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The Theory of the Leisure Class (Modern Library Classics)
Thorstein Veblen, Alan Wolfe
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2008: 21st Annual Collection - Ellen Datlow (Editor),  Kelly Link,  Gavin Grant As with most anthologies, there are two losers for every enjoyable story. In this case, though, I generally disliked stories purely because they did not fit to my personal taste. (A few too many were pretentious stories about the mystical ways of writers.) Still, it was a nice change from disliking stories because they're sloppy cliched messes.

I enjoyed:
"The Cambist and Lord Iron: A fairy tale of economics" by Daniel Abraham. A debauched lord with unlimited wealth and power finds amusement out of setting unsolvable riddles to a humble money-changer.

"The Last Worders" by Karen Joy Fowler. Twin sisters think precisely alike--until a small betrayal that tears them forever assunder.

"Winter's Wife" by Elizabeth Hand. A young boy observes his mysterious neighbor Winter, and Winter's equally fascinating and obscure new wife from Iceland. I love the magic here.

"A Reversal of Fortune" by Holly Black. Black is one of the very few authors who can write believable lower class teenager protagonists. Nikki lives in a trailer park with her erstwhile brother and devoted dog, and spends the summer missing her best friend and getting most of her calories from candy stolen from her job. When her dog is hit by her crush's truck, she challenges the devil to a candy-eating contest: she could win her dog's life, or lose her soul. Luckily, Nikki is as clever and gutsy as she is stubborn.

"The Boulder" by Lucy Kemnitzer is a well-crafted modern perspective on the classic "stolen beneath the Hill" fairy tale.

"The Hill" by Tanith Lee. The only one of the "horror" stories herein to actually have a scary moment. Disturbing imagery and a great concept, but the real strength here is the main character's sensible inner voice. The ending spends a little too much time explaining every bit of the mystery, but Lee does a good job of laying the clues throughout the story.

"Lovers: (Jaafar the Winged)" by Khaled Mattawa is the only poem I liked in this collection, despite Billy Collins's inclusion.

"Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz Go to War Again" by Garth Nix is a great adventure story. Nix is a true adept at creating interesting fantasy worlds and relatable heroes. Hereward is a mercenary knight who likes fine clothes, scarred lovers, and his former nursemaid, current companion, the ensorcelled puppet Fitz.

The anthology ends with the excellent "The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change" by Kij Johnson. The animals of Earth all learned to speak in the same moment, but their newfound ability to communicate makes their former loving owners wary, shamed, and distrustful. Really interesting meditation on slavery and trust.