November 12th, 2009

Stone & Sky

Vanishing Acts, edited by Ellen Datlow

Vanishing Acts
Editor: Ellen Datlow
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Tor
Year: 2000
Pages: 380
Genre: Soft SF

Jacket Description
Ellen Datlow is one of the leading anthologists in SF and fantasy. She has been nominated for the Hugo Award for best editor and has won three World Fantasy Awards. Of her distinguished annual anthology, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, The Washington Post Book World says, "The best of the best for fantasy and horror. . . Datlow and Windling's annual collection is one of fantastic literature's high points."

In Vanishing Acts, she has gathered together an extraordinary group of stories that cohere around the idea of endangered species -- interpreted to include in some cases the human race. The contents are four excellent reprints (by Suzy McKee Charnas, Avram Davidson, Karen Joy Fowler, and Bruce McAllister) and a dozen new stories, including a long novella by Ted Chiang (whose last story won the Theodore Sturgeon Award for best story of 1998).

This book may be the best new SF anthology of the year.

My Review
I very much enjoyed the premise for this collection, but unfortunately the stories were uniformly bland. A few had clever ideas, a couple were moderately thought-provoking, but the only one with any of the emotional punch I associate with the theme of species death was one of the reprints, Avram Davidson's "Now Let Us Sleep." None of the stories were poorly written, but I had half forgotten them the very next day. This is the second anthology I have read that Datlow has had a hand in producing (the first was The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales), and unfortunately both had the same effect on me. My capsule reviews of the individual stories follows below the cut.

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