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Summary: Slipstream anthologies, 2009

Slipstream anthologies, 2009

These two books I perceived to include a number of stories that might be called "slipstream". The books are:

Interfictions 2, edited by Delia Sherman and Christopher Barzak; and
Conjunctions 52: Betwixt the Between, edited by Bradford Morrow and Brian Evenson.

The two books between them had a total of 45 stories, 8 novelettes and 37 shorts (2 short-shorts), for over 220,000 words of fiction. (Not counting a novel excerpt.) I called 11 stories SF (24%), and 17 were by women (38%).

Interfictions 2 is the second anthology of "interstitial fiction" put out by the Interstitial Arts Foundation. "Interstitial Fiction" and "Slipstream" are not necessarily the same thing, but I think it's fair to say that a lot, perhaps all, the stuff usually called "Slipstream" qualifies as "Interstitial", but that some stuff called "Insterstitial" probably wouldn't usually be called "Slipstream". Keeping in mind that definitions of such subgenres are noticeably, er, slippery. (Henry Jenkins, in his introduction, calls interstitial fiction "stories that don't rest comfortably in the cubbyholes we traditionally use to organize our cultural experiences".) Anyway, I found Interfictions 2 often interesting, usually challenging, but not as often satisfying (to me). I suspect sometimes that the editors don't want stories in such anthologies necessarily to satisfy. Or perhaps more fairly, not to satisfy everybody, and hopefully different stories might satisfy different readers. One story I was satisfied by, indeed I loved, was "Child-Empress of Mars", by Theodora Goss. lush subversive fun set on a version of a "High-Burroughsian" Mars, about the reaction of the title character to the arrival of a Hero. Other strong stories came from Alaya Dawn Johnson, Carlos Hernandez, David Schwartz, and Elizabeth Ziemska.

Conjunctions is a literary magazine out of Bard College that has often dabbled in the waters of genre. It's sort of both a magazine and a book -- it has an ISSN and an ISBN. (Or at least this issue did.) So I listed it as an anthology. The 52nd issue, Betwixt the Between, the editors say, "investigates ways in which, on the one hand, works of fiction treat the impossible as if it were the solid groundwork of the real, or on the other hand how the ineffable can sometimes flash lightning-quick through the realms of the real, leaving everything the same and yet unaccountably changed." I found it quite a fine book. I wrote, in Locus: "That is not to say that all of the stories in Conjunctions 52 are slipstream. Several read to me as Science Fiction, in fact, and others are more purely fantasy than slipstream. And some are more experimental -- even playful -- than anything else."
 
I particularly liked James Morrow’s "Bigfoot and the Bodhisattva", a very funny and intelligent near future SF story about a yeti who serves as a bodyguard for the true Dalai Lama while he visits the Chinese-installed puppet Dalai Lama -- and who also takes lessons in compassion from him -- out of a certain concern about his habit of eating humans; Robert Kelly’s "The Logic of the World", a moving philosophical story of a knight’s encounter with a dragon; and Elizabeth Hand’s "Hungerford Bridge", about a strange and beautiful creature a man is privileged to see -- with a curious condition. I'll also mention work by Jon Enfield, Stephen Marche, Karen Russell, and Scott Geiger.

Tags: 2009, anthologies, yearly summaries
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