Reviewing an anthology is a difficult task, and I’ll admit I dragged my feet on this one. I read it back in July of last year, but in some ways, this adds a weight to my comments based on which stories unfold before my eyes from a note here or there, and which didn’t have that staying power. As with all anthologies, some of the stories worked for me and some didn’t. I prefer to focus on the ones that did as people’s tastes vary, though I’ll mention a couple where they didn’t quite succeed with me but had some strengths…much like I do for book reviews.
Overall, I found some incredible stories and many that had merit.
I do want to state that while I have no notes on the artwork, a failing in my opinion, neither do I have the background to comment on art the way I do stories meaning whether I liked or disliked a piece would carry little weight.
Now on to the stories (with an essay or two slipped in).
Möbius written by Christoph Weber
This story had me engaged from the start. Genetic manipulation is a dicey topic that’s becoming all too present with recent advances. The seeds were well laid in the story so that the answers I posited while reading proved true, though there’s more to it still. My final comment was “Okay, mean on so many levels” but it was an appropriate resolution. This story ends in a cliffhanger, one that asks you the question and makes you own up to the results. On the one hand, I hate to be left hanging, but on the other, the story engaged me and triggered important questions that lingered enough for me to remember some of the story without prompting.
How to Drive a Writer Crazy by L. Ron Hubbard
This is an amusing list, but the scary part is how the first couple are spot on for the type of writer I am.
The Last Admiral written by L. Ron Hubbard
It took me a sec to envision this as steampunk rather than straight science fiction, but once that confusion cleared, I enjoyed the old salty. The admiral with his can-do attitude was a wonderful character, but ultimately the ending weakened the story for me. I’d already had issues with illogical sexism brought into space where everyone was at risk, but to convert a very much “in the now” story into a history lesson looking at it from the future offered no value. If this had stuck to the navy and their determination to make the point whatever it cost them, it probably would have been my favorite so far.
The Jack of Souls written by Stephen Merlino
I absolutely hated the ending of the story, but in the way you hate something that is so right but so much not what you wanted to happen. The story had character, strong world building, and a deeper meaning. It was well done, and while I don’t remember every detail, the sense of the story lingered.
Swords Like Lightning, Hooves Like Thunder written by K. D. Julicher
This story connected with me on so many levels I hesitated to put it down when my reading time ended. It was hands down my favorite of all I’d read so far in how honor and respect won the day over bullies. I’ll admit I didn’t remember it as well as I might have expected with the above reaction, but a quick skim brought the story with its shifting alliances, cultural conflict, and complexity back to me.
Squalor and Sympathy written by Matt Dovey
This story won the title of favorite and kept it even after so much time. I loved the look at how both sides in the conflict were missing the point and how the best result would come from finding a different answer. Speaking as to the strength of this story, I wanted to refer someone to it when we were in a discussion a short time ago. Sadly, I thought I’d read it as a standalone and so couldn’t find it, but I shared the concept of squalor and abuse of same so hope my friend was able to find it. This without prompting or even notes to help my memory.
Dinosaur Dreams in Infinite Measure written by Rachael K. Jones
I had mixed feelings about this story, though it also proved memorable. The story is a grand moment of connection between a mother and daughter, but the idea is wrong on so many levels. For the daughter to have gone along with it is a huge gimme for me, and I didn’t buy it.
Cry Havoc written by Julie Frost
This story had what I was looking for in the endings that didn’t work for me. Not just the twist, but a twist that takes the hoped for answer and does one better. The writing is evocative enough to have inspired my own creativity while the world seemed so real and the characters alive to share in it. I had no trouble remembering this story despite the title lacking an obvious memory prompt.
The Broad Sky Was Mine, And the Road written by Ryan Row
This was a weird story with illogical parts and inconsistencies, but at the same time, it was strong on voice and description. Not really my kind of thing, but an interesting enough variant on zombies to be worth a mention.
Between Cooks and Chefs by Brandon Sanderson
I enjoyed this essay for the neat analogy about writing and how it offers good advice filled with self-reflexive questioning and caveats. Too much advice is adamant when what works for one person’s creativity could crush another’s.
The Jade Woman of the Luminous Star written by Sean Williams
This was an odd story with what I found to be an obvious ending, but it had an interesting premise and some curious philosophy, too. I enjoyed it.
The Sun Falls Apart written by J. W. Alden
This was a powerful story. I still don’t understand the whole of what was happening, which is frustrating, but the ignorance was shared with the POV character, and I knew enough to understand his choice in the end and approve of it. As far as parenting methods go, the one demonstrated in the story was that of a bully. An educator might still discipline a child, but would tell why rather than expecting absolute obedience. I did have to skim the end to remember the story, but then it came back clearly.