The Unicorn Anthology
by Peter S. Beagle, Garth Nix, Carrie Vaughn, Patricia A. McKillip, Bruce Coville, Carlos Hernandez, Karen Joy Fowler, Jane Yolen, Nancy Springer, Cailtin R. Kiernan, Margo Lanagan
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Pub Date 29 Apr 2019 | Archive Date 12 Aug 2019
—Sarah Beth Durst, author ofQueen of the Blood
Unicorns: Not just for virgins anymore. Here are sixteen lovely, powerful, intricate, and unexpected unicorn tales from fantasy icons including Garth Nix, Peter S. Beagle, Patricia A. McKillip, Bruce Coville, Carrie Vaughn, and more. In this volume you will find two would-be hunters who enlist an innkeeper to find a priest hiding the secret of the last unicorn. A time traveler tries to corral an unruly mythological beast that might never have existed at all. The lover and ex-boyfriend of a dying woman join forces to find a miraculous remedy in New York City. And a small-town writer of historical romances discovers a sliver of a mysterious horn in a slice of apple pie.
A Note From the Publisher
World Fantasy Award-winning editor Jacob Weisman is the publisher at Tachyon Publications, which he founded in 1995. He is the series editor of Tachyon’s critically acclaimed, Hugo, Nebula, and Shirley Jackson award-winning novella series. Weisman's anthology projects include The New Voices of Fantasy (with Peter S. Beagle), Invaders: 22 Tales from the Outer Limits of Literature, The Sword & Sorcery Anthology (with David G. Hartwell), and The Treasury of the Fantastic (with David M. Sandner). He lives in San Francisco.
“Well worth reading...”
—NY Journal of Books
“This slender but rich anthology compiled by Beagle and Weisman (The New Voices of Fantasy) centers on the mythical beast for which Beagle is best known, thanks to his classic novel The Last Unicorn. The 15 stories and one poem reinterpret the unicorn myth across genre and style. Caitlín R. Kiernan’s lesbian noir “The Maltese Unicorn” pits a hard-boiled rare book dealer against a sorcerous femme fatale. In Jane Yolen’s delicate “The Transfigured Hart,” a bookish boy and a horse-loving girl bond over a shared obsession with a mysterious white woodland creature. Dave Smeds’s “Survivor” includes elements of horror in its tale of a traumatized Vietnam vet, as does Garth Nix’s “The Highest Justice,” in which a princess and a revenant queen seek revenge with the help of a unicorn. Themes of innocence lost, first love, and yearning for transcendence pervade all of the stories in this collection, giving it a haunting and melancholy feel. Readers who love the mystery and elegance of unicorns will find this a lovely homage.”
“Unicorns in literature are fascinating, evocative, mysterious, and elusive, and with The Unicorn Anthology, editors Peter S. Beagle—himself of unicorn fame—and Jacob Weisman invite continued appreciation of the legendary beast, drawing it beyond its familiar medieval framework.”
“Unicorns are a rare and wondrous breed; fortunately for us, stories about them are a little easier to find. Peter S. Beagle’s new anthology contains a marvellous collection of stories about the animal that probably never existed, but that we still can’t stop dreaming about. Like the creature itself, the stories are wild and wistful, graceful and glorious, kind and crazy. Everything we need to help us believe . . . in something worth believing in.”
—Simon R. Green, author of Night Fall
“What a treasure trove! This anthology is filled with stories that will surprise, fascinate, and delight you. From an Arizona ghost town where souls are healed to a medieval European forest to the middle of an elephant herd in Persia, there are so many gems to be found!”
—Sarah Beth Durst, award-winning author of the Queens of Renthia series
“Between these pages you’ll find tales that are as mysterious and arresting as any creature of myth and legend. The Unicorn Anthology returned me to the stories of writers I already loved and introduced me to the stories of writers I know I will come to love.”
—Kevin Brockmeier, author of A Brief History of the Dead
5/5 stars. “Every single story in this collection is top-shelf.”
