Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe edited and collected one of my favorite anthologies to date, The Starlit Wood so when I saw they were releasing another anthology together I just couldn’t wait – especially once I saw the title: Robots vs Fairies. I thought to myself, “Oh, this is gonna be goood!” and oh, was I right. Many of the stories are poignant and thoughtful. Many of them left me with things to sit and mentally chew on, as all the best do.
Read on for brief reviews of individual stories. Or, go pick up a copy for yourself! Robots Vs. Fairies hit shelves January 9.
“Build me a Wonderland” by Seanan McGuire
Ahhhh this was such a great story to start off this anthology with! Fairies AND robots all mashed into one fantastic read. Seanan’s writing definitely shines in Build Me A Wonderland. Tightly written, I don’t feel like I need more of the story – I got exactly the right amount. A really strong beginning to this anthology.
“Quality Time” by Ken Liu
In “Quality Time” Ken Liu takes the time to explore the pitfalls of Silicon Valley’s philosophy that technology can solve anything. How does solving one problem create other problems? Can you take a solution too far? I enjoyed Liu’s exploration of these questions and the world he built.
“Murmured Under the Moon” by Tim Pratt
I really liked the concept of this story, but had a real problem with the dialog. It came across as stilted and amateurish, which is surprising from an author as published as Pratt. I love stories of libraries, and enjoyed Pratt’s story, aside from the strange dialog.
“The Blue Fairy’s Manifesto” by Annalee Newitz
An interesting exploration of moderate vs extreme points of view on social injustice, through the lens of robotics and Pinnocchio. Thought provoking.
“Bread and Milk and Salt” by Sarah Gailey
Dark and bloody, as I understand is typical of Gailey’s writing. The ending, while disturbing was satisfying. “Be careful what you wish for” goes both ways.
“Ironheart” by Jonathan Maberry
At its heart, Ironheart is heartbreaking take on how badly we fail our veterans in the U.S. Mix in some robotic magic and you’ve got a moving story with heart. There were definitely tears in my eyes.
“Just Another Love Song” by Kat Howard
Yes, yes and yes. What a story. Play Regina Spektor’s “Love Song” on repeat while you read this one.
“Sound and Fury” Mary Robinette Kowal
A fun space adventure containing one giant robot and much eyerolling. The eyerolling was not on my part. I really enjoyed the exhausted snark of the crew.
“The Bookcase Expedition” by Jeffrey Ford
I enjoyed it, but Ford himself admits it’s not really a fairy story in his author’s note following the story. I struggled to keep my attention on this one.
“Work Shadow/Shadow Work” by Madeline Ashby
I really enjoyed this one. When robots are sufficiently advanced to be called AI, what separates them from humans – do they have souls? Does it matter?
“Second to the Left, and Straight on” by Jim C. Hines
As you might be able to tell, Hines’ story is a take on the classic Peter Pan story, but in wonderful Hines fashion he twists the familiar tale into something new. A heartwrenching, stunning story.
“The Buried Giants” by Lavie Tidhar
This one was a bit weird. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. I got Truman Show vibes from parts of it.
“Three Robots Experience Objects Left Behind from the Era of Humans for the First Time” by John Scalzi
Hilarious! I literally laughed out loud at the end. That’s all I need to say.
“Ostentation of Peacocks” by Delilah S. Dawson/Lila Bowen
Somehow, I’ve never imagined a fairy western before, but after reading this, I’m surprised there aren’t more of them, but now I want more.
“All the Time We’ve Left to Spend” by Alyssa Wong
Heartbreaking and kind of disturbing in a gorgeous way. Celebrity replica robots but not one the way you expect.
“Adriftica” by Maria Dahvana Headley
A retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream mashed up with rock and roll. A really fun retelling.
“To A Cloven Pine” by Max Gladstone
A chaotic, robotic reimagination of The Tempest that is going to haunt me for days. Magical, even though Max is on Team Robot.
“A Fall Counts Anywhere” by Catherynne M. Valente
Literally Robots vs Fairies in a bloody deathmatch! The introduction to this story was too long, and capslock can be hard to read for such long chunks. Unfortunately, Valente managed to make even a deathmatch boring. A really weak ending to an otherwise fantastic anthology.
I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.