Review: ‘The Best of Subterranean’ edited by William Schafer

The Best of Subterranean edited by William Schafer
Subterranean Press (July 2017)
752 pages; $37.74 hardcover
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

In what is already being looked back on as a groundbreaking ten-year run, Subterranean magazine published a staggering array of stories featuring one elite, award-winning author after another. Three years after the last issue was published, The Best of Subterranean arrives as an overdue celebration of one our finest, most lamented genre magazines.

Following the template set by the magazine, The Best of Subterranean mixes, blurs and defies genres with abandon. For example, “The Pile” by Michael Bishop is kind of a horror story, the tale of a “Macarena”-singing toy orangutan that becomes a bad luck totem passed among the members of a townhouse complex. “Perfida,” by Lewis Shiner, is sort of a thriller about a mysterious recording that may or may not contain the sound of bandleader Glenn Miller being beaten to death. “Dispersed by the Sun, Melting in the Wind” by Rachel Swirsky is an atypical post-apocalyptic tale that tracks the sad last gasp of what used to be mankind.

Clocking in at over 700 pages, The Best of Subterranean is a massive collection that hits its stride early and never really stumbles. Page after page, story after story, editor William Schafer showcases what the best genre fiction is capable of: tales of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, alongside tales of extraordinary people dragged down by their own, very human flaws.

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