Marliyn K. Martin has an amusing take on "primitive humans of the ancient past"
and what we get out of nurturing this idea of the simpler, charming ignorance of our ancestors.
Think of it as "The Gods Must be Crazy" plus time travel.
Jonathan Shipley captures some of the murky ethics involved in refugee crisis management,
sketching a U.N.-like organization handling the death of an entire planet.
Konstantine Paradias pens a charming version of "Wind and the Willows" during a kind of
Salem Witch Trials.
Soham Saha's affecting piece "Parallelobirds" describes a colony ship gone awry, not unlike a
"Riddley Walker" in space. I especially enjoyed the frisson of "Arc" instead of "Ark"
as initially I imagined arc sodium lamps lighting a huge ship or perhaps a Ringworld-style
huge orbital habitat until my brain figured it out ;)
Maureen Bowden's "Jango Rides Again" first and foremost has some beautiful British slang in it that really warmed my belly. And much as I might dislike bikers, Bowden managed to squeeze some sympathy for them out of me. In the story, due to "mental embargo," her protagonist Han's uncle has successfully hidden his 560 years, until to seek a parallel universe where her favorite biker did not die, Han goes into her uncle's inner sanctum of magic books. The root of the word "magic" is "to have power" and in this sense Bowden knows well the magic of words. But, what is the nature of their power? I don't believe this question has an answer, but Bowden understands what not many do, that part of it is their nature of disguise, to cover what we might not otherwise want to see.
DeAnna Knippling's fable about power is swift and affecting.
Judith Field's "Lindlow Five" is sort of a Wiccan Mod Squad, battling the dastardly with magic and gadgets.
Ron Collins revamps the Terminator mystique with some quantum physics.
Attack of the Giant Cattail. Giant Skunk massacres keg party. (His name is Aniywe). The Indians are angry. Oil Man gonna fight da monsters. This is Andrew Kozma's beautiful little "Breach of Contract."
Sarah Hodgetts tells an affecting version of "28 Days Later" with giant wolves.
Bruce Golden has the funniest story in the collection, "Ninth from the Sun," imagining the 9 planets as baseball players in the locker room, sad that Pluto's been cut from the team and "sent down to the dwarf league."
Will Morton's promising story of science in a parallel universe is unfortunately torpedoed by its hamhanded union-busting politics, although, it must be said, there's a rich history of it in science fiction.
And Neil Davies rounds up the collection with an updated Dr. Livingstone as a reality TV star stumbling upon the secret den of the Oompa Loompas.
Overall the collection is a little hammier than I tend to like my pork-based science fiction products, but the moments of piquancy are generally enough to balance out the juvenalia.
(reviewed 34 days after purchase)