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Bending the Landscape: Fantasy Hardcover – March, 1997
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Bending the Landscape will be a series of anthologies focused on homosexual issues in genre fiction, but this one isn't so neatly pigeonholed as all that. Gayness, or someone's discovery of his or her gayness, is indeed a common motif to all the stories, but in some it is central; in others, it's just a quality a character has--they happen to be having or have had a relationship with someone of the same sex. It's generous in size, 22 stories, and generous in its embrace, ranging in tone from sitcom-like light entertainment ("In Mysterious Ways," by Tanya Huff, and "Magicked Tricks" by K. L Berac), to realism ("Gestures Too Late on a Gravel Road" by Mark W. Tiedemann, and "Full Moon and Empty Arms" by M. W. Keiper), to realistic horror ("The House of the Man in the Moon" by Richard Bowes). Mythic fantasy, fairy tales, and ghost stories are all here too, so this is more like reading a survey than a tightly thematic anthology. The variety is appropriate. Neither fantasy nor sex comes in just one flavor. If you're at all interested in anything besides vanilla, sample this.
From Library Journal
In this collection of commissioned stories, gay and straight writers?including Mark W. Tiedemann, Kim Antieu, and Ellen Kushner?incorporate gay themes into fantasy stories. Many have explicit homosexual sex scenes. This first of a proposed trilogy (the others will cover science fiction and horror) brings a new perspective to the genre. For lesbian, gay, and bisexual literature collections as well as larger sf collections.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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As far as the subgenres represented in this volume, you'll find very few traditional hack-and-slash stories ("The Stars Are Tears," "Magicked Tricks," and "In Mysterious Ways" being the only three, and they're all comedic). Especially numerous are gritty-dark-urban-modern fantasies along the lines of Don Bassingthwaite's "In Memory of," a tale of two vengeful dragon-brothers vying for fragile human lovers in a city setting. Also numerous are fringe stories that don't quite belong to any single genre because they have so few fictional elements - Matter's "Water Snakes" is an example.
Unfortunately, the settings aren't a very original lot: many stories are set in generic urban environments; there are a couple bare-bones Oriental stories; even the purely imaginary settings (such as the one in Sherman and Kushner's "The Fall of Kings") didn't strike me as especially original.
The writing, however, is uniformly good, if totally unexceptional, fitting well with the characters that behave interestingly but almost never transcend their two-dimensionality. The sexual elements hardly ever seem over the top (though Sheppard's "There Are Things Hidden from the Eyes of the Everyday" is just too much), even if most stories do seem identical from this perspective.
Together with its science fiction counterpart, I consider BTL: Fantasy a quintessential resource for alternative genre fiction.