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Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction

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An anthology of award-winning, eye-opening, genre-defining science fiction, fantasy, and horror from Tor.com's first ten years "A fresh new story going up at Tor.com is always an Event." —Charlie Jane Anders Since it began in 2008 Tor.com has explored countless new worlds of fiction, delving into possible and impossible futures, alternate and intriguing pasts, and realms of An anthology of award-winning, eye-opening, genre-defining science fiction, fantasy, and horror from Tor.com's first ten years "A fresh new story going up at Tor.com is always an Event." —Charlie Jane Anders Since it began in 2008 Tor.com has explored countless new worlds of fiction, delving into possible and impossible futures, alternate and intriguing pasts, and realms of fantasy previously unexplored. Its hundreds of remarkable stories span from science fiction to fantasy to horror, and everything in between. Now Tor.com is making some of those worlds available for the first time in print. This volume collects some of the best short stories Tor.com has to offer, with Hugo and Nebula Award-winning short stories and novelettes chosen from all ten years of the program. Including stories by: Charlie Jane Anders, N. K. Jemisin, Leigh Bardugo, Jeff VanderMeer, Yoon Ha Lee, Carrie Vaughn, Ken Liu, Kai Ashante Wilson, Kameron Hurley, Seth Dickinson, Rachel Swirsky, Laurie Penny, Alyssa Wong, Kij Johnson, David D. Levine, Genevieve Valentine, Max Gladstone, and many others. TABLE OF CONTENTS: “Six Months, Three Days” by Charlie Jane Anders “Damage” by David D. Levine “The Best We Can” by Carrie Vaughn “The City Born Great” by N. K. Jemisin “A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel” by Yoon Ha Lee “Waiting on a Bright Moon” by JY Yang “Elephants and Corpses” by Kameron Hurley “About Fairies” by Pat Murphy “The Hanging Game” by Helen Marshall “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu “A Cup of Salt Tears” by Isabel Yap “The Litany of Earth” by Ruthanna Emrys “Brimstone and Marmalade” by Aaron Corwin “Reborn” by Ken Liu “Please Undo This Hurt” by Seth Dickinson “The Language of Knives” by Haralambi Markov “The Shape of My Name” by Nino Cipri “Eros, Philia, Agape” by Rachel Swirsky “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal “Last Son of Tomorrow” by Greg van Eekhout “Ponies” by Kij Johnson “La beauté sans vertu” by Genevieve Valentine “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong “A Kiss With Teeth” by Max Gladstone “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” by Tina Connolly “The End of the End of Everything” by Dale Bailey “Breaking Water” by Indrapramit Das “Your Orisons May Be Recorded” by Laurie Penny “The Tallest Doll in New York City” by Maria Dahvana Headley “The Cage” by A.M. Dellamonica “In the Sight of Akresa” by Ray Wood “Terminal” by Lavie Tidhar “The Witch of Duva: A Ravkan Folk Tale” by Leigh Bardugo “Daughter of Necessity” by Marie Brennan “Among the Thorns” by Veronica Schanoes “These Deathless Bones” by Cassandra Khaw “Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch” by Kelly Barnhill “This World Is Full of Monsters” by Jeff VanderMeer “The Devil in America” by Kai Ashante Wilson “A Short History of the Twentieth Century, or, When You Wish Upon A Star” by Kathleen Ann Goonan


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An anthology of award-winning, eye-opening, genre-defining science fiction, fantasy, and horror from Tor.com's first ten years "A fresh new story going up at Tor.com is always an Event." —Charlie Jane Anders Since it began in 2008 Tor.com has explored countless new worlds of fiction, delving into possible and impossible futures, alternate and intriguing pasts, and realms of An anthology of award-winning, eye-opening, genre-defining science fiction, fantasy, and horror from Tor.com's first ten years "A fresh new story going up at Tor.com is always an Event." —Charlie Jane Anders Since it began in 2008 Tor.com has explored countless new worlds of fiction, delving into possible and impossible futures, alternate and intriguing pasts, and realms of fantasy previously unexplored. Its hundreds of remarkable stories span from science fiction to fantasy to horror, and everything in between. Now Tor.com is making some of those worlds available for the first time in print. This volume collects some of the best short stories Tor.com has to offer, with Hugo and Nebula Award-winning short stories and novelettes chosen from all ten years of the program. Including stories by: Charlie Jane Anders, N. K. Jemisin, Leigh Bardugo, Jeff VanderMeer, Yoon Ha Lee, Carrie Vaughn, Ken Liu, Kai Ashante Wilson, Kameron Hurley, Seth Dickinson, Rachel Swirsky, Laurie Penny, Alyssa Wong, Kij Johnson, David D. Levine, Genevieve Valentine, Max Gladstone, and many others. TABLE OF CONTENTS: “Six Months, Three Days” by Charlie Jane Anders “Damage” by David D. Levine “The Best We Can” by Carrie Vaughn “The City Born Great” by N. K. Jemisin “A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel” by Yoon Ha Lee “Waiting on a Bright Moon” by JY Yang “Elephants and Corpses” by Kameron Hurley “About Fairies” by Pat Murphy “The Hanging Game” by Helen Marshall “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu “A Cup of Salt Tears” by Isabel Yap “The Litany of Earth” by Ruthanna Emrys “Brimstone and Marmalade” by Aaron Corwin “Reborn” by Ken Liu “Please Undo This Hurt” by Seth Dickinson “The Language of Knives” by Haralambi Markov “The Shape of My Name” by Nino Cipri “Eros, Philia, Agape” by Rachel Swirsky “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal “Last Son of Tomorrow” by Greg van Eekhout “Ponies” by Kij Johnson “La beauté sans vertu” by Genevieve Valentine “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong “A Kiss With Teeth” by Max Gladstone “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” by Tina Connolly “The End of the End of Everything” by Dale Bailey “Breaking Water” by Indrapramit Das “Your Orisons May Be Recorded” by Laurie Penny “The Tallest Doll in New York City” by Maria Dahvana Headley “The Cage” by A.M. Dellamonica “In the Sight of Akresa” by Ray Wood “Terminal” by Lavie Tidhar “The Witch of Duva: A Ravkan Folk Tale” by Leigh Bardugo “Daughter of Necessity” by Marie Brennan “Among the Thorns” by Veronica Schanoes “These Deathless Bones” by Cassandra Khaw “Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch” by Kelly Barnhill “This World Is Full of Monsters” by Jeff VanderMeer “The Devil in America” by Kai Ashante Wilson “A Short History of the Twentieth Century, or, When You Wish Upon A Star” by Kathleen Ann Goonan

