Sunday, July 20, 2014

Short Story Summer: Update One

Apologies for the brief absence. We had something like fourteen 80 degree plus days in a row (that's hot for Seattle since we don't have air conditioning so whatever temperature it is outside is what temperature it is inside) and I didn't feel much like having a hot laptop anywhere near me! Now that it has cooled back down and a bit of rain is headed our way, I feel like doing a bit of catch-up blogging.

I am making progress on my short story summer, having read two anthologies so far --

Queen Victoria's Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling is a collection of stories set in Victorian or near-Victorian times and exploring various forms of magic. There were a bunch of well-known authors with stories in here -- Jane Yolen, Gregory Maguire, Catherynne M. Valente, Caroline Stevermer and more. Of the eighteen stories, I really enjoyed about a third of them. Two of my favorites were "Smithfield" by James P. Blaylock (ghostly photography!) and "Phosphorus" by Veronica Schanoes (historical fiction with a bit of voodoo). And the very best story, in my opinion, was "The Vital Importance of the Superficial" by Ellen Kushner and Caroline Stevermer, written as a series of letters between two young people falling in love and dealing with really fun magic. Overall, I found this collection to be hit or miss but it has inspired me to look for the novels of a few of these authors.

I've read a couple of Mike Ashley's Mammoth anthologies and really enjoyed them. He's quite talented at collecting a cohesive set of stories, some of them quite obscure. This one was The Mammoth Book of Roaring Twenties Whodunnits and I thought ten of the twenty three stories were great fun. The others dealt with boxers and mobsters, things I'm really not interested in. I was hoping for more Bright Young Things but that's okay. It was fun to immerse myself in another time and to meet all sorts of crazy characters, even the ones I found distasteful. I've jotted down a couple of authors to investigate in the future and I look forward to my next Mammoth book.

I've been reading some novels recently but I'm going to give a couple more anthologies a go before the end of the summer.



  1. It's always a great feeling when you get a bookish goal accomplished!

    1. ... and when you clear books off of your TBR shelves. ;)

  2. Queen Victoria's Book of Spells sounds fun (even if it was hit or miss). I might pick it up and read at least a few of the stories.

    I was totally rolling my eyes at your eighty degree days -- I was going to say "I'll see your eighty degree days and raise you TWENTY DEGREES" -- but then you said the thing about air-conditioning. You're totally right, that is the worst. I sympathize enormously. I grumble about the hot Louisiana days, but I have central air conditioning, so...not that bad actually.

    1. The good stories are definitely worth it.
      And we make good use of stores and restaurants and any other place that offers a bit of free a/c. :)