Sunday, June 15, 2008

In Lands That Never Were Tales of Swords and Sorcery From the Magazine Of Fantasy and Science Fiction - Gordon Van Gelder

Very impressive. An anthology that averages over 4.00, and for me, a fantasy selection at that is a great find. Even more so given the editor has selected stories from one source, although a profilic one, being the magazine in the title. He also is focusing on more recent stories, as in nineties and noughties, too, which is very cool.

The editor says "I'm looking to bring you a collection of terrific stories united by their common goal of telling a rousing good story set in a land that never was."

The criticisms would be structural here, which is fairly minor. The end of the book has a lot less 'rousing' than the start, so a bit better ordering, particularly splitting the Howard and Leiber may have made more sense. Anyone familiar with Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint novel will know the sort of thing they will get here, a non-fantastic fantasy if you like, with the second world furniture that could easily be somewhere in Europe a few hundred years ago.

He also contradicts himself with the last story, by having a meta tale actually set in what is supposed to be in the real world, not a land that never was. Almost as though a case of I really like this writer, but he doesn't write anything remotely fitting (compared to say, Charles Coleman Finlay, who could probably talk about swordsmen and sorcerers for hours in the pub, I'd imagine), so I will whack this piece in. I'd guess Ford's story is the one that is likely to annoy people the most, and he doesn't really carry it off with the aplomb of a Terry Pratchett to make it more palatable, even though I still liked it.

People that find very wearying, not to mention annoying stories with writers writing about writers whingeing about writers whingeing about writing sort of stuff can skip the last story.

Overall, however, what you will find here is an outstanding anthology containing only good to very good stories of fantasy of a general considerably more popular kind of thing that a lot of people will mean when they talk about that sort of book.

In Lands That Never Were : 01 The Hall of the Dead - Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp
In Lands That Never Were : 02 A Hedge Against Alchemy - John Morressy
In Lands That Never Were : 03 Ill Met in Lankhmar [short story] - Fritz Leiber
In Lands That Never Were : 04 Counting the Shapes - Yoon Ha Lee
In Lands That Never Were : 05 Firebird [short story] - R. Garcia y Robertson
In Lands That Never Were : 06 Dragon's Gate - Pat Murphy
In Lands That Never Were : 07 After the Gaud Chrysalis - Charles Coleman Finlay
In Lands That Never Were : 08 The Swordsman Whose Name Was Not Death - Ellen Kushner
In Lands That Never Were : 09 The Island in the Lake - Phyllis Eisenstein
In Lands That Never Were : 10 Darkrose and Diamond - Ursula K. Le Guin
In Lands That Never Were : 11 King Rainjoy's Tears - Chris Willrich
In Lands That Never Were : 12 The Fantasy Writer's Assistant - Jeffrey Ford

De Camp completed this from an outline of Howard's that was found. Conan has left Shadrizar to look for the treasure of Larsha, and a squad of soldiers, out to arrest him for other larceny are on his trail.

He deals with most of them, but the leader, Nestor is not dead and follows him into the city, meeting him in the treasure room after he deals with a giant slug.

They leave, quickly, when mummified warriors come to life and the building starts collapsing. Their loot is not too stable, and not enjoyed for long.

3 out of 5

How about gold into lead, you barbarians?

4 out of 5

Twosome's Thieves Guild tormenting leads to tragedy and travel.

4.5 out of 5

Maternal mathemagic champion.

4.5 out of 5

Witchiepoo's cat cunning and troll-bear stops knight's losing streak.

4 out of 5

Icy bloody demand for mum needs dragon empathy transformation.

4 out of 5

A sorcerer wanting to make a deal with an immortal monster has a Vertir, Kuikin and cousin disadvantage to deal with.

4 out of 5

Boy disguised as a girl disguised as a boy's sharp lesson.

4.5 out of 5

Minstrel ghost's poison protection.

4 out of 5

I'll be screwing, you wizard, and the rock and roll lifestyle is enough magic for me.

4 out of 5

Salting and Misting and Scalding will make you more than cry.

4 out of 5

Metawriting not heroic.

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

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