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Edited by Martin H. Greenberg



423pp/$6.99/August 2000

My Favorite Fantasy Story
Cover by Les Edwards

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that when the predecessor to this volume, My Favorite Science Fiction Story, was published last year, I liked the idea so much I adopted it for Worldcon this year and invited authors and fans to read from the works of their favorite authors and describe what they liked about them.  My Favorite Fantasy Story differs from the earlier work in the fact that the selection is more varied, covers a broader range of time, and includes more surprising authors:  a testament to the loose definition of what fantasy is.

Many of the traditional stories and authors are represented here.  Nobody would be surprised to learn that Poul Anderson, L. Sprague de Camp, Roger Zelazny or Jack Vance have stories in the book.  Other names jump out because of their incongruity.  Barbara Kingsolver is better known for her mysteries while Charles Dickens doesn’t usually appear on lists of fantasy authors.  While most authors selected works which clearly had an influence on their lives, if not their writings, the late Marion Zimmer Bradley selected the story “Shadowlands,” written by Elisabeth Waters, one of her protégés.

As might be expected when authors are asked their favorite stories, all of the works included in My Favorite Fantasy Story are well-written and have the ability to speak to the reader.  This should not be regarded as saying that every reader will like each story, for an author’s taste, even those of an author the reader admires, will not always match the reader’s own taste.

Each author was given the opportunity to write a short explanation of their choice.  These range from the very short, only a couple of lines, to a longer work, although few exceed a page.  They serve as an introduction, not only to the story, but to the author who made the selection.

The stories cover a broad spectrum, from the humorous “Troll Bridge” to the dark “The Hell-Bound Train.”  None of the stories are solely pieces of entertainment.  All of them have something to say and do so in a manner which draws the reader in.  It does become clear, however, which stories were selected because the author liked the ideas, which because of the writing, and which stories managed to excel in both areas.

Author Story Selected by
Charles de Lint Ghosts of Wind and Shadow Tanya Huff
Jack Vance Mazirian the Magician Robert Silverberg
Terry Pratchett Troll Bridge Michelle West
Poul Anderson The Tale of Hauk Mickey Zucker Reichart
R.A. Lafferty In Our Block Neil Gaiman
L. Sprague de Camp The Gnarly Man Terry Pratchett
M.R. James Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad Morgan Llywelyn
Barbara Kingsolver Homeland Charles de Lint
Debra Doyle & James D. Macdonald Stealing God Katherine Kurtz
Elisabeth Waters Shadowlands Marion Zimmer Bradley
Jean Ingelow Mopsa the Fairy Gene Wolfe
Jack Vance Liane the Wayfarer George R.R. Martin
Manly Wade Wellman The Spring Andre Norton
Robert Bloch The Hell-Bound Train Rick Hautala
M. John Harrison The Dancer from the Dance Stephen R. Donaldson
John Wyndham More Spinned Against Matt Costello
Charles Dickens The Bagman's Story Margaret Weis
Roger Zelazny Unicorn Variations Fred Saberhagen

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