The New Voices of Fantasy
San Francisco. Tachyon. 2017. 336 pages.
The New Voices of Fantasy, edited by Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman, promises the reader exposure to the next generation of fantasy writers. These eighteen stories and one novella feature writers already known for being strong new voices of fantasy, like Sofia Samatar, and others, like Brooke Bolander, who’ve only published a handful of stories. Each is a shining example of the genre, featuring gorgeous sentences, images that stick in the mind, and heartbreaking loss. Readers of both fantasy and literary fabulism will appreciate this anthology.
These new voices deal just as easily with contemporary times, worlds similar to our own, modern sensibilities, and futuristic details like space suits and real estate guides as with the folktale roots of fantasy. Technology, capitalism, and fantasy can comfortably coexist. One of my favorites, “The Husband Stitch,” by Carmen Maria Machado, harks back to the gender horror of old fairy tales while set in contemporary times. “The Pauper and the Eucalyptus Jinn,” by Usman T. Malik, the most stellar work in the anthology, follows an immigrant’s return home to Pakistan to investigate a mystery of family lore, uncovering a secret guarded by a jinn. In “A Kiss with Teeth,” by Max Gladstone, Vlad the Impaler gets a suburban dad update.
Any anthology, especially one trying to predict the future, is bound to fail. There are always deserving authors left out, like Sabrina Vourvoulias and Seth Dickinson, authors who’ve written excellent and leading books of the genre, to name just a few, and writers on the literary side who might also come to define the future of fantasy. As the boundaries of fantasy have shifted and blurred, many of the stories included here could easily be included in an anthology of fabulism or magical realism.
As a predictive text for who will write the blockbuster fantasies of the next decade, only time will tell. As a survey of the field of what new fantasy looks like now, this collection shows an excellent range of emerging writers, sure to be complemented by anthologies like The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy.
University of Central Florida