I love a good collection of short stories and when those stories introduce me to authors I haven't read, or re-introduce me to authors I have read and loved, I'm a happy, happy girl. Especially when said stories are science fiction and fantasy. That's what Shadows of the New Sun is full of so you can imagine I was over the moon when I received a copy of this book.
Now, I'm going to admit something. I've never read Gene Wolfe. Every one of the authors in this collection had something to say about Wolfe, either a memory of interaction with the man or an interaction with his books. The most powerful impact this book had on me was to seek out some of Wolfe's writing and request it from the library. I'll be starting with The Fifth Head of Cerberus. It gets great reviews and looks like something I'll really enjoy. I'm so excited to check it out. But now that I've fangirl gushed over an author I've only read a total of two short stories from, let's talk about the stories in this collection.
I went into this book thinking that Neil Gaiman's short story would automatically trump all others because... well, c'mon, it's Neil Gaiman. And while I loved it, the one that took me by total and complete surprise was Gene Wolfe's story about Frostfree, an intelligent refrigerator who basically takes over and steers some lonely guys life. I was fascinated and completely tickled by the story - but it also sobered me up toward the end as I started thinking about the interaction between the two. Then, I started thinking about what my reaction would be and how I would treat a similar creature... well, it got all jumbled after that, but I loved the directions that my thoughts took after reading just a few short pages. (This is also why I love sci-fi and fantasy so much.)
Another story that really surprised me was by Nancy Kress. Her story titled "...And Other Stories" was such a beautiful mix of fantasy, creepiness, and escapism that I didn't want it to end. And finally, "Ashes" by Stephen Savile wraps up the list of surprise stories that I loved and authors that have made it onto my list to check out. I thought it was a beautiful love story with just the right amount of tragedy and and heartache and found myself tearing up a few times - always a welcome show of emotion over a story that develops in just a few pages.
So if you are a fan of science fiction or fantasy in general, this is a great collection to pick up. If you are like me and haven't read any Gene Wolfe, don't worry - not all the stories require an acquaintance with him. Some do - but they are still good as stand-alone stories. If nothing else, it'll give exposure to the author and possibly inspire you, like me, to check him out more!