30 review for Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    Tor is celebrating their 10th anniversary this year and are coming out with this anthology that showcases some of the best short stories written this decade! Tor is my personal favorite publishing house. Not only have they always been amazing to me, they are putting out some of the most diverse, important, world changing literature on the market right now. ➽ “Six Months, Three Days” by Charlie Jane Anders - ★★ Lord, I feel so bad doing this. But I really didn’t like the first story of the colle Tor is celebrating their 10th anniversary this year and are coming out with this anthology that showcases some of the best short stories written this decade! Tor is my personal favorite publishing house. Not only have they always been amazing to me, they are putting out some of the most diverse, important, world changing literature on the market right now. ➽ “Six Months, Three Days” by Charlie Jane Anders - ★★ Lord, I feel so bad doing this. But I really didn’t like the first story of the collection. It’s about two clairvoyants who are thinking about dating. Yet, Doug and Judy know all the possible outcomes for what is yet to come. But, like, I really didn’t like some of the cultural references in this, and… I just hated Doug if I’m really being honest here. I sort of appreciate the message of “fate vs actions and the fall out from them” but I just really didn’t like this one. ➽ “Damage” by David D. Levine - ★★★ I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest military sci-fi fan in general. But this story is told from an AI ship's point of view during a space war, and I thought it was pretty unique. ➽ “The Best We Can” by Carrie Vaughn - ★★★★ This is such a sad, but honest, look at what could happen if we truly found other life in our galaxy. The discussion in this is so important, and I was honestly in awe while reading this from first to last page. I completely recommend this first contact story with extraterrestrial intelligence, as depressing as it is. ➽ “The City Born Great” by N. K. Jemisin - ★★★★★ All the stars, always, to every masterpiece that my SFF queen creates. This is a story about a young, homeless, queer, black boy in New York City, doing everything in his power to survive. But the cities in this world? They are actually born, and sometimes even born anew. And the cops? They are for sure the villains. You all, this story is important and speak volumes, just like everything Jemisin writes. She seamless weaves topics that need to be heard today into her fantasy. And I loved this. And like, I need more from this world and from this character. And the time skip at the end has given me hope. ➽ “A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel” by Yoon Ha Lee - ★★★★★ I have loved everything I’ve read by Yoon Ha Lee, and this was no different. I loved reading all these brief vignettes, describing different cultures that have developed different ways to travel intergalactically. I loved the different species, I loved the short glimpses, and I honestly just love Yoon Ha Lee and his beautiful mind! And the ending was perfection. ➽ “Waiting on a Bright Moon” by JY Yang - ★★★★★ Friends, I loved this. This is a tale about a group of magical women (ansibles) that are able to create portals and send magical messages, but they are forced to serve the government. But this is a story about rebellion, and fighting back, and doing whatever it takes to protect yourself and the ones you love. Also, there is a f/f romance in here that actually gave me life. This story goes from so heartbreaking to so heartwarming in a mere instant, and it just feels so perfectly balanced and woven. Also, the incorporation of Chinese language was a perfect addition, in my opinion. ➽ “Elephants and Corpses” by Kameron Hurley - ★★ I’ll be honest, I didn’t like how some of the gender aspects of this were handled. Especially when it comes to people who literary jump into other bodies to live. I don’t know, it just made me uncomfortable, honestly. ➽ “About Fairies” by Pat Murphy - ★★★★★ I went into this thinking it was going to be a really fun read about fae, but it ended up being a really harrowing tale about death and illness of one’s parents. This was unexpectedly hard hitting, and it really made me feel a lot of unexpected emotions. Plus, Peter Pan, cats, magic, and fae? It’s always going to be a good combo. ➽ “The Hanging Game” by Helen Marshall - ★ TW for death and miscarrying. This is about a girl who reminisces about “the hanging game” she used to play with her neighbors when she was young, which is exactly what it sounds like. And one of them was killed. Then we get to see her ten years later, paying for it. But, like, also paying for all the other adults that would kill bears? I get that we have to “pay for the sins of our fathers” but this was just too much for me. You all, I don’t know. I just hated this one, honestly. ➽ “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu - ★★★ This is about a Chinese man trying to come out to his family before marrying his boyfriend. I didn’t dislike it, even though I hated the sister with a fiery passion, but it just felt a little bit pointless. And it didn’t feel SFF-like to me whatsoever. But the writing was so very beautiful. ➽ “A Cup of Salt Tears” by Isabel Yap - ★★★ This was a sad little story, centered around grief and the different stages we go through trying to fill the void of loss. And how every generation will go through the feeling of loss, inevitably. And one day in a hot tub, our main character is greeted by a mythical river spirit that has done some pretty terrible things, yet still has found room for love. ➽ “The Litany of Earth” by Ruthanna Emrys - ★★★ I’ve never read, nor do I know a lot about Lovecraft's Cthulhu, but I think if I did I would have appreciated this a lot more. Yet, I still thought this was really well written and I did enjoy it, and really thought it had a lot of important things to say about xenophobia. ➽ “Brimstone and Marmalade” by Aaron Corwin - ★★★★ This is the perfect Halloween read! And this was also hilarious! But this is also just a story about growing up, getting new responsibilities, and sometimes getting a lot more than you bargained for. I did finish it feeling a little sad, though, and very much in need of my own personal demon. ➽ “Reborn” by Ken Liu - ★★★ This is the first in a series that Ken Liu has started based off illustrations by Richard Anderson. This entire story poses the scary question are we ourselves because of who we just are or is it based of the memories of everything that has happened to us? ➽ “Please Undo This Hurt” by Seth Dickinson - ★★★ This is a story about an EMT that has to see some pretty heartbreaking things every single day. Yet, this story is also about breaking up, moving on, and seeing the person you shared a piece of your heart with moving on, too. This is also a story about people who feel like no one cares about them at all. ➽ “The Language of Knives” by Haralambi Markov - ★★★★★ I’ll be honest with you, this one was a little strange for me. It is also told in second person, which is always a tiny bit jarring for me, especially when “you” are preparing your husband’s dead body, and your daughter is helping. This is a story about honoring and loving your culture, but it’s also a story about death and getting older and realizing that your kids are their own humans. And this was easily one of the most beautifully written short stories in the entire collection. ➽ “The Shape of My Name” by Nino Cipri - ★★★★ This is going to be considered a spoiler, but this story stars a transman and it’s used as a plot device. I still really enjoyed the story, but it needs to be said. This is a story about love and acceptance and how sometimes it’s very hard to get those two things from your family. This is a sad story, but also a beautiful one about identity, and I really did enjoy it a lot. ➽ “Eros, Philia, Agape” by Rachel Swirsky - ★ I’m going to be brief but – being single in your thirties is completely fine. But instead this woman, who had been sexually abused by her father, builds an android and then they have a child together. Oh, and then the android has a midlife crisis and leaves them. And the rest of the story starts to not even make sense. This just wasn’t for me. I would have preferred this story to just be about Ben and Lawrence. ➽ “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal - ★★★★ This won the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Novelette, so I was a little excited and nervous to read it, but I was overall super impressed. This was able to evoke so much emotion from me in 20 pages too. This is a wonderful little sci-fi tale about the love between two people, but also the love that they have for their separate passions. ➽ “Last Son of Tomorrow” by Greg van Eekhout - ★★ I’ve said it before, but I’m just not a big superhero fan, especially in my literature. This is a new take on Superman, it just wasn’t for me. I’m sorry. ➽ “Ponies” by Kij Johnson - ★★★★ I can’t believe I’m giving a My Little Pony story a glowing review, but here we are. In this world, the little girls go to a party where they have to cut two of three things off their pony if they want to be part of the group, but our main character soon realizes that the more you give in to peer pressure, the more and more people will take from you. This is a story about conformity and doing what you know is right inside your heart and soul, not what people in power tell you is right. Damn, this really does feel like a My Little Pony episode. ➽ “La beauté sans vertu” by Genevieve Valentine - ★★★ Oh man, this was a loud message to the fashion industry, because this is a story about models who routinely go under the knife to replace their limbs from younger people. We follow a nineteen-year-old girl, who really shines a spotlight on trends and the things we will do for the sake of what is considered beauty by society. ➽ “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong - ★★★★★ This is about two sisters (one named Melanie *fangirls forever* and one named Hannah) who harness the power to turn back time. Yet, Hannah can’t seem to use it to save her sister. This is a story about how her sister dies each time, regardless of what is different. But all the TW for death, suicide, parental abuse, one misgendering comment, and sexual assault/rape. Also, it is very subtly written, but I’m very confident that Melanie was a transwoman. So, obviously that can be really hard for people to read, so please make sure you are in the right headspace. But this is a story about trauma and grief and how sometimes you can’t save people, no matter how much you feel like losing them is literally feeling like ending your own world. This short story holds so much heartbreak in its pages, but its such an important tale about feeling responsible for things that are not in our control. Alyssa’s prose is nothing short of magic, I fall in love with every character she crafts, and each story means more to me than the rest. I loved this with my entire heart and soul. ➽ “A Kiss With Teeth” by Max Gladstone - ★ This story was so difficult for me to read. I didn't connect with the writing style whatsoever, and it felt ungodly longer than the rest of the stories in this collection. This story focuses on a modern-day version of Vlad the Impaler, where he is trying to live a normal life, and raise a normal son, while also trying to control his urge to function as a vampire. He becomes obsessed with his son's teacher and begins to literally stalk her. To drink from? To kill? To fuck? ➽ “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” by Tina Connolly - ★★★★★ Saffron is an official food taster for a Duke who everyone wants dead. Yeah, not an ideal job. But the Duke makes her take it because her husband, Danny, is the pastry chef! And no good husband would poison his wife, right? But the Duke soon sees that Danny puts magic in every bite. I loved this, and I loved the shining light on memories and not only what they mean to us, but how they also impact our lives forever. ➽ “The End of the End of Everything” by Dale Bailey - ★★ Like, I’m surprised at how much horror is in this collection, honestly. But basically, this is a short about the wealthy seeing impending doom coming, so they go to a lavish party each night, where the host will end the evening by killing themselves. And since it’s the apocalypse, people are leaving the world in some really graphic and mortifying ways. I was completely captivated while reading, and I do think the meaning of the story, about value and the price we place on things, was good. But, this was a little too much (sexual and dark) for me. ➽ “Breaking Water” by Indrapramit Das - ★★★ I loved so many things about this but was also bored with so many things about this. I honestly just felt like it went on too long. But I love that it’s set in India, and I love the fresh take on zombies, when our main character finds a body in the river. And I loved the discussion on our responsibility to humankind. ➽ “Your Orisons May Be Recorded” by Laurie Penny - ★★★ This was VERY different! Angels and demons coming together after a merger. And we get to see prayers get answered through a call center, even! And I for sure think this is trying to be funny, which it was, but wanting to sleep only with human men? In 2018? I’m about to phone in a prayer. ➽ “The Tallest Doll in New York City” by Maria Dahvana Headley - ★★★★★ This story is set in New York, where the tall buildings and structures move on their own. This tale is told on Valentine's Day, and the storyteller is a waiter in a club that works high up inside one of these moving buildings. I loved seeing all these iconic structures choose one another and pair up for Valentine's Day. ➽ “The Cage” by A.M. Dellamonica - ★★★★ I loved this f/f story! This is a sapphic romance between two humans, but this is for sure set in a paranormal world with werewolves, and evil monster hunters. Jude meets Paige while she is newly raising her sister’s baby, who just happens to be part werewolf! And the two girls come together to not only defeat evil, but to establish a found family and find love. ➽ “In the Sight of Akresa” by Ray Wood - ★ I hated this f/f story! Also, this story is about a slave girl who gets their tongue taken, and I had a really visceral reading experience while reading the opening scene, so use caution, friends. Then, her “owner’s” daughter starts to have feelings for her and puts her fingers in her mouth like constantly (ew). And the entire story is told in second person about their relationship through the slave owner’s daughter’s eyes. And… it’s just depressing and wasn’t enjoyable to read at all. ➽ “Terminal” by Lavie Tidhar - ★★★ This is a story about people who choose to take a one-way trip to Mars, because they are dying. But this book is about the journey going to Mars, where we see different people and what they are leaving behind. This is emotional and powerful, but it left me feeling helpless and hollow. ➽ “The Witch of Duva: A Ravkan Folk Tale” by Leigh Bardugo - ★★★★★ I can’t recommend you read it enough, because this short story actually shook my entire world. This is such a perfectly woven and absolutely haunting tale about a village who is mourning their lost girls, while also trying to endure very hard winters. And the ending of this story is beyond words, and turned me into a crying, melted, weeping, puddle on the floor. ➽ “Daughter of Necessity” by Marie Brennan - ★★★★★ In case you didn’t read my review for Circe, Greek mythology is my actual kink and I will always have the softest spot for Odysseus. This is a short story about Penelope, alone, raising her son, all while Odysseus is missing. And, friends, I loved this with the sum of my being. ➽ “Among the Thorns” by Veronica Schanoes - ★★★★ This wasn’t an easy read, but it’s now one of my favorite tales of vengeance. This story is a retelling of the Grimm Brother’s “The Jew in the Thorns”. But this is also a story about love, and Itte’s character is one that will stick with me for quite some time. ➽ “These Deathless Bones” by Cassandra Khaw - ★★ Heavy TW for animal abuse with this one. This is horror short story about a little boy growing up and his stepmother, who is a witch and is the only one that sees him for what he really is. I think this is an eerie, spooky, unique read, but I never enjoyed reading it. ➽ “Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch” by Kelly Barnhill - ★★★ Never did I ever think I would read a story about a Sasquatch wearing a fedora, but here we are. But this was a wonderful story about what it means to be happy and how everyone has a different idea of what happiness is. And how some people will live their entire lives living other’s happiness and never their own. ➽ “This World Is Full of Monsters” by Jeff VanderMeer - ★★★★★ I’ve never read anything by Vandermeer before, but this made me instantly want to rectify that. This writing isn’t going to be for everyone, but it was completely and wholeheartedly for me. It’s so strange, and so out there, but so beautiful. This story feels like a spell is being cast, like pure magic is being woven, and I really loved it. ➽ “The Devil in America” by Kai Ashante Wilson - ★★★★★ Use care going into this one, friends. This is a very dark and horrific tale, but if you are in the right mindset, please give this one a read. This story accurately depicts American slavery, and is set right after The Civil War, and Easter is a black child living during the horrors. This story will leave you unsettled, and even though this is fiction and set in the 1870s, filled with magic and the paranormal, it still shines a light still on what it means to be black in America today. The author said what sparked their inspiration for this story was an interview with Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother: ”Trayvon Martin’s murder was only the latest iteration of a very old pattern: someone in America, black and innocent, killed by someone else, white and manifestly guilty of unjustified murder. Of course I’d seen it before, and we all know how this thing works.” If you can read only one short story from this collection, please pick this one. This is one of the best short stories I’ve ever read in my entire life. ➽ “A Short History of the Twentieth Century, or, When You Wish Upon A Star” by Kathleen Ann Goonan - ★★★ This was a nice closing story about a girl wanting to become an astronaut and rocket scientist, while growing up in a world that doesn’t believe she can. And I really did enjoy this one, but I kind of feel like there was too much going on, and her dad started stealing the show a bit. And, it didn’t necessary feeling like an SFF story, but more a literary science one. Out of a possible 200 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 40 stories) this collection accumulated 138 stars (69% *winky face*). Overall, I completely recommend it! And if you’ve stayed this long – 1.) I love you and 2.) you can read most of these stories for free on Tor.com! Seriously, just type the title in the search engine if any of these intrigue you! But I really do think that this is a collection worth purchasing, and I believe with my whole heart that Tor is a company worth supporting.

