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Book review: The New Voices of Fantasy

If you consider fantasy writing as a form of magic, this anthology cements Beagle and Weisman's reputations as witch-finder generals. The scope and power of the talent they expose within is quite terrifying, and for all the right reasons.

Taking the broadest possible definition of the genre, one that includes horror, science fiction, magical realism, and surrealism, they present 19 short stories that take the reader as far from its sword and sorcery conventions as possible. That might not be to everyone's taste, and there may even be a few who consider cheated by the total absence of sword fights and duelling wizards. Fantasy conservatives may also be troubled by an emphasis on issues of identity, multiculturalism and alternative sexuality so heavy that white heterosexuals become rarer than vampires and faeries. Personally, I found that refreshing, though some may accuse the selection of tokenism.

In the end, all anthologies are a product of their times, and this one is no exception, but looking beyond that, the quality of the writing and the ideas presented is unbelievably high. You're never going to love every story in a collection this wide-ranging, but I defy anyone to not find at least one gem inside that makes this box of treasures worthwhile.

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