Review posted September 13, 2013.
Walden Pond Press (HarperCollins), September 2013. 331 pages.
It's no surprise that I particularly like this entry in the Guys Read series of stories written for guys. After all, Speculative Fiction is my favorite genre. You can tell from the title page that they got some distinguished talent to write for this book.
I was surprised to find one of my favorite authors, Shannon Hale, represented in the Guys Read series, with a story featuring a girl, no less. Maybe they're making a point that an adventure story that happens to have a girl protagonist is good reading for guys, too? I like the way they slipped it in there, with no apology whatsoever. It's about how she becomes a bouncer in a disreputable inn in a fantasy kingdom.
Most of the stories tend more toward science fiction than fantasy, though the lead-off story is a Percy Jackson story from Rick Riordan. Here's hoping it might entice some kids into reading the whole book. The science fiction includes some silly ("Rise of the Roboshoes," by Tom Angleberger) and some with that nice kicker ending with implications about earth ("The Scout," by D. J. MacHale).
To be honest, the story I liked the least was the classic Ray Bradbury story included, "Frost and Fire." But I wouldn't argue for a moment with its inclusion. Including Ray Bradbury in a Science Fiction and Fantasy collection is absolutely right. And the story did remind me of ones my brothers liked when I was a kid. This book is intended for guys, after all. And I will happily try to find guys to hand it to.
I like what Jon Scieszka says in the Introduction:
All fiction and storytelling is answering that "What if . . ." question. But science fiction and fantasy go a step further: They bend the rules of reality. They get to imagine the "What if" in completely other worlds.
And that is why good science fiction and fantasy stories can be mind-expandingly fun.
There you have it. Pick up this book if you want some mind-expanding fun.