My recent reading of Thinking, Fast and Slow, made me realize that I often judge stories and books whether I liked the ending or not, regardless of whether what came before was good or bad overall. Having a strong preference for a fitting ending makes, at least to me, sense in these cases, but I also realized that when it comes to collections or anthologies, it really doesn’t. Oftentimes I judge those on single stories that really had a strong impression, either positive or negative, and I don’t know how often the impression of the last story influenced my opinion of the whole.
But as ridiculous as it seems when I see others (or as I have done myself in the past) counting the number of stories they liked vs disliked, it really seem to be a good measure whether a collection or anthology was good or bad (as fuzzy as these things are). I admit buying TFiJ for one story, which didn’t disappoint, but it’s hardly a good measure of the quality of the entire anthology.
So let’s do numbers. I liked 70% of the stories, which divides into 30% strong liking and 40% moderate liking. On the other side, there’s only 7% strong dislike (basically one story) and 23% moderate dislike. What these numbers tell me, is that I obviously liked the entire anthology a lot, which admittedly wasn’t actually my impression when I finished it. What I thought was I liked a few stories, but that the overwhelming rest was rather mediocre. That’s a fascinating result.
Still, if there’s one thing the anthology lacked, for a better word, where more stories of the kind Sterling wrote with Goddess of Mercy: down-to-earth speculations about Japan’s future. Sure, with most of these stories you could make a connection to Japan or Japanese culture in some way, but an anthology with such a title gives the impression (at least to me, I admit this is all a bit subjective and not cold hard fact) of near futures where Japan plays at least some important role (even Sterling’s story didn’t manage that, but it came the closest).
I wasn’t even expecting fantasy stories in there. On the other hand, I enjoyed the fantasy stories more than some of the more conventional SF stories and the stories I liked the most, weren’t even close to what I was expecting in terms of content. So there’s that. An anthology I bought for one story (Itoh’s Indifference Engine), which didn’t provided what I anticipated and which I still enjoyed more than I thought.
Mono No Aware (2012)
The Sound of Breaking Up (2012)
Chitai Heiki Koronbin (2012)
The Indifference Engine (2007)
The Sea of Trees (2012)
In Plain Sight (2012)
Golden Bread (2012)
One Breath, One Stroke (2012)
Whale Meat (2012)
Mountain People, Ocean People (2012)
Goddess of Mercy (2012)
Autogenic Dreaming: Interview with the Columns of Clouds (2009)