cover image The Big Book of Modern Fantasy

The Big Book of Modern Fantasy

Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. Vintage, $25 trade paper (864p) ISBN 978-0-525-56386-0

This encyclopedic anthology picks up where the VanderMeers’ The Big Book of Classic Fantasy left off, offering a staggering 91 fantasy shorts published between 1946 and 2010. In the introduction, the VanderMeers define fantasy as “any story in which an element of the unreal permeates the real world or any story that takes place in a secondary world that is identifiably not a version of ours.” This encompasses undeniable masterworks, including Vladimir Nabokov’s “Signs and Symbols” and Gabriel García Marquez’s “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” but is too broad a theme to unify the anthology as a whole. Instead, the VanderMeers offer a sweeping survey, highlighting stories by genre greats (Ursula K. Le Guin, Terry Pratchet), modern titans (Stephen King, Victor Lavalle, George R.R. Martin, Haruki Murakami) and beloved cult figures (Leonora Carrington, Angela Carter) and celebrating lesser-known works in translation, including Pakistani legend Intizar Hussain’s “Kaya-Kalp (Metamorphosis),” Guyanese novelist Edgar Mittelholzer’s “Poolwana’s Orchid,” and the first English translations of stories by Mexican author Alberto Chimal, Swedish author Marie Hermanson, and Polish author Marta Kisiel. Though the anthology’s size and scope will intimidate casual readers, anyone with a scholarly interest in the evolution of the genre will find this a treasure trove. Agent: Sally Harding, Cooke McDermid Literary. (July)