley
Ted Chiang: Stories Of Your Life and Others
Joanna Russ: The Hidden Side of the Moon
Borges: The Aleph