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I love short stories, and I love anthologies, and I love the fantasy genre. And, boy howdy! did I ever hit the jackpot on this one! 200,000 words of wonderful, marvelous stories.
Now, mind, these are all reprints, some are classics, and all have been, I'm sure, reviewed individually more than once, so I'm going to try to review the whole book. A bit like drinking from the proverbial fire hydrant, I fear.
The stories contained herein go from very short to a couple of novelette or novellas. They range from laugh-out-loud funny (I'll never tell her dad where the unicorns went), to thoughtful, and sometimes even a bit horrific. I've read some of them before, but when I found The Moon Is Green by Fritz Leiber, I felt like I'd found an old friend who's phone number had been lost years ago. I remembered the story, and by the end of the first two sentences I was once again lost in his post-apocalyptic world. I remembered the story, almost as he wrote it, but had forgotten the title and the author's name. For years the images of the gardens he described have haunted me--in a nice sort of way.
Many of your favorite fantasy authors are in this book from Alma Alexander to Robert F. Young. There are almost as many nebulas (nebuli?) between the covers of this book than there are in the universe.
Normally, when I read a collection like this there is a certain number, say ten percent, of the stories that don't work for me, for whatever reason. Not so in this case. The whole book gels, the stories are all marvelous, and though they may not 'fit' their neighbors with straight seams, they go together as a whole into a bright and beautiful quilt of exquisite velvets and brocades embellished with gold thread. This is a book you will enjoy having in your library, to open and read straight through as I did, and later to open at random for a delightful surprise visit from an old friend.
I was furnished a copy of this book in trade for an honest review.
Reviewed in the United States on September 13, 2014
The 34 stories and novellas in this collection reflect the incredible range of vision fantasy writers have exercised over the past century. The cover is misleading, as unicorns are in short supply in these pages, but you will find ghosts, vampires, time travelers, demons, knights, genetic experiments, a woman pirate, Conan the Barbarian, and even Prince Charles. Like the previous reviewer, I didn't find any stories that didn't work for me. Each one grabbed and maintained my interest throughout.
This is a great collection that includes stories by H.P. Lovecraft, Philip K. Dick, Fritz Leiber, and Frederik Pohl. Original publication dates range from 1910 to 2013. Only 6 of the stories are by women authors, who have historically been underrepresented in this genre. I was interested to see that only one of the selected stories by a woman was originally published before 1990. I suspect the editors could have done a better job selecting women writers from a longer span of time. That's my only quibble with the book.
These stories contain horror, humor, science fiction, and brilliant and unexpected twists and turns. I unreservedly recommend this collection: it is an amazing value at this price!
99 cents for about 25 books. A real bargain for anyone interested in reading old science fiction novels. Great fun to see how they thought it would be like in the 21st century and beyond. A bargain at many times the price!