Friday, June 17, 2016

Review: _My Favorite Fantasy Story_ edited by Martin H.Greenberg

There are many Fantasy short stories that are memorable and classics of the genre. Sometimes short stories are all readers have time for reading, but it is hard to find some of these older stories. _My Favorite Fantasy Story_ edited by Martin H. Greenberg is an anthology of such stories. They are favorite stories picked by Fantasy authors with an explanation at the beginning of each story. The stories vary from humorous to serious by many fine Fantasists.

“The Gnarly Man” by the late L. Sprague de Camp is an interesting story. It is a humorous story about an immortal Neanderthal. He goes through life avoiding trouble, so he has a lot of knowledge about the small things in history. The main character is well drawn and sympathetic. This is an entertaining Fantasy story.

Fantasy meets mystery in the Contemporary Fantasy story “Stealing God” by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald. The premise is that the Templar knights still exist in our modern day world along with magic. Peter Crossman the Templar knight is summoned to New York to find the missing Holy Grail. An intriguing story of action and mystery ensues. He must fight different factions for the Grail with the help of a warrior nun. Guns, magic and mystery blend well in this entertaining story.

Charles de Lint’s “Ghosts of Wind and Shadow” is another Contemporary Fantasy. It takes place in the fictional city of Newford where Fairy meets reality. Lesli is a teenage girl with the gift of seeing fairies. Her ˘mother doesn’t want her daughter to see such things. Mr. de Lint presents an entertaining story with his descriptive prose and wonderful characters.

There are two Dying Earth stories by classic fantasist Jack Vance. “Mazirian the Magician” is about an ambitious mage trying to steal secrets from another one. He pursues an unattainable woman through a dangerous landscape. “Liane the Wayfarer”  tells the story of Liane, a thief and braggart. He meets the witch Lith who he desires for himself. She sends him on a quest to retrieve her stolen tapestry. He meets an interesting fate for the witch. These stories have wonderful descriptions and quirky  characters. They leave memorable images in the readers mind.

Terry Pratchett’s “Troll Bridge” provides a Humorous Fantasy chosen by Michelle West. It is a satire about Cohen the Barbarian and his talking horse. In his old age, he wants to fight a troll before dying. They find an old, abandoned bridge where a stubborn troll and his family live. This is the tale o˛f what becomes of aging heroes told in Mr. Pratchett’s usual sly humor. Readers will laugh at this story.

Manly Wade Wellman is another Fantasy author of classic stories. He writes magical stories with a Southern flavor. His character of John the Balladeer appears in “The Spring.” In this tale we get the story of a witch trying to control a spring of healing water. John helps his friend Zeb protect the spring with his faith and silver stringed guitar. This is a quiet story that leaves a memorable touch on your mind.

_My Favorite Fantasy Story_ is an entertaining anthology of Fantasy stories edited by Martin H. Greenberg. It is full of good stories picked by Fantasy authors of today. Many of the stories are classics and range from humorous to serious. There are stories by Jack Vance, Barbara Kingsolver, M.R. James and many others. It is a worthwhile read.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Why I Read Fantasy

“I am a reader not because I don’t have a life but because I chose to have many.” (unknown) People love to read what speaks to them. This can be nonfiction, fiction or any other of a variety of media. They can be interested in a specific genre. I have been a reader all my life. I read plenty of different things, but the genre that resonates with me the strongest is fantasy.

My reading journey began as a child. My mother would read stories to me and I wanted to learn to read badly. Unlike other children who slept with stuffed animals I slept with books under my pillow. (LOL) Reading was important for me because I wanted to learn about animals, which I loved with obsession. I went through my horse phase reading any book about horses and stories about them. Later on I discovered science fiction while growing up with TV shows like “Star Trek” and “Lost in Space”. I devoured sf books for many years. Then in college, I discovered Lord of the Rings, fell in love and have read in the genre ever since.

I love the many subgenres available in in fantasy. Epic fantasy impresses me with  grand stories of battles to save a world. Arthurian fantasy has many different versions of telling a story that continues to resonate in today’s world. Mythic fantasy provides epiphanies and experience of the numinous aspects of life. Urban fantasy brings magic into the real world for some great, memorable stories of how life would be different for us.

It is hard to put into words why I enjoy fantasy so much. I’ve always had a vivid imagination and a strong sense of wonder. Suspending my disbelief for a book or story comes easy for me. As long as there are memorable characters, a gripping plot and wonder, I’m in tor the length of the story. Fantasy fills my emotional understanding of what it means to be human and the concept of the human heart. Other worlds with different cultures are fascinating. Some people say that fantasy is read to escape from reality, but I think that is a good thing because fantasy helps us see the world from different perspectives. To me, the real world could use a little more wonder. Bottom line for me is to experience awe.

Reading is important in my life. I’ve learned a lot from fantasy like tolerance and empathy for those who are different. It is hard to try to experience everything the world has to offer, but reading provides this:    “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,” said Jojen. “The man who never reads lives only one.” (A Dance with Dragons pg. 452 )That is why I read fantasy.