21 SF/F Authors Project, Book 16: Filter House

Books & Mags

Continuing my latest reading project with Filter House by Nisi Shawl. Published in 2008, it is a collection of 14 short stories.

21 Authors Filter House

The collection is mixed (sub)genre-wise: some of the stories are scifi, some fantasy, some speculative / weird. There are also a couple of tales influenced by or modeled on folklore or mythology. There’s also a variety of settings: from undisclosed to Detroit to exoplanets and pretty much everything in between.

The stories are about magic, race, power and relationships. Most are serious stories, even though some have humorous elements or events. Some (like “The Raineses’,” “The Pragmatical Princess” and “The Water Museum”) I’d love to see expanded into a longer work.

The name of the anthology comes from a house-like structure that larvaceans (small marine filter feeders) create to concentrate floating nutrients as a survival mechanism. I believe it’s meant as a framing device to unify the varied stories, but for me it’s the one feature that’s confusing about the collection and doesn’t quite work.

A number of the stories just threw you into the thick of it with little or no explanations. It took a mental adjustment, but it’s to Shawl’s credit how economically she’d get you acquainted with each setting after getting the stories going.

The stories were almost entirely hit or miss for me, and mostly the former; there were very few that I’m unsure about. Overall a polished, imaginative, quick read with many different voices. I’m definitely going to be checking out Shawl’s new novel Everfair.

P.S. Find all posts in the project with the 21 authors tag.

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