Review: EX LIBRIS: Stories of Librarians, Libraries & Lore

Someone once asked where the best place to hide would be during an Armageddon. The same answer applies to the best location for a lair if you wanted to be the most powerful evil villain. My answer – the Library. Knowledge brings power, and in an apocalyptic event, odds are pretty good that the interweb will be but a distant memory. If you can’t find what you need at a library, you sure as heck should be able to find out who, what, where, when and how to get it.

Perhaps the most compelling yet saddest aspect of a library is the realization that you will never be able to read everything it contains. And there lies the dilemma. With the literary world at your fingertips, imagine the works you might miss.

EX LIBRIS: Stories of Librarians, Libraries & Lore takes this into consideration. Throw in iconic names like Kage Baker, Ray Bradbury, and Jack McDevitt, and you have a wealth of library treasures to be found within the walls of this anthology from Prime Books and brilliantly edited by Paula Guran. Each story involves some aspect of or about the library institution. But at least here, you have an opportunity to experience each one without fear of missing one.


Included in this collection:

In the House of the Seven Librarians by Ellen Klages (Firebirds Rising:
An Anthology of Original Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2006, ed. Sharyn November)

The Books by Kage Baker (The Mammoth Book of Apocalyptic SF, 2010, ed. Mike Ashley)

Death and the Librarian by Esther M. Friesner (Asimov’s, December 1994)

In Libres by Elizabeth Bear (Uncanny #4, 2014)

The King of the Big Night Hours by Richard Bowes (Subterranean, Issue #7, 2007)

Those Who Watch by Ruthanna Emrys (The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu, 2016, ed. Paula Guran)

Special Collections by Norman Partridge (The Library of the Dead, 2015, ed.
Michael Bailey)

Exchange by Ray Bradbury (Quicker Than the Eye, 1996)

Paper Cuts Scissors by Holly Black (: Realms of Fantasy, October 2007)

Summer Reading by Ken Liu (Daily Science Fiction, 4 September 2012)

Magic of Beginners by Kelly Link (Magic for Beginners, 2005)

The Inheritance of Barnabas Wilcox by Sarah Monette (Lovecraf’s Weird Mysteries
#7, 2004)

The Midbury Lake Incident by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Magical Libraries, an Uncollected Anthology, Issue 5, 2015)

With Tales in Their Teeth, from the Mountain They Came by A.C. Wise (Lightspeed #32, 2013)

What Books Survive by Tansy Rayner Roberts (Epilogue, 2012, ed. Tehani Wessely)

The Librarian’s Dilemma by E. Saxey (The Journal of
Unlikely Academia, October 2015)

The Green Book by Amal El-Mohtar (Apex Magazine, 8 November 2010)

In the Stacks by Scott Lynch (Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword & Sorcery, 2010,
eds. Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders)

A woman’s Best Friend by Robert Reed (Clarkesworld # 17, 2008)

If on a Winter’ Night a Traveler by Xia Fia (Chinese publication Guangming Daily,
5 June 2015, Version 14; English publication translation by Ken Liu for Clarkesworld

The Sigma Structure Symphony by Gregory Benford (The Palencar Project, 2012, ed. Davd Hartwell)

The Forte Moxie Branch by Jack McDevitt (Full Spectrum, 1988, eds. Lou Aronica & Shawna McCarthy)

The Last Librarian by Edoardo Albert (Daily Science Fiction, 5 August 2011)

This vast assemblage is both diverse and inspirational. Like the soldier’s experience in Ray Bradbury’s emotionally complex Exchange, each of these little pieces take the reader’s imagination to places where they wouldn’t expect and deliver messages much deeper than anticipated. EX LIBRIS is the quintessential treasure that is a library.

But what if these stories were not available? A frightening thought. Jack McDevitt gives us a different perspective of works we might never read in The Forte Moxie Branch, by considering that which is unpublished. Sure, we can’t read everything the library has to offer, but what about the pieces that don’t even make it to the library? Lucky for us, all of the tales in EX LIBRIS: Stories of Librarians, Libraries & Lore have been published, and now they are all ready and available in this one sweet anthology.

Get your library card out, because you’re going to want to check this one out.

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