Edited by Bill Campbell
Reviewed by Galen Strickland
Posted November 21, 2019
Addendum on March 23, 2020
Volume One / Volume 2
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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.
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I received an e-ARC of Volume Two from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. The paperback will be out in three weeks, April 14, although the e-book was already available. My comments will be even briefer than for the preceding book. Real life situations have put a dent in my reading schedule so I'm behind on others and need to move on. I was wrong about the number of stories, thinking both had 50, but there are 53 here, along with an introduction by Daniel José Older. The diversity of talent continues, with a wide range of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, quite a few in translation. There are award winners, and award finalists, with at least one I personally nominated for a Hugo that did not make the final ballot. Many familiar names, others new to me at least. Nisi Shawl, P. Djčlí Clark, Indrapramit Das, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Carlos Hernandez, Ken Liu, Nalo Hopkinson, Max Gladstone, Brooke Bolander, Bogi Takács, Karen Lord, Tobias S. Buckell, and many more. New names worth mentioning and remembering include Emmi Itäranta, Dilman Dila, Carlos Yushimoto, Rahul Kanakia, Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, Walter Dinjos, Chinelo Onwualu, T. L. Huchu, and Subodhana Wijeyerantne. My rating for this volume matches the first, 5 stars, but again not every story warrants that high of a mark. There were even a few I didn't finish, but that doesn't mean they might not be another reader's favorite. Everyone's taste in fiction differs. All I can say is both of these books are highly recommended, examples of the enormous amount of talent working within the speculative genres today.
Several have similar themes, but there is no reason to assume any influenced the other. There are zombies, space-operas, end of the world, and post-apocalyptic stories. Ghosts and gods, tall tales, and detective stories. I will only highlight a few of my favorites. Rebecca Roanhorse's Hugo and Nebula winner "Welcome To Your Authentic Indian Experience™" deserves all its accolades, a poignant, sometimes humorous, but ultimately tragic look at the plight of indigenous people. Clark's "The Mouser of Peter the Great" is about house spirits, or at least spirits that inhabit a particular plot of land, and that is somewhat echoed in the Holmesian pastiche with supernatural elements of Itäranta's "The Bearer of the Bone Harp." Brooke Bolander's multiple award finalist "Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies" is well worth your time. The two I'd rate the highest are Wijeyerantne's "The Unvanished," and Elaine Cuyegkeng's “These Constellations Will Be Yours,” which is the one I nominated for a Hugo, but its only official nomination was for the BSFA. If it wasn't for the fact that so many tremendous novels are being published I would be reading more short stories, and these anthologies are but two examples of why. Highly recommended.
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