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Eclipse Three (3) Paperback – October 1, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Australian editor Strahan continues his wide-ranging and occasionally controversial anthology series with 15 boundary-pushing stories. Pat Cadigan's â€œDon't Mention Madagascarâ€ and Nnedi Okorafor's â€œOn the Roadâ€ play wittily with reality and identity, and are exquisitely crafted. Maureen McHugh's â€œUseless Thingsâ€ and Ellen Kushner's â€œDolce Domumâ€ are melancholy but no less fascinating. Jeffrey Ford's â€œThe Coral Heartâ€ nicely tweaks high fantasy tropes, while Peter S. Beagle's â€œSleight of Handâ€ and Nicola Griffith's â€œIt Takes Twoâ€ examine the nature and power of love from very different angles. The less successful efforts by Elizabeth Bear, Molly Gloss and Paul Di Filippo are still ambitious enough to be worth reading. Only Daniel Abraham's cliché-driven â€œThe Pretender's Tourneyâ€ and Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple's predictable short-short â€œMesopotamian Fireâ€ seem really out of place. Despite the weak spots, Strahan continues to secure his place as a top anthologist. (Dec.)
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In a brilliant, wide-ranging anthology, Strahan presents stories by authors as diverse as Karen Joy Fowler, Elizabeth Bear, and Paul Di Filippo. Ellen Klages contributes “Lotion,“ a story about imaginary numbers and the strange powers of math, in which a young girl discovers the magical potential of pure math. Ellen Kushner’s “Dolce Domum” is, perhaps, not about what its characters think it is. Bear’s “Swell” is a fairy tale about a musician seeking her voice, in which a mermaid’s gift is not as wonderful as at first glance it seems. Molly Gloss’ “The Visited Man” presents a lonely pensioner who lives upstairs from le douanier Rousseau and the relationship that develops after the painter brings the retiree a stray cat. As for the previous Eclipse anthologies, Strahan has picked stories whose authors care about both the craft of storytelling and the stories they tell. Each piece is distinctive and haunting. --Regina Schroeder
Top customer reviews
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The introduction should have been a warning -- it consists of a few brief paragraphs, written with all the care of a high school student on deadline, about how the cover of the first Eclipse book wasn't so great but this new cover is just super. It reads almost as a joke, especially considering how dopey the cover actually is.
The stories that follow are almost uniformly dull. Ellen Klages' childhood mystery aims for Stephen King but goes nowhere, Peter S. Beagle's grief-stricken wish-fulfillment tale has zero gravitas, Daniel Abraham's story of a magic sword is just ridiculous. The first piece in the collection, about a young girl trapped in a horror-story juvenile prison, is just plain icky. There's also an odd theme: not one, not two, but three stories center on woman-on-woman love, and while I applaud inclusiveness, there's a disturbing exploitativeness and an almost pornographic feel to all of them--more "male gaze" than diverse post-feminism. One story, for instance, fantasizes about a beautiful stripper tricked chemically into falling for another woman, a tale more appropriate to Penthouse Forum.
I can't emphasize enough how tolerant I am of corny sci-fi, and I'm forgiving of sloppy style or inept characterization if there are some intriguing ideas at play in a story. But Eclipse 3 was too silly, and weirdly prurient, even for me, and I finished the collection deeply disappointed. Skip it.
These stories aren't glossed-up with tech and drama and big SFF antics - if you want that, look for anthologies themed with latest baddie (zombie, vampires, etc.). In Eclipse 3, Strahan has instead collected stories that cross a marvel of complex emotion, and describe real life woven into the scary possibility of fantasy and science fiction. It's the best of the three Eclipse anthologies so far, and one of the best you can buy.