The Secret History of Fantasy Review
I was recently sent for review The Secret History of Fantasy edited by Peter S. Beagle and published by Tachyon Publications, which happens to be the book of the month.
Anthologist Peter S. Beagle is familiar with fantasy. He is the author of the fantasy novel, The Last Unicorn and the introduction to The Lord of the Rings. Peter now introduces the gifted fantasy writers in this compilation of fantasy stories with authors including Maureen F. McHugh, Gregory Maguire, Patricia A. McKillip, T.C. Boyle, Stephen King, Terry Bisson, Francesca Lia Block, Neil Gaiman, Aimee Bender, Jeffrey Ford, Michael Swanwick, Jonathan Lethem, Susanna Clarke, Octavia E. Butler, Yann Martel, Robert Holdstock, Kij Johnson, as well as himself.
Peter was born in 1939 and raised in the Bronx, just a few blocks from Woodlawn Cemetery, the inspiration for his first novel, A Fine And Private Place. Today, thanks to classic works such as The Last Unicorn, Tamsin, and The Innkeeper's Song, he is known as America's greatest living fantasy author. In addition to stories and novels he has also written numerous teleplays and screenplays. In 2007, Peter won the Hugo and Nebula Awards for his original novelette, "Two Hearts," from The Line Between .
I have to admit that I have a lot of books but never really anything fantasy so I was excited to review The Secret History of Fantasy. I was really impressed with these stories as most of them left me fantasizing about what it would be like if it were me in those stories. I once heard someone say that a fantasy was something that could never happen but I always like to think what if anyway so I guess that is the whole point of fantasy.
There were a few stories in particular that I really liked and hopefully my review of these stories will make you want to buy this book, which can be bought from Tachyon Publications for only $15.95.
My personal favorite story was The Book of Martha by Octavia E. Butler. It is about a woman named Martha who gets the chance to meet with God, who has just asked her to do something very important for the world that Martha does not think she can do. In the end she does it but must decide if she wants to remember if she is responsible for what she has decided to do or not. This story really left me wanting to be in her shoes and really got me thinking of what I would decide to do myself if I had the power that she was given.
One of my other favorites was Sleight of Hand by Peter S. Beagle himself. It is about a young woman who loses her husband and daughter in a tragic accident. She sets off in her car one day going no place in particular just to try to ease her own mind when she catches a magic show at a restaurant one night while on the road but when going back to her motel happens to run into the magician, whom she finds out that she actually already met. He promises her that he can bring her husband and daughter back, for a price, but is she willing to pay the price. This story really left me wondering if the deal she made was worth it and also if she had already made this deal before.
Another story that I really liked was Mrs. Todd's Shortcut by Stephen King. It's a story about Ophelia Todd who disappeared in 1973, or so everyone thought. Mrs. Todd always like to take shortcuts when driving on the road and always said that if you saved enough distance, you'd save time as well, and maybe she was right. Maybe her handyman Homer wanted to find out and maybe he did, but it's hard to tell because the last time he saw Mrs. Todd she was breathtaking beautiful but the woman he left with when he decided to leave town was much, much younger, her daughter perhaps. I really liked this story because I can relate to Mrs. Todd because I like to take the shortest route to where I'm going so hopefully one day I'll actually notice that it has started to save me time as well.
Overall, I'd give The Secret History of Fantasy 4/5 stars and this would be a great book for someone like me who has never really read fantasy stories before. There are a lot of great stories by a lot of great, recognizable authors. Reading these stories really makes me want to go find a fantasy novel and get lost in it right away.