I’ve been reading (slowly) a collection called The Year’s Best Fantasy Stories: 9, edited by Arthur W. Saha. This was published in 1983 by Daw Books and I have to say that I’m disappointed with nearly every story in the anthology. In the first place, none of them seem to have much fantasy in them, at least not the kind I like to read. There’s a story about a guy who wakes up “in” the book Moby Dick (which won a Nebula, btw), a deal with the devil tale, and a tale about a modern guy who inherits a castle in Ireland and has to use voodoo to keep it.
That last story is “Square and Above Board,” by R. A. Lafferty and the editor introduces it with “…depend on the unique and puckish talent of R. A. Lafferty, himself of the Irish, to spin a tale that is anything but ominous.” That says it all, if you read “ominous” like I do to be “spirited,” “energetic,” “powerful.”
The problem with these stories has nothing to do with the writing, which is uniformly polished and professional. It has to do with subject matter. The writers here are, it seems to me, desperately striving for either literary merit or to provide a lighthearted distraction that doesn’t trouble anyone too much, that is for a feeling that is “anything but ominous.”
But I don’t read fantasy to avoid being “troubled.” I don’t read it simply for a light chuckle with my after dinner sherry. I read it for power, for emotion, for something damn well ominous.
In writing news, I’ve sold a zombie western tale to the Bits of the Dead anthology, and my silly fantasy tale, “Mirthgar,” was published in Strange Worlds of Lunacy, which is out now, in print, and also as a much cheaper download. I just got my contributor copies and haven’t had time to read the other tales yet. Looks pretty good, though. Another of my humorous fantasy stories has just been published in Flashing Swords: Special Edition Summer 2008, but I don’t think it’s available for general purchase yet. The story is “Worms in the Earth: Barbarian’s Bane.” I’ve posted about both these tales before so forgive me if this sounds redundant.
I’d also like to call everyone’s attention to Ello’s blog post on The Lolita Effect. This is an important work on how the media, and our entire culture, sexualizes girls at younger and younger ages. Ello will have the author, Dr. Gigi Durham, as a guest on her blog on Wednesday and she’ll be answering questions. Although I didn’t have a daughter, I see the kind of harm this pervasive influence is having on young women and I hope you’ll stop by for a moment to lend Ello and Dr. Durham your support.