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Sunspot Jungle
Edited by Bill Campbell

Reviewed by Galen Strickland
Posted November 21, 2019

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The subtitle for this two volume anthology is "The Ever Expanding Universe of Fantasy and Science Fiction." Editor Bill Campbell conceived them not only as an exploration of the vast diversity currently evident in SF, but also as a celebration of five years work with his small press, Rosarium Publishing. Each volume has fifty stories, from writers from around the globe, some of whom I was already familiar with, others not. I didn't search for info on everyone, and while not every country could be represented, I'd be surprised if it's not every continent. Well, not Antarctica. Volume One was available as an e-book last December, but the link is for the paperback coming out next month, December 10. Volume Two is already out in e-book, with the paperback due April 14, 2020. I have an ARC of that and will get to it in the new year. I encourage you to use the "Look Inside" feature at Amazon to see the Table of Contents, which shows a long list of well-known authors among new names. I'm not going into detail, just give my overall impression. I've rated this 5 stars on Goodreads, and while not every story warrants that, the ratio of excellence is high enough that the anthology as a whole definitely deserves it.

Original publication dates range from 2006-2017, from both print and online periodicals. Science fiction, fantasy, and horror are represented, along with a few that defy categorization. Almost every one merits re-reading, even those I had already read before this book. Some warrant that simply because they were a bit confusing, more like stream-of-consciousness dreams (or nightmares) rather than a coherent narrative. I read over a couple of weeks in between other books, not wanting to rush through it, or even move from one story to the next without contemplation and analysis. The best thing about stories from a diverse group of authors is new opinions and perspectives, not just the same Western European/American viewpoints and locations that have predominated publishing for years. It did mean I occasionally had to search for unknown terms, or locations, or histories/mythologies with which I was not familiar, but that is a positive. The more I can broaden my perspective, the easier it is to welcome new voices, to embrace new ideas and concepts.

The list of authors I had previously read include N. K. Jemisin, Malka Older, Sarah Pinsker, Saladin Ahmed, Angela Slatter, Amal El-Mohtar, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Victor LaValle, John Chu, Maurice Broaddus, Rose Lemberg, and Charlie Jane Anders. Others I've heard of but can't recall if I'd read yet; Jeffrey Ford, Christopher Brown, K. Tempest Bradford, Geoff Ryman, Jennifer Marie Brissett, Hal Duncan. I hesitate to list those I'd never heard of or read, simply because I wouldn't want to slight any of them. My personal rating preference is from 1-10. A 5 would be something not worth recommending, maybe not even finishing. A 6 would be for one that wasn't a waste of time, but also not that memorable. None of these would rate less than a 7, with a few up in the rarified air of a near perfect 10. Not everything can appeal to everyone, but there's enough here to satisfy almost any reader of SF. I applaud Bill Campbell's efforts to spread the wealth of diverse and imaginative story-telling. Highly recommended.

I'll update with thoughts on Volume Two in a few months.

 

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Editor
Bill Campbell

Published
Volume One:
Ebook Dec 3, 2018
Pb Dec 10, 2019

Volume Two:
Ebook Jun 4, 2019
Pb Apr 14, 2020

Amazon Links:
Volume One
Volume Two

Purchases through our links may earn us a commission.