M. Shayne Bell's "Anomalous Structures of My Dreams" is set in his hometown of Salt Lake City. The narrator, stuck in a hospital bed, discovers that there is danger of infection from his roommate, and a far greater danger as well - to the fabric of life itself.
In "Vandoise and the Bone Monster," Alex Irvine employs a unique narrative device to explore the ways in which stories survive over time, to show his concern for the land Out West, and to tell a bone-chilling tale.
Set on the Gulf on Mexico, Albert E. Cowdrey's "Grey Star" unleashes a hurricane of horror.
"Old Virginia" by Laird Barron takes place during a domestic CIA operation gone bad, and suggests a new hypothesis about the lost Roanoke Colony of 1588, and, indeed, a new theory of evil.
Ursula K. Le Guin's cautionary tale of sociological ecology, "The Seasons of the Ansarac," is from her forthcoming collection, Changing Planes, and deals with a complex and beautiful alien culture.
And finally, Sheila Finch's new story, "Reach," focuses on a brilliant dancer, and on how difficult it can be to stand out in one's chosen field.
I found this collection was about 50% good quality stories, and 50% not so great ones. I really enjoyed listening to M. Shayne Bell's "Anomalous Structures of My Dreams", Albert E. Cowdrey's "Grey Star", and "Vandoise and the Bone Monster". The first being a genius burst of imagination, great for anyone who enjoys medical thrillers and doomsday scenarios. "Grey Star" was very slow to get to the point throughout the whole thing, but has a terrific plot twist at the end. As for "Vandoise and the Bone Monster," I thought this story was just silly when I first heard it but has stuck in my head ever since. The way it is told is magnificent, and it is definately a very unique story.
"Old Virginia" was just too long and drawn out, with a pretty predictable and boring story line. The other 2 were ok, but could have been better, in my opinion.
In all, this particular collection from F&SF magazine will appeal to fans of historical fantasy, especially those interested in old civilizations, the old west, or just the past in general, as that seems to be a runnning theme through most of these stories. So I give this one 50/50 as far as the stories go.
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