You've seen my rating, now please read to the end of my review. I say this because not all of the stories deserve the low rating the rest of this anthology received.
This is the second of Jack's anthologies that I've read, the first being his Lovecraft collection.
Let's look at each tale one at a time to see what this collection serves up:
'Cold Portents' by Mike Jansen = An interesting tale that explores the divergences of timelines and what would happen when someone is caught between two of them. The story itself moves fairly slowly and contains no real climax. The ending is given away with multiple repetitions before it and all in all it feels relatively flat. The concept is interesting and I would have loved to see more done with it. However it gets bogged down heavily in the explanation of things rather than the telling of the tale itself.
One editing problem with this tale that is glaring is the quotations around everything that is said. Yes, it is a man talking to someone. However, as there is no physical action throughout this entire story, they are not needed and are in fact, distracting. This should have just been done as any other first person tale, something they should have caught in editing.
Lastly, except for one mention of a car powered on water, there is nothing in this story that would define it as a *punk story. It is more of an alternative history tale, something Jake even states. Unfortunately it does not feel like it belongs within this anthology.
'A Growing Problem' by John H. Dromey = A steampunk story and fits well within the description of this anthology. It's a simple story that has a wonderful plot and neat collection of characters. There are small points where the writing seems to get a bit cluttered, but it's easily ignored in the scope of the story. All in all, I can easily say this is the second best story in this anthology, and that Dromey did a good job telling his story.
'The Tick-Tock Heart of StarrBat' by T. Fox Dunham = This story was chaotic at the best of times. Dunham creates a rich world for this story. However, the language seems rough and unedited throughout the entire story. 'She' is repeated again and again, often starting the majority of sentences within one paragraph after another. It detracts from the story, becoming repetitious and could have been fixed with a quick read out loud or by the editor.
'Unparalleled Problems in the Multiverse: A Baker’s Dozen Flashes of the Future' by John H. Dromey = A series of flash fictions all aimed at various *punk universes. Some come across really well, others, far less so. I will admit that the puns made me laugh, and kept the seriousness of the stories down. Yes, some were groaners, but even those were fun and playful. I would have liked to see the *punk element a bit stronger in some of the stories.
As much as I enjoyed these flashes of fiction, it really didn't fit well within this collection. If perhaps it had been a flash fiction collection, or something else, it would have worked better. But in the middle of the collection, it feels awkward and misplaced. Had it been at the end of the anthology I think it would have fit better, a nice end to everything. Or perhaps the beginning to gently bring the reader into the theme. But in the middle, it just doesn't work, even if they are good stories.
'The Ghost in the Wire' by Don Raymond = Easily a Five star story and the best of this entire anthology. It contains all the elements this anthology promised in the beginning. It has a *punk element, shows an interesting change in society and technology, and all in all, creative. The writing is strong, the characters are interesting and realistic, and the editing is extremely well done. Raymond has created a wonderful story that will entrap the reader within its story. This story could have easily been included in an anthology with far stronger stories and would have shone just as bright. Easily the diamond in the rough of this collection. I will be looking for more from this writer.
In the end, this collection was anything but a *punk anthology. Very rarely was anything referenced that would give it a feel of a *punk collection of stories. Though tagged with a variety of *punk genres, anyone like myself who were looking to explore the genre will be sorely let down by this anthology. (except for Don Raymond and John H. Dromey's pieces)
All in all, I don't recommend this anthology except to read 'The Ghost in the Wire' and 'A Growing Problem'.
(reviewed 16 days after purchase)