"This collection is a great introduction to various authors and a great sample of their writing, in addition to various ways one can look at a unicorn."
“A wonderful collection.”
—Girl Who Reads
5/5 stars. “I have great things to say about every page. Gorgeous prose for gorgeous unicorns, surprising violence and sexuality, and trope reversal abound. I strongly recommend this to anyone.”
—Black Forest Basilisks
“This is a brilliant little collection with a wonderful introduction and I recommend it wholeheartedly.”
—Green Man Review
Praise for co-editors World Fantasy Award-winning editors Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman
On The New Voices of Fantasy
Booklist SciFi/Fantasy/Horror Spotlight - Top 10 Barnes & Noble Best Science Fiction and Fantasy
Books Geekiverse: 8 Hot Sci-fi and Fantasy Releases
“The New Voices of Fantasy is a fabulous collection of vivid, surprising, and remarkable stories. Highly recommended.”
—Kate Elliott, author of Court of Fives
[STARRED REVIEW] “This excellent anthology showcases up-and-coming speculative fiction writers, many of whom have received award nominations and critical attention to support their status as future influencers of the genre. Fantasy legend Beagle and Tachyon publisher Weisman have provided a valuable snapshot of SF/F’s newest generation of writers.”
[STARRED REVIEW] “A stellar anthology that proves not only that fantasy is alive and well, but that it will be for years to come.”
—Kirkus [STARRED REVIEW]
“This anthology represents some of the most exciting and interesting work in the fantasy field today, and anyone interested in the genre should read it immediately.”
“For readers who are anticipating the end of HBO’s Game of Thrones and looking for new fantasy authors to follow, this 19-story-strong collection provides plenty to sample.”
*Promotion at major trade and genre conventions, including BEA, Readercon, the International Convention for the Fantastic in the Arts, and the World Fantasy Convention
*Features, interviews, and reviews targeting venues including the Washington Post, NPR, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Locus, and the San Francisco Chronicle
*Northern California and national editor and author tour dates TBD
*Planned galley distribution and book giveaways to include NetGalley, Goodreads, Edelweiss, Tor.com, and additional online outlets
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 87 members
With this bevy of authors, you CAN"T go wrong, but my personal favorite I will admit was Jane Yolen and Carrie Vaughn. I REALLY REALLY want those two to be full length novels. Overall, what a fantastic collection of both stories and authors and the adding of Coville, someone I wouldn't normally read, was fantastic.
The Unicorn Anthology is a collection of 16 pieces of short fiction by some literal titans of speculative fiction. Every single story in this collection is top-shelf, there are no weak stories. All of these have been published previously and date from 1975-2017. Many of the older stories are quite difficult to find and several were new to me in any form.
Due out 19th April 2019 from Tachyon, it's 288 pages and will be available in ebook and paperback formats.
One reason I prefer collections and anthologies is that short fiction is really challenging. It's spare and the author doesn't have a wealth of wordage to develop characters or the plotting. Well written short fiction is a delight. I also love collections because if one story doesn't really grab me, there's another story just a few pages away. I can only recall a few times where I've read a collection (or anthology) straight through from cover to cover. This one I did. I even re-read the stories which I had read before.
I won't precìs all the stories, and all are strong, but there are a few true standouts:
My Son Heydari and the Karkadann by Peter S. Beagle is a first person story in the form of an anecdote. Based in both folklore and Persian oral history, it's a twisty tale that kept me guessing completely to the end. The nuance and flavor of the storytelling is amazing and I am utterly in awe of Mr. Beagle's command of the form. Just a really superlative story. This one was also included in The Overneath reviewed on my blog.
The Transfigured Hart by Jane Yolen. Part fable and part coming of age. This one is a modern story and in a way is all about perceptions and consensual reality (what things actually are depends on how we perceive them). I adore Ms. Yolen's writing and this story is gentle and wistful and beautifully written. I believe I had read this one years ago, but had forgotten about it for a long time. Such a melancholy piece.
