The Novel Fox is a small press, founded in 2014, that specializes in bridging the divide between talented authors and the new world of digital publishing. They have three branches, and Anthology I is the first collection released under their Shorts imprint.
The description in the press release sounded interesting to me, so I agreed to review the book (Obligatory disclaimer: It was provided for free). The release reads, “With stories ranging from ‘Paying Old Debts,’ about a thoughtful sex robot assassin, to ‘A Wand’s Tale,’ chronicling the short life of a sentient magic wand, to ‘Subsidence,’ which includes a horrific golf hazard, the stories of Anthology I are riveting from beginning to end.” Those concepts sounded entertaining enough for this speculative short fiction author! I’m an easy sell.
Although the Novel Fox has a digital focus, I was pleased to receive a print copy of the book. And I was even more pleased by its high production values!
The cover artwork is smart graphic design. The size is squarer than a standard paperback, which felt easier to handle. The nicely spaced, easily readable font also pleased me, and I loved the simple artwork at the beginning of each story — it set the mood quite well. I did worry the cover’s thick, black ink would rub off on my fingers as it felt oversaturated, but I have no smudges to report on.
Aesthetics are important in publishing, but content even more so. The anthology contains eight short stories, equally divided between science fiction and the fantastic. Interestingly, the short stories mentioned in the press release aren’t the ones I enjoyed most, though they all have redeeming qualities. Of them, “Subsidence” by Peter White is the most intriguing, employing the Lilliputian concept in a more horrific manner than I’ve seen in a while. Neil Marshall is a typical, middle-aged, wealthy male whose friend goes missing on a golf course. Moral of the story? Don’t chase after that delicious barbecue smell!