Ahoy there me mateys! I received this short story collection eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .
the best of elizabeth bear (Elizabeth Bear)
Title: the best of elizabeth bear
Author: Elizabeth Bear
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Publication Date: Available now!! (hardcover)
The cover drew me in and three things convinced me to read this book:
- I love Elizabeth Bear! I have read at least eight of her novels;
- It is a Subterranean Press book and they do great work; and
- This collection has 27 stories and I have never read any of Bear’s short fiction.
Out of the 27 stories I loved 14 of them, 7 were just okay, and I didn’t like 6. I will say that ye get a lot of bang for yer buck. I will try to give ye an idea of the bare bones and thoughts on the stories:
“Covenant” – Damn. Get inside the head of a convicted and rehabilitated serial murderer and then manage to find compassion for them. I was mesmerized. This was awesome and worth the price of admission.
“She Still Loves the Dragon” – This was weird and I don’t think I liked it. It is the story of a female knight and a dragon and their love. I didn’t really get it.
“Tideline” – This was a fantastic story about a dying war machine and the boy she befriends on a beach. Sad and lovely.
“The Leavings of the Wolf” – This was an odd story about a woman whose wedding ring haunts her. She is both driven and reluctant to get rid of it. I didn’t love the ending of it but it was very engaging.
“Okay, Glory” – I loved this one. A rich recluse’s smart house is hacked for ransom. This is how he deals with it. Clever and compelling.
“Needles” – This vampire story was confusing. I didn’t understand this one either.
“This Chance Planet” – A street mutt in Moscow helps a woman confront her unhealthy situation that everyone else in her life knows about but won’t intrude on. I loved it and thought the ending was excellent.
“The Body of the Nation” – This was a murder mystery with an awesome setting and a fun main character. However, the solving of the mystery was cheating by not giving the reader sufficient clues. It also felt like a snippet of a larger novel and that ye were missing something.
“Boojum” – Living space ships rock! So do space pirates! I actually have read (and loved) this one before but didn’t realize it was co-written between Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear.
Side note: I also didn’t know that Sarah Monette and Katherine Addison are the same person!
“The Bone War” – I loved this story about a bone wizard who brings a dinosaur back to “life”.
“In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns” – Another awesome story with a murder mystery, cool world building, and a cat.
“Shoggoths in Bloom” – Well I didn’t know what a Shoggoth was. The First Mate had to explain it me. Loved this historical fantasy fiction set in between the great wars with a black naturalist scientist as the main character. Sad but correct ending.
“Skin in the Game” – A painfully good story about the price of being a rockstar.
“Hobnoblin Blues” – This one was also about a rockstar who happens to be Loki. I have to admit I kinda skimmed the beginning but I liked the ending a bit more. Mixed feelings.
“Form and Void” – A weird, cool story about space, an unhealthy friendship, and odd dragons. I liked it.
“Your Collar” – This story was about the minotaur and a queen. It was interesting but I didn’t completely understand the ending.
“Terroir” – I didn’t know what this French word meant but dang was it used well as the theme of this story that dealt with memory and ghosts. I thought the story was a bit too long but I enjoyed it.
“Dolly” – Murder-mystery robot story. Absolutely loved it.
“Love Among the Talus” – This was set in the same world as the Eternal Sky trilogy which I read and loved. Loved this story too.
“The Deeps of the Sky” – Ships sailing in the sky. First contact story told from the perspective of an alien meeting a human for the first time. Liked it.
“Two Dreams on Trains” – This was a heart wrenching story set in New Orleans in the distant future. It showcases a mother’s love and dreams for her son and her disappointment. Beautifully done.
“Faster Gun” – A western with Doc Holiday, a crashed spaceship in the desert, and magic. Fun.
“The Heart’s Filthy Lesson” – An adventurer on Venus is trying to discover a lost civilization while dealing with the conflicted feelings about her lover who happens to share a mind-link with her. I really loved this one.
“Perfect Gun” – A mercenary buys the perfect ship only that ship has her own ideas about her pilot’s actions.
“Sonny Liston Takes the Fall” – A weird story about Las Vegas and boxing with a bit of magic and horse racing thrown in. Well written but I didn’t like it.
“Orm the Beautiful” – A weird story about the last dragon and how he chose to end his life.
“Erase, Erase, Erase” – I liked the concepts in this one but the plot was kinda tedious.
I be very grateful to have a chance to read these stories. While I didn’t love every story, I do have a few new favourites of hers. Arrrr!
So lastly . . .
Thank you Subterranean Press!
Goodreads’ website has this to say about the book:
From the start of her career, Elizabeth Bear has been one of the most distinctive voices in modern speculative fiction. Her debut novel, Hammered, won the Locus Award for Best First Novel in 2005, the same year she received the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. In the years since, she has produced an impressive array of standalone novels (Undertow) and multi-volume series (The Eternal Sky Trilogy, The New Amsterdam Series), along with a steady stream of stories and novellas, the best of which are gathered in this generous, absolutely necessary volume.
The Best of Elizabeth Bear contains 27 stories and novellas, many never before collected, that encompass an astonishing range of themes, settings, ideas and emotions. The collection opens with “Covenant,” a tale of serial murder unlike any you have ever read, and closes with the extraordinary “Erase, Erase, Erase.” The latter is a surrealist tour de force in which the unnamed narrator, a former cult member, reflects on her life, her nebulous but guilty past, and her constantly diminishing sense of self. In between these bookends are more than two dozen carefully crafted tales that never fail to resonate beyond the final page.
“Tideline,” winner of both the Hugo and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards, tells the surprisingly moving story of Chalcedony, a former “war machine” determined to preserve the memories of her dead human companions. “Shoggoths in Bloom,” another Hugo winner, offers a fresh take on H.P. Lovecraft’s Mythos, setting the action in a pre-WWII II world marked by racism and virulent anti-Semitism. “Faster Gun” is a tale of the Old West in which Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo encounter an impossible alien artefact. The long novella “In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns” takes place in Bangalore, India fifty years from now and tells the story of a murder in which the victim’s body is literally turned inside out. In the affecting “Sonny Liston Takes a Fall,” we are brought to an entirely new understanding of one of the iconic moments of boxing history.
These are just a few of the complex pleasures contained in this singular collection. Each of the remaining stories is a fully realized gem. Each one offers something new and unexpected. Whether you choose to read this book from end to end, or to parcel the stories out in a more leisurely way, The Best of Elizabeth Bear will provide you with endless hours of provocative, deeply intelligent entertainment. This is imaginative fiction in its purest, most highly developed form. It doesn’t get better than this.
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Previous Log Entries for this Author
the stone in the skull – book 1 (On the Horizon – Fantasy eArc)
the red-stained wings – book 2 (Captain’s Log – Fantasy)
stone mad – book 2 (Captain’s Log – Fantasy Western)
range of ghosts- book 1 (Captain’s Log – Fantasy)
shattered pillars – Book 2 (Captain’s Log – Fantasy)
steles of the sky – Book 3 (Captain’s Log – Fantasy)
ancestral night – Book 1 (Captain’s Log – Sci-Fi)