Book Review: The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Ellen Datlow, ed. (2008)

May 14th, 2012 8:15 am by Kelly Garbato

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You had me at “Maureen F. McHugh”!

five out of five stars

I first picked up this book because it contains a piece by one of my favorite writers, Maureen F. McHugh – “Special Economics” which, as it just so happens, I’d already read (it appears in 2011’s After the Apocalypse: Stories) – but ultimately enjoyed all but one of the sixteen essays in this diverse collection. With elements of horror, fantasy, post-apocalyptic fiction, alternate history, and the supernatural, The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy – masterfully curated by Ellen Datlow – has a little bit of something for everyone. Especially if you prefer your speculative fiction on the dark side.

In addition to Maureen McHugh’s “Special Economics,” an arguably feminist tale which takes place in a future China devastated by the bird flu, my favorites include:

* “Jimmy” (Pat Cadigan), whose eponymous (anti?-) hero is a young boy coming of age in the 1960s (the bulk of story takes place the day JFK was assassinated). Granted “enlightenment” by an alien species, Jimmy is shunned by those who can sense his difference – and want nothing to do with it. Ignorance is bliss, or so the saying goes.

* “The Passion of Azazel” (Barry N. Malzberg), a revenge story told from the point of view of a goat, sacrificed to the gods one long-ago Day of Atonement and then reincarnated as a (human) rabbinical student who fashions a golem who is quite possibly his long-dead brother goat.

* “The Goosle” (Margo Lanagan), a fittingly bleak retelling of/sequel to “Hansel and Gretal,” in which lone survivor Hansel escapes from the witch’s cage only to find a world more brutal than the one he left behind. (Strong trigger warning for rape.)

Some of the stories – most notably “The Passion of Azazel” – can be interpreted from an anti-oppressive vegan perspective, which I especially appreciate.

For what it’s worth, I just discovered Ellen Datlow’s adult fairy tale anthology series. Wishlist ALL the books!

 

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An excerpt from “The Passion of Azazel.”
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(Crossposted on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads.)

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One Response to “Book Review: The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Ellen Datlow, ed. (2008)”

  1. fuck yeah reading: 2012 books » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    […] The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Sixteen Original Works by Speculative Fiction’s Finest Voices, Ellen Datlow, ed. (2008); reviewed here […]

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