Today I finished the anthology Oceans of Magic. It’s from DAW, which inspired me to take a look at my many anthologies. I knew all the Fantastic anthologies came from DAW, but surprisingly, so did most of my others – not including collections of a single author or the Valdemar anthologies. Oh sure, I have anthologies from Ace and Tor and Firebird, plus even less well-known publishers, but DAW is the big one. It seems, from what I have on my shelves, that DAW is the publisher who is giving the most competition to the Year’s Best collections.
By the way, I tend not to read the Year’s Best collections. I read through a few of them back in highschool and, to be honest, I wasn’t that impressed. Oh sure, there’d be one here and one there I liked, and even some I remember to this day, but nothing spectacular to make those books worth owning.
I thought Oceans of Magic might end up in that group. I started it yesterday and, frankly, I wasn’t thrilled. The book is divided into three sections: Voyages in History, Magical Maritime, and Deities and the Deep Blue Sea. Whoever came up with this layout should be shot. The first section, Voyages in History, are all exceedingly weak stories that are more strongly based on real world events. The best stories are in the second and third sections, but I would not at all say that there’s a lot of great stuff here. I am keeping the book chiefly for “The Colossus of Mahrass” by Mel Odom, which is long enough to be a novella, encompassing almost a third of the book.
The editors, frankly, should’ve placed that story last, and structured the rest as is normal for an anthology: a strong start, interweave strong and weak in the middle, and a strong end. Admittedly, “Ocean’s Eleven” by Mike Resnick and Tom Gerencer isn’t a terrible story to end on. It’s just utterly ridiculous in a way no other tale in the whole book is, which creates a weird contrast as an ending note. This is the first book I have with Brian M. Thomsen’s name on it, and I wonder if I should blame him for the failure to catch my interest until halfway through the book. As for his partner-in-crime Martin H. Greenberg, he worked on Fate Fantastic, so I have to narrow my eyes and ask how this got published.
I understand the idea of grouping related stories together, but because this is already a themed anthology, I think that this segmentation weakened a book that wasn’t particularly strong to begin with. I truly wasn’t going to keep it at all until I found myself utterly engrossed in Odom’s story. There are a few others that are decent, but only the one that really swayed me.
I bought the anthology because it is an anthology with an intriguing title and had a few authors whose names I recognized; Tanya Huff, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Fiona Patton, Rosemary Edgehill, and Mike Resnick. And, what a surprise, these are the stronger stories in the book. I guess it’s just a disappointment that in what is supposed to be a curated set of stories, there’s a lot of mediocrity.
In other news, I went to a library book sale today! Yes, my new library district had it and of course I had to go. I only found one book, but a small pile of CDs. However, I found information which is the best part of all: my library has a book sale four times a year. This is just the second one! I think next time I might choose the pay the nonmember fee to go on Friday night, since my new book and CDs cost me a whole $7. $5 isn’t much to pay for getting in when there’s a better selection. The array was fairly decent even first thing Saturday morning, it just didn’t have a lot of what I was looking for. I am trying to be better about not pidgeonholing myself, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to pick up everything in the sci-fi/fantasy/horror/occult section. I have standards, and I try to choose things that will be worth my time. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t, but I will continue to try.
On a semi-related note, when I went to several bookstores last weekend, I also stopped in a comic book shop! They had the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers 2017 Annual and I finally got around to reading it today. I have to say, it is far superior to last year’s. I enjoyed all five stories, and had no issues with any of the art. I’m not even certain I could pick a favorite, nor do I really want to. The one that fills in backstory this time features Finster, Rita’s monster maker…but there’s also one where Scorpina takes a day off that is highly amusing. All in all, I’m quite pleased with this comic book and look forward to the next issue of the regular series.
As for what’s next, I have a library book due on Thursday, and two other people have placed holds in the meantime. So I should probably take care of that before it’s due.