Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Order [book in series=yearoffirstbook.book# (eg 2014.01), stand-alone or one-author collection=3333.pubyear, multi-author anthology=5555.pubyear, SFM/MM=5000, interview=1111]: 5555.2010


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The Secret History of Fantasy: Stories that redefine the genre

The Secret History of Fantasy edited by Peter S. Beagle

The basic premise of the SECRET HISTORY anthologies (there’s also a science fiction one, The Secret History of Science Fiction, which I haven’t read) is that there’s a type of writing that got missed or buried because other things were more popular, more commercial, or dodged the spec-fic labeling. Certainly that’s the thrust of Peter S. Beagle‘s introduction, and the two other non-fiction pieces by Ursula K. Le Guin and editor David G.


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Zombies vs. Unicorns: Fun YA anthology

Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier

Back in 2007, Holly Black and Justine Larabalestier got in an argument about which fiction creature was superior — zombies or unicorns. Spurred on by that debate, they each recruited some of their author friends to write short tales in which they present the storytelling possibilities of the two mythic beasts. With header notes for each story in which they discuss the historical background for the different takes on the creatures, Holly Black heads up Team Unicorn,


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Steampunk’d: Uneven, not recommended

Steampunk’d by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg

Steampunk’d is an anthology edited by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg. The most common premise of steampunk is an idea that technology — steam-driven technology — went in a different direction during the Victorian era. The best steampunk stories create a sense of otherness, a truly different world, while some tales just dangle steampunk tropes like jewelry or fashion accessories.

I’m a cautious consumer of themed anthologies because the work can be uneven,


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Masked: Superheroes move into the realm of prose

Masked edited by Lou Anders

Superheroes — and supervillains — have always been problematic. They are usually all but impossible to kill, but have a single vulnerability that everyone seems to know about, and to aim for, a tradition that goes all the way back to Achilles (who was invulnerable because he was dipped in the River Styx as a baby — except for the ankle by which his mother held him when doing the dipping). Even after death, they always seem to come back in some form or another; Superman, for instance,


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Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded

Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded is the second steampunk anthology edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, following 2008’s first installment. It contains about twice as many stories as its predecessor, but unlike the first collection the quality is more uneven here, resulting in a less impressive but still fascinating anthology that should please fans of the genre.

While the first anthology only contained one story I was less than happy with, there are at least four or five in Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded that I could have done without.


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Songs of Love and Death: Tales of star-crossed lovers

Songs of Love and Death edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois

Songs of Love and Death is the third anthology that George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois have edited together. Like Warriors and Songs of the Dying EarthSongs of Love and Death brings together some of the biggest names that SFF has to offer and they set these authors to work on a common theme.

Martin and Dozois offer a cross-genre anthology that ranges from Robin Hobb’s epic fantasy “Blue Boots,” which tells the story of a romance between a young serving girl and a silver-tongued minstrel,


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Death’s Excellent Vacation: A good audiobook for your next vacation

Death’s Excellent Vacation by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner (eds)

Even paranormal creatures need to get away from it all sometimes. In Death’s Excellent Vacation, editors Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner present a collection of thirteen stories tied together by the theme of “vacation.”

The “headliners,” as evidenced by whose names are in big type above the title, are Harris, Katie MacAlister, and Jeaniene Frost. Each of these three authors contributes a vignette from one of her popular series: Sookie Stackhouse,


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Speculative Horizons: Feel good about buying this anthology!

Speculative Horizons edited by Patrick St. Denis

Speculative Horizons is a lovely little anthology edited by book blogger Patrick St. Denis (of Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist fame). When the good people at Subterranean Press asked him whether he’d be interested in editing a short story collection, he understandably jumped on the idea (who wouldn’t?!), but asked that a portion of the proceeds be donated to breast cancer research. Not only is this an absolutely wonderful initiative, but it also means that you now have an excellent chance to buy a book and actually feel good about it.


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The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm

The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

The Faery Reel is an indispensable tome for anyone who has a mania for faeries. Aside from the short stories in this anthology, the comprehensive introduction of Terri Windling on the fey and the illustrations by Charles Vess are worth the price of admission in themselves. Moreover, the last few pages feature a Further Reading section on the topic of faeries. The typography of the book is appropriate to the faery theme and makes the text quite readable.


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Sympathy for the Devil: A collection of bedtime stories

Sympathy for the Devil edited by Tim Pratt

Please allow me to introduce Sympathy for the Devil, a fine new anthology filled entirely with short stories about the devil… who is, as we all know, a man of style and taste. However, you won’t just find the smooth-talking stealer of souls here. In addition to that famous version of His Grand Infernal Majesty, you’ll also find funny devils, monstrous devils, abstract devils and strangely realistic ones. Devils scary and not-so-scary, devils who are after children’s souls and others going after old men.


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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