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Twice upon a Time Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1999
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A full list of authors and stories include *** Spinning a Yarn by Lody Lynn Nye *** How I Came to Marry a Herpetologist by Nina Kirki Hoffman *** Puck in Boots, the True Story by Connie Hirsch *** Case #285B by Esther Friesner *** The Beanstalk Incident by Jane Lindskold *** Gilly the Goose Girl by Nancy Springer *** Fifi's Tale by Alan Rogers *** Thy Golden Stair by Richard Parks *** True Love by Fahnestock and Custer *** Savior by John Helfers *** Wolf at the Door by Lupida Shepard *** The Castle and Jack by Tim Waggoner *** Baron Boscov's Bastard by Jacey Bedford *** The Emperor's New (and Improved) Clothes by Leslie What *** One Fairy Tale, Hard Boiled by P. Andrew Miller *** Feeding Frenzy by Josepha Sherman *** A Leg Up by Gary Braunbeck *** and Mrs. Myrtle Montegrand vs. The Vegetable Stalker/Slayer by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
The stories included are solid and entertaining. My run away favorite is True Love by Fahnestock and Custer. It's a real eye opener with a shock ending so good I immediately forced the book upon my friend and made her read it. The only reason this anthology gets 4 stars instead of 5 is that many of the same fairy tales are revisited time and again. With the wide variety of world myth a greater amount of stories could have been retold.
Also, if this book is a personal favorite, check out Rotten Relations also edited by Denise Little for DAW. It's also a retelling of fairy tales from the `villains' point of view, and a highly entertaining book.
The best story in the collection is the story about Rapunzel, wherein the author (sorry, don't have the book on hand!) deals precisely with the question of the ramifications of retelling fairy tales. His conclusion is unsatisfactory - since he seems to long to marry the secular answer with the one written on his heart (basically he says something along the lines of forget the authorities/authors, and just live your life/believe in yourself/choose your destiny, etc. - *sigh*), but his execution is interesting. "Jack and the Castle," the second of the Jack and the Beanstalk retellings (the editor really could have used a course on fairy tale delegation) is also very good, with a satisfactory ending, and good morals - certainly loads better than either of the other two retellings of that tale which both took place in a courtroom. "One Fairy Tale: Hard Boiled" is the search for Rumplestilskin's name from the point of view of a private eye - a fun read, even if he drags in Hansel and Gretel, like several others do.
However, these are only three stories - there are many, including retellings of Prince Charming's many loves (well told, but too many sexual jokes), the Snow White story, the Big Bad Wolf's story, the Steadfast Tin Soldier's story which include animalistic and sometimes bestial sexuality and violence.
Overall, there are no stories so utterly compelling that one must buy the anthology just to read it, and the mediocre and horrid tales more than overwhelm those few which are half-intriguing.
Those who *must* read a retelling of a Fairy Tale would do well to take a look at Robin McKinley's stories, with another glance for older readers to Donna Jo Napoli's books. Or, if all else fails, write your own!
Most of these 18 tales are twists on the family fairy tale--Jack and the Beanstalk told AFTER the story ends, or the tale of Rumpelstiltskin updated to a '30s hard-boiled detective genre. In a bit of a change from must such collections I found myself greatly enjoying each of these fine tales, and I all too often told myself "just one more" as I read them before bed. Most were fast-paced and engaging, with only a couple a bit more maudlin or slower than I tend to like. I was very pleased with this collection overall.
VERY recommended for any fan of a good fairy tale or good fantasy overall.