Sky Whales and Other Wonders
Edited by Vera Nazarian
Cover Artist: Ahyicodae
Review by Cathy Green
Norilana Books ISBN/ITEM#: 9781607620556
Date: 01 December 2009 / Show Official Info /
Sky Whales And Other Wonders is the latest anthology of fantastic tales from Norilana Press. Editor Vera Nazarian has assembled a wide ranging collection of eleven stories from Tanith Lee, Anna Tambour, Mary A. Turzillo, Erzabet YellowBoy, Linda J. Dunn, Sonya Taaffe, Lisa Silverthorne, Joselle Vanderhooft, Mike Allen, John Grant and Robert Brandt.
The anthology begins with one of its strongest stories, "The Sky Won't Listen", by Tanith Lee. Imagine Moby Dick set on another planet, with flying whales, telepaths, time travel, and ghosts. The attractive cover illustration clearly was inspired by Lee's story.
As a fan of her novel Spotted Lily, I was excited to see that Anna Tambour had a story in this anthology. "The Tin and the Damask Rose" is told from the unusual perspective of the titular rose. The hero protagonist of Sonya Taaffe's story "Stone Song" is also unusual in that at least in all my years of reading fantasy and science fiction stories, this is the first I have come across where a basilisk is a force for good rather than the danger to be overcome by the hero.
There aren't any bad stories in Nazarian's anthology. However, "Sky Whales" by Lisa Silverthorne, with its name echoing the title, seems the least suited to be in the anthology. It's a well written story about a woman trying to cope with the destruction of her life caused by to the murder of her daughter, but there is nothing about the story that put it in the fantasy or "other wonders" category for me as a reader, and it stuck out because of that. Virtually all the other stories involve mythical or fantastic creatures or god-like beings. The only other story that seemed lacking in what I would describe as a fantastic element is the last story in the collection, "Only One Story but He Told it Well", by Robert Brandt. However, the story reads like some of the Eastern European Jewish folktales I read as a child, and Jacob may well be one of the thirty-six tzadiks, which arguably puts the story squarely in the fantasy genre.
While the anthology does not appear to have an overarching theme that links all the stories, overall it was an entertaining collection of stories by a group of authors who have been writing interesting genres works over the past decade. Also, at $9.95 for the trade paperback edition, it's priced below the standard trade paperback price and not that much above current mass market paperback prices, which is a welcome occurrence in the current economic downturn and may make it worth your while to take a chance on some writers which you do not normally read.