Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek


Two reviews, both of them by Jeff VanderMeer.

The first comes from his write up of best novels in the year on Locus Online. There, Black Sheep is checked and described as a book that "served up dystopia Pacific Rim-style, in often searing and seering prose."

In Publisher's Weekly, VanderMeer also reviewed the anthology Paper Cities, which contains my story 'The Funeral, Ruined':

Original genre anthologies have been a mixed bag in recent years, with an overreliance on established household names at the expense of nurturing new talent. At times, too restrictive themes have tended to create a sense of sameness. Not so with urban fantasy. As Jess Nevins points out in his excellent introduction, urban fantasy is “a mode of storytelling rather than a subgenre, and as such accommodates a variety of themes and approaches.” This idea of variety, along with a willingness to publish new and established writers alike, helps explain the considerable appeal of this ambitious and entertaining anthology.

Stand-out contributions include Richard Parks's folktale-influenced “Courting the Lady Scythe,” Cat Rambo's ethereal “The Bumblety's Marble,” Jay Lake's sometimes brutal “Promises; A Tale of the City Imperishable” (set in the same milieu as his novel A Trial of Flowers), Ben Peek's more contemporary “The Funeral, Ruined” and Anna Tambour's indefinable but brilliant “The Age of Fish, Post-Flowers.” In Tambour's story, man-eating “orms” threaten New York City, despite the presence of an iconic wall. The nameless narrator's account of her group's attempts to survive is both matter-of-fact and mysterious. Similar elements power many of the other stories: a keen underlying intelligence and an easy acceptance of fantasy, with little explanation of that element, wedded to strangely resonant images and situations.

Not every tale in the anthology is successful. Hal Duncan's “The Tower of Morning's Bones” continues his trend of excessive symbolism, summary and posturing in short fiction. Forrest Aguirre's “Andretto Walks the King's Way,” a forced march of a story illuminating different aspects of a feudal-era society, is an honest effort that never really comes to life. The editor also might have been better served excluding a couple of ill-advised short-shorts like Vylar Kaftan's workplace fantasy, “Godivy.” Yet for all of their flaws, even these stories display a high level of technical expertise and ambition.

Rounded out by very good contributions from Mark Teppo, David Schwartz, Barth Anderson, Catherynne M. Valente and Cat Sparks, Paper Cities is a delightful and absorbing read. In coming years—as the talents collected herein, including editor Sedia, become better known—this quirky anthology may take on even greater significance.

I just thought I'd quote the whole thing, but who is going to argue with being listed as a stand out contribution?

You can buy both Black Sheep and Paper Cities off Amazon. The latter is not yet released, however.
Tags: blacksheep, review

  • Leviathan’s Blood Film

    Originally published at Ben Peek. You can comment here or there. The paperback release of Leviathan’s Blood is very soon and to…

  • A Bit of Bolano, Schafer, and Cooke.

    Originally published at Ben Peek. You can comment here or there. Here are a few more reviews of books I’ve read recently: 2666,…

  • Interview, A Few Books Read

    Originally published at Ben Peek. You can comment here or there. Just a small update today. If you’re interested, you can get a whole…

  • Post a new comment


    Comments allowed for friends only

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded