ecbatan (ecbatan) wrote,
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Summary: YA anthologies, 2009

YA anthologies, 2009

Last year I only saw two YA anthologies, but this year I saw four. As ever I may have missed some marketed more directly to the YA category, though it should be noted that all four of these were fairly clearly marketed that way. (Troll's Eye View, indeed, is a middle-grade book.) These were:

Sideshow, edited by Deborah Noyes;
Troll's Eye View, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling;
Geektastic, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci; and
Firebirds Soaring, edited by Sharyn November.

Subtotals: 4 books, 53 stories (1 novella, 14 novelettes and 38 short stories (2 short-shorts), about 330,000 words.

Stats: 39 stories were by women (74%), and 5 were SF (9%).

I enjoyed all four books. I'll briefly summarize each of them.

Sideshow is a slim collection of fantastical stories (including three graphic stories) on the subject of circus and carnival sideshows. It was enjoyable throughout, particularly stories by Cecil Castellucci, Aimee Bender, and Annette Curtis Klause, but I though the clear standout was Margo Lanagan's "Living Curiosities", a simple and perfect story of a woman dwarf in a circus, and a man she has a crush on, and a suicide, and what makes people people.

Troll’s Eye View retells fairy tales from the point of view of the villains. As a middle grade book, the stories are fairly short, but I found them quite fun. Among strong stories by the likes of Kelly Link, Peter S. Beagle, and Michael Cadnum, My favorite was Delia Sherman’s "Wizard’s Apprentice", in which a boy runs away from his abusive uncle and ends up at the shop of an Evil Wizard -- leading to an expected but satisfying result. I also liked Peter S. Beagle's "Up the Down Beanstalk", retelling the Jack story from the viewpoint of the giant's wife -- amusing and also humanistic. And Kelly Link, Michael Cadnum, and Catherynne M. Valente also contributed particularly fine stories.

Geektastic is for the most part more an associational anthology than really an SF/Fantasy book -- the stories are all about teenaged "geeks" -- not just SF fans but gamers and science nerds and so on. The only definite SF story was my favorite, Kelly Link's, "Secret Identity" a superhero convention and a girl who pretends to be her older sister and is now hoping for a rendezvous with an older man she "met" online. Which is as awkward as you might expect, and handled perfectly by Link: and not quite as you expect either. Also very strong was M. T. Anderson's "The King of Pelinesse", a wrenchingly effective story - and different to most of those here - about a kid who has decided that a pulp writer was his mother's lover. Scott Westerfeld, Cassandra Clare, Garth Nix, and Wendy Mass all also deserve notice here.

Firebirds Soaring is the third thick anthology from Sharyn November for her Firebird imprint. One story here is definitely one of the very best stories of 2009: "Three Twilight Tales", by Jo Walton, which begins with a girl making a man out of "two rhymes and a handful of moonshine" and continues into a tavern, where three separate but closely linked tales unfold, leading with retrospective inevitability to a king in search of a queen who finds something perhaps better. I also liked a long novella from Nina Kiriki Hoffman, "The Ghosts of Strangers", about a village of people allied with dragons, and a girl who can catch ghosts; and a moving story of a woman who becomes an RAF pilot in World War II, "Something Worth Doing", by Elizabeth E. Wein. There was also fine work from Sherwood Smith, Marly Youmans, Louise Marley, and Candas Jane Dorsey.
Tags: 2009, anthologies, yearly summaries
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