Title: A Year and a Day in Old Theradane
Author: Scott Lynch
With this short, I believe I have an early front runner for favorite in a book filled with fantasic short stories. The world catches your eye right off – from the technicolor rainfall, to a 1500 year old dragon whose different body parts serve as different functions such as an inn, a restaurant, a bar and a gambling hall. The characters are lively and likable and rogueish (during a card game one complains that there’s not enough cheating going on) and the caper they have to commit to resolve themselves is highly entertaining and cleverly literal. The way the city itself even runs is remarkably clever and intriguing and would make for a fantastic tale in its own right.
This is a world that I would return to in an absolute heart beat. Lynch has become one of the new giants in fantasy in recent years, and this short displays exactly why he’s earned that regard.
Title: Bad Brass
Author: Bradley Denton
After how much I enjoyed the last story, it was going to be almost impossible for the follow-up to be as entertaining, but still I’d hoped that at least I’d get close. Unfortunately, this one just didn’t do it for me. The premise – a down on his luck man moves back to a rural Texas town and gets his kicks/part of his living expenses by stealing money from those who themselves have stoen it – just didn’t work for me. The premise isn’t bad per say, but the combination of the premise and that the story largely revolves a quartet of high school thieves just didn’t work for me. Throw in the fact that the main character is a bit of a creeper obsessed about his ex and…yeah. Finally, this is supposed to be “comedic” but I didn’t find it funny at all. I suppose you can argue that the humor is in the fairly absurd set up, but on that level it failed almost entirely for me.
Title: Heavy Metal
Author: Cherie Priest
This is a step back in the right direction. This is the story of a man summoned to look into the death of a environmental studies grad student. From the get go we know that the killer isn’t human – and our hero has some kind of attunement to things that are not natural. I like this story. The story isn’t heavy handed, even in it’s environmental themes. The main character is interesting, a deeply religious man, yet one who is shunned because he tried to speak of the things he saw. The ending is fairly classic for the genre, but it works well and the ending leaves its own element of the unknown and a hint of mystery. It’s very much a classic story, but a classic story told well, making it a good and quick read.