  2. 4 out of 5

    destiny ♎ [howling libraries]

    I love anthologies, but I’ve never read one anywhere near this size, so when I heard that TorDotCom was coming out with a collection of some of their best short stories for their tenth anniversary, I had to check it out. There are so many authors in this collection whose work I’d been dying to pick up, and short stories are such an efficient, wonderful way to get to know a few new authors. The entire anthology is comprised of sci-fi and fantasy stories, with a touch of light horror here and ther I love anthologies, but I’ve never read one anywhere near this size, so when I heard that TorDotCom was coming out with a collection of some of their best short stories for their tenth anniversary, I had to check it out. There are so many authors in this collection whose work I’d been dying to pick up, and short stories are such an efficient, wonderful way to get to know a few new authors. The entire anthology is comprised of sci-fi and fantasy stories, with a touch of light horror here and there through a few of them. Each story is so distinctively different from one another, and there are so many gems. On top of the quality of the work included, there’s a ton of fantastic representation scattered throughout, with many stories featuring characters of color and queer relationships. There are 40 stories in this collection, and while I usually do breakdowns with a tiny review for each story in a collection, we’d be here for days if I did that for this one. Instead, I’m going to list tiny reviews for the stories I gave 5 stars, and then tack on a basic star rating list for each story in the collection (just for those of who you are curious of what I thought of your favorites!). → five star reads, in order of appearance: 1. Damage — David D. Levine A story of intergalactic warfare, told through the perspective of a fighter spacecraft who’s in love with her pilot. I never thought I would empathize with a machine so much, but the narrative in this is beautiful. 2. About Fairies — Pat Murphy Toy designers create little virtual fairy worlds, but what happens when one of the designers thinks she’s found real fairies? Weird, a little eerie, and overall carrying a surprising level of bleakness, something about this fascinated me endlessly. 3. The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere — John Chu Ever since the water started randomly falling from nowhere on anyone who told a lie, it’s been really tough for one man to stay in the closet. I cannot describe how utterly precious this story was, despite the fact that it does involve a lot of painful (but challenged) homophobia from a member of the narrator’s family. 4. Brimstone and Marmalade — Aaron Corwin Every little girl wants a pony, but ponies are a lot more expensive and harder to take care of than pet demons. This piece was hilarious. I literally laughed throughout every single interaction with the little demon pet, and by the end of it, I desperately wanted one of my very own. 5. Please Undo This Hurt — Seth Dickinson A heartbreaking story about an EMT and her drinking pal, who has come to her to ask if she thinks there could ever be a way to be “unmade”. He doesn’t want to kill himself, he just wishes he’d never existed at all. Major content warnings for suicidal ideation on this one, but Seth writes like someone who genuinely gets depression, and the ending is positively stunning. 6. La beauté sans vertu — Genevieve Valentine Valentine’s story takes place in a world where models are horribly disfigured for the sake of “beauty”, and the parallels run chillingly deep to how our own society treats young women. What I found most profound was the presence of a “feminist” protest group, who ultimately doesn’t care about any girl’s well-being nearly as much as they care about the length of her skirt. 7. A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers — Alyssa Wong Two sisters can time travel, but the narrator never predicted her sister would destroy the world, and herself along with it, until it’s too late, and our narrator is forcing into an endless loop of desperately trying to change the inevitable. I don’t think I have enough time to possibly explain how much I adore Alyssa’s writing. Every story I have read by her has left me a crumpled, sobbing mess, and this was no exception, but I welcome the heartbreak every single time. Major content warnings for (challenged) transphobia in this one. 8. A Kiss With Teeth — Max Gladstone Vlad is trying to fit in like a normal dad, but it’s so hard, especially when his son’s new teacher is tempting his inner beast so much. This whole idea of an ancient, powerful vampire trying to fit into normal suburban life with his vampire-hunting wife and his seemingly normal son had me sucked in from the start. I honestly loved the narrative voice so much, and would absolutely read a full novel about Vlad and his family. 9. The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections — Tina Connolly A woman lives as the Traitor King’s taste tester, while her husband works as the head baker, creating pastries that forcibly conjure up memories for the person eating them. The entire idea of this plot was so incredibly fascinating, and I’ve never read anything quite like it. 10. Your Orisons May Be Recorded — Laurie Penny What if angels answered phone calls in a… call center? Laurie Penny’s writing is weirdly hilarious, and this was so delightful and strange. It’s a little sad, too, as the angel reminisces over lost loves throughout the ages, but more than anything, I just loved her demon best friend’s weird antics and endless adoration of heavy metal music. 11. The Cage — A. M. Dellamonica When you’re determined not to fall in love with a woman or her werewolf baby, you probably shouldn’t play contractor, handywoman, or babysitter. The actual plot of this story didn’t catch me for a little bit, but once the werewolf baby came on the scene, I was done for. If you enjoy adorable infant characters, you’re in for a real treat with this one. 12. The Witch of Duva: A Ravkan Folk Tale — Leigh Bardugo The forest has been eating girls, and Nadya is convinced that the monster responsible has snuck right into her very own home. If you’ve read the Grisha books, you’ll doubtlessly love this story, but even if you haven’t, it’s perfectly enjoyable on its own. It has such a fairytale quality to it, but it’s also so dark and sad. This was one of only three stories in this collection (the other 2 being John Chu’s and Alyssa Wong’s) that forced me to put the collection down and just process for a moment because they were that good. 1. Six Months, Three Days — Charlie Jane Anders ★★★★☆ 2. Damage —David D. Levine ★★★★★ 3. The Best We Can — Carrie Vaughn ★★★☆☆ 4. The City Born Great — N. K. Jemisin ★★★★☆ 5. A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel — Yoon Ha Lee ★★☆☆☆ 6. Waiting on a Bright Moon — Jy Yang ★★★☆☆ 7. Elephants and Corpses — Kameron Hurley ★★★★☆ 8. About Fairies — Pat Murphy ★★★★★ 9. The Hanging Game — Helen Marshall ★★★★☆ 10. The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere — John Chu ★★★★★ 11. A Cup of Salt Tears — Isabel Yap ★★★★☆ 12. The Litany of Earth — Ruthanna Emrys [did not read due to spoilers for series] 13. Brimstone and Marmalade — Aaron Corwin ★★★★★ 14. Reborn — Ken Liu ★★☆☆☆ 15. Please Undo This Hurt — Seth Dickinson ★★★★★ 16. The Language of Knives — Haralambi Markov ★★★★☆ 17. The Shape of My Name — Nino Cipri ★★★★☆ 18. Eros, Philia, Agape — Rachel Swirsky [DNF] 19. The Lady Astronaut of Mars — Mary Robinette Kowal ★★★★☆ 20. Last Son of Tomorrow — Greg Van Eekhout ★★☆☆☆ 21. Ponies — Kij Johnson ★☆☆☆☆ 22. La beauté sans vertu — Genevieve Valentine ★★★★★ 23. A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers — Alyssa Wong ★★★★★ 24. A Kiss With Teeth — Max Gladstone ★★★★★ 25. The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections — Tina Connolly ★★★★★ 26. The End of the End of Everything — Dale Bailey ★★☆☆☆ 27. Breaking Water — Indrapramit Das ★★★★☆ 28. Your Orisons May Be Recorded — Laurie Penny ★★★★★ 29. The Tallest Doll in New York City — Maria Dahvana Headley ★★☆☆☆ 30. The Cage — A. M. Dellamonica ★★★★★ 31. In the Sight of Akresa — Ray Wood ★★★☆☆ 32. Terminal — Lavia Tidhar ★★★☆☆ 33. The Witch of Duva: A Ravkan Folk Tale — Leigh Bardugo ★★★★★ 34. Daughter of Necessity — Marie Brennan ★★★★☆ 35. Among the Thorns — Veronica Schanoes ★★★★☆ 36. These Deathless Bones — Cassandra Khaw ★★★★☆ 37. Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch — Kelly Barnhill [DNF] 38. This World is Full of Monsters — Jeff Vandermeer ★★★☆☆ 39. The Devil in America — Kai Ashante Wilson ★★★☆☆ 40. A Short History of the Twentieth Century, or, When You Wish Upon a Star — Kathleen Ann Goonan ★★☆☆☆ AVERAGE RATING: 3.7/5 STARS Thank you so much to TorDotCom for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review! You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Elise (TheBookishActress)

