(Disclaimer: English is my second language, so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.)
Review Soundtrack: I suggest reading this review while listening to Parallel Universe by Red Hot Chili Peppers (Spotify, Youtube).
Other Worlds Than These is an anthology of fantasy and science fiction stories edited by John Joseph Adams. All the short stories are devoted to the theme of parallel universes and portals to other worlds, a topic that I especially like. Thus, I was expecting a lot from this book. I'm glad to say that I was not disappointed at all.
One of the strongest points of Other Worlds Than These is that it is extremely varied. Adams very rightly decided to include both science fiction and fantasy stories in this anthology and that greatly contributes to the overall enjoyment of the book. In these tales we find a wide range of methods for traveling from one world or universe to another: from quantum-mechanical devices to magic doors, with all the possibilities in between. In that regard, the book is completely successful and satisfactory.
But an anthology is nothing without good stories and Other Worlds Than These has a number of excellent ones. A Brief Guide to Other Histories by Paul McAuley, Ten Sigmas by Paul Melko, [A Ghost Samba] by Ian McDonald, Mrs. Todd's Shortcut by Stephen King and The Lonely Songs of Laren Door by George R.R. Martin, for instance, are top-notch and make this anthology worthwhile on their own. And then we have the best one of them all: Impossible Dreams by Tim Pratt. When this book was announced I immediately thought that Pratt's story should be included and I'm glad that Adams also thought so. This is one of my favorite stories ever, and I highly recommend it (you can read it for free, by the way, as an excerpt of the anthology). Oh, and don't forget to watch the short movie that Shir Comay made based on Pratt's story. It is also wonderful.
Of course, there are also some stories that I didn't like as much or that I thought that didn't really fit in the book. For example, I greatly enjoyed Magic for Begginers by Kelly Link but I either read it wrong or it takes quite a stretch of imagination to consider it as portal fantasy. Something similar happens with The Rose Wall by Joyce Carol Oates, a story that I wouldn't even classify as fantasy. Instead of these stories I would have included Between the Lines by Spanish author José Antonio Cotrina. This awesome short story was collected in The SFWA European Hall of Fame (edited by James and Kathryn Morrow) and would have been a wonderful addition to Other Worlds Than These. And, of course, I was very surprised that no story by Greg Egan was included in the book: Singleton, The Infinite Assassin and Dark Integers, for instance, are some of the best tales about parallel universes out there. Maybe if there's ever a second part of Other Worlds Than These...
All in all, Other Worlds Than These is one of the best science fiction and fantasy anthologies published this year and I highly recommend it. And I don't want to end this review without mentioning the astonishing cover by Cody Tilson: I cannot think of a better and more evocative way of reflecting what you will find inside this book.