Fiddler Fair is an anthology of short stories written by Mercedes Lackey. There are about a dozen stories in the book. The majority were fantasy, but there were two alternate histories, one science fiction, and another subtly post-apocalyptic story that had a fantasy feel.
Some of the stories were short and only mildly entertaining. I’m not always a fan of the short story format because I like more meat to my stories, so it’s probably not surprising that the shortest stories were also, for the most part, the ones I liked the least. However, I really liked her writing style and even the stories I was less interested in kept my attention pretty well.
The science fiction story, “Aliens Ate My Pickup” was short and cute, but there wasn’t much to it. The two alternate history stories were my least favorite. I’ve only read a few alternate history books so far but, in my opinion, what makes them fun is learning how the alternate history came about in the first place and exploring the idea of “what could have been” if things had been just a little bit different. These stories didn’t have any back story or explanation, and they were also about people I knew nothing about.
Most of her fantasy stories were much more interesting to me, and most of them were also longer so they had more meat to them. There was one short fantasy story that I really liked called Fiddler Fair, which apparently later became the basis for the Bardic Voices series she wrote. I also enjoyed "The Enemy of My Enemy" a lot, which was the post-apocalyptic story. My biggest complaint with the fantasy stories was that one of them had an overly sappy romance, and there were two stories in which she had characters falling in love after only having known each other for a couple days. Those things detracted from what were otherwise interesting stories.
I’ve had several books in my to-be-read list by Mercedes Lackey for quite a while, so this anthology was a good opportunity to check out her writing style. Although there were some stories I didn’t care for, in general I really liked her writing style and I now have good expectations for her books. I’m hoping though, that with full-length books to work with, any romances she decides to include are spread out more subtly and over a more realistic time period!
This book (and a gazillion others published by Baen) can be legally downloaded for free here: http://baencd.freedoors.org/Books/Fiddler%20Fair/index.htm