    There are forty stories in all within this collection, and basically, I'm terrified. →Six Months, Three Days by Charlie Jane Anders← →Damage by David D. Levine← →The Best We Can by Carrie Vaugn← →The City Born Great by N.K. Jemisin← →A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel by Yoon Ha Lee← →Waiting on a Bright Moon by J.Y. Yang← ★★★☆☆ ✔I first read this here. →Elephants and Corpses by Kameron Hurley← →About Fairies by Pat Murphy← →The Hanging Game by Helen Marshall← →The Water That Falls There are forty stories in all within this collection, and basically, I'm terrified. →Six Months, Three Days by Charlie Jane Anders← →Damage by David D. Levine← →The Best We Can by Carrie Vaugn← →The City Born Great by N.K. Jemisin← →A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel by Yoon Ha Lee← →Waiting on a Bright Moon by J.Y. Yang← ★★★☆☆ ✔I first read this here. →Elephants and Corpses by Kameron Hurley← →About Fairies by Pat Murphy← →The Hanging Game by Helen Marshall← →The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere by John Chu← →A Cup of Salt Tears by Isabel Yap← →The Litany of Earth by Ruthanna Emrys← →Brimstone and Marmalade by Aaron Korwin← →Reborn by Ken Liu← →Please Undo This Hurt by Seth Dickinson← →The Language of Knives by Haralambi Markov← →The Shape of My Name by Nino Cipri← →Eros Philia Agape by Rachel Swirsky← →The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal← →Last Son of Tomorrow by Greg Van Eekhout← →Ponies by Kij Johnson← →La Beaute Sans Vertu by Genevieve Valentine← →A Fist of Permutations In Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa Wong← ★★★★★ ✔I first read this here This is another story by my favorite short fiction author, and of course it was great. This story is one about grief, and about learning to accept tragedy but also deal with the fear that it may have been partially your fault. Hannah and Melanie’s sisterly bond is amazing and beautiful and harsh and I’m so glad to have read it. →A Kiss With Teeth by Max Gladstone← ★★★☆☆ ✔I first read this here Basically a coming of age story, but featuring a really old vampire instead of a teen. I was honestly kind of surprised I enjoyed this, after I found the beginning badly written and slightly stalker-ish. But this quickly turned into an interesting story about accepting faults in love. I especially loved reading about Vlad and Sarah's little family. →The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections by Tina Connolly← →The End of the End of Everything by Dale Bailey← →Breaking Water by Indrapramit Das← →Your Orisons May be Recorded by Laurie Penny← →The Tallest Doll in New York City by Maria Dahvana Headley← ★★★★☆ ✔I first read this here This was so weird but so creative and atmospheric. It follows a group of buildings that are dating. I said weird, don't blame me. I don't even know if I understood all of it; is it time neutral or something? Yet I ended the story with happiness rather than with a desire for more. →The Cage by A.M. Dellamonica← →In the Sight of Akresa by Ray Wood← →Terminal by Lavie Tidhar← →The Witch of Duva by Leigh Bardugo← ★★★★★ ✔I first read this here. One of my favorite short stories of all time. TW: sexual assault. →Daughter of Necessity by Marie Brennan← →Among the Thorns by Veronica Schanoes← →These Deathless Bones by Cassandra Khaw← →Mrs. Sorenson and the Sasquatch by Kelly Barnhill← →The World is Full of Monsters by Jeff Vandermeer← →The Devil in America by Kai Ashante Wilson← →A Short History of the Twentieth Century by Kathleen Ann Goonan← ✨Arc received from Tor for an honest review. [ releases: September 2018.] Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  4. 5 out of 5

    Liz (Quirky Cat)

