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Shoggoths in Bloom [Paperback]

Elizabeth Bear
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 11.99
Price: 10.96 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

23 Oct 2012
Short fiction from Elizabeth Bear, recipient of the "John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer." Includes her Hugo- and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award-winning "Tideline" and Hugo-winning novelette, "Shoggoths in Bloom," as well as an original, never-published story. A World Fantasy, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick nominee, Bear is one of speculative fiction's most acclaimed, respected, and prolific authors.

Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Prime Books (23 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607013614
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607013617
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,018,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great collection 8 Dec 2012
By hb
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ms Bear's work is not always available in the UK on kindle so I was delighted to be able to purchase this. I thoroughly enjoyed all the stories. Highly recommended!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good but uneven collection 9 Nov 2012
By TChris - Published on
Elizabeth Bear is a graceful, imaginative writer who skillfully illuminates the depths of the characters she creates. While the social relevance for which she often reaches sometimes seems a bit forced, she deserves credit for pushing the boundaries of science fiction and fantasy.

The stories in this collection I liked best tended to be science fiction. My favorite, "Tideline," won a Hugo. It is a poignant and memorable story. Chalcedony, a malfunctioning derelict of a war machine, combs the beach looking for pretty objects she can string together to make necklaces. She needs the help of a boy named Belvedere to carry out her final mission. Bear blends science fiction with one of Lovecraft's monsters in "Shoggoths in Bloom" as a black scientist in 1938 confronts a moral dilemma. This Hugo-winning story explores the ethics of enslaving a species that was created for the purpose of being enslaved. While full of entertaining ideas about future living, "In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns" is primarily the story of a murder investigation, complicated by shifting identities and an engineered cat that seems to have lost its memory. "Dolly" gives a slightly new twist to the "fine line between androids and humans" theme.

Other stories in the collection are less impressive but still worth reading. After she receives a brain implant for pain management, a young girl in "The Something-Dreaming Game" makes herself pass out from oxygen starvation so she can visit aliens who have a use for her implant. A former rock star and guitar goddess -- "The Girl Who Sang Rose Madder" -- while pondering the approaching end of her life, learns the meaning of life and death from dead guitar players. Whether brain repair is a euphemism for mind control is the question asked in "Gods of the Forge," a tale of industrial espionage that ends too abruptly. "Annie Weber" is about parasitic aliens who enjoy drinking cappuccino. An HIV-positive kid must decide whether to live her life as a harpy in "The Horrid Glory of its Wings."

Some stories don't have much to do with science fiction or fantasy but were nonetheless interesting, if unspectacular. "Sonny Liston Takes the Fall" is an odd story about Sonny Liston and Muhammed Ali and the experience of being black in America during the middle of the twentieth century. "Sounding" is about a whale that helps a struggling fisherman find some tuna. "Confessor" is an attempt at a thriller with the addition of genetic engineering.

There are also stories that didn't do much for me. With advice from a witch, "The Cold Blacksmith" tries to manufacture a heart for a demanding girl. A witch also turns up, along with a princess, in "Love Among the Talus," a story about which potential suitor the princess will marry after the battles cease. A dragon named "Orm the Beautiful" negotiates with the Museum of Natural History to preserve his Chord. The last shark eats the last people in "The Inevitable Heat Death of the Universe." In "Cryptic Coloration," three giggly girls stalk their professor who, when he's not teaching, uses his abilities as a magi to track down mythical creatures -- the sort of creatures who prey on giggly girls. In "The Ladies," women have the right to vote and Thomas Jefferson persuades John Adams' wife to run against her husband in the presidential election.

On the whole, while the collection is uneven, the best stories are exceptional and even the stories I didn't like so much are readable. The collection is an excellent introduction to Elizabeth Bear for science fiction and fantasy fans who would like to become acquainted with her work.
4.0 out of 5 stars Shows the range of the writer quite well 14 Dec 2013
By Thomas D. Kim - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Shoggoths in Bloom was an unexpected pleasure. I've heard about Elizabeth Bear before, and Shoggoths in Bloom in particular. These short stories generally operate within sci-fi/horror, but only in regard to setting or context. The underlying themes of Bear's stories belie the expectations of genre fiction; these are stories about nurturing, loss, aging, memory, freedom, rebellion, revenge, and gender roles, among others. Not to misrepresent: Bear certainly demonstrates a firm command of sci-fi and horror, but I would hate to limit her appeal. The range of writing, itself is quite varied. These can variously be described as tales, accounts, memoirs, narratives, even pseudo journalism, all crafted with equal confidence of voice. Bear can certainly spin a good, satisfying tale. I was quite taken with this collection.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent collection 25 Nov 2013
By Susan Meek - Published on
This anthology will give you an idea about Bear's range. All these stories are varied, set in all different times, places and many different characters. A couple seem to be set in the same world view, but don't overlap. There is one set in the Promethus books settings, but you don't need to read any of those books to enjoy this story. The thing I really like about Elizabeth Bear's chararcters is that seem so very real. These are people you could run into at the grocery store. Not a mis-step in the bunch. An excellent introduction to her work, or a great additon to those who already love her work.
5.0 out of 5 stars Bear takes readers on a ride that will stretch minds and imaginations. 15 Aug 2013
By Ria (Bibliotropic) - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Short story collections vary in their quality. That's pretty much a given, an acceptance that just about everyone has when they start reading. Some will be better than others, some you may want to skip to get to better things ahead, others are so dull they may tempt you to put the collection down entirely.

This wasn't the case with Shoggoths in Bloom.

Perhaps it was due to the fact that all the stories in here are written by Elizabeth Bear and aren't a collection from multiple different authors with multiple different styles. That helped immensely. True, there still were a couple of stories in here that interested me less than others, but I mean that very literally. 2. 2 stories out of 20. And there were far more that were awesome enough to make up for a couple of duller moments.

Bear's range is evident in this collection, as she presents futuristic sci-fi, historical speculation, straight-up fantasy, all of the stories thought-provoking and all highly creative. From The Something-Dreaming Game that deals with kids and auto-erotic asphyxiation (and the admission that even in kids it can be erotic) to Dolly and its exploration of whether emerging sentience in machines means they can be criminally tried, to stories that defy categorization but still make you go, "Whoa!" like Annie Webber, Bear takes readers on a ride that will stretch minds and imaginations alike in ways that make me eager to read more of her work.

This was my introduction to her writing, and I'm not sure I could have asked for a better one. This was a light buffet instead of a feast, getting to sample things in small amounts rather than diving right in, with less pressure to enjoy than if I'd just launched myself into a full novel. Not that a novel would be a bad thing. I discover many amazing authors that way, obviously. But sometimes one finds themself in the mood for lighter fare, and this catered to my appetite and made me hungry for more.

So whether you're a fan of Bear's work and have been for years, or else you're just curious to try something new, this is a book you ought to be reading. I can't recommend this enough. Rarely does it happen that I rate a collection so highly. Rarely am I ever so satisfied with a short story collection. Shoggoths in Bloom, I think, will end up being the standard by which all other collections are judged.
5.0 out of 5 stars Diverse range, very imaginative 3 Mar 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the first time I've read anything by Elizabeth Bear, and I was more than pleasantly surprised. Both science fiction and fantasy, and a few stories that almost fall into our world, whatever that is. She's wonderful at describing people without telling you-she lets you figure it out yourself, as great writers do. I think this collection most clearly makes the case that good writing is always about people, it just puts them in different places.
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