cover image The Urban Fantasy Anthology

The Urban Fantasy Anthology

Edited by Peter S. Beagle and Joe R. Lansdale. Tachyon (IPG, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-1-61696-018-6

An odd feeling of embarrassment wafts from the essays introducing the three sections of this eclectic collection. Editor Beagle (Sleight of Hand) calls the 20 stories "raw, consciously commercial," while Charles de Lint insists that urban fantasy is "bricks and mortar" and lacks the "sense of wonder" of what he calls mythic fiction. Paula Guran's examination of paranormal romance's origins is knowledgeable and informative but unenthusiastic, and Lansdale (Devil Red) openly disdains labels. The stories themselves, mostly reprints, are frequently excellent, but several of urban fantasy's most prominent authors are absent%E2%80%94most notably Jim Butcher and Charlaine Harris%E2%80%94and the editorial bias undermines the book's strength as well as its claim to being "the" anthology of its genre. It's as though Beagle and Lansdale don't actually want their work to be labeled urban fantasy, even as they reap the benefits of its popularity. (Sept.)