These stories have been festooned with awards, honourable mentions and places in years best anthologies Rightly so, Bear is a master of short fiction As with her first collection, Shoggoths in Bloom spans a variety of genres and sub genres, there are battle robots mourning fallen comrades, politically savy princesses in eastern inspired fantasy worlds, scientists in near future labs, blacksmiths forging hearts, corporate spies, personified cities, broken down boxers, and hard choices.She loves her hard choices does Bear.Story by story reviews may come later In the meantime, if you like short fiction read this book Easy. I received this gratis e ARC through the publisher on NetGalley.I m very familiar with Elizabeth Bear s work I have followed her blog for many years, read several of her books, and a number of her short stories It turned out that I had already read about 1 3 of the stories in this anthology but I didn t mind in the least I connect much with her shorter work than I do her novels, and it was a joy to re read her masterful work such as Tideline, Shoggoths in Bloom, and The Girl Who Sang Rose Madder I also appreciated that the anthology introduced me to unfamiliar stories There were three stand outs that were future set police mystery stories, relying heavily on new technology and dire economical and environmental constrictions on society My favorite of these was, In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns, set in India if talking, genetically altered cats were available, you better believe I d go buy one.Bear s work is solid Even if a story didn t grab me, none of the featured works were bad, and all were worth finishing This is an excellent anthology for those seeking out quality, contemporary speculative short fiction. Short Fiction From Elizabeth Bear, Recipient Of The John W Campbell Award For Best New Writer Includes Her Hugo And Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award Winning Tideline And Hugo Winning Novelette, Shoggoths In Bloom, As Well As An Original, Never Published Story A World Fantasy, Nebula, And Philip K Dick Nominee, Bear Is One Of Speculative Fiction S Most Acclaimed, Respected, And Prolific AuthorsContentTidelineSonny Liston Takes The FallSoundingThe Something Dreaming GameThe Cold BlacksmithIn The House Of Aryaman, A Lonely Signal BurnsOrm The BeautifulThe Inevitable Heat Death Of The UniverseLove Among The TalusCryptic ColorationThe LadiesShoggoths In BloomThe Girl Who Sang Rose MadderDollyGods Of The ForgeAnnie WebberThe Horrid Glory Of Its WingsConfessorThe Leavings Of The WolfThe Death Of Terrestrial Radio I loved this so much I will review each story INDIVIDUALLY.1 TIDELINEA damaged war robot and her pet boy, seaglass, and storytelling 2 SONNY LISTON TAKES THE FALLI love this one The narrator is the spirit of Vegas and the story is about boxing and the price of magic, and that sometimes the person who pays for a thing is not the person who gets to use it.3 SOUNDINGAlso about magic and who pays vs who enjoys, but this time with whales and a bro who makes a bad call.4 THE SOMETHING DREAMING GAME.Kids, auto erotic asphyxiation, and who s on the other end of the hand reaching out in the dark.5 THE COLD BLACKSMITHWeyland Smith and the thing he couldn t fix 6 IN THE HOUSE OF ARYAMAN, A LONELY SIGNAL BURNSGot goosebumps from this one and I love it madly It is available free here Worth it for itself and also for the talking parrot cats.7 ORM THE BEAUTIFULDragon family values, prices, and precious gems 8 THE INEVITABLE HEAT DEATH OF THE UNIVERSEAn idea piece I don t usually go for those but this one has a shark that really does eat everything.9 LOVE AMONG THE TALUSThe princess in the tower gets some agency It s about what you want vs what you re willing to pay for.10 CRYPTIC COLORATIONI also adore Bear s Promethean Age series This story takes place in that verse and has my favourite of favourites, Matthew SERIOUSLY read Blood and Iron, it has wicked fairies, the tithe to Hell, Why Lucifer Did It, Shakespeare and Marlowe are characters, and Morgana, and there s a wizard who maintains his virginity in exchange for a boost to his MAG stat and it inverts every trope ever and it s why I have patience and fortitude tattooed on my feet But yes this particular story is about all the work the good guys do to save the civilians and how the little fuckers have agency and how sometimes that causescomplications.11 THE LADIES What if John Quincy Adams had been running for president against his wife 12 SHOGGOTHS IN BLOOMAbout the dangers of poking mysterious slime monsters with sticks to get a slime sample and on not doing to others as was done