First, a disclosure –my story “The Touch of the Taniwha” is in this anthology. So of course I think you should buy it. You might then want to consider this post more in the spirit of an infomercial than an objective review.
Upon reading FISH, the tastes of the editor, Carrie Cuin, seem self-evident. Aside from…well, fish, she likes speculative fiction of all stripes. The anthology opens with the bizarro tale “Thwarting the Fiends” by Polenth Blake, swings through steampunk with Jennifer R. Povey’s “Water Demons”, urban fantasy in “Quick Karma” by April L’Orange, science fiction via “Never to Return” by Sarah Hendrix and “The Last Fisherman of Habitat 37” by Mjke Wood, and leans towards horror in Tim Kane’s “Vanity Mirror”.
Myths and legends, fables and fairy tales either existing or imagined also feature prominently in this anthology with stories such as “Anansi and the New Thing” by Megan Engelhardt, “Life at the Lake’s Shore” by Alex Shvartsman, “The Fish are There on the Land” by H.L. Fullerton, “How did the Catfish Get a Flat Head, You Wonder?” by T.J. McIntyre and “The Fisherman and the Golden Fish” by Mel Obedoza. Andreea Zup subverts the subgenre somewhat with her “Maria and the Fish”, which pokes sly fun at the trope of the magical wish-granting creature.
But whatever the genre or subgenre, most of the stories in FISH would be equally at home in a literary publication, from the overtly literary “You, Fish” by Zachary George or “The Applause of Others” by Corinne Duyvis to the difficult-to-classify “O How the Wet Folk Sing” by Amanda C. Davis. One thing most of the stories in the anthology have in common (besides the aquatic creatures) is the exemplary care with which the authors have composed them. Usually at this point in my review…I mean, infomercial of an anthology, I would single out my favourites, but that is difficult to do with an anthology of this calibre.
Oh, all right. If you insist. “Fisheye” by Maria Romasco-Moore reminded me of Joe Hill’s “Pop Art” in that both stories explored the relationships of our youth via a character with a singularly unusual affliction. And any story that positively resembles one of Joe Hill’s is OK by me. Likewise, I enjoyed “Quick Karma” because it was reminiscent of China Mieville’s “Kraken” (China Mieville being another personal favourite). And I particularly liked Bear Weiter’s “The Talking Fish of Shangri-la”, I think because I’ve always enjoyed tales of irresistible creatures. In this case, nobody was able to resist being offended or corrupted by the eponymous trash-talking fish.