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Summary: Themed Anthologies (major publishers), 2008 - The Elephant Forgets — LiveJournal
Summary: Themed Anthologies (major publishers), 2008

3. Themed anthologies from major publishers

As last year, I am drawing a perhaps iffy distinction between "major" and "small press" publishers, I have identified four themed anthologies that appeared from rather big-name publishers (Baen, Solaris, and Night Shade (admittedly, usually regarded as small press, but they've become pretty prominent)), and got pretty significant distribution. These are:

Transhuman, edited by Mark L. Van Name and T. K. F. Weisskopf;
Sideways in Crime, edited by Lou Anders;
Extraordinary Engines, edited by Nick Gevers;
Fast Ships, Black Sails, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer.

So, 4 books, 56 stories (25 novelettes, 31 short stories (1 short-short)), about 435,000 words.

Stats: 17 of the stories were by women (30%), and 42 were SF (75%).

By and large these were all pretty good books. Transhuman was probably my least favorite, and Fast Ships, Black Sails my most favorite, but all were worth a look.

From Transhuman (theme: posthumanity), I liked Daniel M. Hoyt’s "G@vin45", about a designer of "faces" that people use to control their interaction with the world; and Wil McCarthy’s "Soul Printer", a rather cynical story about a rich college student who finds a way to create art tailored to a particular person by tweaking pictures according to their brain’s response.

From Sideways in Crime (theme: mystery stories set in alternate histories), I particularly liked "Sacrifice", by Mary Rosenblum, set in an Aztec-dominated alternate history, which turns on the murder of the son of the Chinese consul, a politically fraught, impacting not only Chinese/Mexica relations but even the Mexica succession, with a realpolitikal solution that makes sense and a central character who believably accepts the utterly evil blood sacrifice at the heart of their religion; and anothe realpolitik-drenched story, Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s "G-Men", about the murder of J. Edgar Hoover early in LBJ’s presidency, and the struggle that ensues to clean up the dirt in Hoover's papers; and also Paul Park’s "The Death of Peter Francisco", an atmospheric story of murder and conspiracy among anarchists in a very alternate early 20th Century U.S.

From Extraordinary Engines (theme: steampunk), my favorites were Margo Lanagan’s "Machine Maid", in which a young bride comes to an isolated Australian ranch, and has to deal with problems such as loneliness, running a household, and her husband's attentions -- and the further problem of her husband's general solution to, well, all of the above: a robot; and Jeff VanderMeer’s “Fixing Hanover", in which a mysterious man living in a distant seaside village is again embroiled in the war he was trying to escape as he is forced to repair a curious machine that washes ashore.

From Fast Ships, Black Sails (theme: pirates), I really liked Naomi Novik's "Araminta; or, The Wreck of the Amphidrake", a gender-bending tale of a rather tomboyish girl of a noble family sent by sea to marry the young man her parents have chosen, whose life changes when pirates capture her ship; and Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette’s "Boojum", SF about a living spaceship, bred in the atmosphere of a gas giant, and the crewmember forced to make a dangerous choice when aliens attack.

Other really good stories in these books came from Kelly Barnhill, Rachel Swirsky, Carrie Vaughn, Chris Roberson, S. M. Stirling, Paul di Filippo, James Morrow, Marly Youmans, Ian R. MacLeod, James Hogan, and Tobias Buckell.


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