Season of Wonder

Elizabeth Hand, Author, Paula Guran, Editor
Edited by Paula Guran. Prime (www.prime-books.com), $15.95 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-60701-359-4
Reviewed on: 10/22/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
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This satisfying reprint anthology of winter-holiday-themed SF and fantasy avoids syrupy sweetness, instead evoking an older, bittersweet tradition of the cycle of death and rebirth. James Patrick Kelly’s posthuman “The Best Christmas Ever” sets the sad-but-hopeful tone, while Connie Willis’s Twilight Zone–like “Newsletter” sends readers out on a comical high note. The manipulation of time appears frequently, as in Harlan Ellison’s time-traveling Hannukah story “Go Toward the Light,” the out-of-time miracle in Sarban’s “A Christmas Story,” and Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s romantic, paradoxical “Loop.” Particular standouts include M. Rickert’s dark suburban fantasy “The Christmas Witch,” where a young girl deals with death and new beginnings in surprising ways, and Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s sweetly affirming “Home for Christmas,” about lonely strangers sharing Christmas together. James Stoddard’s amateurish horror tale “Christmas at Hostage Canyon” and an unrewarding introduction from editor Guran (Ghosts: Recent Hauntings) provide the collection’s lone disappointments. (Dec.)
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