This year they’ve brought us Volume Two. And it is a welcome follow-up.
The story lineup isn’t quite as stellar, but it is still pretty damn impressive – from classics like Robert Heinlein’s “All You Zombies” and Harlan Ellison’s “Jeffty Is Five” to modern offerings including Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The People of Sand and Slag” and Ken Liu’s 2011 offering “The Paper Menagerie”, which became the only work to win the triple crown of Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Awards.
Some of the stories, especially the Heinlein, show their ages, but the collection demonstrates F&SF’s knack for showcasing the best writers of its time. Favorite stories include Jack Finney’s “The Third Level”, a 1952 offering about a man who finds a lower level in Grand Central Station that acts as a portal to another time. It has a dreamlike feel reminiscent of Neil Gaiman.
But Liu’s offering was the story I most anticipated.
And it was the most rewarding, a touching tale of Jack, a Chinese-American boy growing up trapped between two cultures. His mother was a mail-order bride mother who fled the Cultural Revolution and seeks to share her culture with Jack through magical origami animals. As he grows older he rejects her and his Chinese ancestry, but ultimately rediscovers his heritage through those forgotten folded-paper toys. The beautiful story deserves every accolade it has received.
Read the rest of Senft’s review at The Reckless Reader.
For more info on The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Volume 2, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Thomas Canty.