This week I’ve been reading from two anthologies and a collection:
“The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane” by Arthur Conan Doyle from Guilty Creatures – Sherlock Holmes is asked to discover the killer, by scourge or whip, of a local Sussex teacher. This is the final Holmes story Doyle wrote.
“The Case of Jannisary” by Arthur Morrison from Guilty Creatures – A case of a murder, a crooked bookie and an inquiry agent. Morrison’s usual stiff style, but a good story.
“The Sapient Monkey” by Headon Hill (Francis Edward Grainger) from Guilty Creatures – Sebastian Zambra solves a bank robbery when all the evidence points to the wrong man.
“The Green Parakeet” by F. Tennyson Jesse from Guilty Creatures – an odd story about a woman, Solange Fontaine, who can sense evil in persons, and acts when possible to prevent or solve crimes. In this story, a loving couple give their adored adopted child a parakeet, with deadly result.
“The Oracle of the Dog” by G. K. Chesterton, from Guilty Creatures – an impossible murder explained by what the dog did, though the humans misunderstood the facts.
“The Improbable Monsieur Owen” by Georges Simenon from Death Threats And Other Stories – Maigret, retired and on holiday, is called upon to solve a murder in a luxury hotel.
Introduction by Neil Clarke, to The Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 1 edited by Neil Clark. Similar to the state of the genre introductions Gardner Dozois did for his Best Of anthologies, but more concise. (see note, below)
“Today I Am Paul” by Martin L. Shoemaker from The Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 1 edited by Neil Clark – a medical care android that is able to emulate family members cares for an elderly woman patient. Touching.
“Calved” by Sam J. Miller, from The Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 1 edited by Neil Clark – in a dystopian future, a laborer and his son are victims of their generation gap.
note: The 800 page Best SF anthology wasn’t pleasing me. I read an additional six stories and didn’t like a single one of them. I suspect short SF in the twenty-first century isn’t the SF I grew up loving. So off this goes to the library donation store, along with the volumes for the following three years. I’ll focus my reading on the SF that is more “old style”.
All of those stories sound potentially good. I haven’t read any short stories by Simenon that I remember but I have a short story book called Maigret’s Christmas that I will read in December.
I’ve read that one, Tracy, and remember liking it.
I tend to agree with you about the current state of the science fiction short story, Rick. There are some very good stories out there, but where are the GREAT ones?
They’re all in the 1980s and before, many way before.
I’m with you and Jerry on current SF. I used to buy those YEAR’S BEST SF anthologies, but now I find little to like in those mammoth volumes. Like you, I prefer the SF I grew up with.
George, could this be a sign we’re getting old and set in our ways? Nah, we just have refined taste.
For whatever reason, my library has fallen behind with the British Library anthologies edited by Martin Edwards, though they seem to still be buying the reprints of other titles he has selected. Since you like the “animal” stories you might indeed like the Patricia Highsmith book I just finished, THE ANIMAL-LOVER’S BOOK OF BEASTLY MURDER. Each story is told from the point of view of a different animal, often abused, who get their own back in the end. The last is “Goat Ride,” with Billy the goat working happily at a carnival pulling people in a wagon. But when the owner sells him, he makes enough trouble that he is eventually returned. The the same thing happens again, with Billy more than capable of getting his own way. He eventually has a happy ending (can;t say the same for the carnival owner) and I thoroughly enjoyed this bad boy goat’s story.
I am definitely going to get the Simenon, to see if there are really previously untranslated stories, as I have read all the previous English translations of the Maigret tales.
Jeff, I saw your comments on THE ANIMAL-LOVER’S BOOK OF BEASTLY MURDER and have put a hold on it at the library. Thanks for the tip. I think I read that the Simenon is the last of those reprints. It’s translated by Ron Schwartz, 2021.
Have to agree with you on the Year’s Best anthologies. The last good ones were the ones edited by Gardner Dozois. I still find some good stories in Asimov’s and F&SF.
The SF anthology I’m keeping, though still unread, is Dozois’ The Best of the Best. I have other anthologies of fantasy, mystery and SF too, but this set edited by Neil Clark just didn’t work for me.
Joining the choir on the state of current SF. Bleh!
Sometimes I wonder, Steve… is it us, or them?
This is just me posting so that I can tick the ‘notify me of new posts’ box!
But as I said on Thursday, I have just read another Maigret – Lock No.1 – which I had mixed feelings about, then today another blogger I follow (‘Bookertalk’) posted a review of Maigret in Court (which I haven’t read), and she added this footnote:
‘This is the 55th title out of the 75 tales written by Simenon that featured his most famous creation. The series began in 1931 and ran for four decades, concluding with Maigret and Monsieur Charles, published in 1972. Simenon called his Maigret output “sketches” to differentiate them from his psychological novels, or romans durs. But as Graeme Macrae Burnet comments in an article for The Guadian: “If the books are sketches, they are the sketches of an old master.”
Penguin Random House republished all 75 Maigret novels over a period of six years. My copy of Maigret in Court is a Penguin Classics Reprint edition from 2018.’
I haven’t looked for Graeme Macrae Burnett’s Guardian article yet, but he is a brilliant writer (& a very nice person) and his opinions would be worth reading.
I don’t think I’ve ever read any science fiction, but it seems to be very fashionable at the moment, at least over here.
Hi! Thanks for dropping by, and the comment. The Maigret collection here is the last of the Penguin re-translations, and I’m savoring it one story at a time. Feel free to comment any time, and I’ll see you at Lesa’s.