True Review
Current Issue Number 79 Vol. 22 January 2012
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Urban Fantasy Anthology

URBAN FANTASY ANTHOLOGY:

THE URBAN FANTASY ANTHOLOGY, ed. by Peter S. Beagle and Joe R. Lansdale. Tachyon Publications (www.tachyonpublictions.com), 2011, 431 pp., $15.95. ISBN 978-1-61696-018-6

Call it what you want – “urban fantasy,” “contemporary fantasy,” or “mythic fiction” -- this anthology includes great contemporary fiction by a wide range of authors.

There are subsections to the book. Personal essays abound, including one exploring mythic fiction, with “Introduction: A Personal Journey Into Mythic Fiction” by the “urban fantasist” (don’t you hate this pigeonholing?) Charles de Lint, published for the first time. For those unfamiliar with the field, and those who want better footing (yours truly), de Lint’s comments are helpful.

A long time ago, I read what I considered to be Neil Gaiman’s best story, “The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories” from an anthology in 1996, DAVID COPPERFIELD’S BEYOND IMAGINATION (Avon Books). The story is the ultimate Hollywood scriptwriting nasty-but-true experience tale when a writer, a native of England, ventures into the morass called Hollywood to write a screenplay for his new horror novel, the “mythic-fiction” SONS OF MAN. The novel centers on Charles Manson and his illegitimate children – all turning 25, all with their own demonic minds, living in LA – and who knows what kind of horror that brings?

Instead, the author of SONS discovers his own horrors, beginning with the Hollywood experience itself (movie producers twist the novel into a screenplay that in no way resembles the original), and the petty, shallow, greedy, thoughtless industry that is often commercial film-making. Also, staying in a hotel, the protagonist encounters a groundskeeper who brings up starlets of the forgotten past of the 1920s, most long forgotten (except, of course, by the groundskeeper and his trusty scrapbook).

“The Goldfish Pool” is a delight on many levels – the angst of dealing with the shallowness of Hollywood with legends and eras so easily forgotten (the story centers on how easily we forget), and how readily dignity and nobility are eroded by the ephemera of fame and a materialistic, thoughtless society.

“On the Road to New Egypt” by Jeffrey Ford is a story that I know Joe R. Lansdale would love about a man’s encounter with a traveling Christ and the appearance of the Devil. Both entities encounter something even more diabolic than even the Devil could be responsible for – at least for the human car driver, anyway.

In the section on paranormal romance comes the essay, “Introduction: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Urban Fantasy.” Paula Guran gives a great overview of the origins of “urban fantasy” and how it still evolves.

In “Kitty’s Zombie New Year” by Carrie Vaughn, Kitty, a DJ, decides rather than being alone on New Year’s Eve, she’d rather travel to a party in Denver, Colorado. All’s going well until a woman, a zombie, shows up – seeking her lover-killer, trying to find rest, and, unfortunately, ruining a great party.

To the section on noir fantasy, we have “Introduction: We Are Not a Club, But We Sometimes Share a Room” by Joe R. Lansdale. Lansdale’s apparent original introduction to this book explains how pigeonholing a book and shelving it into a bookstore shelf category is only a recent phenomenon (which began with Stephen King’s horror novels). In the past, in many bookstores, there were no sections devoted to “SF,” “Horror,” “Fantasy,” or even “Literature” in bookstores. All of it was simply “fiction.” Lansdale makes a point – why not return to merely pointing to “fiction” as a sole classification?

“Gestella” by Susan Palwick is the tale of a woman who turns from wolf to human and the man who loves her and takes care of her through both phases – a story of compassion, devotion, and betrayal.

“On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks” by Joe R. Lansdale gives us the classic noir fantasy (noir horror?) tale of survival, with a bounty hunter on the prowl who encounters an enclave of zombies – religious ones, at that – set on not only converting him to zombiehood, but stealing his flesh and blood, all part of a plan to reverse the “zombie plague” that got the world into the mess it’s in.

“Father Dear” by Al Sarrantonio gives us a wealthy man who keeps his own son imprisoned – not just in the mansion, but teaches him only lies about his own life, his own purpose. An even more sinister truth (about the son’s own heritage) emerges.

