Turtledove. Harry. We Install and Other Stories.

NY: Open Road, 2015.

Harry’s early fantasy novels and alternate history short fiction, published in the mid-1980s, weren’t bad. His first full-blown alt-history novel, Guns of the South, was also pretty good. But shortly thereafter, he began cranking out novels as fast as he could type and their quality degraded badly. Of the sixty or so mostly fat books he’s published in the past twenty-five years, many are frankly unreadable, at least to me – but I keep checking back on his work, just in case.

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Armentrout, Jennifer L & Dhonielle Clayton. Meet Cute.

NY: Houghton Mifflin, 2018.

This is an anthology of fourteen YA short stories on the theme of how young couples meet and embark on relationships. (The terrible title was probably the bright idea of someone in marketing. Just ignore it.)

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Atwood, Margaret. Moral Disorder and Other Stories.

NY: Random House, 2006.

To my mind, Margaret Atwood is one of the very best living writers in English and has been for some time. Her novels are never less than first-rate, and so too are most of her short stories. Not that many people are equally good at both. This volume actually falls somewhere between the two forms. The stories were written and originally published separately, and over a period of years, but they all are episodes from the life of Nell, a Canadian woman now (apparently) in her seventies, as she looks back and remembers her life.

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Published in: on 16 April 2018 at 4:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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Greenberg, Martin H. (ed). The End of the World: Stories of the Apocalypse.

NY: Skyhorse Publishing, 2010.

Greenberg has been enormously prolific over the years as an anthologist of short-form science fiction and fantasy, and he can usually be depended upon for a thematic collection that will hold your interest. The theme here is just what it says: The many ways in which the world — or at least human civilization — might end, whether with a bang or a whimper, and what comes after. Always assuming there is an “after.”

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Strahan, Jonathan (ed). Edge of Infinity.

Oxford, UK: Solaris, 2012.

Only to experienced science fiction readers who are used to thinking in terms of galaxy-spanning distances would our own planetary system seem “local,” but that’s the theme of this anthology of original short pieces by an array of authors both well-known and not so much. In his introduction, Strahan makes the point that SF has long been obsessed with its own death as a genre, but this is because science fiction is constantly being “killed by science.”

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Adams, John Joseph. Federations.

np: CreateSpace, 2016.

Multi-author science fiction anthologies are always a toss-up when it comes to quality. Some editors, like Gardner Dozois, nearly always turn out a superior product, but in most cases you get a few good stories surrounded by considerable dross. That’s certainly the case here, though the twenty-three stories included tend unfortunately more toward the dross side of the ledger. Moreover, the title is somewhat misleading.

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Published in: on 7 December 2017 at 2:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Tomine, Adrian. Killing and Dying.

NY: Drawn & Quarterly, 2015.

I’ve become quite a fan of Tomine, one of the best graphic novelists around, although what he produces are actually graphic short stories. Graphic fiction has to be successful both literarily and visually — otherwise there’s no point — and while Tomine’s art is first-rate, his storytelling skills are even better. His stories are entirely realistic, exploring the lives of the people next door. The quality of the writing is such that I don’t doubt he could leave out the drawing altogether and sell most of the six in this volume to New Yorker. What I especially like is that he doesn’t just tell you everything. You have to look and listen and fill in those often subtle gaps for yourself.

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Card, Orson Scott (ed.). Masterpieces: The Best Science Fiction of the Century.

NY: Ace Books, 2001.

“Best of” anthologies by multiple authors are a good way to catch up on above-average stories you might have missed the first time around, or to revisit those you haven’t seen in some time. But while there’s some superior writing among the twenty-seven short pieces in this volume, “best of the century” considerably overstates the case.

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Published in: on 20 June 2017 at 4:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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Abercrombie, Joe. Sharp Ends: Stories from the World of the First Law.

NY: Little, Brown, 2016.

I’m a great fan of Abercrombie’s adult-level novels — six so far, the original trilogy plus three more set in the same bloody-minded world. (He’s done a YA trilogy, too, but that’s a rather different sort of story.) If you’ve read those books, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy these thirteen shorter pieces. But if you’re new to Joe’s work, these really won’t mean much to you.

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Rankin, Ian. The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories.

NY: Little Brown, 2015.

Rankin has published (so far) twenty-two novels featuring Detective Inspector John Rebus of Edinburgh, and they’ve mostly been quite good. But the author has also produced some thirty short stories about Rebus, most of them published originally in magazines and newspapers, often in the Christmas issue.

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