Ghost Town by Jack C. Haldeman II. A grifter gets a rare chance to change the path he's on. I really loved this one even though it's more or less straightforward fiction with the slightest touch of magical realism. It's an upbeat and very well written story.
Just a really super collection of short stories.
This anthology of sixteen tales portrays unicorns in a way you may not have experienced before. When as an author you're typecast by a popular character, it can make writing challenging. Such is the experience of Peter S. Beagle, the unicorn guy. Thus his introduction is one of the most enjoyable, insightful, and "life is humorous" ones I've read in years. Even more so for me as my introduction to his work was not with The Last Unicorn, but with another tale, Summerlong. It sets the tone for a wonderful anthology of stories by many well known names in fantasy. Each takes the bright shiny virgin and a white unicorn story and examines it in a different and unique way. While they have all been published previously, not all are easy to access today. This is an enjoyable collection for those looking for different stories of unicorns.
I don't normally read short stories because I love the long game. However, these are some compelling and excellently written short stories. Some were disturbing, some were suspenseful, and some were lovely. I was impressed with the work of each author and I'll be looking at other books written by them for my to-read list. Although they're all about unicorns, don't think that makes them similar in any way. The creativity with the subject is astounding. Prepare to be amazed.
Unicorns are a mystical, magical creatures. In this unique anthology of unicorns story, there is a different look at unicorns. If you want original stories, read this! They are written about lost innocence, first love but also about hunting unicorns for their horns. One of my favorite stories is by Jane Yolen “The Transfigured Hart” about a horse-loving girl and a bookish boy shared an obsession with a white creature in the forest. There is an argument between them about if the white creature is a white deer or a unicorn. Who is right? Read this delightful story and find out! Read thee other stories to discover unicorns that are not only special but different! A delightful book to read!
The Unicorn Anthology is full to the brim with unicorns aplenty, following them as they gallop through a series of stories that are fresh and cutting-edge. Unicorns may seem like a played out fantasy trope, but this collection proves otherwise. Many of the stories bring unicorns into the modern world, creating a fascinating dynamic against the expected medieval setting. The collection brings unicorns firmly into the twenty-first century, and it was a delight to read.
I was most impressed by the modernization displayed in the stories. We see unicorn riding akin to bull riding, with young girls competing against each other for fame and glory. We see poachers stalking after a lone unicorn who accidentally stepped into the world through a rip in the multidimensional fabric. I was continuously surprised by the originality and imagination on display.
Overall, The Unicorn Anthology is a multi-layered collection that adds depth to the typical unicorn tales. It’s an excellent fantasy anthology that shows how fascinating these mythical creatures can be.
Final review to be posted on April 29: https://reviewsandrobots.com/2019/04/29/the-unicorn-anthology-book-review
The Unicorn Anthology edited by Peter S. Beagle & Jacob Weisman
**THIS ARC WAS PROVIDED COURTESY OF Tachyon Publications via NetGalley IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW**
Future Publication Date: April 19th, 2019
Key Descriptors: unicorns, LGBT+, friendship, sex, violence, virginity
Applicable /r/Fantasy Bingo Squares: Novel Published in 2019, Five SFF Short Stories
Review: When we think of unicorns, I think we often forget the two more “vulgar” concepts they are linked to: sex and violence. We hunt the unicorn for its horn. We kill it, imposing our mastery over the innocent. Unicorns will only accept the hand of a virgin – by opposing sex, they become a symbol of it; this is particularly true given the somewhat phallic nature of the horn.
