Next Author: Holly Lisle
Previous Author: Grace Lin

Kelly Link

Kelly Link(1969- )
Kelly Link‘s short stories have won three Nebulas, a Hugo, and a World Fantasy Award. Ms. Link lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she and her husband, Gavin J. Grant, formerly co-edited the fantasy half of The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, run Small Beer Press, and play ping-pong. In 1996 they started the occasional zine Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. Learn more at Kelly Link’s website.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE BY KELLY LINK.

Stranger Things Happen: Kelly Link’s weird stories

Readers’ average rating:

Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link

Stranger Things Happen is Kelly Link’s debut collection of weird stories, some of which won major awards. This was my first experience with Ms. Link’s fantasy fiction. Overall I was impressed with her imagination and style. While I admired all of the stories and liked several of them, the emotion I felt most often while reading Stranger Things Happen was unsettled. Link’s stories reminded me somewhat of the work of Peter Straub, another brilliant writer who I admire but don’t naturally gravitate toward. Here are the stories in Stranger Things Happen:

“Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose” — (originally published in Fence magazine in 1998) A dead man writes to his beloved wife wh... Read More

Magic for Beginners: Impressive and strange

Readers’ average rating:

Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link

Kelly Link's short story collection, Magic for Beginners, is a great piece of work. In a bit of a departure from her earlier collection Stranger Things Happen, the stories in it don't follow normative narrative structures; they draw from sources as various as fairy tales, kitchen sink realism, heist stories, TV fandom, and Link's own surrealist vision.  These nine stories don't share overt connections, but they do provide a window into modern American life, complete with bland marriages, mortgages, and random zombie sightings. I listened to Random House Audio's version of this book which is almost 11 hours long and is read by various actors such as Cassandra Campbell, Lorna Raver, Marc Bramhall, and others.

The first story, "The Faery Handbag," was my favorite. It was the most straightforward, which pr... Read More

Pretty Monsters: A pretty good collection

Readers’ average rating:

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link

Pretty Monsters is Kelly Link's latest short story collection aimed at young adults. My young adult phase passed a long time ago but I found this book to be as deep and packed as Link's Magic for Beginners and Stranger Things Happen.

The first thing that caught my eye is the overall aesthetic of the book. The jacket, designed by Will Staeble, is upbeat and eye-catching, whether it's simply the presentation of the blurbs or the text on the cover flap. Shaun Tan's art also precedes each story and there's an apt phrase or two below the neat and refined illustration.

As for the stories themselves, there are nine all in all, with one story original to this collection, the titular "Pretty Monsters." Most of the stories are recent, although there are a few reprints of stori... Read More

Get in Trouble: More sucker-punching awesomeness from Kelly Link

Readers’ average rating:

Get in Trouble by Kelly Link

Kelly Link throws a mean sucker punch. Her latest short story collection, Get in Trouble, is calculated to get you — to draw you in under one premise, and then take you somewhere else entirely. It explores modern America through her special blend of genre-busting surrealism. Exploring various landscapes such as rural North Carolina, Florida swamps, and Southern California, Link exposes the inherent weirdness of our everyday lives. She spins out alternate realities based on the already-established facts of our existence, like online dating, personal digital gadgets, and fading television stars.

If there's a thread connecting these stories, it's that all of the characters are already in trouble. Whether experiencing the toxic peer-pressure of teenage years, or a... Read More

Magazine Monday: Subterranean Online Summer 2011

Readers’ average rating:

Subterranean Online’s summer issue is devoted to young adult fiction, but the authors seem to have taken that directive as license to be subversive. It’s been true for a while now that the only thing “young adult” about most “young adult” science fiction, fantasy and horror is that the protagonist is not an adult. The stories just as entertaining for 50-year-olds as for 15-year-olds, and the themes are by no means limited to the worries of teens. This issue makes it clear why so many genre readers pay no attention to the labels slapped on books these days, but browse around the entire bookstore for the best stuff. But it’s more than that: many of the stories in this issue are exceptional.

“Queen of Atlantis” by Read More

SFM: Link, Hand, Marr, Kingfisher, Brennan

Short Fiction Monday: Here are a few of the short stories we read this week, all of which are free to read online.



