TRANSTORIES – edited by COLIN HARVEY
PB, 252 pages, Aeon Press
At BristolCon ’12, Aeon Press launched “Transtories”, an anthology of speculative fiction, and the last book to be edited by Colin Harvey before his untimely death last August.
The brief for the anthology was a striking one – to take a word in the OED that began with the prefix “trans” – anything from “transaccidention” to “Transylvanian”, although thankfully none of the authors that made the final cut were obvious enough to use that particular trope! It seems like a limiting policy, but the range of stories in the anthology transcend this limitation with some flair.
The stories include humourous SF – “Yesterday’s Taste”, Lawrence M Schoen’s tale of interstellar gastronomy, and the fantastic (and fantastically titled) “Oh, For the Touch Tentacular” by Jonathan Shipley, which highlights the problem of translation when studying job ads on an alien planet, while “Radio Apocalypse” by Robert Neilson is more darkly humorous.
The highlights in this anthology are the stories that are more clearly fantasy, notably “Silver” by Robert Rowntree. In “Silver”, a young woman unwittingly unleashes an ancient plague, and the twist at the end is startling, brilliant, and a real “should have seen it coming” moment. Another fantasy highlight is the unpromisingly titled “Rainbows and Unicorns” by Cody L Stanford. The title sounds like a pre-teen girls fantasy, but the story itself, of troubled street children and the mythical beasts who come to their rescue, is uplifting and unsettling in equal measure, and is the story that lingers the longest after the book is closed.
Colin Harvey was not only a talented author in his own right, he was also an extremely skilled editor and compiler of anthologies, and “Transtories” is an impressive swan song to his work.