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 whose name he can’t remember. This story has... Read More
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.
Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link
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 stories from ... Read More
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, there are a few defining features. It’s fantas... Read More
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 quite valuable from an archiving standpoint, an... Read More
The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
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 done with them. This is probably one of the more "literary" anthol... Read More
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 regard to the stories and poems, this is a wel... Read More
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.
My favorite story is “Almost the Last St... Read More
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 based on fairy tales, I couldn’t resist t... Read More
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, offers up 35 very diverse short stories (and o... Read More
Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories by Kelly Link and 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 desires love but knows very little about it. Th... Read More
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 readers but whose weird fiction caused them to be... Read More
Magic for Beginners — (2005) Publisher: Magic for Beginners is Kelly Link’s eagerly anticipated and critically acclaimed follow-up to her beloved debut, Stranger Things Happen. “Cumulatively weirder and wiser” (The Believer), this new story collection riffs on zombies, marriage, witches, superheroes, haunted convenience stores, and weekly apocalyptic poker parties, among other things. Link’s work is truly unique. Time Out New York called her stories “cross-genre gems,” and her admirers in the literary community — from Peter Straub and Karen Joy Fowler to Alice Sebold and Michael Chabon — reflect the amazing range that makes her style so special. Call it kitchen sink magical realism: Fantastic and bizarre but funny and down to earth, there is something for everyone in Magic for Beginners.
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 Sarah Rees Brennan is one o... Read More
Remember, it’s not the stories that are horrible — but they will certainly give you a case of the horrors if they do their job right. 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 fa... Read More