- Paperback: 438 pages
- Publisher: White Wolf Publishing (5 Aug 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1565049063
- ISBN-13: 978-1565049062
- Product Dimensions: 18 x 10.7 x 2.5 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,188,981 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
It's published by White Wolf, which also is responsible for highly successful and intricately detailed RPGs such as Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse. (One of the weaker stories in the collection is by Steward von Allmen, who appears to be a key White Wolf founder.) I believe I picked this book up at GenCon; it's now out of print.
The anthology starts off very unpromisingly, with an embarrassing little number from beloved sci-fi/fantasy/horror fan Forrest J. Ackerman. This is the lowest point of the book, but luckily it rebounds from there. Ben Bova offers a story that has a perfect "Twilight Zone" twist, and Michael Moorcock tosses in an excursion to his Eternal Champion milieu in a tale that has a bit of an "English Patient" flavor to it. Ian McDonald in "The Time Garden" gives us an enchanting and lyrical exploration along the border of Faerie in a story that is reminiscent of the works of Robert Holdstock. (I believe, in fact, this may be why the basic Amazon review shown above claims that Holdstock is a contributor to the anthology, when in fact he is not.)
Jeremy Dyson's "City Deep" is another macabre tale with a dark cinematic flair such as would be found in one of the TV anthology shows. Two other stories are almost poetically elegant yet starkly simple: Charles de Lint's "Heartfires", about wandering Native American spirits losing their way in the present-day U.S., and Stephen Gallagher's "God's Bright Little Engine", with its beautiful and haunting ending. The story provided by Storm Constantine, "Blue Flame of a Candle", while not entirely successful, is nonetheless packed with intricate detail and manages to create a rich history with merely a few suggestions.
Other stories are much less powerful. The joint effort by Kathe Koja and Barry Malzberg is frankly unreadable, while that of Larry Bond and Chris Carlson is at best workmanlike and much more suited for a military-themed collection. Other stories are plain silly or sadly bland. The one by William F. Buckley (!) can only be considered an interesting experiment. Ian Watson's "The Amber Room" never comes together, and Christopher Fowler's "Tales of Britannica Castle" reads like a pointless pastiche of "Gormenghast".
While there is indeed good material to be found here, the lesser works really drag down the overall level of quality. A few of them should just have been jettisoned to save the rest.
Still, this is a suitable sampler for some authors who are rarely seen, and it definitely shows that some, such as Gallagher and McDonald, are worth following.