Shoggoths in Bloom

Elizabeth Bear, Author
Elizabeth Bear. Prime (www.prime-books.com), $15.95 trade paperback (336p) ISBN 978-1-60701-361-7
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Many novelists translate badly to short form, but Hugo award-winner Bear (Range of Ghosts) loses none of her depth or emotional power in this anthology of fierce, lonely tales about sacrifice, bravery, and loss. Missteps—her use of real historical figures in "Sonny Liston Takes the Fall" seems to imply that Muhammad Ali owed his career to another boxer’s mystical sacrifice—are rare. Bear at her best is magical, as in "The Girl Who Sang Rose Madder," in which a former rock star has to choose between death as an artist and immortality as an undead hack musician. Other standouts include the title story, about a black professor in the 1930s who finds kinship with the Lovecraftian monsters he studies, and "The Cold Blacksmith," a bittersweet fairy tale about what it takes to mend a heart. As in her novels, Bear’s world-building is absorbingly rich and strange, full of blue parrot cats, ruthless Mongol-ish princesses, and modern alleyways haunted by cockatrices and harpies, and adventurous readers will find her storytelling absolutely irresistible. (Nov.)
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