Monday, February 28, 2011

GoodReads Review: Sisters In Fantasy

Sisters in FantasySisters in Fantasy by Martin H. Greenberg

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This collection of stories features the work of female authors from a female worldview - not limited to female narrators - sharing stories they felt they needed to write. It's an interesting concept, and perhaps even mildly successful as a thought experiment, but as a whole, it fails, with individual stories coming off uneven, oblique and puzzling, often with marginalized conflict.

Maybe it was the sense from the introduction that the stories should be Important (all irony intended), and the fact that the editor felt the need to discuss the merits of each story. Now, I admit I'm biased in that this style of introduction is a huge pet peeve of mine. Either the story lives up to its description, thereby thwacking the reader over the head with it twice (once in the intro, once in the reading), or the story doesn't live up to its description, which comes off feeling like the editor is trying to force you to read it "right." So ... by this point, I may have been slightly inclined to be overcritical of the thematic content of the stories.

There were some good moments throughout the anthology, concepts I liked or characters that entertained, but (with the exception of the final offering) no single story was without significant flaw in clarity, pace or other areas. My second favorite story was Lisa Goldstein's "A Game of Cards," with an intriguing invented country in our real world, and even that seemed as if it rushed into the ending. In most stories, it was hard to figure out what was going on or they ended abruptly.

I read a lot of anthologies, and for me, the flow of an anthology is important - how it carries from one story to the next. Sisters In Fantasy was poor in this respect, as well, with the contemporary / real-world stories clumped together in the middle. I would have said the opening story was a poor introduction, but I wasn't really that impressed by almost all of them.

For me, the standout of this anthology is Katherine Kerr's "The Bargain," a lyrical story vaguely reminiscent of the Mabinogion. (Yes, yes, I know - high-falutin' invocation of mythology here. But that really is what it made me think of!) The rest, I'm afraid I could take or leave ... and that's a shame, because I like and admire many of these authors. To the question posed in the introduction, "Do we need another book like this?" my answer must be a slightly regretful, "No."

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