to you.13 THE GIRL WHO SANG ROSE MADDERMan, being a middle aged musician sucks Especially when your peer group seems to have stopped aging, and only play their old stuff, and their hands are always cold.14 DOLLYI love this one Inversion of the problematic SF sexbot trope.15 GODS OF THE FORGEIf you could fix the inside of your head, would you How about if you could fix someone else Who decides what needs fixing and what s a scientist with PTSD to do when she can have her brain, her job, or her integrity, but whichever one she picks will cost the other two 16 ANNIE WEBBERAnnie changes a lot The barista notices.17 THE HORRID GLORY OF ITS WINGSYou can t be sure the harpy is your friend, but fuck, the harpy doesn t talk to anyone else.18 CONFESSORThe ethics of genetic engineering, law enforcement, and OMGWTF was that the rare Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus 19 DAGMARRunning Shoes, Tyr s Right Hand, and Divorce.20 THE DEATH OF TERRESTRIAL RADIOThe worth of a career, how fucking long it takes a message to travel between galaxies, and the relationship between talking and listening, and how lonely the latter can be OK I M NEARLY DONE but I do enjoy the way the collection talks to itself Dagmar and The Cold Blacksmith are in dialogue In The House of Aryaman is in dialogue with The Death of Terrestrial Radio and The Something Dreaming Game Too, Sonny Liston is about the purchase and The Horrid Glory is setting the price and in Cryptic Colouration was it worth it And Sounding thinks it is.As always, go buy your own cause you can t have mine 3 3.5 starsSome stories I loved Some stories I just didn t get Always the way it is with an anthology. This is really an incredible collection I read Shoggoths in Bloom and enjoyed every page Some of the stories weren t what I would normally read yay for broadening horizons , but I can say with confidence that every single one was beautifully written Elizabeth Bear has a gift for language I can t wait to read of her work. Let s be honest for a minute I only picked this book up off the Library shelf because it had Shoggoths in the title Let that be a lesson to me.I enjoyed the eponymous short story, because it was about Shoggoths and they were done well there are no other mythos intersections, however I also rather liked The Cold Blacksmith The rest of these stories are depressing, formulaic, and uninspired The formula involves sacrifice, bittersweet and or cathartic endings, and the lead character dying four times out of five.Elizabeth Bear isn t a horrible writer Oh sure, she muddies her points frequently with overly florid description of details She occasionally forgets to mention something central to the plot, leaving you wondering what you missed when it comes out of the blue at the end of the story But her writing reminds of a bit of Ray Bradbury, and she mostly gets her points across.I think I just do not mesh with her style Her idea of what it means to do the right thing is painfully Euro centric liberal leaning and completely lacking in self examination Her characters are all neurotypical, and all humanly flawed such as to be nearly uniform I just couldn t really care about any of them Except the Shoggoths and the blacksmith.Bottom line Elizabeth Bear s longer works are not making it onto my reading list this day. People don t joke when they call Elizabeth Bear one of the most prolific writers today She knows exactly what makes stories work, and she plays around that knowledge like a drunken musician sometimes the amazing happens, sometimes the not so amazing does, but it s always interesting to see.This is one varied collection, ranging from Shoggoths, to singing endangered dragons, to a sex robot blamed with murder Dolly, one of my favourites and I just have to mention the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.This book is a must read for anyone looking into very refreshing takes on both science fiction and fantasy with just the right amount of crazy, all with very sharp, precise writing. This is a book of short stories, and as long as people get that I mean this in a positive way, reading them is a lot like swallowing razors They re sharp, dig in as they go down, lodge in your throat in unexpected and painful deliciously painful ways I ve loved her novels, but these short stories are really something else Each one packs a punch.Note The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook What a spectacular story Truly IS perfect for the times in which we find ourselves Will take about 40 minutes But I d happily reinvest them into reading this one another time Highly recommended Link in Karen s December Project review.