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Bending the Landscape: Fantasy

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In the groundbreaking anthology, queer writers write fantasy for the first time, and genre writers explore queer characters. But don't expect the usual fantasy backdrops-these stories will give you a frisson, a thrill, as they fizz off the page. They are extraordinary characters living outside the bounds of reality. But you will recognize them... It's about being gay, bein In the groundbreaking anthology, queer writers write fantasy for the first time, and genre writers explore queer characters. But don't expect the usual fantasy backdrops-these stories will give you a frisson, a thrill, as they fizz off the page. They are extraordinary characters living outside the bounds of reality. But you will recognize them... It's about being gay, being straight, falling in love, sorrowful partings, death, and fantastic circumstances. Bending the Landscape stretches the standard fantasy genre.


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In the groundbreaking anthology, queer writers write fantasy for the first time, and genre writers explore queer characters. But don't expect the usual fantasy backdrops-these stories will give you a frisson, a thrill, as they fizz off the page. They are extraordinary characters living outside the bounds of reality. But you will recognize them... It's about being gay, bein In the groundbreaking anthology, queer writers write fantasy for the first time, and genre writers explore queer characters. But don't expect the usual fantasy backdrops-these stories will give you a frisson, a thrill, as they fizz off the page. They are extraordinary characters living outside the bounds of reality. But you will recognize them... It's about being gay, being straight, falling in love, sorrowful partings, death, and fantastic circumstances. Bending the Landscape stretches the standard fantasy genre.

30 review for Bending the Landscape: Fantasy

  1. 5 out of 5

    JoyfulK

    Extranormal? Recently I’ve been privileged to encounter some excellent tales about LGBTIQQ* characters. That is, the tales were excellent. In some cases, the authors’ notes gave me pause. One of these is Bending the Landscape: Fantasy, edited by Nicola Griffith and Stephen Pagel. The stories themselves are delightful. Many of them exercise that privilege of fantasy that is most welcome to me as a queer reader: the existence of a queer character is not the unusual part. Sadly, the editors undo that Extranormal? Recently I’ve been privileged to encounter some excellent tales about LGBTIQQ* characters. That is, the tales were excellent. In some cases, the authors’ notes gave me pause. One of these is Bending the Landscape: Fantasy, edited by Nicola Griffith and Stephen Pagel. The stories themselves are delightful. Many of them exercise that privilege of fantasy that is most welcome to me as a queer reader: the existence of a queer character is not the unusual part. Sadly, the editors undo that positive message in their introduction. Griffith and Pagel begin on solid ground by picking up Samuel Delaney’s definition of speculative fiction as containing “events that contravene reality” (p. 10). They go on to distinguish science fiction---events that haven’t happened [yet]---from fantastic fiction---”something in the story could not really have happened” (p. 10). They define this fantastic fiction as extranormal. “We know it’s impossible. That’s the point.” (p. 10). The editors assert the need for lesbian and gay characters to be seen in worlds where previously only “(presumed) heterosexuals” appeared: “We all need to see representations of ourselves in the world, whether that world is real or not.” (p. 10). I wholeheartedly agree, and it’s one of the reasons I love reading fantasy and SF by authors who’ve noticed this. I particularly enjoy it when the existence of queer characters is not the point. (Just one example: in Tanya Huff’s Sing the Four Quarters , the king has disowned his sister, not because she loves women, but because she declined a diplomatic alliance with a nice princess and went off to join the bards.) So thus far, these editors and I are on the same page. The next bit is where I take exception. “There is another reason why we put together queer characters and the fantasy genre. If part of the excitement of fantasy lies in violating reality, or the norm, then doing so twice---extranormal characters in extrareality---is doubly exciting.” (pp. 10-11). Oops. With this sentence, Griffith and Pagel undo everything they said in the prior paragraph. Queer people are not “extranormal” in the sense the editors have described. We really do happen. We happen around you every day. We are your coworkers, your teachers, your auto mechanic, your bus driver, your checker at the grocery, your friends, your cousins, your aunts and uncles, maybe even your parents, your spouse, your child, or yourself. We are not “extranormal”---but many of us are afraid to tell you. Queer characters belong in fantastic fiction because at its base, fantastic fiction is about the human experience. How will humans react in a situation? How will we deal? The excitement of finding queer characters in extrareal fiction, for me at least, is seeing myself and my community in the books that speculate about how everyone in the human community will deal. Speaking of dealing. Don’t toss this book out because of its three-page introduction. The stories are great. For the most part, they are only peripherally about gay men and lesbians**, and mostly about how humans handle extrareal situations---aliens, ghosts, visible magick---and real situations---love, heartbreak, discrimination, violence, unreasonable bosses.... What do you do when your long-time partner runs off to join the aliens, leaving you and the cat broken-hearted? How do you respond when your employer requires you to steal the icon of the Goddess of Luck, and the Goddess of Luck takes her natural revenge? What’s next after you take the 911 call from your lover, who’s 15 years dead? These are stories worth reading. Just keep in mind that they are about normal people in extrareal situations. Notes: * LGBTIQQ: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning. I will now exercise my privilege as a member of the alphabet community to use the much more pronounceable and recently reclaimed word “queer”. ** Despite the editors’ use of the word “queer” to describe this anthology, I haven’t, thus far, encountered any bisexual, trans, or intersex folks in these stories. I haven’t finished the book yet, though, and I also might excuse this particular aspect of narrow vision given the publication date: 1996.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    A solid anthology. No total clunkers, but not too many stunners either. Just a lot of solid stories. I'm curious to read the science fiction collection to see if I like it better. I really enjoyed the first seven stories, as well as the Leslie What and BJ Thrower pieces. After that it blurred together a bit. I'm happy that this series exists, though. A solid anthology. No total clunkers, but not too many stunners either. Just a lot of solid stories. I'm curious to read the science fiction collection to see if I like it better. I really enjoyed the first seven stories, as well as the Leslie What and BJ Thrower pieces. After that it blurred together a bit. I'm happy that this series exists, though.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Taru Luojola