If you’re coming in to this anthology expecting it to be filled with glitter and happiness, I have some bad news: that’s definitely not what you’ll be getting. However, if you’re hoping instead for a much more adult look at what the unicorn has historically symbolized, you will be in for a real treat. Beagle and Weismann have put together an anthology that showcases every aspect of the unicorn, all the way from adorable friendship and coming of age right on over to joy of mastering and destroying innocence. I found it damn impressive and fascinating to read – I’ll confess, I had anticipated a bit more glitter and happiness than what I found between these pages, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
I think my favorite in the collection was “A Hunter’s Ode to His Bait” by Carrie Vaughn. Vaughn’s story features not only gorgeous prose, but also a protagonist unusual by unicorn story standards: a young maiden who is an active participant in the unicorn hunt. She wants the kill just as badly as does the man using her as bait; she craves the challenge, the domination, the thrill of using her desirability to lure in the beast.
“Her feet and legs were caked with mud, the hem of her gown black with the stuff, even though she held it off the ground. She was wet as a drowned kitten, but smiling and shining, moving a slow dance like she was born to this damp world – as innocent as the rain. Rain which gave life, and which flooded and drowned. This, he thought, was why men paid more for virgins.
The old unicorn was also aroused.
She had him then.”
I had shivers reading this. What an amazing scene – using innocence intentionally in seduction and turning the unicorn trope right on its head.
Also worth a mention is “Falling off the Unicorn” by David D. Levine and Sara A Mueller. This was a surprisingly adorable coming of age story featuring the cutest LGBT romance you can imagine. I had such a good time reading it and rooting for our young protagonists! Many of the stories had LGBT themes, but this one, I think, did it best. That said, “The Brew” also deserves an honorable mention, if only for this quote:
“It was just so hard to put the two lives together. At the time I felt that the first life was just a lie. I felt that everyone who loved me had been lied to. But now – being gay seems to be all I am sometimes. Now sometimes I want someplace where I can get away from it. Someplace where I’m just Bobby again.”
This was such an interesting and relatable take on being part of a minority. While I personally am not, this is a sentiment I’ve absolutely heard echoed by many of my openly LGBT+ friends. In the current out and proud climate, it’s easy to lose yourself by trying to put this one small piece of you forward all the time.
I could easily go on and on about every story in this anthology; there wasn’t a single dud amongst them, and I have great things to say about every page. Gorgeous prose for gorgeous unicorns, surprising violence and sexuality, and trope reversal abound. I strongly recommend this to anyone, and perhaps especially to those who think they’re not a fan of unicorns!
The Unicorn Anthology can be found on Amazon and Goodreads.
If you liked The Unicorn Anthology, you might also enjoy:
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
As always with anthologies, there's a likelihood that you won't enjoy every story in the selection - but although that is true here, I found myself enjoying a much higher percentage than usual! There's not one story here that I actively disliked, and for the most part, these are very intelligent, fun, and interesting takes on unicorns.
I had read Jane Yolen's The Transfigured Hart before, and I was pleased to find it included here - it's a gorgeous tale that reads like a fable and a modern middle grade all at the same time. I really loved the stories by Garth Nix, Patricia A McKillip, and Caitlin R Kiernan, in particular.
Don't be put off by the cultural image of unicorns as sparkly twee magic horses - these unicorns are fascinating, smart, wild creatures, and each story has a different take on the legends. It's a great selection of stories.
I absolutely loved this story anthology. I'm not big on short stories or stories by several authors but this one just blew me away!
I grabbed this anthology because of Garth Nix's involvement. I went straight to his contribution, which is about a partially substantial unicorn who is to be called in times of great need.
There's a wicked stepmother and a corrupt king in this story. I was definitely interested in the zombie aspect. I really enjoyed how things went, and also the ending was pretty great. I received a review copy from NetGalley. It's a nice unicorn story.
Curated by Peter S. Beagle, legendary author of The Last Unicorn, The Unicorn Anthology is a collection of mostly quite short stories by some of the biggest names in fantasy today, including Garth Nix, Patricia A. McKillip, Jane Yolen and Beagle himself. There’s a huge variety here, from a sweetly charming tale of two children stumbling on something magical in the deep woods (The Transfigured Hart) to a darkly twisted story of what, frankly, I can only call the sexual abuse of a child (The Lion and the Unicorn). That one and The Maltese Unicorn are most definitely not suitable for children, and The Lion and the Unicorn could be dangerously triggering for CSA or sexual assault survivors. A Thousand Flowers skirts around the implication of bestiality (is it bestiality if the creature is mythical?)
