(This review was originally posted on themidwestener.net, where I write a monthly column called The Chief End.)
Intergalactic Medicine Show Awards Anthology, Vol. 1 Edited by Orson Scott Card and Edmund Schubert, 2012
Over the course of his 35 year career, Orson Scott Card has edited (or sometimes co-edited) twelve multi-author short story anthologies. I've read them all. Some were good, some not so much, but this one is by far the best.
I approached this collection cautiously. Over the last few years I've been burned on several anthologies. Neil Gaiman's Stories, while widely popular and well-reviewed, had a handful of good tales but most left me unimpressed or (worse) bored. Lawrence Block's Speaking of Lust was full of snoozers; it only had one story that really stayed with me--Ed Gorman's "The End of It All". Joe R Lansdale's trio of Western anthologies--Best of the West, New Frontiers, and Razorred Saddles--were all a waste of time.
This volume renewed my faith in the format. It collects the best stories as voted by readers from issues #8-20 of the online magazine, Intergalactic Medicine Show. (There was also an earlier anthology which collected stories from the first seven issues.)
"Trinity County, CA" by Peter Beagle: One of the better dragon stories I've ever read.
"The Ghost of a Girl Who Never Lived" by Keffy Kehrli: Explores the links between identity, memory, and personality, and then asks what happens when science gains the ability to blur those boundaries.
"Silent as Dust" by James Maxey: A ghost story that is much more about the living than the dead.
"A Heretic by Degrees" by Marie Brennen: A meditation on religion, sacrifice, and parallel universes.
"Beautiful Winter" by Eugie Foster: A haunting, mesmerizing fairy tale steeped in Russian lore.
"Blood and Water" by Alethea Kontis: A bloody, vengeful, harrowing retelling of A Little Mermaid.
Do yourself a favor and spend the $4.99 to buy this one on Kindle. You won't be disappointed.
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