“The Summer People” by Kelly Link (February 2015, free online at Wall Street Journal, also included in her anthology Get in Trouble)

“The Summer People” is the first story in Kelly Link’s new story collection Get in Trouble. Fran is a teenager living in a rural part of the American southeast. Her mother is gone, and she is neglected by her moonshiner father. While Fran is running a fever of 102 with the flu, her father informs her that he has to go “get right with God.” On his way ... Read More

Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology

Readers’ average rating:

Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology  edited by James Patrick Kelly & John Kessel

Is there really any difference between post-modernism, interstitial fiction, slipstream and New Weird? Does anyone know? James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel try to outline the boundaries of slipstream with their anthology, Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology, particularly by including a learned introduction and excerpts from a discussion that took place on the subject on a blog a few years ago. Ultimately, like so many things literary, from science fiction to erotica, it comes down to this: slipstream is what I’m pointing to when I say “slipstream.” Yes, ... Read More

The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 2007

Readers’ average rating:

The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2007

In many ways, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2007 anthology is a difficult book to review. For one thing, to me and a lot of my reading/writing circle, this is easily the definitive bible when it comes to short stories of the genre. For another, many of the stories that are included in this collection have been featured in other anthologies as well, so there's an overlap in terms of stories featured. But I'll try and talk about what makes this anthology unique from other similar anthologies.

The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror is quite comprehensive about its subject matter, not just featuring short stories but poems and articles. The first dozen pages are articles summarizing the important events that happened in the two genres including the obituaries of the previous year. That’s really qui... Read More

The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales

Readers’ average rating:

The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales is another thematic fantasy anthology by the trio of Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, and Charles Vess. Coyote Road features twenty-six pieces of fiction and poetry. Each story is preceded by art by Vess and ends with a short bio and afterword from the author. In the Introduction, Windling gives us an extensive account of trickster tales around the world. The last few pages of the book consist of a Recommended Reading list of titles that tackle that subject as well.

Perhaps the best description I have for the stories here is that they're sophisticated and well-written. They're not easy reading and some have a slow pace, but they tend to leave a resonating emotion by the time you're d... Read More

The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 2008

Readers’ average rating:

The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2008

For me, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2008 has been a two-headed beast. On one hand, it's an eagerly anticipated book by people involved in the industry, usually for the summation at the front of the book and the honorable mentions list at the back. The various editors are quite thorough and detailed when it comes to this part. The other aspect is, of course, the story/poetry selection, which is what will likely attract the casual reader.

So, how does it actually fare? Well, with regards to the first aspect, there are no disappointments. When covering the highlights of the previous year (and alas, the obituaries) and the various media (comics, movies, and music) in which either fantasy or horror plays a part, the book has it covered. The writing is functional and achieves what it sets out to do.

With re... Read More

The Living Dead: Zombies aren’t the point

Readers’ average rating:

The Living Dead edited by John Joseph Adams

I never knew there were so many ways to tell a zombie story. I pretty much thought that the George Romero version was it — dead people wandering around holding their arms out in front of them and calling out “braaaaaaains,” looking to munch on the living. I never did know why they had to hold their arms that way, but they all did — I thought.

John Joseph Adams has chosen his material wisely in The Living Dead, a collection of short stories about zombies by some of the biggest and best names in the horror business, as well as the newest and hottest. I resisted this book for a long time because I’ve never been fond of zombies, but upon diving in, I discovered that the zombies aren’t really the point; the point is to tell a good story. And these authors do that, with a vengeance.

... Read More

Troll’s Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales

Readers’ average rating:

Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Fairy tales were my first love when I was a child. My mother introduced me to the joys of stories with The Golden Book of Fairy Tales long before I learned how to read. My early reading included the first three volumes of The Junior Classics and Andrew Lang’s colorful fairy tale books. When Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling started editing anthologies of new takes on the old tales for adults with Snow White, Blood Red, I was delighted. And when Datlow and Windling started editing a series of original fiction for young adults... Read More

Sympathy for the Devil: A collection of bedtime stories

Readers’ average rating:

Sympathy for the Devil edited by Tim Pratt

Please allow me to introduce Sympathy for the Devil, a fine new anthology filled entirely with short stories about the devil... who is, as we all know, a man of style and taste. However, you won’t just find the smooth-talking stealer of souls here. In addition to that famous version of His Grand Infernal Majesty, you’ll also find funny devils, monstrous devils, abstract devils and strangely realistic ones. Devils scary and not-so-scary, devils who are after children’s souls and others going after old men. Devils with a surprising amount of business acumen, and devils who try to get what they want, no matter the cost. There’s even one who engages in a competitive eating contest — the prize is, of course, someone’s soul.

