Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My Favorite Fantasy Collections of 2005

Day Two! Hello, Cleveland -- are you ready to rock?!

Again, these are all in alphabetical order by author, so you can't figure out how I voted for World Fantasy. I only have a Top 10 list here; there are fewer collections published than novels (or, maybe, I'm harder on short fiction). But all these books are well worth reading.

  • I Live With You by Carol Emshwiller
    Emshwiller writes tough, biting stories that don't always make me happy, but which do impress me.
  • 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
    If there were more story collections like this, I might finally stop saying that I hate horror. At least three of the stories in here ("Voluntary Committal," "The Cape," and "Best New Horror") are world-class, and that's flabbergasting for a new writer's first batch of stories.
  • To Charles Fort, With Love by Caitlin R. Kiernan
    Dark, languid stories that always end just before the events that you're expecting and dreading.
  • Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
    I think I like her first collection better -- it's a bit more varied in style -- but Link is a short-fiction powerhouse, who can make the English language do absolutely anything she wants it to.
  • Harrowing the Dragon by Patricia A. McKillip
    McKillip isn't prolific in the shorter lengths -- she's been writing for thirty years, and this medium-sized book is her collected short fiction -- but all of it is choice. She manages to do new things with fairy-tale material that isn't the same as the great mass of "new takes on fairy tales."
  • Looking for Jake by China Mieville
    This is a bit uneven, since it's all of his stories to date, but it's well worth reading, and the best stories here are as good as anyone's.
  • The Complete Symphonies of Adolph Hitler by Reggie Oliver
    Low-key ghost stories in an old-fashioned vein; this is something I would never have heard of without World Fantasy. I'm glad I did: not only is the book itself a beautiful physical object, the stories are little gems, evocative of a world very different from my own.
  • In the Palace of Repose by Holly Phillips
    Many of the books on this list -- many of the books I looked at that aren't on this list -- are full of stories all in the same style and of the same type. Phillips's collection isn't like that; every story here is different, and every story is successful at doing whatever it sets out to do.
  • Strange Itineraries by Tim Powers
    Powers's collected short fiction fills up only a relatively small book; I wish there was more of it. But we take what we can get, and this is worth grabbing with both hands.
  • The Keyhole Opera by Bruce Holland Rogers
    By weight, this is more than half non-genre, but don't let that stop you. Rogers is one of the best short-story writers out there, and this contains an amazing array of stories, flash fiction, and even odder items.
These will be harder to find than the novels (only a couple were published by anything larger than a small press), but I have faith in the ability of you folks to find good writing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you definitely need to stop dissing horror, considering three collections on your list (the Hill, Kiernan, and Oliver) all partake wholehearedly in the genre, and at least three others dabble (the Link, Phillips, and Mieville). Overall, cool list.

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