Also on A Book With A View.“Shoggoths in Bloom” is an anthology of Elizabeth Bear’s short science fiction and fantasy. It includes Hugo and Theodore Sturgeon Award-winning “Tideline” and Nebula-winning eponymous novelette. This book was a surprise. I must admit I was taken aback a little when the first story in a book titled “Shoggoths in Bloom” opened with: ”Chalcedony wasn’t built for crying. She didn’t have it in her, not unless her tears were cold tapered glass droplets annealed by the inferno heat that crippled her.” And it took a little time to get used to it. It’s not that I haven’t read stories in this genre in this style – but it has been a while. Don’t let the title deceive you – there is little Lovecraftian in this. Or, at least, no more than any other influences. This book is truly a mishmash of stories, the titular one but one of them. The characters vary from dragons to Sonny Liston. Genrewise, they are a blend of science fiction and fantasy. Yet the prose fits literary more than standard genre fiction. The language is poetic and imagery is vivid. There is more introspection than action. This style is about the only thing stories have in common – characters, themes, setting, and even narrative techniques, vary. Said style might not be for everyone. De gustibus non est disputandum. But there is no doubt that Bear is a mistress of short story, a form vastly underappreciated. Particularly in genre Bear chose, where one not only has to build characters in limited space but worlds as well – yet successes often get overlooked for novels where, ironically, failure to deliver one or both appears more often than not. But Bear delivers. She doesn’t infodump. The picture is painted stroke by stroke as we follow characters’ journey. Furthermore, each story is truly a story, a self-standing unit, not a fragment. Each opening sentence is compelling. Each ending conclusive. If you are tired of clichés of genre or lack of fantastic in literary fiction, try it. If you want to know what it would be like if borders between two didn’t exist, Shoggoths in Bloom is as close as you can get. I received the digital ARC through NetGalley.