Monday, January 13, 2014

To theme or not to theme

I've been reading a lot of anthologies lately and I've noticed a couple of similarities about my favorite stories. One would assume that my favorite stories would also be those written by my favorite authors. A lot of them are but not enough for me to count it as a defining characteristic. Being well written is, but that's a topic that I could spend a year talking about at length. While I do have a year in which to talk about it, I'm not going to limit myself to a single theme. Especially when adhering to a theme seems to be exceptionally difficult to do. That's why the similarity that surprised me most is that I liked the stories that most closely adhered to the theme.

I admit that some themes are easy: Year's best sci-fi and fantasy, Best of _________'s short stories, etc. Okay, they're not much as far as themes go but they do give a lot of latitude in term of genre. Other anthologies don't have that luxury. I'm reading Dangerous Women, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardiner Dozois. While it doesn't give a specific genre, you do expect there to be a dangerous women featured in each story. Nope. They're all well written, but some don't have a woman, and others don't have a woman that you could call dangerous by any definition.

Maybe I'm being picky -- it wouldn't be the first time -- but those stories just didn't have the punch that the others did. I'm not certain if it was my disappointment that there wasn't a homicidal woman that degraded the stories or if it was something else that I've yet to put my finger on. Either way, it's something to take into consideration if I ever find myself writing for a themed anthology.

On a side note I've got another guest post on the Fictorian Era coming up on Wednesday. Be sure to check it out.

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