Andrew Andrews

 

In This Issue

SUPERVOLCANO ERUPTION FLASHBACK Click on book cover for review. The Astounding, The Amazing, By Malmont FUTURE MEDIA

Urban Fantasy Blood and Other Cravings The Haunting of 20th Century America Ghosts by Gaslight A Pleasure to Burn

The Gift A Dublin Student Doctor   The Price of Civilization The Deception at Lyme

Next Time In True Review
Realms of Fantasy - Aug. 2011

REALMS OF FANTASY:

REALMS OF FANTASY, August 2011. Damnation Books (www.rofmag.com), $5.99.

There’s a great essay in here about “Women in Fantasy: The Images, the Artists” with illustrations of some of the best. The essay looks into the “urban fantasy babe” and her predecessor, the “woman warrior.” A sexist image? Some of the best illustrators are included, with Virginia Lee and Stephanie Pui-Mun Law.

Andrew M. Andrews
Realms of Fantasy - Oct. 2011

REALMS OF FANTASY:

REALMS OF FANTASY, October 2011. Damnation Books (www.rofmag.com), $5.99.

Another great illustrator interview with (and profusely illustrated by) Ruth Sanderson, conducted by Karen Haber. Check this out!

Andrew M. Andrews
Deed To Death - cover

SAINTS ASTRAY:

SAINTS ASTRAY, by Jacqueline Carey. Grand Central Publishing (www.HachetteBookGroup.com), 2011, 356 pp., $14.99. ISBN 978-0-446-57142-5

Loup and girlfriend Pilar escape from military custody to be high-priced bodyguards for a British rock band. But they can’t leave their past behind – including their chance to stay in Outpost 12, a Texas border town, and bring out those they have abandoned.

Andrew M. Andrews
No Rest for The Dead - cover

THE PENGUIN BOOK OF VICTORIAN WOMEN IN CRIME:

THE PENGUIN BOOK OF VICTORIAN WOMEN IN CRIME, ed. by Michael Sims. Penguin (us.penguingroup.com), 2011, 340 pp., $16.00. ISBN 978-0-14-310621-0

Michael Sims, editor of the PENGUIN BOOK OF GASLIGHT CRIME, brings together a wealth of authors to showcase the work of some great crime-fighters that could compete with Holmes and other classic sleuths.

Andrew M. Andrews
Promises To Keep - cover

MIRROR MAZE:

MIRROR MAZE, by Michaele Jordan. Pyr/Prometheus (www.pyrsf.com), 2011, 368 pp., $16.00. ISBN 978-1-61614-529-3

Jacob Aldridge is the victim of a curse, beginning with the death of his fiancée, encountering her doppelganger, all the while a demon stalks him, and draws others close to him into the dangers that await.

Andrew M. Andrews
Eyes to See

EYES TO SEE:

EYES TO SEE, by Joseph Nassise. Tor (www.tor-forge.com), 2011, 319 pp., $22.99. ISBN 978-0-7653-2718-5

The story of a classics professor who, desperate to find out why his young daughter disappears, performs an arcane ritual that robs him of his eyesight in order to “see that which is unseen.” His new powers allow him to do some great things for people but also send him up against a terrible force that could cost him his own life, as well as that of others.

Andrew M. Andrews
Thomas World

THOMAS WORLD:

THOMAS WORLD, by Richard Cox. Night Shade Books (www.nightshadebooks.com), 2011, 396 pp., $14.99. ISBN 978-1-59780-308-3

Almost Philip K. Dick-like, the protagonist in this book, Thomas, sees his life spinning out of control. He believes that his life has been scripted, perhaps by his own doppelganger-like soul, watching him . . . why?

Andrew M. Andrews

Next Time In True Review

THE MAGNIFICIENT MEDILLS, by Megan McKinney. HarperCollins (www.harpercollins.com), 2011, 456 pp., $27.99. ISBN 978-0-06-178223-7

NEWSPAPER TITAN: THE INFAMOUS LIFE AND MONUMENTAL TIMES OF CISSY PATTERSON, by Amanda Smith. Borzoi/Alfred A. Knopf (www.aaknopf.com),
2011, 716 pp., $37.50.

KAFKAESQUE, Stories Inspired by Franz Kafka, ed. by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly. Tachyon (www.tachyonpublications.com), 2011, 284 pp., $15.95.
ISBN 978-1-61696-049-0