December 5, 2015

Book 56: The Best of Electric Velocipede

The Best of Electric Velocipede
Edited by John Klima

This collection traces the history of The Electric Velocipede through some of the stories and poetry it published during its run. Though the anthology presents itself as a "best of" edition, the individual stories and poems drastically vary in quality (moreso than in most other collections) even if they do tend to improve as the volume proceeds. This book has its gems, as all of its kind do, but ultimately feels somewhat scattered without a sense of theme to guide it. The focus on speculative fiction is evident throughout, but it's difficult to get a handle on which genre a particular story is in as they flit between various fantasy and science fiction tropes. This is perhaps primarily a fault of the offending authors, but the frenetic reading experience could have been improved by more mindful organization (the effect of chronological ordering here results in a lot of disorienting jumps), effective introductory notes, or other ameliorating editorial factors. That said, the collection does have its high points and surely does not lack for variety; I was particularly surprised to find myself drawn in by some of the poetry. The Best of Electric Velocipede does provide a useful introduction to some lesser-known voices in speculative fiction, but its many misfires lead to a wildly uneven reading experience despite the success of its few gems.

Grade: C

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