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With a beanie on and a fire raging - Not if You Were the Last Short Story on Earth — LiveJournal
random_alex
lastshortstory
random_alex
With a beanie on and a fire raging
I'm really getting into anthologies recently.

Joanna Galbraith, "The Fish of Al-Kawthar's Fountain," Clockwork Phoenix 2. Singing and dancing fish? A pond that is the source of all rain? A lonely young man who tends said fountain? This is a gentle, sweet story and I really liked it.

Jonathan Strahan's Eclipse 3 is very different from the first two of his unthemed anthos, in the types of stories it includes. There's little 'hard' SF, and little that is 'classically' fantasy; I'm not sure how to categorise many of the stories - slipstream, perhaps? I'm not good at sub-genres. It's a strong anthology, overall; although not all of the stories appealed overwhelmingly to me personally, they're all well-written with generally strong characters and plots. My favourites included:
Karen Joy Fowler's "The Pelican Bar" - the first story and, until quite close to the end, I was unsure about why it had been included in a speculative fiction antho. That's not to say it's not exceptionally well written; it is - and Norah, the protagonist, is immensely readable. Not a pleasant story, but a powerful one.
Pat Cadigan's "Don't mention Madagascar" is a totally surreal story. Having just been on a plane from the UK to Australia, I can associate with the idea of plane travel being separated from reality, and Cadigan uses this concept to great effect in exploring life choices and consequences.
Peter S Beagle's "Sleight of Hand" is another story about life choices and consequences, more bittersweet than Cadigan's. The question of what you would be willing to do for those you love often provides interesting story ideas, and Beagle works it well.
The joy of Paul di Filippo's "Yes we have no bananas" is partly in the story, but also in the world di Filippo presents, which he reveals in tantalising hints and details on the way through. A world without bananas would indeed be horrific... Tug, the main character, isn't that appealing as a person - in fact none of them are - but the story is amusing.
Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple's "Mesopotamian Fire" is the shortest story by a long stretch. Written as one side of a conversation, it's whimsical and light-hearted - a bit of light relief - about the possible discovery of a dragon.
Molly Gloss, in "The Visited Man," contributes another somewhat whimsical story - this one tinged with nostalgia and loss. An old man, essentially waiting for death, is disturbed from his melancholy by an eccentric artist who insists on pushing him back into the world. Who's getting the better deal in their companionship, and who needs it more, is ambiguous; it's a beautifully written piece.
Perhaps the only story that I would classify as definitely SF, Caitlin R Kiernan's "Galapagos" is an eery story written by a woman in hospital, recovering - to whatever extent possible - from an utterly bizarre experience in space. Investigating the nature of love, and of life, and of perceptions of both of them, this is probably my favourite story of the entire anthology. The title is utterly appropriate, too.

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