Ben Peek’s “Dreaming City” is not unpretentious. I am ambivalent about it. I suspect this is another case of a story that will have great appeal to others, but doesn’t appeal to me at all. It’s carefully crafted and takes us through some of the thoughts of Mark Twain and some of the history of Sydney in Peek’s alternate universe.
From The Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Bill Congreve and Michelle Marquardt.
Ben Peek’s “The Recipe” is funny – really funny and quite black. But I’m not sure this ‘fable’ is much more than an extended joke at the expense of the traditional big fat fantasy. The slightly modern twist to some of the puns jarred a little with the medieval setting.
From Elsewhere, edited by Michael Barry.
I wouldn't bother reading Elsewhere, actually. As a collection it is weak--the majority of the CSFG collections are about giving new authors a place to start, and the quality for each flickers up and down on that line; the majority of them are really only fit to be read by friends and family of the authors--and my story, well, it really is just an extended joke. I should never have published it, but I couldn't resist the line, 'An Orc never gave my syphilis!' It's one of those things where you look back and you think, I should have known better.
(In defense of the CSFG, they did publish Kaaron Warren's collection, The Grinding House, which was all kind of goodness, and quite definitely the work of an author who is not new and not struggling to understand the genre.)
As for being called pretentious... Well, doesn't this post support that? 'The Dreaming City' is a big novelette, and can also be found in Leviathan Four: Cities, edited by Forrest Aguirre (experimeditor).