cover image Laughter at the Academy

Laughter at the Academy

Seanan McGuire. Subterranean, $40 (376p) ISBN 978-1-59606-928-2

McGuire shows off the versatility and creativity that have become her hallmarks in this excellent selection of stories from the past decade. All McGuire’s passions—medical marvels and terrors, apocalyptic scenarios, mermaids, portal fantasies—are on full display, each offering a window into a world of possibility and complicated emotions. Standouts include “The Lambs,” about robot students inserted into schools to combat bullying, and “Each to Each,” which sees genetically engineered mermaids serving aboard submarines in the near future. Some play with form: interdepartmental communication in “Office Memos,” Twitter feeds in “#connollyhouse #weshouldntbehere,” and crowdfunded projects in “Bring About the Halloween Eternal!!!” Others, such as “Emeralds to Emeralds, Dust to Dust,” a noir Oz pastiche, and “In Skeleton Leaves,” a military fantasy that examines Peter Pan from Wendy’s point of view, put new spins on familiar tales. Uplifting and heartbreaking, provocative and comforting, this collection is a treat for fans, an ideal introduction for newcomers, and an excellent source of insight into what makes McGuire so popular across a variety of genres. Reading it is like opening a box of candy and never knowing which sweet little treat will destroy civilization as we know it. Agent: Diana Fox, Fox Literary. (Oct.)