cover image Xanadu


. Tor Books, $18.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85367-9

This enjoyable collection inaugurates what seems likely to become a major annual showcase for previously unpublished short works of fantasy. Its most impressive feature is its broad range: editor Yolen ( Briar Rose ) convokes proven masters (Ursula K. Le Guin), the well-known (Nancy Kress, Tanith Lee) and newcomers (Elise Mattesen); she also includes genre writers (Steven K.Z. Brust, Pamela Dean) as well as mainstream writers (Robert Abel, Leslea Newman). The selections themselves vary in form from Donna Waidtlow's five-line poem ``After Centuries'' to Dean's novella ``Owlswater,'' and they display an admirable diversity in atmosphere, tone, setting and subject matter too, together exploring the many possibilities under the umbrella ``fantasy.'' Anna Kirwan-Vogel's ``Jaguar Lord'' is an enchanting heroic tale of a Mayan jaguar hunt; Will Shetterly's ``Time Travel, the Artifact, and a Famous Historical Personage'' is a tale of psychological horror; Lisa Tuttle's ``Lucy Maria'' adds a twist to a classic ghost-story plot. Though some of the pieces are slight, none are less than competent, and the standouts--among them Kress's ``To Scale,'' Eleanor Arnason's ``The Hound of Merin'' and William Stafford's poem ``It Comes Lightly Out of the Sea''--deliver the pleasures of fantasy at its best. A promising start to an even more promising series. (Jan.)