cover image Realms: The First Year of Clarkesworld Magazine

Realms: The First Year of Clarkesworld Magazine

Nick Mamatas, Sean Wallace, . . Wyrm, $29.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-8095-7248-9

With this compilation of the 24 stories appearing in the first 12 issues of online magazine Clarkesworld , Mamatas hits at least two of his three targets: brevity and popular appeal abound, while weirdness is less certain. Several stories equate “weird” with sexual deviance, while others mine folklore and fairy tales. Jeff VanderMeer's “The Third Bear” neatly balances avant-garde angst and Russian myth, while Elizabeth Bear's “Orm the Beautiful” is passionate and compelling, but not strange. The cleverest and most mild-mannered tale is Jenny Davidson's “The Other Amazon,” while the most emotionally gripping may be Caitlin R. Kiernan's nimble King Kong homage, “The Ape's Wife.” These last four are the collection's standout entries, but only Kiernan fully embraces both the esoteric and the broadly compelling. On balance, the anthology tilts slightly more toward accessibility than to the truly bizarre. (Mar.)