Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy
, . . Senses Five, $14.95 (271pp) ISBN 978-0-9796246-0-5
Original genre anthologies have been a mixed bag in recent years, with an overreliance on established household names at the expense of nurturing new talent. At times, too restrictive themes have tended to create a sense of sameness. Not so with urban fantasy. As Jess Nevins points out in his excellent introduction, urban fantasy is â€œa mode of storytelling rather than a subgenre, and as such accommodates a variety of themes and approaches.â€ This idea of variety, along with a willingness to publish new and established writers alike, helps explain the considerable appeal of this ambitious and entertaining anthology.
Stand-out contributions include Richard Parks's folktale-influenced â€œCourting the Lady Scythe,â€ Cat Rambo's ethereal â€œThe Bumblety's Marble,â€ Jay Lake's sometimes brutal â€œPromises; A Tale of the City Imperishableâ€ (set in the same milieu as his novel
Not every tale in the anthology is successful. Hal Duncan's â€œThe Tower of Morning's Bonesâ€ continues his trend of excessive symbolism, summary and posturing in short fiction. Forrest Aguirre's â€œAndretto Walks the King's Way,â€ a forced march of a story illuminating different aspects of a feudal-era society, is an honest effort that never really comes to life. The editor also might have been better served excluding a couple of ill-advised short-shorts like Vylar Kaftan's workplace fantasy, â€œGodivy.â€ Yet for all of their flaws, even these stories display a high level of technical expertise and ambition.
Rounded out by very good contributions from Mark Teppo, David Schwartz, Barth Anderson, Catherynne M. Valente and Cat Sparks,
Reviewed on: 01/28/2008