    I received a copy of Worlds Seen in Passing through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I'm unable to share all of them on here, because of the character limit. If you're curious about the rest, check out my blog. This has to be one of the most impressive collection of short stories I’ve read in a long time. This year marks the tenth year that Tor has been publishing fiction, and this was their way of celebrating their success. What a way to celebrate, right? Worlds Seen in Pas I received a copy of Worlds Seen in Passing through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I'm unable to share all of them on here, because of the character limit. If you're curious about the rest, check out my blog. This has to be one of the most impressive collection of short stories I’ve read in a long time. This year marks the tenth year that Tor has been publishing fiction, and this was their way of celebrating their success. What a way to celebrate, right? Worlds Seen in Passing contains a wild variety of themes and subjects, from science fiction and/or fantasy to horror. Every story is different and unique, yet the flow from one to the next was masterfully done. Not once did I find myself struggling to remember what happened in a specific short. While reading Worlds Seen in Passing, I was strongly reminded of the fact that I should really read more collections like this. The greedy part of me hopes to see more compilations like this from Tor. If you look at the table of contents you may find yourself overwhelmed by the number of short stories included here (forty in total, for those that are curious), and there are some major names included as well. Many will recognize Charlie Jane Anders, N. K. Jemisin, Leigh Bardugo, Yoon Ha Lee, Carrie Vaughn, Max Gladstone, just to name a few. I’m sure everyone that has read the collection could point out the ones that stuck out the most to them, the ones they loved the most, or the ones they felt the most impact from. I’m also sure that based on how many short stories are in this compilation, none of us would give the same answer. Personally, my favorites would have to be: Six Months, Three Days by Charlie Jane Anders, Waiting on a Bright Moon by JY Yang, The Litany of Earth by Ruthanna Emrys, Brimestone and Marmalade by Aaron Corwin, About Faries by Pat Murphy, and The Shape of My Name by Nino Cipri. While those ones were my favorite, I have to admit that some of the others had a very strong impact on me personally, for varying reasons. The Best We Can by Carrie Vaughn, Please Undo this Hurt by Seth Dickinson, the Language of Knives by Haralambi Markov, and Eros, Philia, Agape by Rachel Swirsky all seem to strike a chord with me. Also, please don’t underestimate how difficult it was to not let myself list every short story in the collection here – it was very tempting. Before I review each of these individually, I will mention that while they were all fantastic and expertly written, they also tend to be on the heavier and more somber side of fiction. That isn’t the case for all, but I’ll confess that I found myself only being able to read one or two at a time before taking a breather. I still greatly enjoyed the experience – I just wanted to give new readers a heads up. Additionally there are several shorts that I would put a ‘warning’ label on, as with my typical reviews. I’ll try to put a warning in the brief reviews, but there being so many, I don’t want to promise that I didn’t miss anything. Six Months, Three Days by Charlie Jane Anders I thought this was a fun spin on the whole concept of people being able to see into the future. I can safely say that I never thought of what that would mean for a person, romantically. The two main characters, Judy and Dough, did a fantastic job of showing how different people handle the same situation (or ability) differently. Where Judy is a positive personality, Doug is without a doubt a negative personality. Whether that is because of their abilities, or if they interpret the future based on their personality, I really couldn’t say. But I did very much enjoy all the possible ways to interpret their scenes. Damage by David D. Levine This would be the perfect story for those of you out there that like science fiction war stories. There’s an interesting twist though; it’s told from the perspective of the AI running the ship. I thought the little AI was adorable and heroic, and have to confess that I really did agree with all of their decisions, especially based on what was happening around them. The Best We Can by Carrie Vaughn I absolutely loved this story. I loved the different perspective on the whole ‘human race discovering aliens’ trope. It was different, it was fun, and most importantly, it was believable. I mean, really, what exactly would the human race do if we found proof of evidence for aliens? What would we do if we found them, or at least proof of them, but had no idea where they were from, or more importantly, how to get to them? What started out as an interesting twist ended with a surprisingly hopeful and inspiring conclusion. The City, Born Great by N.K. Jemisin Okay, for sake of honestly I should tell you that I haven’t yet read anything by N.K. Jemisin, but I absolutely adore her. I follow her on twitter and think she’s amazing. So I may be slightly biased in saying that I loved this story. It was great finally taking a moment to see what talent she had when it comes to writing – and I have to say it held up. This was a heartbreaking, but inspiring story about a young man in the city – many would argue that he has so much going against him, but it was wonderful to see the determination and drive behind this character. A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel by Yoon Ha Lee Have you ever seen a collection of short stories inside a short story collection? Well, I hadn’t before this one. As you can probably guess by the title, here we have a bunch of very short (only a few paragraphs each) tales of travel. Each one focuses on a different society/planet and how they approached or interpreted interstellar travel. I loved it. I actually wish all of these were longer – I need to know more about them all, even the somewhat depressing one (if you’ve read this, you know exactly which one I’m talking about). On the whole it was beautifully written. Waiting on a Bright Moon by JY Yang I loved this short. Actually, when I sat down to write the mini-review for this one I almost popped back up and added it to the list of my favorites – but if I allowed myself to do that soon I’d be finding myself doing that for all of them. This was a beautifully written piece of work. I honestly wish there was more to it. I need to find out more about this world – the events leading up to this story, what happened to the main characters, and what will happen next. I have so many questions. I think I found another author to start researching… Elephants and Corpses by Kameron Hurley Warning: Animal death, reanimated corpses (that last bit probably shouldn’t be surprising, based on the title). I’ll admit that this one was a tougher read for me than all the ones before it. While I found the world itself fascinating, as well as the main character – I knew right from the beginning what was going to happen to the animal introduced, and my heart just couldn’t take it. Still, the writing was phenomenal, as were some of the debates and implications raised by this short. About Fairies by Pat Murphy This was an oddly sweet and introspective piece. In many ways it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. However, I think it was exactly what I needed. A lot of what is happening in this appears to be coping mechanisms for dealing with the loss of a loved one. Having gone through this recently myself, I really found myself appreciating and respecting what was being done here. The Hanging Game by Helen Marshall Warning: Animal death, hangings (again, the title sort of gives that bit away). Miscarriages/loss of young infants. This was a heavy read, to put it lightly. You know how every city/camp/other location where kids congregate ends up developing its own games? And how it’s usually based on the lore of said location? Well this is one of those stories. Here the kids play at hanging, with many of them using proper high tension ropes – being that their parents are loggers. Obviously a game about kids hanging themselves is concerning enough, but story takes it a few steps further. I understand the point that was being made here…but this was a lot to swallow. Still, I have to admit that the writing was very well done, and the imagery provocative enough to ensure that it’ll be remembered for a long time. The Water that Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu This one is set in the future – but how far into the future is left unsaid. How do you think the world would react, if suddenly everyone was called out for their lies? Regardless of the reason for the lie itself. This is a fun concept being used to discuss a very real and difficult point in many people’s lives; the action of coming out to one’s family. After all, how can you hide anything in a world where water will be dumped on you for any lie or act of subterfuge? A Cup of Salt Tears by Isabel Yap This was a heavy tale, to say the least. It was beautifully and brilliantly written. It also had a way of really tugging at your heart strings. Or at least that is how I felt on the matter. I loved the inclusion of local lore, that was a lovely touch and really allowed the story to unfold in such a natural way. The Litany of Earth by Ruthanna Emrys I mentioned this above, but I really do think that this was one of my favorites from this collection. I’ve read a lot of Lovecraft lore, or stories based on Lovecraft. Never once have I seen the perspective flipped like this though, and I’ll confess that it never even occurred to me to think about what would happen to those ‘side characters.’ I love the new viewpoint, and the character giving us that view was wonderfully written. I really felt connected to her – I found myself sympathetic to her; and hoping for a resolution for both her and her people. I sincerely never expected that. The lines that were tied between this and some very real events makes one that much more aware of how we treat people that we’d rather just not think about. It was beautifully done. Brimstone and Marmalade by Aaron Corwin This was an incredibly funny and cute story, even if it does end up finding a way to make it heavy in the end. I’ll admit I really enjoyed it, and could see a younger version of myself happily having a little demon (or three) as a pet. It’s such a funny concept, and having the characters go about their days like it was no big deal was alarming, in an odd sort of way. I loved reading about Matilda and all the life lessons she learned thanks to Ix-Thor. Reborn by Ken Liu If you’re looking for a short story that has a different perspective for an alien encounter/invasion, then this is the story for you. It’s the same and different at once. Some parts are exactly what you’d expect; while other parts…well they make you wonder, let’s put it that way. It raises a lot of interesting questions, like the origin of selflessness and the impulse to be kind and helpful, and the concept of different forms of control and aggression. It left me with a lot of different thoughts and questions…and I’m okay with that. Please Undo This Hurt by Seth Dickinson I felt a very strong connection with this story. Perhaps it was the emotions that Dominga and Nico were experiencing. No, I know that’s exactly the reason why. These characters were just so human it was impossible not to relate to them. Even as the story breached more and more into the sci-fi I found myself entranced by the characters and their emotional turmoil. The Language of Knives by Haralambi Markov Warning: Graphic details of human remains. This was probably the most graphic short story in the collection. Second maybe to Breaking Water, but I’ll leave that to you to decide. However, the meaning and core concepts behind the story…they can’t be overlooked. This is a tale of loss, but more than that it’s about coping and acceptance. It’s about realizing that there are different ways of showing love and affection, and sometimes you have to accept one over the other. It’s about realizing that one type of affection doesn’t automatically make the less inferior. It was beautifully written, and worth the slightly graphic nature. The Shape of My Name by Nino Cipri This was a time travel story like I’ve never seen it. While it makes perfect sense now, I can honestly say that I never thought about time travel being used as an allegory for learning to accept oneself the way they are; or about societies’ lack of acceptance. This was a very powerful story, and I’m so happy to have read it. I actually wish there was more to it – I wasn’t ready for it to be over. Add this author to the list I need to follow up on. Eros, Philia, Agape by Rachel Swirsky Lucian is one of those silent characters that I’m always drawn to. Naturally I loved everything about this story. From the questions raised about love, to the realization that there are different types of love. More than that though, this was a story about needing to find yourself before you can ever find, or accept, love. If I had to pick a highlight for this collection, it would have to be this story here. It was so perfect. The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal The Lady Astronaut of Mars was both uplifting and heartbreaking. Which one dominated varied from moment to moment, so it was very much an emotional roller coaster. It was beautifully written, and brought tears to my eyes at more than one point. I think many of us fear ending up being in Elma’s position – at least in regards to losing a loved one. At the same time it’s hard not to be impressed with what she accomplished, what she stands for now, and what she still stands to achieve. Last Son of Tomorrow by Greg van Eekhout This was a sad, but interesting, twist on the whole Superman superpowered character. Yes, it always seems fun and cool, but I’ve always wondered what the cost would be for something like that. Clearly I wasn’t the only one to wonder it – though Eekhout did a much better job with this than I could have ever hoped for myself. This is the tale of John, his superpowers, and his immortality. Ponies by Kif Johnson Warning: Animal death. As tough as some parts of this one was, I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of a poem I read when I was a kid, about how the main perspective was slowly turning into a doll with no motivation or emotions all in an attempt to make society like her. That’s sort of the case here, though it’s less subtle and more brutal. There’s no denying the demands being made for acceptance here, nor can we pretend the cost isn’t high. And yet the characters here still did everything asked, gave up everything asked. Makes you wonder how many others would do the same thing. La beaute sans vertu by Genevieve Valentine This was an eerie reimagining of the world of fashion, but I really enjoyed it. It explored the darker sides of fashion, letting elements travel to their extremes, such as the fashion of attaching different (younger) arms to the models – and how that made it acceptable to have purple finger tips. I love all the questions and implications this tale raised to the surface. If you’re looking for something that will make you sit and think, this is the one to read. A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa Wong A hauntingly beautiful tale of two sisters with magical abilities. This one is more about the limitations of said abilities, and how they can only do so much. They can’t change the past. They can’t change how cruel people can be. They can’t make you be accepted for what you are. The ending is heartbreaking, but also perfectly fitting in what was being told here. A Kiss with Teeth by Max Gladstone I found A Kiss with Teeth to be a moment of humor and light between some of the heaviest short stories in this collection. For that it was perfectly placed. I love the idea of Vlad going through a midlife crisis, all the while trying to fit in and conform with that a ‘normal human’ would do. It’s both absurd and hilarious….but also shows that not everybody can fit the same mold, and that we shouldn’t kill ourselves trying to be like everyone else. The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections by Tina Connolly Warning: Implications of what a corrupt and wicked king would do to his people (torture/rape). This was a tough read at points, but it is also going to be one of the tales that sticks with me the longest. I love the concept of a baker infusing his art with emotions and memories – not his own, but those of the eater. That the baker was the one to bring justice to this horrible world is that much more perfect. A beautiful ending for a fascinating tale. I would have loved it had this one been a novella or novel. The End of the End of Everything by Dale Bailey Here we have one of the horror stories in this collection. It was well written, and incredibly creepy. It dripped with foreshadowing that I couldn’t hide from. I almost wish I had saved this one to read around Halloween time. It’s about a married couple, suicide parties, and the end of the world. So what could possibly go wrong? Breaking Water by Indrapramit Das Warning: Graphic details of decay. Breaking Water is an interesting story. It’s about ownership, guilt, and doing what is right. Or at least, that’s what I read into about it. There were some graphic details included in this one, but to be honest it really isn’t any worse than any zombie fiction out there. I did like that this one took the time to explore how the world at large would react to an infestation (for lack of a better word) like this. Your Orisons May be Recorded by Laurie Penny Warning: Mentions of sexual assault/child molestation. How would you feel if you worked at a call center for people who needed help, but you weren’t actually allowed to help? I think it’s safe to say that eventually, after hearing people like that day in and day out, you would eventually break down, right? Everyone would. Even an angel. The Tallest Doll in New York City by Maria Dahvana Headley This has to be one of the silliest and cutest love stories I’ve read in quite some time. I loved it – it did a fantastic job of bringing a smile to my face. Considering how dark some of these short stories have been, I greatly appreciated a little break from all of that. And to believe it all started out on Valentine’s Day in 1938… The Cage by A. M. Dellamonica I’m not going to lie – this one really got to me. I actually wish it had been a full novel, or at least a novella. I desperately want more information. More than that, I want some closure. I also completely believe that events would go down like this. I can’t imagine humanity at large would react well to the revelation of werewolves – and therefore I completely believe that they would be brutally hunted down first, and then dealing with the ethical and legal debates after. In the Sight of Akresa by Ray Wood Warning: Somewhat/fairly graphic details of a tongue being forcibly removed. A chilling tale of love, secrets, and their costs. I really enjoyed this story. I know I’ve said it before, but I actually would have loved to see this one go on a bit longer. The world felt so well formed – I feel like it’s got to be a world that the author has been working on for a while (I haven’t actually looked into that yet, but I intend to). I really love how at first it looked like Claire was telling somebody else’s story entirely, only for it to be slowly revealed that it was more than that. Terminal by Lavie Tidhar Terminal one gave me chills. It’s wonderfully written, with both heartwarming thoughts full of hopes and dreams, and moments of heartache, loss, and confusion. In short, it did a wonderful job of capturing a variety of human emotions and using them to explain a complex situation. It was masterfully done. For more reviews, check out Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks

  5. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    DRAFT, progress report Great to see the publisher's selection of the "Best of Tor.com So Far" as a handsome hardcover, courtesy of the Santa Barbara public library. I'll have some comments on individual stories, but they are all (I believe) still available at the tor.com website. The biggest omission from the book is the wonderful story art! My first reread was “Your Orisons May Be Recorded” by Laurie Penny, which I *loved* on first reading, and liked even more on reread. 5+ stars! https://www.goo DRAFT, progress report Great to see the publisher's selection of the "Best of Tor.com So Far" as a handsome hardcover, courtesy of the Santa Barbara public library. I'll have some comments on individual stories, but they are all (I believe) still available at the tor.com website. The biggest omission from the book is the wonderful story art! My first reread was “Your Orisons May Be Recorded” by Laurie Penny, which I *loved* on first reading, and liked even more on reread. 5+ stars! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... . As you will see, opinions differ on this story, and will on every other... * "Damage" by David D. Levine, 4 stars, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... Unusual mil-sf tale of "Scraps" the reclaimed fighter. Nicely done. And here are stories that I think should have been included, but weren't: * Sleeper by Jo Walton, 5+ stars! https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... * Ambiguity Machines: An Examination, by Vandana Singh. 4.5 stars. My take: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... * This Chance Planet by Elizabeth Bear, 4 stars, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... * The Mongolian Wizard by Michael Swanwick, 4+ stars, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show /15737340-the-mongolian-wizard * Points of Origin by Marissa K. Lingen, 4 stars, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... OK, deep enough! The point being, Tor.com has published some amazingly good short fiction in the past decade. What a backlist! Check out this list, https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/7...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hélène Louise

    I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read this anthology, as I frequently feeling lazy towards short stories: most of the time I have to make an effort to begin a new story and, for a very short one, I may be frustrated by its shortness if I liked it or disgruntled to have spent some time and efforts for nothing if I didn't. This was the very occasion to make acquaintance with some unknown authors, to read more of others I like, or to try again with some I didn't appreciated in the past I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read this anthology, as I frequently feeling lazy towards short stories: most of the time I have to make an effort to begin a new story and, for a very short one, I may be frustrated by its shortness if I liked it or disgruntled to have spent some time and efforts for nothing if I didn't. This was the very occasion to make acquaintance with some unknown authors, to read more of others I like, or to try again with some I didn't appreciated in the past. It's  very difficult to put a note down for so many stories. I chose arbitrarily 4 out of 5 (even if my own would average around 3) because with so many various stories any reader is sure to have some very good surprises in the whole. I did! I've written some very brief reviews for each story to explain why I did like it, or didn't, or didn't and even ďidnt finish it. Here they are: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "Six Months, Three Days” by Charlie Jane Anders: DNF 1*/5 To be honest this kind of theme doesn't interest me much and I rarely appreciate its use as a story plot (as an exception the glorious "Spoon Benders" by  Daryl Gregory, in which it's absolutely not the only theme). I wouldn't have read this novella spontaneously, to be sure. But I was all for trying! Well it's was confusing, not convincing (the characters were so nearly normal, so implausible!) and, the worse, boring. I didn't care for the characters and wasn't intrigued by the end, so I stopped reading. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “Damage” by David D. Levine: 4*/5 I liked very much this story, loved the duality between what the main character knew and what it was feeling, forced by its programming. The tone is sad, melancholic and suits this heart-rending story. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “The Best We Can” by Carrie Vaughn: 3*/5 I liked the main idea: making a story about finding the proof of extra terrestrial intelligence in a way that couldn't make any story. The wear and tear of the situation for the main character was thoroughly and cleverly exposed. But the end was quite disappointing. I was ready for something less pseudo educational... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “The City Born Great” by N. K. Jemisin DNF 2*/5 Well written with a strong voice but not to my liking! I was swimming in incoherent esoteric oneiric flights of fancy and was lost before to the end of the story and, consequently, stop to read. I absolutely don't mind this kind of tale when I can find a coherent reason for it (as for instance the wonderful "Challenger deep" by  Neal Shusterman) but there it seems gratuitous, and I wasn't touched by the...urban fantasy fairytale? and decided the novella a lost cause for me. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “A Vector Alphabetof Interstellar Travel” by Yoon Ha Lee DNF 1*/5 I've read one book by the author ("Ninefox gambit") . I rather appreciated it, even if it was very foggy (strange fantasish science, action which seemed to be happening... nowhere), because the characters were great and the story was interesting. In this novella there are no characters and no story either. It's just a list, author's notes, ideas... I tried to read through but finally gave up: unintelligible for the reader I am. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “Waiting on a Bright Moon” by JY Yang 2,5 */5 I liked the writing and the atmosphere, I read this novella easily. I appreciated less the fantasy-science (magic, not science), the end, which doesn't end anything, and the impression (maybe false but here I am) that the author used their story to make a point about feminine homosexuality. I'm all in favour of diversity in matters of love, it should be naturally broached in all stories. But in this short story this theme is central and, if beautifully expressed, over developed. The romance wasn't very convincing, it seemed more like two people searching and finding comprehension and affection. Sweet but not dreamy! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “Elephants and Corpses” by Kameron Hurley 5*/5 I loved everything about this story: the writing, immersive and smart, the characters who managed to be so touching in such a short time, the main idea and how it was developed, the humour, the humanity, the beautiful conclusion. I hadn't read anything by the author, but realised that her book "The stars are legion" is in my possession, waiting to be read! It'll be soon :) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “About Fairies” by Pat Murphy 5*/5 A very good story, very personal with a beautiful, strange, sad and wise atmosphere. The consideration about death and relationships, how we should be able to chose about important things, like believing, sharing and loving without having to follow any diktats, is really interesting, concealed in a story about adults, fairies and lost. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “The Hanging Game” by Helen Marshall 4*/5 A weird unusual story with a blurred background, and some dark magic hidden in plain sight! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu 3*/5 An enjoyable read but a little bit lacking of something - I wouldn't know what ! - to make it memorable... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “A Cup of Salt Tears” by Isabel Yap 3*/5 I really liked this story till the end. It it isn't that I disliked the end actually, but because I didn't understand it. I was clearly missing something which was frustrating (and if not, if it was intentional, I don't like at all!) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “The Litany of Earth” by Ruthanna Emrys 3*/5 I would have liked this story more if the fantastic part wasn't dwarfed by the analogy part. I was frustrated ; the idea could have made a better novel than a novella maybe? In a similar fantastic theme, Daryl Gregory's "Harrison squared" is a hit! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “Brimstone and Marmalade” by Aaron Corwin 2*/5 After an excellent beginning, rather a let down. The idea of demons pets is great but fizzles out. No answers will be given about their existence in a quite normal contemporain world. They just seem to exist to make a point - a rather moralising one, morever. Still the writing is good and the story bitter sweet, so quite a good read if not an excellent one. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “Reborn” by Ken Liu  5*/5 Excellent SF, with a strong atmosphere and an impressive manner to tell things without saying them. The story in itself is quite sad, desperate even, but not gratuitously: behind the SF themes, other ones are broached with a lot a sensibility : sexual and psychological abuses, identity and memory, what is worth to die for. An unforgettable read for me. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “Please Undo This Hurt” by Seth Dickinson 5*/5 I wasn't much impressed by the story in itself. But all the rest was extraordinarily moving and rang true. This novella will be resonant and meaningful for anybody who's been depressed and/or is suffering with an oversensitive constitution while having a somewhat, or sometimes, heartbreaking job. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “The Language of Knives” by Haralambi Markov 2*/5 Very good writing, a good and bizarre idea, but a story which left me cold. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “The Shape of My Name” by Nino Cipri 5*/5 An audacious and very well shaped story, mixing up identity, time travel and family ties. I particularly appreciated how one of the theme was developed, with finesse and reserve. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “Eros, Philia, Agape” by Rachel Swirsky 2*/5 I wasn't much moved by this short story, sad, pessimistic and negative - too much for my taste. And I don't care for open endings either. Good writing, just not for me! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal 3*/5 I appreciated the idea of displaying a female astronaut and an old person. The reflection about long ago fame and old "has been" heroes was sound. But the end cheats, the solution isn't okay, the heroine's quandary isn't solved at all! Or shouldn't be... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “Last Son of Tomorrow” by Greg van Eekhout 2*/5 Just half of an idea, boring and empty. Not horrible just uninteresting for me. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “Ponies” by Kij Johnson 4*/5 A weird and disturbing story, showing some children's casual cruelty. A strong atmosphere and some striking writing! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “La beauté sans vertu” by Genevieve Valentine 2*/5 A good and original beginning but a confusing and boring story. I skimmed it to the end. A strong voice but not the kind of writing I'm able to appreciate. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong  1*/5 DNF I didn't like a thing about this story and couldn't even finish it! Just nor for me, at all.. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “A Kiss With Teeth” by Max Gladstone 3*/5 A good story, melancholic and intriguing. The end wasn't completely convincing, maybe... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” by Tina Connolly Quite a little chef d'œuvre! A brilliant idea, beautifully executed: the narration and the magic expressed serve to explain the past, while hinting for some sensational ending - which doesn't disapoint. A wonderful story, poignant and so very satisfying! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “The End of the End of Everything” by Dale Bailey 3*/5 The novella was really good, with a strong atmosphere, in a (maybe metaphorical?) ending apocalyptic world. If I didn't appreciate it more it's very probably because it also was quite too "adult" for my taste: disillusioned sex, toxic indulgences (sex, alcool, drugs) and a very very weird, disgusting, awful, disturbing idea (some very very weird, disgusting, awful, disturbing art). The end, and its moral, was rather sweet, comparatively (if not an happy one, obviously) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “Breaking Water” by Indrapramit Das 4*/5 A weird and clever pseudo zombies story. A clever and humble reflection upon Indian society, particularly women's place. If really bizarre and quite disgusting sometimes, nothing is gratuitous. Another theme is how we consider, or lack to do so, the future of our closest relation's corpses and, by extension, our own one (if interested please have a look at Caitlin Doughty's books and youtube "Ask A Mortician"). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “Your Orisons May Be Recorded” by Laurie Penny 2,5*/5 Good writing, an easy flow, but a rather weak idea and an also rather weak end ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “The Tallest Doll in New York City” by Maria Dahvana Headley Good writing, an intriguing idea but a very confusing narrative (I couldn't understand if the "we" was for a building or for all the waiters) and a off-handedly narrative: the practical consequences of such an incredible action are ignored, the buildings just sprout some handy members to walk, dance and... much more. Still I would have been a tiny more generous if for the very irritating and silly overuse of the word "doll" instead of "woman", "girl", "female" etc. I imagine that it's supposed to make a nice contrast with the feminine resolution of the Chrysler Building, but it was much too insistent to be effective. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “The Cage” by A.M. Dellamonica 4*/5 A very enjoyable realistic urban fantasy short story, with touching characters  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “In the Sight of Akresa” by Ray Wood Good writing but an antipathic story, with a weak, un-loyal and animal abusing narrator (Which wasn't exactly, I suppose, the writer's aim). A true feel bad story. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “Terminal” by Lavie Tidhar 3*/5 I liked the story and the idea was interesting if not really credible, scientifically wise, maybe (thousand personal jalopies couldn't be cheaper than one big spaceship couldn't they?) I particularly appreciated the non American nor European point of view! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “The Witch of Duva: A Ravkan Folk Tale” by Leigh Bardugo 5*/5 A clever and enthralling dark (or only true!) fairy tale, with ambiguous characters and a very surprising ending! I wasn't completely convinced by Shadow and Bone when I read it, a few years ago, but this short story makes me want to reread it. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “Daughter of Necessity” by Marie Brennan 2*/5 This retelling of Penelope's story wasn't bad, just a bit dull. There is a personal magic touch, to spice up the whole, but not very efficient to my taste. And the name dropping at the beginning of the story was rather unnecessary... Nothing to compare with the fantastic "Circe" by Madeleine Miller. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “Among the Thorns” by Veronica Schanoes 2*/5 This was an original retelling, not lacking in personality. But I couldn't really appreciate it because of the many tortures's descriptions. The way the loving uncle explains in details to the wife and her children, some very young, how the father was torture, killed and his corpse displayed, was particularly awful and disturbing. I admit to have skimmed some passages. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “These Deathless Bones” by Cassandra Khaw 3*/5 A very dark fantasy façon fairytale, with an interesting point of view. The end was a bit frustrating as cut rather shortly, and the entirely bad, monstrous child, from birth, remains a very disturbing theme. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch” by Kelly Barnhill 3*/5 This short story was quite a delicious reading, I loved the main character (the pastor), the atmosphere, the malicious tone. But the end was somewhat botched, an easy way out. And the fact that the conformist villagers, in all their indignation, never seemed to ponder over - pardon my crudity - sexual intercourses between the delicate and lovely widow and the head over heels in love Sasquatch isn't very credible - as so many people seem to be obsessed with their entourage's sexuality... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “This World Is Full of Monsters” by Jeff VanderMeer 1*/5 DNF at the half The beginning of this novella was rather enjoyable, if weird in a nebulous kind of way. But at some point of the story I lost interest as the narration was becoming more and more muddy. I then realised that I had still quite a longish part to read and decided to treat myself and stop reading. I don't mind strangeness at all, but onirism and esoterism are beyond me... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “The Devil in America” by Kai Ashante Wilson 3*/5 The story was easy to read, even with its audacious writing: audacious writing is the author's trademark and I loved my two others reads by him ("A taste of honey" and "The sorcerer of the wildeeps"). But I was rather disappointed by my incapacity to clearly understand the whole story. I felt out of my depth, there...  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ “A Short History of the Twentieth Century, or, When You Wish Upon A Star” by Kathleen Ann Goonan Haven't read it yet. I was feeling rather out of breath at the end of this anthology, and the presentation of this last story didn't appeal much to me, so I decided to postpone it's reading.  (I thank Netgalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for sending me the ARC in exchange for my honest review)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sarah (CoolCurryBooks)