    Ihan perus novelleja. Antologian pointtina on esitellä ”kvääriyttä” eli homoja ja lesboja. Sinällään tämä on myös kiinnostava aikamatka parinkymmenen vuoden taakse, koska kvääriys nähdään tässä kuitenkin edelleen hyvin cissukupuolisena. Ns. kiintiöhomoista taisi tulla ilmiö vasta jokusen vuoden myöhemmin. Että sinällään niistä ajoista on jo päästy paljon eteenpäin.

  4. 5 out of 5

    'Nathan Burgoine

    Having read the Horror and the Science Fiction books in this series of short stories with a gender/gay/lesbian/bisexual bend, when Mr. Dude said he had a copy of the out-of-print fantasy volume in the series, I begged, pleaded, and nuzzled neck. The result: I got to enjoy this selection of short stories. Not surprising to those of you who know me well, the Science Fiction selection is still my favourite, but this one certainly was more enjoyable to me than the Horror issue. Granted, I have a low Having read the Horror and the Science Fiction books in this series of short stories with a gender/gay/lesbian/bisexual bend, when Mr. Dude said he had a copy of the out-of-print fantasy volume in the series, I begged, pleaded, and nuzzled neck. The result: I got to enjoy this selection of short stories. Not surprising to those of you who know me well, the Science Fiction selection is still my favourite, but this one certainly was more enjoyable to me than the Horror issue. Granted, I have a low gorge factor, so the horror had too much 'ick' factor when I read it. This, the fantasy series, has some solid stuff in it, and nearly no 'ick.' Ergo, enjoyable. Frost Painting was a pretty story about transition and the fear that holds us back in what - though less enjoyable - we are used to. Gary, in the Shadows was a sad tale and a really touching one about a man whose ghosts literally come back to haunt - and protect - him. Prince of the Dark Green Sea was a wonderful gay re-telling of the tale of the fisherman and his wife. Water Snakes was really touching - and reminded me quite a bit of some of Jeanette Winterson's work. Gestures Too Late on a Gravel Road was quite haunting, and left me feeling very sad, though a little vindicated. The notion of not quite saying goodbye soon enough haunts most of us, I think. The Fall of the Kings was the longest tale, read like a novella, and was so wonderfully dark and sensual that I think it placed second in my favourites of the book. It is also the most classically fantasy story in the book. Cloudmaker had a unique story idea, but left me a little confused and cold. Magicked Tricks was a fun, also sword-and-sorcery setting fantasy story, and a cute romp to boot. It's basically a murder mystery with a it of a magical twist. The Sound of Angels was wonderful - but to my mind belonged in a science fiction collection, given the technological story linchpin - and made me wonder how wonderful or awful it would be to be neurally linked to someone while they died. The King's Folly also left me a little cold, but really, it had a solid idea and a nice twist. Beside the Well was a beautiful (and dark) story set in a Japanese setting that I found qutie lyrical - and reminded me a bit of the novel 'The Fox Woman' I read quite a while back. The Home Town Boy only suffered from being too darned short, but was otherwise a neat idea. Expression of Desire was a nice vampiric tale with an interesting take on both desire and hunger, and with a neat counterpoint of frustration and letdown. There are Things Which are Hidden from the Eyes of the Everyday was downright erotic and read a little like an X-rated version of 'The Alchemist.' Full Moon and Empty Arms was a soft and fluffy piece, but to be honest, wasn't all that fantastical, just a little bit spiritual. Mahu was wonderful - an aging soldier who gets a chance to relive his youth through the magic of Hawaii, and some powerful memories of those he lost during Pearl Harbor. The Stars are Tears was a Thieves World story, a world I've never read, and suffered a bit for my unknowing, I think. Two very hunky gladiators who are in love suffer when one is tempted by a fellow who falls from the sky (literally). An interesting tale, and it whetted my appetite for Theives World. Desire was a nice diary-entry piece about learning who onesself is, through the use of spirits and ghosts. Young Lady Who Loved Cattepillars was a superb and asian fantasy about a young girl who absolutely refused to conform, and the girl who might love her, with a little help from a butterfly with but one day to live on the world. In Memory Of was a Whitewolf tale with shapeshifters, and had a nice dash of the erotic within its story. I quite admit, I enjoyed the Whitewolf world when I was younger, so this one likely titillated me a bit more than it might someone else. In Mysterious Ways was a super (and funny) little tale from a favourite author of mine, Tanya Huff, where thief is asked to steal a minor god's relic, and is stuck between that rock and a hard place. In the House of the Man in the Moon was my favourite of the tale, about a man who even as a child could sense spirits, and who tries to reconcile his present day aiding of the police with his youthful vengeance against a man who preyed on children like he once was. This was just the best story in the book - and I'm glad it was the last. A common thread throughout most of the tales was one of loss - nearly every character had lost a previous lover to violence, illness, or some other unnatural death. I find it telling that in this series - written in the eighties - there's very little prose that includes a collected and stable couple. It's not surprising (and, especially given a short story collection, conflict breeds more of an interesting reading experience), but it was interesting.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Poltz

