Monday, February 18, 2008

Book Review: The Solaris Book of New Fantasy edited by George Mann

Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free book reviews.

I was honestly skeptical about this anthology when I first saw it but a friend convinced me otherwise. The Solaris Book of New Fantasy (again, I wish anthologies would state the year in their cover because "new" isn't so new ten years from now) contains 16 new, original stories from a diverse set of authors. Perhaps what makes it notable from other anthologies is the type of stories it features: This book finds itself in between mainstream traditional fantasy and literary fantasy, containing some stories belonging to the former as well as stories that can be classified as the latter. As long as you know what you're getting into, you'll do fine. My one complaint about the book is that there are some stories included that while they do have an ending, read more like teasers for sequel stories or novels. James Maxey's "Tornado of Sparks" and Juliet E. McKenna's "The Wizard's Coming" are examples as they feel more like trailers to the actual movie (I want more!). There are stories however that stand well on their own even if it's apparent that they belong to a larger series, such as T.A. Pratt's "Grander than the Sea" and Mike Resnick's "Shell Game". A couple stand out from the rest--and my personal favorites--including Christopher Barzak's "In Between Dreams", Scott Thomas's "Lt. Privet's Love Song" and Lucius Shepard's "Chinandega". Overall the anthology ain't bad as there are various treasures in this collection. It's not the first anthology I'd grab on the shelf but some of the stories included do make it a worthwhile purchase.

Rating: 3/5.

Rating System:

1 - There are better ways to spend your time.
2 - Ho hum books, usually typical of its genre. Probably only recommendable to die-hard fans.
3 - A cut above the rest, usually with one or more elements that sets it apart from the norm.
4 - Highly recommended and is easily a pioneer of the genre.
5 - A classic or it will be.

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