seak's review

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I like to read anthologies slowly and when the mood for that particular theme strikes me. This has been so for a while and it will probably never cease. I've come to believe that this type of reading schedule is exactly what anthologies were made for and it helps break up some of my other reading projects that are usually in either Science Fiction or Fantasy with little deviation, especially to Urban Fantasy. So, it took a while to read Manifesto UF, even there were some excellent stories.

What will bring me to an anthology like this is the big named authors, even though this is a small-press publication. I've enjoyed authors like Jeff Salyards and heard lots of good things about Teresa Frohhock and Zachary Jernigan. Of course the big names** performed as expected, but I was even more impressed by the lesser known authors.

**by which I mean, authors whose work I've seen at Barnes & Noble.

Nick Sharps scared the crap out of me with his creepy story of Toejam and Shrapnel and Abhinav Jain created a really interesting world with Indian influences. Kenny Soward impressed me with his debut, Rough Magic, and did so yet again with his story Dust Woman. I don't think I completely got That Old Tree by R.L. Treadway and yet the imagery was visceral. I enjoyed Lincoln Crisler's superhero anthology, Corrupts Absolutely?, and his short story, Queen's Blood, was an excellent addition here. I think my favorite, though, might have to go to Nephilim by TSP Sweeney.

I think what keeps me away from urban fantasy mostly is the line between Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy can often be a fine one. I like to focus on the fantastical elements, magic, etc. rather than the rather mundane sex and whatnot (many things go in the "whatnot" category). While there's plenty of sex here that got to be a bit much for this prude at times, there's also a healthy dose of magic and interesting creatures and myths.

Both the pros and the soon-to-be pros shine in this anthology. I didn't have time to list each story individually, but suffice it to say, I can't name a bad one in the bunch. Urban fantasy is not always my cup of tea, and that's because so many subscribe to a certain formula, but Manifesto UF really pushed those bounds and I like to see that. This is urban fantasy I like to read.

4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)

Note - Full disclosure: I'm a huge fan of Tim Marquitz, one of the editors of this anthology, and I consider Tyson Maurermann, the other editor, a friend I've met through blogging and forums. Take this as you will.

Full list of stories - authors:
Rev – Kirk Dougal | I’m an Animal. You’re an Animal, Too – Zachary Jernigan | Los Lagos Heat – Karina Fabian | Savage Rise – Adam Millard | Front Lines, Big City – Timothy Baker | Break Free – Ryan Lawler | Naked the Night Sings – Teresa Frohock | Double Date – Andrew Moczulski | That Old Tree – R.L. Treadway | Dharmasankat – Abhinav Jain | Nephilim – TSP Sweeney | Toejam & Shrapnel – Nickolas Sharps | Green Grow the Rashes – William Meikle | Under the Dragon Moon – Jonathan Pine | Gold Dust Woman – Kenny Soward | Wizard’s Run – Joshua S. Hill |Chains of Gray – Betsy Dornbusch | Bloody Red Sun of Fantastic LA – Jake Elliot | Queen’s Blood – Lincoln Crisler | Beneath a Scalding Moon – Jeff Salyards | Separation Anxiety – J.M. Martin | Blessing and Damnation – Wilson Geiger | Jesse Shimmer Goes to Hell – Lucy A. Snyder

bibliotropic's review

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If more people wrote urban fantasy the way the stories in Manifesto UF were written, I’d be reading more urban fantasy. This collection of short stories contains as much diversity as it does talent. Tim Marquitz, Zachary Jernigan, Teresa Frohock, and many other big names that UF fans will no doubt recognize, as well as friend and fellow blogger Abhinav Jain, all make their mark on the genre with stories that are fast-paced, creative, and exciting.

I say this about a lot of short story collections, and it nearly always holds true: none are perfect. Different styles don’t always mesh, and jumping from one story to another doesn’t always work well for a reader, constantly being pulled out of the action to something new. This is no exception here, but the stories are, with very few exceptions, of such high quality that I think I can rate this as the second-best anthology that I’ve read. (The best being Elizabeth Bear’s Shoggoths in Bloom.) If I rated in half-cups, this would be 4.5 instead of a standard 4.

From Teresa Frohock’s Naked the Night Sings, a hauntingly beautiful and unnerving story of the coming apocalypse, to Jeff Salyards’s sexually-charged Beneath a Scalding Moon, which has a little wordplay on the term “cougar,” to Zachary Jernigan’s I’m an Animal, You’re an Animal Too, which is amusing with its in-jokes and cameos, the stories in this collection are endlessly entertaining and full of creativity. Even the less enjoyable offerings were still enjoyable; better to say that they just weren’t my cup of tea rather than being bad stories or poor writing. The mix of talent in this collection is truly astounding; editor Tim Marquitz certainly pulled out all the stops to getting this book in motion and you can see the work that went into it.

And the big bonus of any diverse group of contributors, I’ve now been introduced to the work of a few authors I want to see more of. Nickolas Sharps (with his rather disturbing story, Toejam and Shrapnel) springs instantly to mind; I get the feeling that I’m going to enjoy what he’s written elsewhere.

Entertainment value shines through the pages and pulls the reader in, story after story, page after page filled with vampires and werebeasts, demons and angels, social commentary and pure simple fluff. Fans of urban fantasy, especially urban fantasy that tends toward darker content rather than romance, would do well to get their hands on this collection.

(Book received in exchange for an honest review.)