    This is the first of three volumes of short stories with gay and lesbian characters and or themes. The other two are for Science Fiction and for Horror. I read Bending the Landscape: Horror several years ago and really liked it. This one, however, was tremendous. Not all the stories are perfect. In fact, a couple are duds. But overall, this anthology hits the mark almost every time. Some stories are traditional European-like fantasies with magic and wizards. Others are urban fantasies, some are This is the first of three volumes of short stories with gay and lesbian characters and or themes. The other two are for Science Fiction and for Horror. I read Bending the Landscape: Horror several years ago and really liked it. This one, however, was tremendous. Not all the stories are perfect. In fact, a couple are duds. But overall, this anthology hits the mark almost every time. Some stories are traditional European-like fantasies with magic and wizards. Others are urban fantasies, some are ghost stories, and the rest are non-traditional in some way or another. I can’t put it any better than the quote on the back of the book: BTL:F “demonstrates that gender and orientation can be used to create spectacularly imaginative plots and rich works of fantasy”. This book won a World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology and a Lambda Literary Award for Sci Fi/Fantasy/Horror, both for 1998. Come visit my blog for the full review… https://itstartedwiththehugos.blogspo...

  6. 4 out of 5

    LeAnn

    So many great stories in this collection! Definitely recommended for anyone looking for stories with lesbian or gay character, or for people who enjoy fantasy stories.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Roberta

    I liked every story in this anthology.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Hank

    These stories just weren't very good. These stories just weren't very good.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    This was a fun anthology overall. My favorite stories were Frost Painting, Gary in the Shadows, Water Snakes, Cloudmaker, Magicked Tricks, Sound of Angels, The Home Town Boy There Are Things Which Are Hidden from the Eyes of the Everyday and the Young Lady Who Loved Catepillars. These short stories had elements that I really loved or connected with. This anthology didn't blow my mind. The short stories listed above were the ones that made an impact on me in some way. Some of the stories had a un This was a fun anthology overall. My favorite stories were Frost Painting, Gary in the Shadows, Water Snakes, Cloudmaker, Magicked Tricks, Sound of Angels, The Home Town Boy There Are Things Which Are Hidden from the Eyes of the Everyday and the Young Lady Who Loved Catepillars. These short stories had elements that I really loved or connected with. This anthology didn't blow my mind. The short stories listed above were the ones that made an impact on me in some way. Some of the stories had a unique concept/plot or a really genuine protrayal of queer love, affection and life. And that's why I liked them so much. There were three stories I didn't read: The Fall of Kings, In Mysterious Ways and In the House of the Man in the Moon. The last two because I didn't get to in time and the first one because I lost interest in it. The rest of the stories either didn't feel fantasy or queer enough for me. And what is enough for me? Well I like my fantasy like I like my queerness: OBVIOUS! And for the big question...would I read this anthology again? Yes! I really liked the stories I liked, so I would want to read them again.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Asher

    When I was a teenager I used to drive to a libraries that belonged to my co-op, (meaning I could use my small town library card to check titles out) where no one knew me. Once there I would check out as many LGBT titles as I could get, and this title was one of them. I can't say all the stories are good, but some of them are, and some of them are even great. For my 17 year old closeted queer self, finding this book was like finding a slice of heaven. When I was a teenager I used to drive to a libraries that belonged to my co-op, (meaning I could use my small town library card to check titles out) where no one knew me. Once there I would check out as many LGBT titles as I could get, and this title was one of them. I can't say all the stories are good, but some of them are, and some of them are even great. For my 17 year old closeted queer self, finding this book was like finding a slice of heaven.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    Fiction B4588 v.3

  12. 4 out of 5

    Janice

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jonna Higgins-Freese

    There were some real gems, and some authors whose work I will now seek out.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Aviv Shener

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mary Griggs

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andy

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kaye

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dominick Cancilla

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marie

  20. 4 out of 5

    Maurynne Maxwell

  21. 5 out of 5

    Colin

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andy P

  23. 4 out of 5

    K Bradley

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sanna

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tommy Phannareth

  27. 4 out of 5

    Teufel Hosen

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jo

  29. 4 out of 5

    SmokingMirror

  30. 5 out of 5

    Barry Hunter

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