I look forward every year to Lethe Press's "Wilde Stories" and this year's collection does not disappoint. This is a collection of 12 speculative short stories and each is a good read. I especially like the introduction where editor Berman takes the Lambda Literary Foundation to task because he believes that they have misplaced their priorities in the way that look at storytellers and he goes on to state that a person's sexual orientation is not relevant to the ability to tell a story. It is the story that matters and not the teller. Berman then goes on to give us the stories. I am not going to summarize all of the stories but I will concentrate just a few. That does not mean that I have favorites but that I want you to have the opportunity to judge for yourself. Jameson Currier never fails to please and his '"Death In Amsterdam," while not as speculative as the other stories is a fascination look at how Muslims in Amsterdam choose to use violence against gay men and to what extent they do this. We have always thought of Amsterdam as being an Eden for gays but Currier lets us know that there is trouble in paradise. I have always considered Currier to be one of the most dynamic gay writers and he proves that once again with this story.
"Barbaric Splendor" by Simon Sheppard is set in 1640 and a crew is shipwrecked on the shore of Xanadu, the same place where the Khan's palace is. Sheppard has always been one of my favorite short story writers and here he pleases as usual in this story that reads like a ship's log and we see the Nordic narrator compromise how he feels about sodomy. Another writer that never fails to hold my interest is Tom Cardamore and in "The Sphinx Next Door" is a wonderful read about mail that goes to the wrong place. Other authors include Laird Barron, Ben Francisco, Richard Bowes, Tanith Lee (writing as Judas Garbah), Georgina Li, Joel Lane, Elizabeth Hand and Rhys Hughes. Notably not included is Berman, the editor but I suppose he had his hands full putting together this excellent anthology.
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About the reviewer
Amos Lassen (amoslassen)
I am an academic who reivews movies and books of interest to the GLBT and Jewish communities. I came to Arkansas after having been relocated here due to Hurricane Katrina. I was living in … more
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Resisting pressure to select only LGBT authors' work, Berman compiles a state-of-the-art anthology of sf and fantasy with LGBT protagonists that scores few political points but pretty consistently entertains. Oh, the shortest entries wear out their welcomes (paradoxically), the one ghost story is a sentimental dud, and while Rhys Hughes' “Where the Sun Doesn't Shine” shows that the spirit of Douglas Adams is alive, whether it's well is another matter. The longer, more horrific pieces are sturdy enough. Then again, they're by top-drawer talents. Laird Barron's “Strappado” is enough to put anyone permanently off sexual tourism. Richard Bowes' “I Needs Must Part, the Policeman Said” is another of his curiously powerful stories merging baleful fantasy and autobiography. Joel Lane's “Some of Them Fell” reveals further horrors in Thatcherite England, which seems to have been a place and time that encouraged them. Jameson Currier's “Death in Amsterdam” becomes a chilling realization of Bruce Bawer's dire foresights about western Europe (While Europe Slept, 2005). Finally, Elizabeth Hand's “The Far Shore” hopefully and beautifully adapts the stuff of folktale. --Ray Olson