    I’ve been generally impressed with Tor.com’s fiction, but I’m always running behind on their short stories. When I saw this “Best of” anthology up on Netgalley, I thought it was the perfect chance to catch up. And so far, Worlds Seen in Passing is my favorite short fiction anthology of 2018. I was already familiar with some of the stories in the collection, either from anthologies collecting “best of the year” stories or from reading them on Tor.com’s site. For the most part, I didn’t reread them I’ve been generally impressed with Tor.com’s fiction, but I’m always running behind on their short stories. When I saw this “Best of” anthology up on Netgalley, I thought it was the perfect chance to catch up. And so far, Worlds Seen in Passing is my favorite short fiction anthology of 2018. I was already familiar with some of the stories in the collection, either from anthologies collecting “best of the year” stories or from reading them on Tor.com’s site. For the most part, I didn’t reread them in Worlds Seen in Passing, but I did like most of the stories I already knew! One such story was “The City Born Great” by N.K. Jemisin, where the spirit of New York City is about to be born. A homeless young gay man is selected as the midwife, and it’s his job to defend the city from predators. I don’t love the story as much as some of Jemisin’s novel-length works (how can you beat The Fifth Season?), but it’s still a solid tale. In another, “Waiting on a Bright Moon” by JY Yang, a futuristic society depends on separating queer women and having them create a connection across planets through song. It’s as wonderfully written as you would expect from any story by JY Yang. I originally read “The Litany of Earth” by Ruthanna Emrys as an extra at the end of her book Winter Tide. The story takes place before the novel, and it introduces Aphra, a daughter of Innsmouth who lost almost her entire family when the government placed them in an internment camp far from the ocean. When an FBI agent comes asking for her help with an investigation, Aphra is naturally reluctant. “The Shape of My Name” by Nino Cipri remains one of my all-time favorite time travel stories, and back when I was doing short story lists for Queership, I featured it there. I don’t want to say too much about the story… but it’s about the protagonist discovering himself and his troubled relationship with his mother, who refuses to accept her son’s gender. “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu is another story I’d featured on Queership. When you tell a lie, water starts falling on you. If it’s a minor bending of the truth, maybe you just get a little mist. If it’s a flat-out whopper, you get completely soaked. This makes life awkward for Matt, who’s not out to his traditional Chinese parents but is having dinner with them and his boyfriend. “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong is as lovely and powerful as any story she’s written (if you haven’t read Alyssa Wong, you need to change that NOW). The story centers on two sisters who can jump from reality to reality, but no matter how many times Hannah tries, she can’t save her sister. On the whole, I like Max Gladstone’s novels more than his short stories, but “A Kiss with Teeth” remains the exception. It’s a vampire story about marriage and fatherhood, and I like it enough that I’ve read it at least twice before. I read “The Witch of Duva: A Ravkan Folk Tale” by Leigh Bardugo as part of her collection The Language of Thorns, where it was my favorite story of the collection. Nadya and her brother live with their father, a carpenter, in a small village in the woods. Then their mother dies, local girls begin to go missing Nadya’s brother leaves, and her father remarries. It’s a super dark story, and I loved the creeping sense of unease that permeated it. There was really only two stories I’d already read that I wasn’t wild about. No matter how much I read by Kai Ashante Wilson, I’ve never really loved any of his stories, and that includes “The Devil in America,” the story of a family with supernatural powers that lost the knowledge of how to use those when they were enslaved and shipped to America. I’m in a similar boat with Maria Dahvana Headley’s work, and I think it’s just a case of authorial style not matching up with the reader. In any case, I wasn’t a fan of “The Tallest Doll in New York City” the first time I read it, so I felt no qualms about skipping it here. While I’d already read the stories I mentioned about, the majority of the collection was new to me. That includes stories by authors I’m familiar with but just hadn’t gotten around to yet. For instance, I’m a huge fan of Yoon Ha Lee, but I’d never before read “A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel,” which describes several alien species and their forms of space travel. I’ve seen stories of a similar style, and I think they may make up their own subgenre? For instance, it reminds me a lot of “The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” by Ken Liu or “Invisible Planets” by Hao Jingfang. This type of story is more focused on ideas and descriptive language than the plot structure of a traditional Western short story. I’m also a huge Kameron Hurley fan, but I can never keep up with all her short fiction! “Elephants and Corpses” is a characteristically gritty fantasy story that will appeal to fans of her character Nyx. The protagonist can jump into dead bodies, but he’s in a pickle when he fishes the wrong body out of the river and suddenly someone’s trying to kill him. Charlie Jane Anders story “Six Months, Three Days” deals with the theme of fate vs. free will when two people who can see the future start dating. Is it worth going through a relationship you know will end badly? Are the good times worth the bad? How much control do you really have over your own future? The story doesn’t have answers, but it raises some interesting questions. I’d recently gotten into Mary Robinette Kowal’s Lady Astronaut novels, and while I knew they started with a Tor.com short story, I’d never read it. When I got to “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” I discovered that it followed a couple of characters I was already familiar with… but when they were near the end of their lives. It was a very bittersweet story, because, on one hand, they’re dying, but on the other, I now know that Elma accomplished much of what she wanted in life. “These Deathless Bones” by Cassandra Khaw just reinforces how much I love her work. It’s a fairy-tale type piece, about a woman who’s stepping into the role of an “evil” stepmother but still gets her happy ending. It’s so great. In a similar vein, both “Daughter of Necessity” by Marie Brennan and “Among the Thorns” by Veronica Schanoes are reenvisioning older fairy-tales and myths. In “Daughter of Necessity,” Penelope’s weaving isn’t just a trick; she’s literally weaving different possible futures and unraveling them until she finds the ending she wants. “Among the Thorns” deals with an incredibly anti-Semitic fairy tale where a man with a magic pipe straight up murders a Jewish peddler and is still somehow the hero of the tale??? Anyway, Schanoes creates a new story following the peddler’s daughter who is out for vengeance. I spent the summer interning for Apex books, which is creating an anthology of SFF stories about resistance. When I read “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” by Tina Connolly, I felt like it fit with that theme perfectly. In a fantasy kingdom with a cruel king, a cook makes food that has you relive memories. His wife is forced to be the food taster for the king, and the memories her husband is showing her tells her that something big is coming. “In the Sight of the Akresa” by Ray Wood is another medieval fantasy type story, but I wasn’t as fond of this one. The protagonist, Claire, is simply horrible. At least I think she’s supposed to be horrible? She’s a noblewoman who starts a clandestine relationship with a former-slave girl whose tongue was cut out. I started getting “Claire is bad news” vibes earlier on when she hurts an animal as an excuse to see the girl she’s attracted to. Anyway, it’s also a queer tragedy so FYI, I guess. This review is getting ridiculously long and I’m ridiculously busy, so I’m going to highlight a few more stories before wrapping it up. “Brimstone and Marmalade” by Aaron Corwin was absolutely delightful. A young girl wants a pony but her parents give her a pet demon instead. “Ponies” by Kij Johnson is about a little girl who actually has a pet pony, who has wings, a horn, and talks. This is completely normal, and every girl has a pony like this. What’s also normal is having parties where ponies are ritualistically mutilated to fit in with the crowd. It’s a strange and macabre story about the costs of fitting with the crowd… and the costs of going against it. “Your Orisons May Be Recorded” by Laurie Penny was a great story that I liked a lot. The protagonist is an angel, only she’s basically stuck working the prayer phone lines and can’t actually help anyone. Plus, she keeps getting in trouble from her boss for not being efficient enough. “The Cage” by A.M. Dellamonica was ridiculously cute. It’s this super sweet story about lesbian moms taking care of a baby werewolf and I love it so much. The moment I finished reading it I sent a link to my best friend telling her she had to read it RIGHT NOW. “Eros, Philia, Agape” by Rachel Swirsky is another story I linked my best friend to, but that’s mostly because she’s obsessed with robots. A robot sets out to find himself, leaving the human wife who had long lobbied for robot rights. My least favorite story of the collection was Jeff VanderMeer’s “This World Is Full of Monsters,” but it’s also 100% a Jeff VanderMeer story. By which I mean that it’s weird as all get out and full of squishy biological things. I’m going to run through the rest of the stories super quickly. Ready? “Damage” by David D. Levine is about a spaceship in an abusive relationship (pretty good story). “The Best We Can” by Carrie Vaughn shows that first contact can actually be quite boring (okay, probably wouldn’t reread). “About Faries” by Pat Murphy has a depressed woman hired to help design a virtual fairyland for children (wouldn’t reread). “The Hanging Game” by Helen Marshall (Tw: miscarriage) is as creepy as all get out. I might reread it someday. “A Cup of Salt Tears” by Isabel Yap has a woman meeting a kappa (probably won’t reread) “Reborn” by Ken Liu asks big questions about identity through a conquering alien species that is constantly erasing memories (might reread). “Please Undo This Hurt” by Seth Dickinson asks if you could make yourself never have existed… would you? I probably wouldn’t reread it, but the concept has stuck with me. “The Language of Knives” by Haralambi Markov has the protagonist baking his deceased husband into a ritualistic cake (wouldn’t reread). “Last Son of Tomorrow” by Greg van Eekhout is obviously influenced by Superman and asks whether or not immortality is actually that great (wouldn’t reread). “La beauté sans vertu” by Genevieve Valentine is a haunting story about a fashion house and a model who disappears. It’s really stuck with me, and I might visit it again in the future. “The End of the End of Everything” by Dale Bailey has drugs, parties and the end of the world (wouldn’t reread). “Breaking Water” by Indrapramit Das has Krishna finding a dead body and the dead walking again (might reread). “Terminal” by Lavie Tidhar is about people going to Mars to die (wouldn’t reread). “Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch” by Kelly Barnhill follows the relationship between a woman and a Sasquatch and how the town views it. It was one of my least favorites of the collection, and I won’t revisit it. “A Short History of the Twentieth Century, or, When You Wish Upon A Star” by Kathleen Ann Goonan isn’t specifically science fiction but was a decent enough story. Okay, so I realize I was moving fast at the end, but this review is already over 2,000 words! Anyway, my end analysis would be that while there’s of course some middling stories and stories I didn’t care about, Worlds Seen in Passing also has an impressive number of stories that I really liked. Probably a higher than average ratio. There’s also a fantastic author line up. If you’re looking for a short story collection that includes some of the best stories of the past ten years, you don’t need to look much further than Worlds Seen in Passing. I received an ARC in exchange for a free and honest review. Review originally posted on The Illustrated Page.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Akemi G.

