(Disclaimer: Z.S. Adani is a friend and fellow member of the Carpe Libris writers group. I’m sure I would’ve enjoyed the book regardless, though.)
I’m not a reviewer. I consider this less as an Official Review and more as one reader’s impressions while reading this book. Overall, I really enjoyed it. This anthology isn’t about a cold metal future. This is an exploration of a universe full of worlds, and the many wonderful forms that life can take.
No Jubjub Birds Tonight by Sara Genge- A stranger comes to a clockwork world where people fly through the trees and Lewis Carroll’s bestiary comes to life. I read mostly Fantasy. The SF I enjoy most has unusual, intricate new worlds with fascinating people and creatures. This story has all that with a “steampunky” touch.
The Embians by K.D. Wentworth- Two scientists study humanoid aliens who seem more like fireflies- at first. This one’s a winner because of the marvelous alien communication system it uses to open up a deeply emotional story.
Ambassador by Thoraiya Dyer- Plant-based people are the only ones who can save stranded humans- but the cost is drastic. Talk about putting your characters in tough situations! And this story’s got really neat aliens, too.
Edge of the World by Jonathan Shipley- Alien foreign exchange programs, with alien politics. Interesting. My only gripe was that the story ends just when I really want to know what happens next.
Games by Caren Gussoff- Never play games with the native species when you invade a planet. I had a bit of trouble following this one- the time jumps around- but the juxtaposition of common earth games with alien plots was sinister.
The Hangborn by Fredrick Obermeyer- A tribe who spends their lives swinging through a web of lines finds itself threatened. Another one with great worldbuilding. The ending felt a little quick, but that’s Ok.
One Awake in All the World by Robert T. Jeschonek- A man and woman in a ruined city try to take a child home. The characters in this one have been through some tough times, which makes their care for an alien child all the more touching.
Alienation by Katherine Sparrow- At first I almost shrugged off his story about aliens “test-driving” our species as “silly fluff.” Big mistake. It was funny AND had me choked up by the end. Another favorite.
Dark Rendezvous by Simon Petrie- An astronaut explores an abandoned ship. At least that’s what he thinks he’s doing. The most “hard SF” story so far. This one’s chilling.
Monuments of Flesh and Stone by Mike Resnick- Plutarch, as the story says, isn’t much of a planet, but it does has one thing going for it. I’m not sure that this story had to be SF. It might work just as well if you substitute “town” for “planet.” But it’s touching and well done, and it actually got me to enjoy a sports story.
Hope by Michael A. Burstein- A generation ship story. With time travel! Cool! I confess, I didn’t find the Captain plausible as a leader, but the story itself was interesting.
Watching by Sandra McDonald- The crew of a submarine has to decide where their duty lies. This story really gets across the feeling that Someone’s Watching. It puts the characters in a tough spot, and doesn’t give them any easy answers.
Encountering Evie by Sherry D. Ramsey- Across time and space, two people keep finding each other. And if only one’s human, should that really matter? Possibly my favorite story in the book, with characters, both human and alien, that I could really relate to. (Plus, I’m an incurable romantic.)
Memento Mori by Sue Blalock- A story of a sacred mission. This one does a superb job with alien cultures. I felt as though these people had existed for ages, not just for the space of the story. It’s a heartbreaker.
The Gingerbread Man by James Gunn- The character actually reminds me more of the Tin Man, cutting off first one leg, then the other… The author makes the character’s increasingly drastic actions seem logical, even inevitable. The story itself is thought-provoking.
The Angel of Mars by Michael Barrettap- The machines we send into space aren’t just trash to be abandoned, and there’s more out there than we understand. I lost my heart to a robot here, and it never even says anything. And I got a sense of just how very far away from home other words really are.
When You Visit the Magoebaskloof Hotel Be Certain Not to Miss the Samango Monkeys by Elizabeth Bear- Understanding can be so difficult, even with the best of intentions. Another one that does a great job with aliens, making them not just costumed humans but true products of another world.
The Light Stones by Erin E. Stocks- An interplanetary adventure with a Western mixed with D&D feel. This story features tough characters in a harsh environment. I think that folks who like their fiction gritty will enjoy it. I shouldn’t have read it over my lunch break, though. It was rather… squashy.
Rubber Monkeys by Kenneth Mark Hoover- One species’ art is another’s… well, read and find out. Disturbing and well done, this story puts its characters in a wrenching ethical dilemma. I suspect certain images will haunt my nightmares for a while.
Jade Flower by C.E. Grayson- This story of a seemingly ideal planet that kills children got to me on a personal level. I wondered if the author has lived with serious illness, personally or in a loved one. At any rate, the characters won me over right away.
Mars Needs Baby Seals by Lawrence M. Schoen- Mars also needs time-travelling environmentalists in polar bear bodies. Or at least this anthology is a great place for them. I like the tradition of ending anthologies on a funny note. This is a great touch, and the characters remind me of the cats from the Two Lumps comic strip.
Thanks so much for your kind words. The answer to your question, without going into too much detail, is yes we've had a lot of recent experience with illnesses, some good outcomes, some bad. And a lot of it did get processed here, I guess. I'm happy to know it reached you in some way.
Chad (C.E.) Grayson
You're welcome. I didn't mean to pry- I've had a bit of experience in that department myself, and your story had a deep feel of truth to it. You certainly know how to make art out of a hard time. I hope things get better from now on.