Sympathy for the Devil, edited by Tim Pratt, of... Read More

Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories

Readers’ average rating:

Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories by Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant (eds.)

Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories is a new young adult collection edited by veteran anthologists Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant. Featuring twelve conventional short stories and two graphic entries, Steampunk! showcases a wide variety of ideas and styles that fall under the steampunk umbrella. The collection is entertaining and is lent extra freshness by the variety of settings explored by the authors: none of the stories are set in Victorian London.

The book begins with “Some Fortunate Future Day” by Cassandra Clare. This is a creepy little story about a rather warped young girl who ... Read More

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories

Readers’ average rating:

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

I haven’t actually read every page of The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, yet I’m giving it my highest recommendation. Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Master and Mistress of Weird, The Weird is 1126 pages long and should really be considered a textbook of weird fiction. It contains 110 carefully chosen stories spanning more than 100 years of weird fiction. Here’s what you can expect to find in this massive volume:

A “Forweird” by Michael Moorcock gives us a brief history of the weird tale, discusses how it has defied publishers’ attempts to categorize it into neatly-bordered genres, and gives examples of writers who are revered by modern reade... Read More

The 2012 Novelette Nominees for the Shirley Jackson Award

Readers’ average rating:

This week Terry looks at the four novelettes nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award, which will be presented at Readercon. This year Readercon will take place July 12 through 15, in Burlington, Massachusetts.

“Omphalos” by Livia Llewellyn, is the first nomination for this writer whose first book, The Engines of Desire: Tales of Love & Other Horrors is also nominated in the single-author collection category (“Omphalos” appears in the collection). It is about a horrifically dysfunctional family in which every family member seems to be having sex with every other f... Read More

Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury: Four great stories make it easy to recommend

Readers’ average rating:

Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury edited by Sam Weller & Mort Castle

Thanks to our recent book chats here, I’ve reread a bit of Ray Bradbury lately, so I was well primed to pick up the 2012 tribute anthology edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle, entitled Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury, which collects 26 contemporary authors who were asked to write a story inspired or informed by Bradbury. The task was sufficiently non-restrictive that the stories run a gamut of style and type: horror, fantasy, dystopia, science fiction, as well as several with no fantastical element whatsoever, which may surprise those who know Bradbury only through classic novels like Fahrenheit 451 or Something Wicked T... Read More

Monstrous Affections: Chock full of horror and hormones

Readers’ average rating:

Monstrous Affections by Kelly Link & Gavin Grant 

Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales, a new anthology by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant, was an interesting and surprising read. Interesting because, duh, anything the duo behind Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet puts together has to be great. And surprising because nothing on the cover prepared me for its YA-focus.

And let’s talk about the cover for a second, because it is incredible. Red thistles explode out of line-drawn stems. Blood drips from the maw of a fully-colored toothy black beast as it crouches over a prone, line-drawn man... his prey, we assume. Out of the beast’s back arise feathered wings, again line-drawn. I love the contrast between beast and angel implicit in the ce... Read More

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy: “Best” sets the bar high and these stories clear it

Readers’ average rating:

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016 edited by Karen Joy Fowler & John Joseph Adams

Karen Joy Fowler is the guest editor of the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016. This is the second book in the annual series, which John Joseph Adams conceived of, and he still plays a large role in the selection process.

It is worth reading both Adams’ and Fowler’s introductions. Fowler’s is brilliant because she talks about the world, fiction, fantasy and language. Adam’s is instructive. He walks us through the selection process. This is where I discovered that the title, “best of science fiction and fantasy” is quite literal. It’s not “science fiction/fantasy” or “science fantasy” or “science fiction or fantasy.” The book c... Read More

International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, Part Three

Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Lunch on Friday included a presentation by the scholar guest of honor, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen. His talk was entitled “Undead,” and was a meditation on the meaning of that word -- or, in other words, on zombies. Undead does not, Cohen noted, mean that the undead thing is alive; it is a restless state from which monsters arise. What is behind the shift in our literature from ghosts to zombies? Zombies pose no challenge to our minds, as ghosts do, but just want to eat our brains, the physical repositories of our minds. We don’t love zombies the way we might love some ghosts, but think of them as only bodies, things, a collective, a form. If horror is made for mapping what we fe... Read More