Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman’s THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY continues to impress.
A NOVEL HAUL surprisingly enjoys the anthology.
I’m generally not a great lover of fantasy. I find it difficult to get through a long high fantasy novel or series and as a genre it doesn’t have the same pull for me as others do. That being said I do absolutely adore short stories so this collection caught my eye as a sort of gateway drug in to longer fantasy stories.
The thing I loved most about this collection is the range of cultural inspiration behind the stories. It wasn’t just your bog-standard Tudors-with-dragons English affair; there were stories drawing inspiration from myths originating everywhere from Ireland to Pakistan.
There’s no collective theme to these stories other than they’re all beautifully crafted and chosen to represent the best of the genre. And they may have convinced this fantasy-avoider to try out more of the genre!
VENTUREADLAXRE praises the collection.
Stars: Five out of Five
So many authors are the reason I picked this one up – it would probably be easier to list those I haven’t yet come across yet. This is however a collection of people fairly new to the scene (last four or so years until now), and an excellent starting point for people who may not have come across them yet – get in on the ground floor, type of thing, so you can follow what are sure to be excellent bibliographies.
“Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong
It would drive you crazy if you could see the thoughts of anyone you concentrated on – especially if you focused on their worst thoughts and memories. Imagine it’s what you digest – what you feed on.
We see Jen on a tinder date who notes her date wants to split her open and glory at her insides. It’s just as well for the rest of the women on tinder that Jen has the ability to suck out every thought in his mind and leave him a maybe-dead mess in an alleyway – something she’s seemingly inherited from her mother who has a home filled with ‘hissing (…) ugly, bottled remains of her paramours’. Who wouldn’t want to read more? Jen’s problem is she has a sweet friend, Aiko, who’s becoming more and more alluring. Scared that she won’t be able to resist hurting her, she pushes her away instead and retreats to her mothers home, and distracted, then gets herself into a whole lot of trouble.
This is sweet and perfectly delivered. Wong is certainly someone to keep an eye on – every piece she’s had published so far it a wonder to read and sometimes a little hard hitting.
“The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn” by Usman T. Malik
A boy grows up listening to a story his grandfather tells, of a pauper princess who had a tea store in the shade of a eucalyptus tree, in which a jinn resided. The tale tells of a place that seems a very long way from where they now reside in Florida, where even when they speak to each other in Urdu it’s like they’re in another world entirely.
Possibly the longest piece in this collection, but being Usman it manages to be worth it. As the grandfather’s story dominates the boy’s life, it overwhelmed the story too (in a good way) for the little it takes up, and pages and pages after are about the boy – now grown up – and his journey to find answers, meanings, an end to the story that sustained him as a kid.
It’s a grand ending to this anthology, and lovely throughout.
Peter S. Beagle (photo: Rina Weisman) and Jacob Weisman
Several venues included the title on their top SF/Fantasy books for August.
BOOKLIST (Rebecca Vnuk):
This collection brings together stories that represent the new and evolving possibilities for fantasy writing, particularly “literary” fantasy, which exists between the boundaries of genre and mainstream fiction
B&N SCI-FI & FANTASY BLOG (Jeff Somers):
Celebrating the new voices in fantasy that will define the future of the genre, Beagle assembles an impressive roster of 19 authors who will introduce the unaware to the Next Big Things. The list of authors includes many you’ll recognize from awards ballots over the past few years: Max Gladstone, Alyssa Wong, Usman T. Malik, Ursula Vernon, and many others. The tone, subject matter, and precise sub-genres change from story to story, and the end result is a varied and entertaining anthology with something for every reader—and one that will likely introduce every reader to at least one great new voice.
IO9 (Cheryl Eddy):
Rising stars of fantasy fiction (Sofia Samatar, Maria Dahvana Headley, Max Gladstone, Alyssa Wong, and many more) contribute to this 19-story genre collection, which is co-edited and curated by Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn).
THE GEEKIVERSE (Pete Herr):
Each month I add a collection of short form fiction. This is August’s collection. An anthology of fantasy shorts by 19 of the genre’s up and coming stars including Usman T. Malik, Sofia Samatar, Eugene Fischer, E. Lily Yu, Ben Loory, Maria Dahvana Headley, Ursula Vernon, Max Gladstone and more. The stories were selected and edited by award-winning novelist Peter S. Beagle of The Last Unicorn fame. This collection showcases authors that are defining the fantasy genre today.
For more info about THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Camille André
Cover design by Elizabeth Story