    Excellent anthology of contemporary SFF. Here are a few stories I particularly like: Eros, Philia, Agape by Rachel Swirsky Whether AI is capable to love is a big theme in SF. And for that matter, do humans know what it is? Like, there was a movie that seemed to define love as irreversible attachment; I respectfully disagree. Love in the absence of free will is not love, no matter how sweet or passionate it may be. This novelette is beautiful. Even with the controversial Oedipal issue. The Best We C Excellent anthology of contemporary SFF. Here are a few stories I particularly like: Eros, Philia, Agape by Rachel Swirsky Whether AI is capable to love is a big theme in SF. And for that matter, do humans know what it is? Like, there was a movie that seemed to define love as irreversible attachment; I respectfully disagree. Love in the absence of free will is not love, no matter how sweet or passionate it may be. This novelette is beautiful. Even with the controversial Oedipal issue. The Best We Can by Carrie Vaughn A new take of a Big Dumb Object, like the one in Arthur C. Clarke's The Sentinel. Whereas the 20th century men fearlessly and naively approached it, the 21st century scientists are painfully and sadly careful. Genre defying brilliance. The Lady Astronaut Of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal Kowal tackles heavy issues like gender and mortality. Impressive. Ponies by Kij Johnson I'm not familiar with the show this fable-like story is based on, but still ... wow. Last Son Of Tomorrow by Greg van Eekhout Funny, sad, brilliant, all at the same time. The Water That Falls On You From Nowhere by John Chu Sweet love story, spiced up with obsessive family dynamics.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laura Newsholme

    What a comprehensive collection this is with stories from such talented authors as N. K. Jemisin, JY Yang, Seth Dickinson and many others. Spanning ten years of Tor.com, one would expect the stories to be excellent and they are. Obviously not each story will be to everyone's taste and there are some in the collection that I definitely enjoyed far more than others, but I don't think it would be possible to find a more all-encompassing collection that so successfully showcases the breadth of talen What a comprehensive collection this is with stories from such talented authors as N. K. Jemisin, JY Yang, Seth Dickinson and many others. Spanning ten years of Tor.com, one would expect the stories to be excellent and they are. Obviously not each story will be to everyone's taste and there are some in the collection that I definitely enjoyed far more than others, but I don't think it would be possible to find a more all-encompassing collection that so successfully showcases the breadth of talent currently writing in the science fiction/fantasy/horror genre. My personal favourites were 'The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections' by Tina Connolly, which tells the story of an extremely talented baker and the tyrannical king he works for, and 'Elephants and Corpses' by Kameron Hurley, which tells of a corpse jumper and his trade. All in all, anyone who loves genre fiction of the fantastical kind should read this collection - I guarantee that you will find something here to love. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Karla Winick-Ford

    Reading them to help my writing, was inspiring. Very creative thoughts collected and bound. Thank you for contributing to the literature.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Wray

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cyber

  13. 5 out of 5

    William Gillespie

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cass Morrison

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ian

  16. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amy Baker

  18. 5 out of 5

    Eugene Perkins

  19. 4 out of 5

    Emily Kvalheim

  20. 5 out of 5

    Vanja

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jack Sharp

  22. 5 out of 5

    Angela Schlegel

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Hill

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alf

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kaden Goodrich

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Luetzen

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Smith

  29. 4 out of 5

    JM

  30. 4 out of 5

    David

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