Firebird/Penguin Group: NY, 2009.
Firebirds Soaring is the third collection in a series of what is some of the best short stories I have read. They are fantasy or science fiction stories (mostly fantasy) for Young Adults. Highly imaginative, widely ranging in content, with no bad writing in the bunch. I can tell by the caliber of writing that everyone involved is having a ball with the anthologies, and I have thoroughly enjoyed each one. Two things I love about these collections are that I learn about awesome authors I didn't already know and the short story format gives the authors a chance to write something totally different from their novels, since it's less of a commitment.
In the Kingmaker by Nancy Springer, Wren has the power to perceive truth or lies, which comes in handy for dispensing justice. Her power could enable her to become the first High Queen of her homeland. In A Ticket to Ride by Nancy Farmer, Jason saves a homeless man and takes his place in reliving the man's life. Christopher Barzak spins a tale in which Midori (a misfit in her town) feels a strong connection to the foxes to which she is always compared - A Thousand Tails. She feels sure she truly is a fox, which would explain why she doesn't fit in. All Under Heaven by Chris Roberson has a historical feel, with its dying fishing trade, though it is futuristic. Ellen Klages's Singing On a Star is quite creepy. I loved it, but I can understand the young girl not wanting to go back to the world in the closet. Egg Magic by Louise Marley is another with a girl that knows she doesn't belong. She's obsessed with her mother she never knew and her father refuses to talk about. She wants out until the day she realizes she could lose her stepmother. In the sci fi Flatland by Kara Dalkey, Appie has the prime job for an 18 year old. She and her colleagues live and work in a cubio, where their schedules (lives) are arranged for them and all life is work related. She's a trendsetter, molding companies for the future. The story deals with opposing lifestyles, workaholics vs opting out or surrendering to The Void. Just experiencing The Void (while completely satisfying) can make it impossible to work. Candas Jane Dorsey's Dolly the Dog-Soldier is interesting but confusing to me. Partly because it isn't in sequence order, partly because I couldn't tell if Dolly is a dog or human. Ferryman by Margo Lanagan is an interesting version of the gatekeeper to the Underworld. You don't think of him having a family that he goes home to at night, yet here he does. In The Ghosts of Strangers by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, local dragons are fed ghosts of animals and people that become a part of their consciousness, as a way of gaining the wisdom of the world. This one is longer and complex, as the dragons are only part of the story. Jo Walton's Three Twilight Tales reminds me of Paul Fleischman's Graven Images, since it has three delightful tales with different protagonists all related to a small town and event. Carol Emshwiller's The Dignity He's Due was a surprise. A migratory family claims a connection to the French royalty. Camping out in towns along the Appalachian Trail, their are different opinions of what exactly is due the maybe-heir to the French throne. One wonders how many other claimants are wandering around in the world, and is it for real or is the mom crazy? Power and Magic by Marly Youmans is part romance, part social commentary. A teenage boy with great potential trying to court a girl who's afraid her potential will be squashed before she can work towards a better life herself. In Court Ship by Sherwood Smith, a Prince travels to meet a dispossessed Princess. He takes passage on a trade ship and may have fallen in love with its Captain. Turns out their grandparents shared a similar excursion. Little Red by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple is the hardest story to deal with of the bunch, although I liked the Little Red Riding Hood connection that I missed until near the end. I'm not sure what to make of The Myth of the Fenix by Laurel Winter. It's a short and graphic dream sequence. Fear and Loathing in LaLanna by Nick O'Donohoe stages a gala event/massacre setting to prepare for war. Two unlikely heroes are sent to the event and get by mostly through self-medicating. They learn of a betrayal plot and join the diverting of the massacre. Clare Bell writes of a tribe of cats in Bonechewer's Legacy that is looking to unite tribes through helping others in need. The question is brought up whether such altruism is a weakness that can undermine the tribe's strengths. Elizabeth Wein's Something Worth Doing is a great finish for the book. A young woman impersonates her brother in joining the English fliers of WWII. She manages to be sent into the thick of the battle in an attempt to win honor for her deceased brother.
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