New Fables: Summer 2010
Edited by: Tim Susman
One of the things I like about New Fables as a series is that the stories within are not strictly “furry”, nor are they explicit. Many of them touch on some very adult themes, but it’s the kind of book you could give to a family member or friend to ease them into “that weird animal thing that you’re into”. The Summer 2010 collection keeps up the tradition, and has the added bonus of featuring some of my all-time favorite stories ever printed in these books.
The list of names inside this year’s Fables is a mix of familiar faces and newcomers. Whether it was serendipity, or some really clever planning on the part of the editor, it turns out that the two names I recognize also have the two longest stories in the book, which serve as bookends for the shorter content between. It also happens that these two stories, – “War Dog” by Malcolm “foozzzball” Cross and “How the Schoolteacher Got His Song” by Ryan Campbell – are the highlights of the collection. Both authors are adept a using humorous tones throughout stories that are largely heartbreaking or melancholy. Cross’ tale of a young canine soldier trying to forget his training and live a normal life is an interesting psychological sci-fi story. Campbell’s ironic old west parody of Native American folklore is crammed full of sardonic wit. These two stories alone are reason enough to pick up the collection.
The other stories in New Fables are also very good, and equally varied in terms of topic and tone. CM Cooper’s glimpses into the minds of the horses at Napoleon’s most famous battle is an interesting mix of history and fiction. Steve Wade’s story of utmost loyalty even after death is touching. And A Merc Rustad goes the mythology route, bringing an exciting, violent fantasy tale to the table. There’s even a poem in the middle, serving as a literary intermission between the halves of the book. All of the stories are well told, though Cooper’s is a little jarring after one of the longer stories, because it’s more of a series of excerpts. And the ending to Rustad’s labyrinth epic leaves something to be desired. But honestly those are minor quibbles.
I keep urging readers to demand more of their writers, to raise the bar for the quality this fandom produces, and New Fables proves that it’s not an unreasonable request. This is a well crafted book full of very talented authors, many of whom have had other things published. If you’re unfamiliar with the names, pick the book up, and use it as a starters guide for people to follow.