Saturday, June 26, 2004

anthologies

For the past several years, I have evinced a preference for anthologies of short fiction, as opposed to full-length novels, with exceptions drawn for Marquez, Eco and a handful of other writers. This is especially true for the speculative fiction genre.

I find almost all new novels of this genre poorly written, usually imbalanced towards plot or character or setting or (shudder) style and tone. These books invariably fail to keep my attention beyond the first few chapters or pages and I end up junking them.

With short fiction, I am more forgiving, given the fact that the "imposition" on my time is less. I also admire the short fictionist's craft a bit more, because everything has to work within the span of X thousand words, with no space for silly irrelevant things such as unending descriptions of scenery or long-winded expository passages thinly disguised as dialogue or characterization.

Besides, with a nice thick anthology, I am bound to like something that will make me think or inspire me (like Chris Barzak's "Plenty" did a couple of years ago).

However, a small number of fantasy writers have been able to consistently write novel-length stories that leave me wanting more.

Some of the anthologies, collections or novels I look forward to in the next few months include:

Ellen Datlow, Gavin Grant & Kelly Link's The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror: Seventeenth Annual Collection (my first appearance - I will have this book bronzed and tell my grandkids about it until they lock me up in a home)
David Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer's Year's Best Fantasy 4 and Year's Best SF 9 (I like how their line-up this year looks)
Ursula Le Guin's Gifts (I just worship at her feet, and not just for Earthsea)
George R.R. Martin's A Feast for Crows (just reread both prequel shorts from Silverberg's Legends Vols. I & II and remembered how much I liked "The Hedge Knight")
Gardner Dozois' The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-first Annual Collection (because his selections turned upside down most of my strongly-held notions of what scifi was all about)
China Miéville's The Iron Council (because I never gave Scar a chance)
Paul Di Filippo's Harp, Pipe and Symphony
Caitlín Kiernan's Murder of Angels
Robert Silverberg's Between Worlds (in the mistaken belief that there will be a Madripoor story somewhere in there, dammit).

So, dear Charles, get to work!

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