REVIEW: THE VERY BEST OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION – VOLUME TWO / EDITOR: GORDON VAN GELDER / PUBLISHER: TACHYON / RELEASE DATE: JULY 15TH
With more than six decades worth of amazing stories, it’s no wonder there needed to be a 'Volume Two' of Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine’s The Very Best of. Bringing together stories dating from the 1950s up to 2011, this collection encompasses everything from the golden age of sci-fi to modern urban fantasies, with everyone from Heinlein to Elizabeth Hand making an appearance. But this isn’t just a roll call of famous names – this really is a collection of some of the best sci-fi and fantasy short stories out there.
Harlan Ellison’s ‘Jeffty is Five’, about a boy who remains five years old while his friend Donald continues to grow up, captures the feeling of this collection superbly. Jeffty is able to remain permanently in a world of 1940s radio shows and comic books, never feeling that sense of loss when progress makes things you once loved unrecognisable. Stories that you may have read and re-read over the years give that sense of comforting nostalgia, but also we know as readers that themes and trends will change. The modern authors in this collection seem ever aware of the legacy of those before them, and it is fascinating to find ideas reappearing and evolving, yet managing not to lose their appeal.
For long-time SF&F readers there may be nothing you haven’t read before here, but this is still a collection worth owning – feeling reassured that your copy of Kit Reed’s ‘The Attack of the Giant Baby’ is within easy reach at all times is totally legitimate. We wouldn’t want Leonard to get hungry, would we?
Pretty much every subgenre is in here: cyberpunk, time travel, space opera, urban fantasy, horror, humour, just bloody weird, and more. Creative writers looking for a crash course in what makes a good story would find a lot to work with here, and newcomers to sci-fi will have a feast.
Basically, it’s great and it’s fun; so buy it, read it, and enjoying geeking out to your hearts content.