Saturday, June 09, 2007



Terri Windling, Mark Alan Arnold, eds.

Date: 01 April, 1984   —   Book

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Fiction, Fantasy, Short Stories

Something tells me that modern fantasy writing has improved much with practice. Perhaps it is this utterly dull early collection of tales, tales told as close as possible to the style of folk tales, but with none of the verve that comes from oral retelling. In fact, one suspects that the style of the majority of these writers came not from the original fairy tales but of the Little Golden Book retellings of them, with flat prose and little dynamics.

There are even a few translations of tales from other cultures that suffer from the prosaic recounting of events, and one doesn't know whether to blame untranslateable sense of magic or translators who work from school lesson books. I slogged through this collection, unwilling to believe it could all be this unmagical— you'd think that fantasy would never be so prosaic.

Luckily, near the end I came across one gem of a story, "Ku Mei Li: A Chinese Ghost Tale" by M. Lucie Chin, a wonderful little story of post-mortem revenge (fully earned.) And some of the stories were not quite so bad, especially those by authors whose names we know now as established masters, such as C.J. Cherryh and Jane Yolen. But so many of these stories were a slog, a seeming attempt to create new fantasy while ignoring the best parts of the old.

Yes, fantasy tales have gotten much better with practice.

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