Best British Fantasy 2013

Best British FantasyIt must take some guts to publish a book of short fiction.

The gnawing, ever-present fear that the stories won’t be received with the same excitement that made you pick them can never be far away. Your taste may not be bad as such, but it might not resonate with enough readers to make the book viable.

So, the pressure to put together the right stories for an annual ‘BEST OF’ collection must be tremendous. That being the case, I can only salute Steve ‘Hacker’ Haynes for his editing of Best British Fantasy 2013. The book is not what I expected it to be at all. There are no swords, no quests, no goblins or mages and yet there is fantasy aplenty.

In his introduction, Steve says:

“I am going to refer to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror under the single banner of fantasy. I know this will anger many who closely guard the perceived boundaries of these genres, but I believe these boundaries are illusory – that writers and readers flow across and around them, that they are marketing labels, and in short stories the walls are there to be broken down.”

Rather than sticking to the readily-recognised names in these genres, Steve Haynes has gone out of his way to mingle up-and-coming writers with those you might be more familiar with. It’s a brilliant blend – and the ratio of female to male authors represented here is refreshingly even.

Check out the awesome TOC:

Lips and Teeth – Jon Wallace

The Last Osama – Lavie Tidhar

Armageddon Fish Pie – Joseph D’Lacey

The Complex – E. J. Swift

God of the Gaps – Carole Johnstone

Corset Wings – Cheryl Moore

The Wheel of Fortune – Steph Swainston

The Island of Peter Pandora – Kim Lakin-Smith

Too Delicate for Human Form – Cate Gardner

Imogen – Sam Stone

In the Quiet and in the Dark – Alison Littlewood

The Scariest Place in the World – Mark Morris

Qiqirn – Simon Kurt Unsworth

The Third Person – Lisa Tuttle

Dermot – Simon Bestwick

Fearful Symmetry – Tyler Keevil

Pig Thing – Adam L. G. Nevill

I finished the book yesterday and the quality and blending of tales here is…ahem…fantastic. No, it really is. Seventeen brilliant, transporting speculative stories.

Well done to Mr. Haynes and the good people at SALT for creating such an eclectic and thoroughly entertaining collection. I was looking forward to the 2014 edition before I was even halfway through…

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