There are a number of DAW anthologies that are “[insert term here] Fantastic” and based on what I’ve read, they’re generally good. So when I saw Fate Fantastic on a bookstore shelf, I had to pick it up. Running through the authors, I saw quite a number of names I recognized, including Julie E. Czerneda, Mike Resnick, Sarah A. Hoyt, Alan Dean Foster, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Irene Radford, Kate Paulk, and Dave Freer. So, that covers about half the stories already.
Admittedly, I was actually pretty excited. I didn’t think I’d read any short fiction by Dave Freer before (this was incorrect, I have a short story he coauthored with Eric Flint in Bedlam’s Edge) and I hadn’t really read any from Irene Radford yet. Oh sure, I have a short set in her Merlin’s Descendants universe, but that’s still a part of a series, not a standalone short story.
After reading Fate Fantastic, I have mixed feelings. There are some stories that are quite impressive. Usually by authors whose names I recognized, by some magic of coincidence. There were several stories that were simply disappointing and others which were mediocre. So, I guess we can theorize that good authors are invited to contribute to more anthologies, and are more likely to have published novels or be able to do so. It seems a reasonable assumption.
There are enough good stories to more than justify keeping this particular collection. And I really should look into more by Dave Freer. I recognized his name because he is one of the three authors responsible for the Heirs of Alexandria series (along with Eric Flint and Mercedes Lackey) and the only one to write a solo book in that world to date. For some reason, that particular volume is much less likely to turn up on shelves, and I have a friend who is in desperate need of it, and unwilling to risk my ire by damaging one of my paperbacks. (Trust me, I am far more protective of my paperbacks than my hardcovers. But I do lend both out on occasion.)
One surprise is that, despite the connotations of the word “fate”, a number of these stories are science fiction. Several additional tales blur the lines between fantasy and sci-fi, but there are stories which are purely the latter. There’s not a thing wrong with this, it simply defied expectations in a good way.
As I’ve noted before, it’s hard to talk about short stories without spoiling them, and on this note, I kind of wish I hadn’t read all of the introduction. A few of the story premises would have been better if I hadn’t had a preview of what was to come. But I have only myself to blame in that case. But how can you put it in front of me and not expect me to read it?
I think my next selection will be a novel. As nice as short stories are, I have read a number of anthologies fairly recently and need something a bit more extended. There are a number of choices in The Pile, of course. (There are also more anthologies, oh dear.) I’ll be doing a lot of rereading in the next two months, as there will be a number of new releases in existing series, so I am inclined to read something new before I get lost in rereads. And we’re talking a lot of rereading…David Weber’s got a new Safehold novel out on Election Day and I want to be ready for it. If you are unfamiliar with Safehold or think I’m exaggerating, just scroll up. Volumes 2-8 are shown in that cover photo (the first book is paperback). I’d say more, but we will be getting to them soon enough.