Far Out ed. by Paula Guran Spoiler-Free Book Review

Far Out edited by Paula Guran is an anthology of recent queer fantasy and sci-fi short stories, first published in 2016 and currently has an average rating of 4.16 on Goodreads. Full of over 20 short stories from a number of authors, I fell in love with this anthology and rated it 5 stars.

This collection of queer short stories edited by Paula Guran come from all across the LGBTQ+ rainbow, and spans several genres.

If you are looking for a spaceship full of cats, a grisly murder mystery, or perhaps the story of two women at the end of their respective fairy tales this could be for you. In here, is a whole spectrum of identities, characters and stories with the capacity to take your breath away.

It should be deemed as essential reading to everyone who wants to embrace LGBTQ+ sci-fi and fantasy, and I will start hardcore judging you if you don’t listen to this recommendation.

I somehow managed to stumble upon this book on Waterstone‘s website, and I’m not sure how I did it but I’m glad I did. This is a fantastic anthology, and possibly my favourite one I’ve ever read (I know, that’s quite the statement).

In the last two years or so I’ve started to spend more and more time reading anthologies, and while I can safely say there are some none of us should ever bother with, I have found plenty that are truly fantastic, but this is the first time I’ve read one and understood and appreciated every story told. It is rare to find an anthology full of such diverse storytelling and come away understanding why every tale has been included.

Due to the nature of anthologies it’s difficult to break this down into a usual review format with a synopsis, comments on plots, characters and symbolism, as well as my overall thoughts; and I am not going to try doing that here. Instead I am simply going to list some of my favourite stories here, and why they hold such honoured places.

Seasons of Glass and Iron by Amal El-Mohtar: A fantasy short story that focuses on the lives of two women, Tabitha and Amira, stuck in their fairy tales, subjected to the cruelties of men and the connection that saves them. It sounds awful corny I know, but I promise this is incredibly touching and a masterpiece in storytelling, if you don’t believe me consider then this story won several awards including a Hugo and a Nebula.

The Sea Troll’s Daughter by Caitlín R. Kiernan: Initially a typical fantasy story of a drunkard warrior who stumbles from the sea claiming to have killed the troll terrorising a village and looking for their reward, this story goes further to explore the plague of greed upon us and preconceived notions deceive us. This is a story that has stuck with me long after finishing the anthology, and comes from an author I will be looking out for in the future.

Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue by Charlie Jane Anders: Set in a time where a corporation has found the “ultimate” way to help individuals from dysmorphia. Rachel, a trans woman, is subjected to this treatment as her childhood friend watches from the sidelines in his role as employee. An eery story considering at times how realistic this feels it is difficult to read what they do to Rachel, but one that truly explores what transphobia can look like through inaction.

The River’s Children by Shweta Narayan: A mythical tale of a young royal who doesn’t know where they belong but finds solace in a river. A beautifully written story that explores genderfluidity and the magic that fairytales hold for all of us.

Imago by Tristan Alice Nieto: It’s the future and Revivranol is a drug that can revive the dead, it has been banned for all but one use. A young women wakes up in a morgue and is told she has 72 hours to help catch her own killer, but everything hurts and their memories are fractured, she’s no longer sure of who she is. Possibly one of the most fascinating premises in this anthology, this story doesn’t disappoint and lives up to all it promises with a heartfelt, gothic murder mystery with a twist.

Das Steingeschöpf by G. V. Anderson: Set in the pre-WW2 years a freshly qualified stone restorationist is set on their first job, to restore a special kind of statue built with Queckstein – a stone that absorbs life and memories and breathes it back into the creation, but is shocked to discover the statue they’re sent to was created by one of the great masters. This might not sound like much from the synopsis but it a story of heart, and it is so rich I am desperate to read more from this world they’ve created.

There are several others that I enjoyed immensely, but I’ve decided to narrow it down to just six for today, or else I would be here all day typing up every synopsis. To be honest, I also don’t want to give you much more than this because part of the joy of anthologies is the discovery of stories; and this plenty of amazing things to discover here.

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