BRIEF SYNOPSIS: : Featuring a tight-knit set of authors, an anthology of Urban Fantasy that attempts to set
an agenda and a framework for what the subgenre should be.
PROS: Excellent set of authors, some real standout stories.
CONS: Some unfortunate repetition in UF elements between stories weaken some of the works.
BOTTOM LINE: A sound anthology of fantasy bringing a set of bite sized works to the Urban Fantasy subgenre.
Manifesto: UF, edited by Tim Marquitz and Tyson Mauermann, in addition to entertaining the reader has a stated mission of being a statement of what Urban Fantasy can and should be. In the nearly two dozen stories on tap, here, the reader encounters the dead, angels, devils and much more.
Stories in the anthology include:
- “Rev”, by Kirk Dougal
- “I’m an Animal. You’re an Animal, Too”, by Zachary Jernigan
- “Los Lagos Heat “by Karina Fabian
- “Savage Rise “by Adam Millard
- “Front Lines, Big City” by Timothy Baker
- “Break Free”, by Ryan Lawler
- “Naked the Night Sings”, by Teresa Frohock
- “Double Date” by Andrew Moczulski
- “That Old Tree “by RL Treadway
- “Dharmasankat” by Abhinav Jain
- “Nephilim “by TSP Sweeney
- “Toejam and Shrapnel”, by Nick Sharps
- “Green Grow the Rashes” by William Meikle
- “Under the Dragon Moon” by Jonathan Pine
- “Gold Dust Woman” by Kenny Soward
- “Wizard’s Run” by Joshua S Hill
- “Chains of Gray” by Betsy Dornbusch
- “Bloody Red Sun of Fantastic L.A”, by Jake Elliot
- “Queen’s Blood “by Lincoln Crisler
- “Beneath a Scalding Moon”, by Jeff Salyards
- “Seperation Anxiety” by J.M. Martin
- “Blessing and Damnation” by Wilson Geiger
- “Jesse Shimmer Goes to Hell” by Lucy A Snyder
Several of the stories stood out for me in particular, and still resonate.
Zachary Jernigan’s “I’m an Animal. You’re an Animal Too” presents us with the raw bleeding edge of what it means to be an inhuman creature and creating more of your kind. It’s potent, original and although the matter is very different, has an authorial voice similar to his novel No Return.
“Naked the Night Sings” by Teresa Frohock, now, puts some real elements of horror into the story of a musician whose bargain is far more complicated than he suspects. It has a wonderful female character in opposition to her protagonist, and the writing at the sentence level is mesmerizing. I was perversely reminded of a certain Jack Vance story in the elements of the plot, as well. This was my favorite story in the entire collection.
Jeff Salyards’ “Beneath a Scalding Moon” is a fun story that takes on lycanthropy in a way that feels a bit like Catherine Lundoff’s books. However, the story showcases the distinctive cadence and style of description and dialogue that can be found in his other work.
“Jessie Shimmer Goes to Hell” may be an excerpt from Lucy A. Snyder’s novel Switchblade Goddess, but it is a self contained story with a kick-ass heroine, and a really interesting use of worldbuilding on the old trope of breaking into the realms below. The action beats in this anchor story for the anthology really sing, too.
There are some other innovative things in some of the other stories in the anthology. For instance, Abhinav Jain’s story “Dharmasankat”, for instance, is a blend of historical and urban fantasy in a most unusual and rare place to set a story: 18th century, post-Mughal Empire India.
In the introduction, Tyson mentions that many of the authors here are well acquainted with him and each other. This is a two edged sword of, on the one hand, having authors tuckerize each other into their stories. But it also means that a few of the stories stake out similar ideas and motifs, making the anthology somewhat less diverse than it could have been. It’s the stories like the ones highlighted above that really show off the anthology at its best for me.
Is this an effective Manifesto? I don’t read enough Urban Fantasy to really judge it properly on those merits. I think this collection works whether you read only a little, or if you read a lot of the urban fantasy being put out there.