As such, the stories in The Very Best of Kate Elliott overlap with all of the major series in terms of publication. While some of the stories are original, some of these stories her work are side tales to those series rather than original works. Often, the characters here are original or at best marginal to the series. Thus, for the most part, these stories stand independently of the worlds in which they are set, giving a hint of the vaster worlds beyond the limited words of their pages.
These stories and the others in the collection explore the concerns and themes that one can find in her larger works and series. The challenges and role of women in society, especially when said women cannot or will not conform to the limited roles that society has deemed within them. Women doing heroic things, both in the manner of more male protagonists, and also getting the job done in ways a typical male hero would never think of. Anna, for example, in “Leaf and Branch and Grass and Vine” gets past the many obstacles on her own quest with some fancy thing and not a little bit of social engineering. Like her novels, stories like this show that Elliott likes to show different kinds and forms of heroism.
In addition to the stories, the collection includes a number of the online essays that Elliott has written over the years. Readers at SF Signal here will, for example, recall “The Omniscient Breasts”, her study of “the male gaze” in fiction, first published in this space. These essays explicate the concerns and issues that Elliott has explored in her fiction in a much more direct and unflinching format. Readers who somehow miss the themes and concerns that the author explores in her fiction can see them here in unmistakable terms. If there was any doubt as to why it was Kate who was selected to read the Hugo best fan writer acceptance speech of another powerful voice in fantasy, Kameron Hurley, these essays make it absolutely clear why it was that she was selected.
Fans of her novels should not hesitate to pick up The Very Best of Kate Elliott; readers new to her work can find the themes and style of the author in evidence in this collection, although not that deep immersive feel that her novels bring.
Read the rest of Weimer’s insightful review at SF Signal.
For more on THE VERY BEST OF KATE ELLIOTT, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Julie Dillon.
Design by Elizabeth Story.