Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Unicorn Anthology

The Unicorn Anthology is a collection of 16 pieces of short fiction by some literal titans of speculative fiction. Every single story in this collection is top-shelf, there are no weak stories.  All of these have been published previously and date from 1975-2017. Many of the older stories are quite difficult to find and several were new to me in any form.

Due out 19th April 2019 from Tachyon, it's 288 pages and will be available in ebook and paperback formats.

One reason I prefer collections and anthologies is that short fiction is really challenging.  It's spare and the author doesn't have a wealth of wordage to develop characters or the plotting.  Well written short fiction is a delight. I also love collections because if one story doesn't really grab me, there's another story just a few pages away.  I can only recall a few times where I've read a collection (or anthology) straight through from cover to cover.  This one I did. I even re-read the stories which I had read before.

I won't precìs all the stories, and all are strong, but there are a few true standouts:

My Son Heydari and the Karkadann by Peter S. Beagle is a first person story in the form of an anecdote. Based in both folklore and Persian oral history, it's a twisty tale that kept me guessing completely to the end.  The nuance and flavor of the storytelling is amazing and I am utterly in awe of Mr. Beagle's command of the form.  Just a really superlative story.  This one was also included in The Overneath reviewed on this blog here

The Transfigured Hart by Jane Yolen. Part fable and part coming of age. This one is a modern story and in a way is all about perceptions and consensual reality (what things actually are depends on how we perceive them).  I adore Ms. Yolen's writing and this story is gentle and wistful and beautifully written.  I believe I have read this one years ago, but had forgotten about it for a long time.  Such a melancholy piece. 

Ghost Town by Jack C. Haldeman II.  A grifter gets a rare chance to change the path he's on.  I really loved this one even though it's more or less straightforward.  It's an upbeat and very well written story.

Just a really super collection of short stories. 

Five stars

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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