This deep and vibrant genre-spanning collection of 30 stories pulled from the brief but much-lauded run of Subterranean magazine (2005–2014) contains something for almost every reader, with a particular focus on the creepy and the bittersweet. Catherynne M. Valente’s outstanding “White Lines on a Green Field” brings trickster god Coyote to a high school football team, capturing the collective frenzy of the road to the high school football championship and the melancholy when reality returns in the wake of his departure. Hal Duncan’s “Sic Him, Hellhound! Kill! Kill!” is the intense, brazen account of an endearing werewolf who, in order to please and protect his beloved boy handler, tracks down a genuinely unsettling kind of vampire. Tim Pratt’s thoroughly charming “Troublesolving” introduces a man being persecuted by agents from the future and the time-machine-wielding woman who wants to help him. K.J. Parker’s “A Small Price to Play for Birdsong” is the first-person account of a Salieri-like musician and his brilliant, condemned pupil; it’s a compelling exploration of the nature and obligations of genius. Genre fans, and fans of short fiction, won’t want to miss this anthology. (Aug.)
From 2005 until 2014, Subterranean magazine published a wealth of sf and fantasy short fiction, written by some of the best-known writers in the genres. This collection of 30 stories highlights some of the most imaginative prose released during the publication's run. In Alastair Reynolds's "The Last Log of the Lachrimosa," the search for a missing captain brings a new discovery to light. Kelley Armstrong highlights her mysterious town of Cainsville in "The Screams of Dragons." A mother confronts her teenage daughter's new vampire boyfriend in Karen Joy Fowler's "Younger Women." Learn about a museum devoted to the dying's final exhale in Joe Hill's "Last Breath." This anthology brings a range of what may be lesser-known short works from great authors back to the world. VERDICT Readers who were fans of the magazine or who enjoy short speculative fiction will dive right into this hefty tome.—KC
Vampires and wizards and aliens, oh my! A splendid gathering, from the late lamented magazine, of modern science fiction and fantasy.Like the best of the 1950s pulps, Subterranean magazine did not cavil much about genre distinctions: if a sci-fi story strayed into horror or swords and sorcery, that was fine, so long as the story in question was good. So it is with Daniel Abrahams' "Balfour and Meriwether in the Vampire of Kabul," which comes close to straight-out horror mixed up with witchery, and with a djinn thrown in for good measure, and done in Flashman-esque Victorian prose: "Britain is the heart of the world, but thankfully she is also an island. This wizard must not be permitted to escape, whatever it costs us in trade." Huzzah! Horrific, too, in the best sense is Joe Hill's haunting vision of a fellow who roams about adding to a collection of airtight, hermetically sealed glass jars with a very odd freight: "Each one contains someone's dying breath." Robert Silverberg and George R.R. Martin add their breath to the fantasy front, while the always excellent Ted Chiang pitches in with a brilliant, matter-of-fact yarn about the development of an AI engine that aims to take a significant place in our lives: "Whetstone is positioning Remem as more than a handy virtual assistant: they want it to take the place of your natural memory." If machines are doing your remembering for you, what do we need you for? As for memory, Rachel Swirsky offers this passing thought in the face of an impending asteroid strike: "By the time the cataclysm strikes, more words have been forgotten over the course of human history than remain known." Her story would do Asimov proud. There are many other highlights in this stout collection, many of which touch on the nature of storytelling and human nature itself, always a concern of classic sci-fi. Fans of every stripe of speculative fiction will want this on their shelves.
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