Fantastic stories

Another day another anthology to read. It’s a good way to find authors whose style you like. Though of course the story you happen to read today could be the only one they’ve ever written like that. This week OneMonkey’s trip to the library has resulted in Fantasy: The Best of the Year (2008) from Prime Books, which I’ve dipped into on the train, or when I’ve been desperately trying to block out the incessant noise of Sky News in the staff common room at lunchtime. Unpossible by Daryl Gregory is an interesting exploration of what happens when unfulfilled grown-ups try to recapture their youth; A Diorama of the Infernal Regions, or the Devil’s Ninth Question by Andy Duncan is a richly written first-person memoir beginning in Tennessee in 1895, where a young girl discovers her latent magic; The Cambist and Lord Iron by Daniel Abraham tells of the unlikely partnership between a stolid young man in the bureau de change and a debauched nobleman, in an enjoyably old-fashioned style; Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz Go To War Again by Garth Nix is the story of a knight for hire, longing to abandon his calling, kept in check by an ancient animated wooden puppet; Save Me Plz by David Barr Kirtley I almost abandoned as I wasn’t keen on the characters, but I’m glad I didn’t as I enjoyed the later twist – not a lot I can say except it stems from a student becoming obsessed with a fantasy role-play computer game. Overall the book could have been better – inconsistencies in titles (one version in the contents, and another on the first page of the story, or as the running header), and one story I could find absolutely no fantasy element in whatsoever (saving the usual fiction elements of made-up towns in real countries etc). Interesingly, two or three were very much in the style of ancient legends; they were well done but not my cup of tea. Back to the bookshelves now, time to pick my reading matter for the week ahead.

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