Juliana Rew, Editor – Abbreviated Epics.

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Abbreviated Epics – Third Flatiron Anthologies (Volume 3, Fall 2014), Third Flatiron Publishing, Colorado, U.S.A.

Abbreviated Epics – Third Flatiron Anthologies (Volume 3, Fall 2014), Third Flatiron Publishing, Colorado, U.S.A.

Got a moment to spare for some amazing fiction long on the grand sense of epic tradition but short on word count?  There’s something in Abbreviated Epics for everyone – seriously.  The diversity of the nineteen stories in form, genre, and subject makes this new anthology from Third Flatiron Publishing a reader’s delight.

As you might expect, mythology is represented in a big way.  In “Blade Between Oni and Hare,” Siobhan Gallagher takes the rabbit figure popular in Asian myth and offers up a highly satisfying twist on tradition, while Gustavo Bordani‘s breathtakingly-captured post-apocalyptic world in “Rain Over Lesser Boso” is fraught with ghosts.  In addition to stories drawn from Japanese and Chinese culture, Nordic influences have their part:  the strength and courage of the female heroine in Steve Coate’s “Fortunate Son” are particularly heart-wrenching, and Jo Walton’s poem “Odin on the Tree” hearkens back to the old sagas.

I’m a big fan of humorous fantasy, so Margarita Tenser’s flash piece “The Committee” was right up my alley.  It’s an uproariously hilarious creation story, and a definite standout for readers who love an intelligent laugh.  The merriment continues with the only-slightly-longer “Heart-Shaped,” Manuel Royal’s ferociously clever interpretation of the battle of the sexes, and Jake Teeny’s “Toward the Back,” a guffaw-worthy romp about two orcs who aren’t quite as lustful for battle as they’re usually made out to be.

Maybe steampunk is more your thing?  Treat yourself to Martin Clark’s “Through an Ocular, Darkly,” featuring two of my favourite subjects: time travel and political intrigue.  (I’m totally stoked by the assurance that we’ll get to see more of the fascinating, enigmatic character of Dr. Leon Prinz somewhere, sometime!).

And then there’s the really dark stuff:  horror in the classic vein in Daniel Coble’s “Assault on the Summit,” where an adventurer gets more than he bargained for in the Himalayas, and Robin Wyatt Dunn’s gut-checking “On a Train with a Coyote Ghost,” set in war-ravaged Eastern Europe.

A thoroughly enjoyable collection of fantastic, eclectic short fiction.

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