cover image Wilde Stories 2017

Wilde Stories 2017

Edited by Steve Berman. Lethe, $20 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-59021-625-5

The 17 stories in this exhilarating and provocative annual collection of gay-themed speculative fiction span an impressive range of styles and genres. Some stories hide or only briefly note their gay elements, but the best ones inhabit the dark side of long-held desire fulfilled: Steve Carr’s “The Tale of the Costume Maker,” in which a wealthy patron convinces a mysteriously fragile costume maker to join him at a masquerade; A.C. Wise’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It,” in which a high school boy gets a second chance at love with the basketball team captain during a zombie apocalypse; and Sam J. Miller’s “Angel, Monster, Man,” in which three gay men create a pseudonym to which to attribute artistic work left behind by those who died in the AIDS epidemic, and then are alarmed when their fictional figure comes to life. Other stories take up a range of topics: Mathew Scaletta’s “The Sound a Raven Makes” depicts sasquatch hunting in a post–climate change Alaska. A new discovery tests an android’s Catholic faith in Gabriel Murray’s “Bull of Heaven.” Amy Griswold’s “Ratcatcher” is set in a steampunk WWI where ghosts sabotage airships. In Matthew Cheney’s “Where’s the Rest of Me?”, Ronald Reagan blurs with L. Ron Hubbard as a deeply closeted pulp fiction author turned religious huckster. In ’Nathan Burgoine’s “Frost,” Jack Frost finds a protective lover in Frosty the Snowman; in Charles Payseur’s “The Death of Paul Bunyan,” Johnny Appleseed’s and Paul Bunyan’s sexual attraction flounders over environmental concerns. This collection highlights the power of speculative fiction to unravel and explore the desires, dreams, and problems of the here and now. (July)