You’d think I’d be bored of anthologies by now. We all know that anthologies are close to a tenth of my collection and, as I have over a thousand books, that’s up near 100 anthologies. It’s true that not every short story can be great and, unfortunately, I do find a number which are mediocre or worse.
But I’m starting to think there’s a reason why DAW’s series of anthologies is …Fantastic. Because, to be honest, they are. The stories don’t even dip down to mediocre in today’s Castle Fantastic and I find myself still musing on some of them even now; the sign of a good read. This is the second of the three books I found at the flea market, and the last of those I’ll be reading for now. The third is a sequel and I don’t yet have the first book, so I’ll be sitting on that until I manage to track it down.
Castle Fantastic is edited by John DeChancie and Martin H. Greenberg, two men I know nothing about. But my glee in the flea market grew beyond finding another of these anthologies when I saw some of the names inside. People such as Jane Yolen, Nancy Springer, Mike Resnick, and Charles de Lint. And let’s not forget Roger Zelazny. Now, I’ve not read a lot of Zelazny’s work and I haven’t read Amber (I know, add it to the pile along with Foundation and many others), but I couldn’t help being touched by reading the last-written Amber story, “Hall of Mirrors.” The editor’s introduction explains how he’d spoken to Zelazny about this particular story on the phone, and that was their last conversation, for the renowned author died a mere eight days later. As for the story itself, I know that most of it slipped over my head, but it was still an enjoyable read. Perhaps I’ll get around to actually reading the Chronicles of Amber one day.
I’ll call out S.N. Dyer’s “Knight Squadron” as one of the stories that I found particularly intriguing, as well as Jane Yolen’s incredbly short “Castle Collapse.” “The Garrison” by Lawrence Watt-Evans was another fascinting glimpse and “Death Swatch” was pretty hilarious. Actually, I might go on and on until I’ve named all sixteen stories if I don’t stop here. Suffice to say, I think the term “fantastic” is wholly warranted by this array of authors.
I do want to give special recognition to “Brigbuffoon” by David Bischoff, for utilizing platonic love over romantic for the climax of his story. I’m always happy to see moments where authors choose not to go for the “easy” Forced Romantic Interest.
Today’s an airport day, so you can guess what that means as far as reading goes. It’s also an anthology day, because I had a number of those in my bag. The other book I finished today was Eyes of Amber, a collection of short fiction by Joan D. Vinge. This is the first time I’ve read anything from her outside The Snow Queen and its sequels, so I really didn’t know what to expect.
I found her work to be much more cerebral than the other stories I’ve read lately, but that didn’t stop the tales from gripping me just as strongly as anything else. In fact, I wasn’t really comparing the stories to others while I was reading them, just when I paused to reflect on them afterwards. I do appreciate her commentary on each of the stories, especially since it’s after each one, meaning you already know any spoilers and she’s free to talk about whatever she chooses.
Eyes of Amber was sitting in my Pile for several weeks, and was picked up from one of the used bookstores in Chicago. Since I landed at O’Hare today, let’s review my reading from my trip! I took eleven books with me, and bought four more in Florida. Of those fifteen books, three are untouched as of this writing – two of those acquired before Florida, one during. That last is the one mentioned earlier, a sequel to a book I don’t (yet) have. So I’ve completed eleven books, including one relatively short picture book. I think that’s a decent number for how busy I was some of those days. For the curious, my Pile is currently down to eleven. That really seems to be the number today for some reason.
Maybe I can get it down a bit more before my holiday vacation is over.