Impossible Things – Connie Willis

c0809e025b55007597767325367434f414f4141This book of short stories is a fun sampling of Willis’ work.

Some of my favorites are: “Even the Queen”, a great send up to women’s lib. Who knew talking about your period could be so funny? “Jack” was a great story about how WWII in London let some people rise above anything they might have accomplished if there had been no war, with an interesting twist. And “Winter’s Tale” was a purely historical fiction tale,with a very interesting take on a very old mystery.

This is only my second foray into Willis’ work – I definitely need to read more.

Changing the World – ed. Mercedes Lackey

836a4b0fd040d3d5930654a6177434f414f4141This is another Valdemar anthology opened up to other authors, and it’s another solid offering. Per usual, my favorite story is the Mercedes Lackey story, which in this case, is about the girl left behind when her sweetheart is Chosen to be a Herald. It’s a rather unexpected story, which I think is why I particularly liked it.

There are no stories that I couldn’t stand, though the last story, which is set in Kentucky, gave me serious pause. It’s at least well written, even if I can’t really decide if it really fits in with other companion stories or not. Well, Mercedes Lackey was evidently fine with it, so I guess I need to be too.

Tapping the Dream Tree – Charles de Lint

I’m often surprised how many de Lint books are out there that I still haven’t read.    The man is nothing short of prolific.    This is a book of short stories, with familiar characters, and characters that are just passing through or around Newford.

My favorite story in this book is “Seven Wild Sisters” about a seven girls living on a farm outside Newford.    Sarah Jane (one of the middle sisters) has befriended the old woman living on the neighboring farmstead.   Aunt Lillian sees fairies, and on one fateful day, Sarah Jane learns she can, too.    This is a peripheral Newford story, and a good one – a nice modern twist on a couple different fairy tales.     Absolutely sold this anthology for me.

Amphigorey Too and Amiphigorey Again – Edward Gorey

The main thing I’m taking away from this trio of books (see here for the other) is that Edward Gorey thought a lot about the alphabet.    There are so many variations of alphabet lists in these books.    He’s also morbid.     Which I already knew, but got extra confirmation reading these.

I appreciate that these were collected together because they’re probably harder to get otherwise, but I can see where some of these would have worked better as stand alone vignettes.    To a degree, his work should be digested in small pieces.

Amphigorey – Edward Gorey

This book is a collection of shorter works that Gorey had done over the years – if you like his work (which is slightly macabre, and definitely all kinds of wrong), it’s worth a read.

There are a couple different alphabet stories that are completely not meant for children, but are so much fun to read as if they are.    That pretty much sets the tone for the other works in the book.  The nice thing is they’re all rather short, so you could use this as a good intro to Gorey’s work.

Sugar and Other Stories- A. S. Byatt

You know, I really liked Possession, and several of Byatt’s fairy tale based short story books are wonderful.

I can’t even really tell you what these stories were about – they were so high literary I was just plowing through so I could get to the end.     I’m really not sure why I didn’t put this down.    Probably because I have read short stories collections of hers that I really loved, and I kept hoping one of these stories would be like those.     Shame that none were.

Stars of Darkover – ed. Deborah J. Ross and Elisabeth Waters

Is it bad that my overwhelming thought about this anthology is that I’m glad that there was no one story that was just so amateurish it completely threw me out of the world of the book?    Most of the older anthologies had at least one of those stories, and I don’t know if the quality in this one is a reflection of the fact that they’re screening more heavily, or that because this series has been in place for while, you’re only getting seasoned veterans that are really looking for it.    I suspect the latter is a big part of it, which is actually a shame, because the inclusion in that original fan world was a wonderful thing.

These stories span pretty much the whole history of Darkover – I particularly enjoyed the origin stories- there were two stories about the origins of some of the family gifts – in this case, the Alton and Ardais gifts.    I know MZM has passed on, and who knows if this in any way fit her original vision, but it’s so nice to read things that fill in those blanks.