On anthologies and how to speak to one’s inner child

I love anthologies.

I love anthologies for a couple of reasons, but right now the one I want to talk about is this: anthologies introduce me to new authors.  New stories to hunt down and devour.  Delicious.

I discovered Jim Butcher in an anthology years ago (Dark and Stormy Knights) and have since gobbled up nearly everything he’s written.  I was disappointed when I read the Dresden Files novels to discover that Gentleman Johnny Marcone, the character I’d met in Dark and Stormy Knights, wasn’t actually the protagonist in the series.  Probably not the usual reaction to his character, but I was eventually reconciled to the fact and enjoyed the series regardless.*

Sometimes, though, things don’t work out so nicely.  I’ve now read two stories by Naomi Novik in different anthologies,** checked the author, and thought, oh, darn.  Because I’ve already read her novels.  Similarly, I found “Iphigenia in Aulis” – best !zombie story I have ever read – by Mike Carey in An Apple for the Creature, looked up his bibliography, and was terribly disappointed to find that he hadn’t published many novels.‡  

Then again, my to-read list is pages long and perpetually growing faster than I can cross books off of it (a phenomenon I’m sure is familiar to many of you), so maybe, I tell myself, it’s just as well.  Myself is unconvinced.  On the plus side, anthologies are still excellent things, a whole cornucopia of stories, even if they don’t lead one to further stories.

Myself is still unconvinced.  Myself wants those further stories.

Ah, well.  What’re you gonna do?

Read more stories, obviously.

* That was a joke.

** The most recent is “Rocks Fall” in The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, and for the life of me I can’t remember the title or anthology of the first.  I’m starting to think I misremembered, because I can’t find a listing for it that sounds right on either Wikipedia or her website.  Too bad, because it was a fun story – New York real estate brokers for story monsters.  I wish I could find it again.

† Okay, this is obviously not an objective and analytical assessment.  Even if it were, I don’t read that many zombie stories, so it still wouldn’t be a really authoritative assessment.  But it’s hands-down my favorite !zombie story I’ve ever read.  I’ve read some good ones, but man, they don’t hold a candle to this.

‡ Except now, I find, he’s since written a book based on “Iphigenia in Aulis” and I need to read this book right now.  Also, he has written or co-written quite a lot of comics I like: Lucifer, Sandman Presents, Hellblazer.  I may have to go look up some of the other comics he’s written.


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