I wouldn’t be letting a youngster obsessed with unicorns read this collection freely. Probably a third of the stories deal with very adult themes. Those warnings aside, all of the writing is stunning, evocative prose - in the case of Nancy Springer’s contribution, poetry - which can’t fail to move you. I think my favorite was Falling Off The Unicorn, in which show unicorns must be ridden and trained by virginal women or risk goring, and two young women find themselves testing just what the unicorns consider ‘cheating’ in their newfound feelings for each other.
I’m giving the collection as a whole five stars, but with the proviso that some of the stories deal with deeply triggering themes and I think it’s suitable for aware adult readers only.
I've always liked unicorns, and in spite of all the fantasy I read I feel like I don't get to see unicorns much. This was a decent collection - some of the stories I really liked and would rate 4 or 5 stars. Several I didn't care for, and would rate 2 or 3 stars. But that is pretty much what I expect from most anthologies.
Some of the highlights for me were :
"Stampede of Light" (Marina Fitch), which has the theme of children lost in the school system and teachers who go the extra mile to help.
"The Transfigured Hart" (Jane Yolen) about two children who find and desire to tame a unicorn.
"Homeward Bound" by Bruce Coville and "A Hunter's Ode to His Bait" by Carrie Vaughn also stood out to me.
Thanks to netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.
I love anthologies that include authors I have not read before. Short stories limit the span of time authors have to catch and hold the reader's attention. Each author must give us the condensed version and make it good or we skip to the next one. I did not skip any pages in this book even though there were many authors I had not read before. The unifying theme was unicorns, so each writer had to suspend belief while still developing a story line that we would find interesting and entertaining. The results were fantastic! It would be very hard to pick a favorite as I found them all great reads.
I really enjoyed this one. I would like to use some of the stories in the classroom, should I be approved for doing so by my district (they have to negotiate copyright and all that, you know).
The stories were all wildly different, which I appreciated, but it also meant that I was left with a few favorites and a few stinkers. That's the price of diversity, though, and besides, if I wanted to read the same type of unicorn story over and over again...I guess I would.
I should mention that I am no huge fan of unicorns, either. However, that didn't keep me from enjoying the stories in this anthology. I primarily picked it up to read stories by Coville and Yolen, two childhood favorites, but found plenty of other stories to love. I'll be looking up some of these other authors!
I'd also like to mention that the editing was pretty sound. This book wasn't riddled with errors or typos like so many others on Kindle lately.
Even if you don't read any of the short stories, Beagle's introductory essay is just lovely on its own. The collection of stories has a lot to offer from some rock star authors and will not disappoint fantasy readers.
I am a sucker for unicorn stories. And with Peter Beagle on the docket, you know it's going to be a good thing. Each story is unique and so full of magic and beauty, light vs darkness, gorgeous environments and interesting characters. Well worth keeping this volume on hand for rainy days.
A fun mix of authors leave this book with something for everyone. A stand out in my opinion is Carrie Vaighn.
** I was provided an electronic ARC by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
Oh, gosh. How to even start this one? Honestly, I originally asked for this arc because of my deep love for the previous unicorn (and other!) pieces by Beagle, Nix, and Coville, These names have been hallmarks of my childhood fantasy and columns of my continued forrays into stories of fantastical beasts throughout my formative and adult years.
This collection absolutely did not disappoint (and I'm super glad to have even more authors to follow for these types of tales!). There were many of these I was almost in tears by the end of their pieces, because I felt desperately the need to know what kept happening after the next page, the last page, what would have happened if we could follow these characters into the length of novel's breadth.
Everyone with a love for these magical, mystical creatures needs this book stat! <3
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