cover image Shoggoths in Bloom

Shoggoths in Bloom

Elizabeth Bear. Prime (, $15.95 trade paperback (336p) ISBN 978-1-60701-361-7

Many novelists translate badly to short form, but Hugo award-winner Bear (Range of Ghosts) loses none of her depth or emotional power in this anthology of fierce, lonely tales about sacrifice, bravery, and loss. Missteps%E2%80%94her use of real historical figures in "Sonny Liston Takes the Fall" seems to imply that Muhammad Ali owed his career to another boxer%E2%80%99s mystical sacrifice%E2%80%94are rare. Bear at her best is magical, as in "The Girl Who Sang Rose Madder," in which a former rock star has to choose between death as an artist and immortality as an undead hack musician. Other standouts include the title story, about a black professor in the 1930s who finds kinship with the Lovecraftian monsters he studies, and "The Cold Blacksmith," a bittersweet fairy tale about what it takes to mend a heart. As in her novels, Bear%E2%80%99s world-building is absorbingly rich and strange, full of blue parrot cats, ruthless Mongol-ish princesses, and modern alleyways haunted by cockatrices and harpies, and adventurous readers will find her storytelling absolutely irresistible. (Nov.)