“I can’t stop staring at the ugly thoughts, dropping from her lips like swollen beetles. They skitter over the tablecloth toward me, whispering obscenities at odds with Seo-yun’s gentle voice, hissing what they’d like to do with me.” From “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong
With The New Voices of Fantasy, Jacob Weisman and Peter S. Beagle have composed one of the strongest fantasy anthologies I have read in a long time, brimming with extraordinary tales that range from thought-provoking to spine-tingling.
What’s deceptive about this collection is that these voices, and for the most part, many of the stories included, are not new. In fact, several were originally published as far back as 2011, and only one, “My Time Among the Bridge Blowers” by Eugene Fischer, makes its first appearance in print. However, unless you are an avid connoisseur of science fiction, fantasy, or speculative fiction, it is possible you may not be familiar with some of these selections or the extraordinary authors who have created them. And you should be.
The book opens with Alyssa Wong’s jaw-droppingly powerful and seductive “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers,” (a warning to anyone still using Tindr to find a date), and ends with a mesmerizing reminder of the importance storytelling with Usman T. Malik’s “The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn”. The narrator, Salman Ali Zaidi, a struggling adjunct professor of comparative mythology reflects:
“There’s a funny thing about teaching myth and history: you realize in the deep of your bones that you’d be lucky to become a mote of dust, a speck on the bookshelf of human existence. The more tales you preserve, the more claims to immortality you can make.”
Just as Salman relates the stories of his grandfather, I have already begun retelling some of my favorites from this collection to my family and friends. From urban fairy tales like “The Tallest Doll in New York City” and “Tornado’s Siren” to the fanciful fable “The Duck”, metafictional horror like “The Husband Stitch” to humorous dragon-slaying antics in “Here Be Dragons,” these are stories that need to be read and shared.
This collection of intoxicating tales dazzles and delights. Sometimes sweet, sometimes seductive, but always satisfying.
Tachyon Publications has The New Voices of Fantasy set to be released on August 8, 2017. To pre-order a copy, click here: The New Voices of Fantasy