An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories
by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant
Review by KM
Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed. Sorry about that, guys. Life has a way of spinning out of control and I tend to cower in bed until the ride stops. The best thing to do while waiting is to read, though.
And while life kept sending me interruptions like holidays, two jobs, and an overgrown child — I mean, husband — to entertain, I was finding it really hard to get past page fifty in any book.
There are only two things that I’ve found can combat this:
1.) Killing all distractions in brutally horrifying ways. (Not recommended — the jail time isn’t worth it.)
2.) Anthologies. The short stories are like petit fours, easily consumed in one sitting before someone realize you’re actually sitting for the first time in eight hours and demands you do some new task.
So, yeah, this is an anthology and a pretty frickin’ awesome one at that. It has a bunch of my favorite authors. Like, if someone could arrange a meet up of all these authors at the same convention or panel, I’d love to attend. I’ll bring the alcohol; it’ll be a blast.
Enough with my rambling, let’s move onto the book.
Imagine an alternate universe where romance and technology reign. Where tinkerers and dreamers craft and re-craft a world of automatons, clockworks, calculating machines, and other marvels that never were. Where scientists and schoolgirls, fair folk and Romans, intergalactic bandits, utopian revolutionaries, and intrepid orphans solve crimes, escape from monstrous predicaments, consult oracles, and hover over volcanoes in steam-powered airships. Here, fourteen masters of speculative fiction, including two graphic storytellers, embrace the genre’s established themes and refashion them in surprising ways and settings as diverse as Appalachia, ancient Rome, future Australia, and alternate California. Visionaries Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant have invited all-new explorations and expansions, taking a genre already rich, strange, and inventive in the extreme and challenging contributors to remake it from the ground up. The result is an anthology that defies its genre even as it defines it.*
Oh my gosh, I found this hard to put this down. It starts with an awesome story by Cassandra Clare, which was probably my second favorite story in the entire book. It’s hard to write much about the plot without giving away the story, but automaton dolls and a flowers-in-the-attic-esque idea of romance definitely make this story amazing.
The anthology includes a few graphic-novel type stories, which were awesome breaks between the texts, to be honest. I think they made the book 500x better, since it’s a little bit hard to jump from story to story, without any pause. It was like a fresh taste of wine in between courses, so none of the flavors got muddled together.
My favorite, favorite, favorite story in this that had me talking about it for days was Libba Bray’s. It involved poor, mutilated orphans who used to be skilled workers and their awful caretaker. It was just so well put together; It’s probably my second favorite short story of all time. I feel like I got a book-hangover after reading just this. If I was teaching a short story class, this would be on the curriculum. I know I’m lavishing praise without giving any details, but I’m trying so hard not to ruin it for anyone.
Please, go out and get this book. Even if Steampunk isn’t your cup of tea, you’re bound to find something that excites you in here.