At Fantasy Literature, Jana Nyman is dubious at first but is ultimately swayed by THE VERY BEST OF KATE ELLIOTT.
Kate Elliott is a prolific writer, producing over twenty fantasy and science fiction novels and several highly-acclaimed short stories in the last three decades. This year alone will see the publication of not only The Very Best of Kate Elliott, a collection of twelve short stories and four essays, but also two new novels: Court of Fives and The Black Wolves, and Elliott shows no signs of slowing her output in the future. Thus it was with some prickliness that I began reading The Very Best of Kate Elliott, thinking that the title would prove to be ambitious at best (and disappointingly superlative at worst).
The introduction provides insight into Elliott’s progression from young reader to mature writer of fiction and why she writes the way she does, reflecting her family’s experiences as Danish immigrants to Oregon and her own experiences with fantasy literature of the 1960’s and 70’s. Though the novels she read as a teenager focused exclusively on male characters and their agencies and narratives, she realized that the women who don’t exist in written histories or fiction are still real. They have important stories, and she wanted to write in such a way that would give them a voice even when the main characters in her own fiction aren’t female. In The Very Best of Kate Elliott, each single character has value, and she includes every gender, sexuality, race, and social class. Everyone should be able to find representation in the books they read. Everyone has power, though it’s not always of the same kind.
Elliott is a writer of remarkable talent and sensitivity. Despite my misgivings about titling this work as The Very Best of Kate Elliott, I am not too proud to admit when I am wrong. This is, truly, a demonstration of the very best of Elliott’s abilities. I look forward to the inevitable Volume Two of The Very Best of Kate Elliott, but for the time being, I’ll content myself with reading more of her novels and shorter work as they are published.
Read the rest of Nyman’s review, which includes coverage of many of the stories, at Fantasy Literature.
For more on THE VERY BEST OF KATE ELLIOTT, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Julie Dillon.
Design by Elizabeth Story.