A couple of years ago, I saw a call for submissions for an anthology to be entitled Still Waters. I read through the guidelines and realized I had a story that fit with everything except one term I wasn’t sure of: Noblebright.
So I clicked on the link and learned a lot about the concept of Noblebright, including that it was meant to be a contraposition to grimdark. Now I like a happy ending as much as everyone but, as I admitted in the introduction to Off the Beaten Path, I often set out to write a nice little story and somehow end up with bodies all over the place.
But though my story did kill of a perfectly nice and attractive character, it also embodied a lot of the concepts they wanted, so I sent it off.
As happens in these cases, I got the acceptance a couple of months later, and received my contributor copy when it was published. The book went into my pile (those who come here often know I always read and review my contributors’ copies, even if it takes me a few months–or more–to get to each one).
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this one, but one thing that caught me off guard was the spectacular level of the writing here. I know a couple of the authors involved, so they weren’t a surprise, but the level of craft across the entire book was. Clearly, the field is getting better at being literary.
The second thing I realized is that most of this isn’t the kind of work I’d normally read were it not for the fact that I had a story in there. The book is mostly composed of the more modern take on fantasy, meaning that there is less emphasis on adventure and a bit more on character motivation and emotional states. There are also a couple of science fiction pieces (mine was one), but mainly, this one is more for those who enjoy the current trend of making the genre more literary and mystical (and yes, before you ask, my story is very much in line with this trend… my preferred reading is not always a reflexion on the way I write).
Finally, a word about Noblebright. While the concept definitely makes for a much less painful reader experience because twisted, reader-unfriendly plots and characters are mostly absent, it also makes things a little predictable. You know the main character (or the primary secondary character, or all of them) will be motivated by a desire to do good, so you find yourself consciously searching for the signs. It doesn’t make the book any less enjoyable, but it was an interesting feature I thought worth mentioning.
Favorite story? Probably “The Ice of Heaven” by Corrie Garrett. I would have loved for that one to continue, aways the sign of a good story.
Gustavo Bondoni’s short fiction has been collected in several books, most recently in Off the Beaten Path, which you can check out here.