I'm a big fan of anthologies. Works like the Science Fiction Hall of Fame volumes constituted my primary introduction to the field, and I like the fact that in the space of one novel, I can be acquainted with the work of 15 to 20 different writers and be explosed to 15 to 20 different mind-blowing ideas. I don't expect to like every story in an anthology when I read it. In fact, if I do, the anthologist is doing something wrong, because that means he's collecting only birds of a feather and not challenging me enough or pushing the envelope, and when you have 15 - 20 stories and writers to play with, it's okay to take risks with a few of them. Anthologies also have their own character, and, like the mix tapes of the pre-iPod era, there is a certain artistry to putting them together.
As an ocassional anthologist myself, I'm also pretty hard on them. I'm not a fan of frivilous themes - Even More Stories About Vampire Cats, etc... - and my preferences run to anthologies that illuminate some particular facet of the field or which shine a spotlight upon some specific subject in the ongoing dialogue that is science fiction. Yesterday, I finished reading an anthology that answers a very specific question that I image I share with a lot of people right now, namely "What is this new Solaris Books imprint all about?"
This coming February, by way of introduction to their new line, the imprint will release The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, edited by George Mann. It's an unthemed collection of science fiction stories which includes writers like Neal Asher, Peter F. Hamilton, Mike Resnick & David Gerrold, and Brian Aldiss. My criteria for endorsing anthologies is that I have to appreciate more than 50% of the stories inside, so I'm happy to report that I enjoyed 12 of the 16 stories in this volume, or 75%. Enough that I can heartily recommend it here.
Standouts for me include Paul Di Filippo's "Personal Jesus," which introduces us to the perfect combination of spirituality and technology, the godPod, "Zora and the Land Ethic Nomads" which returns us to Mary Turzillo's Mars of indentured homesteaders, and James Lovegrove's absolutely briliant "The Bowdler Strain," about which too much said could give the game away, but which I will say was $#!+ fantastic! I also admired what Tony Ballantyne was doing with his "Third Person," laughed out loud at Mike & David's PKD pastiche "Jellyfish," and was quite taken with Jay Lake & Greg van Eekhout's "C-Rock City." I'm still contemplating the ending of Neal Asher's "Bioship," and wish that the Wakowski brothers final Matrix film had looked a little more like Keith Brooke's "The Accord," a very interesting little piece that strikes me as an attempt to justify the ways of Agent Smith to man. So, all in all, certainly enough here to get the Lou endorsement, and I recommend checking it out. Meanwhile, I understand a Solaris Book of New Fantasy is planned and I look forward to it enthusiastically.