ecbatan (ecbatan) wrote,

Summary: Non-US/Non-UK anthologies, 2009

Anthologies focussed on non-US, non-UK writers, 2009

This category features books that either by design or happenstance emphasize work by writers from neither the US nor the UK. In particular I'm happy to note a number of stories from non-English language writers, and also a good bunch from in particular Asia, and especially in particular the Philippines.

So, in 2009 I saw:
Philippine Speculative Fiction IV, edited by Dean Francis Alfar and Nikki Alfar;
A Time for Dragons, edited by Vincent Michael Simbulan;
The Apex Book of World SF, edited by Lavie Tidhar;
Exotic Gothic 3, edited by Danel Olson;
Tesseracts Thirteen, edited by Nancy Kilpatrick and David Morrell;
X6, edited by Keith Stevenson; and
New Ceres Nights, edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Tehani Wessely.

The seven books between them contained 109 new stories, 6 novellas, 10 novelettes and 93 short stories (two short-shorts), for a total of some 2/3 of a million words of new short fiction. (There were also a number of reprints.) 49 of the stories were by women (45%), and 37 were SF (34%).

Philippine Speculative Fiction IV is a wide-ranging selection, more or less evenly split between Science Fiction and Fantasy. The best story was Rochita Loenen-Ruiz’s "Breaking the Spell", "yet another Sleeping Beauty reimagination" -- but a very well done and original one. Also quite good were Apol Lejano-Massebiau’s "The Sewing Project", an arch piece about a woman sewing herself a husband; and "A Retrospective on Diseases for Sale", by Charles Tan, a clever extrapolation of commercial ventures to include selling people diseases for their own personal use, as it were. Notable work also came from Carljoe Javier, Erica Gonzales, and Eliza Victoria.

A Time for Dragons is also from the Philippines, this time focussed of course on the subject of dragons. Highlights: Elyss Punsalan’s "The Annotated Account of Tholomew Mestich and the Tiles of the Ganew", about a not very heroic man who accidentally becomes a hero in dealing with a crisis centering on the forgotten reason the title tiles are kept in the care of the families of Ganew. Elbert Or's "The Final Tale of Zhang Bai Long, Earth Dragon of Guei Lin", a sweet tale of a dragon who makes friends with a young girl, only to face losing her when her family emigrates. Dean Francis Alfar's "Fallow’s Flight", in which dragons use human slaves in their battles against the enemy Vora. Other good work was by Apol Lejano-Massebiau, Gabriela Lee, and Dominique Cimafranca.

The Apex Book of World SF is actually a reprint anthology, but several stories appeared there for the first time in English, so it qualifies for this summary. I recommend it highly in any case. My definite favorite among the new stories was Alexsandar Ziljak's "An Evening in the City Coffeehouse, with Lydia on my Mind", about a producer of illegally gathered VR porn, who foolishly falls for one of his subjects, only to find that her background is much stranger than he could have imagined.

Exotic Gothic 3 is mostly a collection of ghost stories, with a definite effort to include non-Western traditions. (American and English writers were welcome as well, mind you.) My two favorite pieces were "'Tattoo', by 'Karlo Kekkonen'", by the late Milorad Pavic, about a woman who finds herself mysteriously branded by complete strangers with tattoos of letters; and a very traditional ghost story from Barbara Roden, "The Haunted House in Etobicoke", about a journalist investigating a report of a haunting only to find a sadder, perhaps truer, story in talking to a neighbor. Other fine work came from Tunku Halim, Lucy Taylor, and Zoran Zivkovic.

I found Tesseracts Thirteen disappointing, but that can perhaps be laid at the door of my own prejudices -- it's a horror anthology. Nice stuff included "The Woods", by Michael Kelly, a dark meeting between two old friends, and Bev Vincent's "Overtoun Bridge", with dogs committing suicide by jumping from the title bridge. Other good stuff was by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Rebecca Bradley, and Edo van Belkom.

X6 is a quite remarkable collection of novellas by Australian writers. The story that has got the most attention is Paul Haines's "Wives", a thoroughly brutal story of a hopeless future in which men buy wives from the city and are revealed to treat them horrifically -- I can't deny the story's power but found its particulars unconvincing, and I preferred Margo Lanagan's "Sea-Hearts", a selkie story with a similar theme -- the terrible mistreatment of the selkies by their human husbands, but better written and with more honestly depicted characters. Terry Dowling's story was also quite good, and the other contributors (Louise Katz, Trent Jamieson, and Cat Sparks) show pretty well too.

Finally, New Ceres Nights is a set of stories in the shared world of New Ceres. It isn't explicitly Australian, and at least one contributor is French, but the great majority of the writers are Australian so I put the book here. I like the New Ceres stories in general, and this was an enjoyable book. I particularly liked Tansy Rayner Roberts’s "Prosperine When It Sizzles", featuring the very popular character La Duchesse and her assistant M. Pepin -- about whom we learn some secrets as he meets an old offworld acquaintance while the two of them try to rescue a prominent politician’s children from some unfortunate choices in entertainment; and Sylvia Kelso’s "The Sharp Shooter", in which the title character comes to a remote farm to help eliminate a dangerous beast. I'll also mention Dirk Flinthart, Thoraiya Dyer, Lee Battersby, and Angela Slatter.
Tags: 2009, anthologies, yearly summaries

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