The Best of Electric Velocipede
Edited by John Klima
Cover Artist: Thom Davidsohn
Review by Benjamin Wald
Fairwood Press Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781933846477
Date: 01 November 2014
The Best of Electric Velocipede--the title alone tells you that something out of the ordinary is afoot. This eccentric collection of short stories consists of a best-of from the eponymous long running eZine, and the stories, like the title, are all out of the ordinary. Electric Velocipede garnered numerous awards during its run, and now that its ending this collection offers an amazing opportunity to relive the hits or, if you're like me and didn't read it during its run, find out what you've been missing.
The stories in this collection tend to be both short and experimental, a good combination. Not every experiment in here was successful, at least not to my eyes, but because of the short length, even the failures don't outstay their welcome by too much. Meanwhile, the successes find ways to linger in the mind long after they are finished.
Given the breadth of stories here, it is difficult to say much about them as a group. They span science fiction, fantasy, and slipstream, including a highly entertaining piece of pseudo-journalism about dogrog, or rock and roll produced by domestic dogs. There are also a number of poems included, nicely interspersed among the prose stories. One thing all the stories have in common, however, is that they all attempt something new and interesting--not all succeed, but even the failures are more interesting than many traditional stories.
The quality of the writing on display shocked me. There are some well known writers represented here, such as Jeffery Ford, Catherynne M. Valente, and Rachel Swirsky, whose beautiful prose I have come to expect and to cherish. But this collection also contains many writers I had never before encountered, such as Sam J. Miller, Damien Angelica Walters, and Hal Duncan whose beautiful writing caught me by surprise.
However, one of the signal achievements of this collection is the way that all of the experimental writing styles and beautiful prose never obscure or take the place of the emotional core of the stories. The best of these stories combine fresh ways of telling stories with important insight into human nature- these are stories with something to say.
Overall, this is a thoroughly enjoyable collection. If you want to be challenged, to see experimentation and innovation, or just want to enjoy a good tale well told, then you should check out this collection. Based on the stories here, Electric Velocipede deserved all of its numerous accolades, and this is a great chance to see what made it so special.