Long Hidden edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older. ★★★ 1/2
Long Hidden is a speculative fiction anthology focusing on the those marginalized by history – people of color, queer people, disabled people, women, ect. The stories are set in different periods and locals throughout Earth’s history, and all of them involve some fantastical element.
Long Hidden was of fairly average quality when it came to short story collections. There’s a number of stories I liked, a lot that left me cold, and a few that I struggled with. I doubt it will take long for me to forget the vast majority of the stories in Long Hidden. The one exception is my favorite story of the collection, Ken Liu’s “Knotting Grass, Holding Ring,” a dark tale of two women struggling to survive as their city is invaded. For all its brutality, “Knotting Grass, Holding Ring” also managed to create some beauty.
Love Beyond Body, Space and Time: An Indigenous LGBT Sci-Fi Anthology edited by Hope Nicholson. ★★★
If you can’t tell from the title, Love Beyond Body, Space and Time is a short story collection focused on LGBT and two-spirit science fiction and fantasy and written by all indigenous authors. I always have an eye out for queer SFF, and I also haven’t read much by Native American authors. I want to correct this flaw in my reading, and this anthology looked like it would introduce me to a number of relevant authors.
The only author in the anthology I’d heard of before was Daniel Heath Justice, although this was my first chance to read his work. As I’d hoped, I enjoyed several short stories in this collection and will seek out more of those author’s work.
Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling edited by Jaym Gates and Monica Valentinelli. ★★★
Upside Down is a collection of short stories intended to subvert common tropes in storytelling and essays discussing trope usage. The vast majority of the collection is short stories, and wow are there a lot of stories. Like in any collection, there were stories that impressed me and stories that didn’t. However, on the whole I found the collection to be on the weaker side.
Going into the collection, I wasn’t aware of most of the contributing authors. I picked it up mainly for Delilah S. Dawson, Alyssa Wong, and Nisi Shawl. I found Shawl’s story to be all right if not exceptional, but I did love both Wong and Dawson’s work. Alyssa Wong took on Yellow Peril in her short story “The White Dragon,” about a girl with the ability to see curses. I loved how magic was described here! Alyssa Wong never disappoints. Dawson twisted First Period Panic in her story “The First Blood of Poppy Dupree,” creating an intriguing mix of Southern Gothic and Greek mythology.
Dark Beyond the Stars edited by David Gatwood. ★★★1/2
Dark Beyond the Stars is an anthology of space opera short stories written by authors who were all new to me. The only one I’d heard of was Annie Bellet, who I believe writes urban fantasy. The collection came to my attention when there was some kerfuffle over the collection’s line up of all female authors, which some people were apparently upset about. However, sexist reviews tend to encourage me to read something more than dissuade me. Plus, look at that cover art by Julie Dillon! Isn’t it gorgeous?
While Dark Beyond the Stars was the mixed bag typical of anthologies, there were a number of stories I quite enjoyed.
I’ve been able to read some more SFF short fiction this holiday season. All of the short stories below are some form of speculative fiction and are available for free online.
Stories of the Raksura: Volume One by Martha Wells. ★★★★
I love the Raksura. I will happily read everything Martha Wells writes about them, and I’ve even considered donating to her patron to get story snippets about them every month. For those who are unaware, the Raksura are a species of shapeshifters created by Martha Wells. The world they inhabit is beautifully strange and doesn’t contain a human in sight. There’s an entire series of books following a young consort named Moon who was unaware he was a Raksura for most of his life until he found the Raksuran court of Indigo Cloud. The series starts with The Cloud Roads, and I highly recommend it.
Stories of the Raksura contains a couple of novellas and short stories all set in the world of the Raksura. I’m so glad I finally got a chance to read it!
Slipping: Stories, Essays & Other Writing by Lauren Beukes. ★★★
Lauren Beukes is a white South African journalist and fiction writer, who often uses speculative elements in her stories. Prior to reading Slipping, the only work of her’s I’d read was her novel Zoo City, which had an interesting enough concept that I was willing to try other works by her.
Slipping is a collection of shorts stories, flash fiction, and essays, although the fiction predominates. Most of the stories are set in South Africa, and many involve a science fiction element. Overall, the collection has a dark tone, and I’m not sure I can recall a truly happy story in the bunch.