The Best of Elizabeth Hand • 2021 • Mixed Genre Collection by Elizabeth Hand

★★★☆☆

I always like to pick up a collection by Subterranean Press, because they often abduct me from my usual reading habits and introduce me to authors I haven’t experienced before. Elizabeth Hand is well-known, has won a large number of awards for her works – Tiptree, World Fantasy, Mythopoeic, Nebula, IHG, and Shirley Jackson. And yet, I didn’t come across her works.

This collection demonstrates the author’s literary variability by giving us works in subgenres of Magical realism, Dark Fantasy, Horror, Apocalyptic fiction, Weird fiction, and also plain literary fiction. She tends towards the creepy side, but often the stories are just plain beautifully narrated with only a hint of magic in it. 

Not all the stories were to my taste, some of them I just didn’t get at all, and clearly broke my comfort zone in a bad way. If you favor highbrowed darker fiction, then you’ll be fine, and there are really a couple of great gems to discover. My favorite was the last, long novella “Illyria”, and the first two stories. 

If you want more, please follow the links to the detailed reviews. 

Contents:

  1. 9 • ★★★★☆ • Last Summer at Mars Hill • 1998 • Magical realism novella • review
  2. 63 • ★★★★☆ • Pavane for a Prince of the Air • 2002 • Literary fiction novelette • review
  3. 95 • ★★☆☆☆ • The Bacchae • 1991 • Horror SF short story • review
  4. 113 • ★★★☆☆ • Cleopatra Brimstone • 2001 • Dark Fantasy novella • review
  5. 171 • ★★☆☆☆ • Ghost Light • 2018 • Crime flash fiction • A roadie’s helper has her revenge on a traveling solo musician. Interesting in the scope of this collection, because flash fiction and crime story. Beside of that nothing to write home about.
  6. 175 • ★★★☆☆ • The Have-Nots • 1992 • Magical realism short story • review
  7. 193 • ★★★★☆ • The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerphon • 2010 • Magical realism novella • review
  8. 249 • ★★★☆☆ • Eat the Wyrm • 2017 • Literary flash fiction • On Greenland, a pair travels for three days just to taste a special shot of Tequila in a famous bar. Strong visuals with complete open ended plot.
  9. 255 • ★☆☆☆☆ • Fire • 2017 • Apocalyptic fiction • a man together with a handful foreigners seeks shelter from a megafire in a bunker. It’s his turn to bring up a story. He’s constantly interrupted and reacts to that, nether getting forward with his narration. As short as it is, I never was able to connect to the narration, and DNFed it.
  10. 265 • ★★★☆☆ • The Lost Domain—Three Story Variations: Echo, The Saffron Gatherers, and Kronia  • 2005-2006 • Apocalyptic fiction short stories • review
  11. 299 • ★★★★☆ • Near Zennor • 2011 • Weird fiction novella • review
  12. 359 • ★★☆☆☆ • The Owl Count • 2020 • Weird short story • two people in a post-apocalyptic setting discover something unidentified monster while counting the population of owls. Ineffective, unsatisfying turn to horror.
  13. 383 • ★★★☆☆ • The Least Trumps • 2002 • Magical realism novella • review
  14. 443 • ★★★★★• Illyria • 2007 • Magical realism novella • review
  15. 549 story notes

Meta: isfdb, published at 28.02.2021 by Subterranean Press.

This entry was posted in Anthology, Fantasy and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The Best of Elizabeth Hand • 2021 • Mixed Genre Collection by Elizabeth Hand

  1. That Fire story would annoy the heck out of me, the way you describe it. I’ve never read anything by this writer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Andreas says:

    Usually, I write a review post for each story. But sometimes, I just don’t bring up the Motivation for more than a few sentences. These are over-represented in the anthology, because the great stories don’t get that special treatment 😁
    I just hope that you look into those great stories!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ola G says:

    I considered requesting it but didn’t. My recent luck with NG (or lack thereof) would probably see me foaming at the mouth upon reading some of the stories 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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