Feast of Fantasy

I’ve been on an epic fantasy read over the last month. Not just epic in content, but epic in size!

First up a collection of short fiction by Kelly Link. Miss Link is at the head of a number of new (at least to me) fantasy writers who are melding fantasy / horror writing with a pop culture sensibility. Think Carrie meets Generation-X and you are half way there. Links writing is towards the gentler end of the spectrum but all the more arresting for this. Its deeply emotional storytelling that I was very effected by although I couldn’t say exactly why. Its just excellent and its difficult to say more than that. I’ll work my way through the whole collection over the next few weeks (I don’t like reading collections in one go. Its like eating everything on the dessert trolley in one sitting).

The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror happens to feature Kelly link as one of its editors, although I was stumbling towards purchasing it as part of my reading reserach anyhow. I’m slowly picking my way through the contents but as yet although i’ve enjoyed the stories, none have really grabbed me by the throat and screamed for space in my crowded consciousness. It’s doing much better than the The Mammoth Book of best New Science Fiction however. Gardner Dozois’ annual collection is supposed to mark the Gold Standard for contemporary SF, which might be part of the reson why I’m quickly losing interest in SF relative to Fantasy. I’m sure there are things in there worth digging out, but its a challenge to persist in the face of almost universaly opaque prose that permeates SF writing at the moment. Its very difficult to care about stories that fail to come off the page and enter the imagination, however good the ideas at their hear may or may not be. More fiction AND more science please SF people.

The Etched City by K.J.Bishop is a first novel that comes covered in quotes saying basicaly ‘Not Bad for First Novel’. A few people seem to be holding it up as the latest incarnation of the New Weird. I’m curious to find out why but as yet it is illuding me. I’ll persist however as its certainly intriguing.

Its going to have to wait until I’ve tackled Priestess of the White by Trudi Canavan. Canavan has probably sold more copies of her snappily written sword and sorcery adventures than the whole of the New Weird put together. And to be frank the fact that they are fun, enjoyable and very focused on telling the human stories of their lead characters is reason enough for that. A few chapters in and enjoying it lots.

Oh and don’t get me started on what I pulled out of the works bargain bucket over the weekend. So many books, so little time…  

Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.


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