For readers dreading the end of GAME OF THRONES, look to THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY for your new favorites
Reviews abound for Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman’s gorgeous THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY.
At LIBRARY JOURNAL, Neal Wyatt lauds the anthology.
For readers who are anticipating the end of HBO’s GAMES OF THRONES and looking for new fantasy authors to follow, this 19-story-strong collection provides plenty to sample, introducing up-and-coming voices identified by the already famous Beagle (THE LAST UNICORN) and Weisman (THE TREASURY OF THE FANTASTIC).
Brenda Peynado for WORLD LITERATURE TODAY praises the collection.
THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY, edited by Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman, promises the reader exposure to the next generation of fantasy writers. These eighteen stories and one novella feature writers already known for being strong new voices of fantasy, like Sofia Samatar, and others, like Brooke Bolander, who’ve only published a handful of stories. Each is a shining example of the genre, featuring gorgeous sentences, images that stick in the mind, and heartbreaking loss. Readers of both fantasy and literary fabulism will appreciate this anthology.
As a predictive text for who will write the blockbuster fantasies of the next decade, only time will tell. As a survey of the field of what new fantasy looks like now, this collection shows an excellent range of emerging writers, sure to be complemented by anthologies like THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY.
Photo: Jill Roberts
At FANTASY LITERATURE, Tadiana Jones enjoys the book.
This collection of nineteen fantasy short works, edited by Peter Beagle, is definitely worthwhile if you like speculative short fiction. Many of them left an impact on me, and a few are true standouts. These stories are by relatively new authors in the speculative fiction genre and are all fantasy; otherwise there’s no discernable overarching theme.
These stories have almost all been published previously over the last seven years, and several of them are Hugo or Nebula winners or nominees. While a dedicated reader of online short fiction can find many of these short works in free online magazines, it’s convenient to have them gathered together in one volume with other stories that aren’t as readily available.
A brief summary of the short stories, novelette(s) and novella in THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY and my ratings:
4 stars: “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong. A disturbing vampirish story with an Asian main character, lesbian overtones and highly evocative language. Nebula winner.
4 stars: “Selkie Stories are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar. When selkie women find their sealskin and go back to the sea, what about the children they leave behind? I appreciated that it explored a different point of view without minimizing the selkie women’s initial lack of consent. Hugo and Nebula nominee.
5 stars: “A Kiss with Teeth” by Max Gladstone. Vlad the vampire is married to a human (in fact, the woman who was originally hunting him down!). They have a young son, and Vlad tries to live like a regular human, denying his darker self and powers. It all starts to break down when his son starts having problems at school, and when Vlad starts meeting regularly with his son’s teacher … who starts looking incredibly appealing as a victim. One of my favorite stories in this anthology, for its wry look at the question of what it means to be yourself.
5 stars: “Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon. When Grandma Harken’s grandson catches a jackalope woman by stealing her skin and partially burning it, it’s up to her to try to fix things. Vernon’s writing in this story is fantastic, evoking a Native American-inspired mythology and mixing in humorous but sharp observations about human nature. I’ve read this short story at least five times and adore it more each time. Nebula winner.
John Walters on his eponymous site reviews THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY.
As I read this anthology, I thought of the Clarion West students I have been meeting each summer since I moved back to Seattle. Quite a few of the writers in this book recently attended Clarion or Clarion West, and this showcases some of their work. I look back at my own time at Clarion West wistfully, with regret, wishing I had been more mature at the time (I’d barely turned twenty) and had made better use of the privilege. These writers, in contrast, have matured quickly and have turned out some first-class work.
Another thing that struck me as I read the stories herein is an awareness of the many facets of fantasy. Not many deal with themes that would be called traditional. Sure, there’s the odd vampire, but most of the stories are exceedingly inventive. Some are told from a mainstream perspective, with only a slight bit of fantasy at the end. These I found refreshing; the realism only added to the sense of wonder. A few had no fantasy elements at all that I could find, but I don’t mind that either.
The best story in the book, though, is the last novella, which takes up almost a quarter of the anthology’s length. It’s a beautiful tale of a Pakistani grandson searching for the truth about his grandfather’s past called “The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn” by Usman T. Malik. It takes place in a juxtaposition of the cultures of the United States and Pakistan, and weaves its fantasy flawlessly into a touching story of family, love, loss, and redemption. When I finished it, I felt that I had been privileged to encounter something truly special in literature, a feeling I have all too rarely nowadays.
The rest of the stories in the anthology are competent, and some are very good. As in most story collections, not all of them appealed to me, but that’s a near-universal situation with anthologies and collections – at least the ones that I have not put together myself. It’s a matter of taste, after all. I might have tweaked it a bit and subtracted or added this or that story. All in all, though, it’s a good collection with some real classics in it, and it’s well worth the read.
For more info about THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Camille André
Cover design by Elizabeth Story