Review: Defying Doomsday edited by Tsana Dolichva, Holly Kench

DefyingDoomsdayByline: An anthology of apocalypse-survival fiction with a focus on disabled and chronically ill characters.
Published by: Twelfth Planet Press
ISBN: 9781922101402
Published: May 2016
Pages: 432
Format reviewed: eVersion
Publisher Site: Publisher Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five

This anthology was funded by a pozible campaign that was launched Swancon Easter weekend 2015, and delivered a few weeks and a year later in May 2016.

And the Rest of Us Wait” by Corinne Duyvis

This short story goes hand in hand with Corinne’s latest book that came out in March, On the Edge of Gone. Iveta is famous for a talent show she once appeared on, however she’s just like everyone else when a comet is set on destroying the earth, and Iveta and her family join countless others in a refugee centre to wait it out.

There are generation ships and shelters which offer more permanent solutions, but not everyone has been granted access. As if life isn’t hard enough, Iveta has a slew of medical requirements that certainly make things more dire for her than others as the comet hits, and the temporary shelter faces further issues such as power and ration issues.

We see a range of different reactions. The angry and the uncontrollable, the snippy and resigned, and those who are still hopeful, and think now is a good time to stage a musical act. I mean, it’s not like anyone is going anywhere, trapped far underground and slowly running out of air.

This is such a strong opening to the anthology, showcasing a wide variety of topics that are explored both for and against (should people receive ‘special’ treatment, is it ‘special’ treatment if the end result ends in truly unfair results, and so forth. ‘Otherbound’ by Duyvis was also amazing so it’s no surprise that this short story is also – if you haven’t read her work so far this is a good place to start, and then go and hurry to get her two other novels. You won’t be disappointed.

To Take Into the Air My Quiet Breath” by Stephanie Gunn

Jeez, what an opening. A condescending man tells children that God put roses in their lungs as they’re too young to understand what cystic fibrosis is. As though they wouldn’t be able to explain if someone had taken the time to tell them in a way they could that doesn’t result in horrific nightmares, what the hell, man.

The flu has struck Australia, if not the world. Three sisters take care of each other on their family farm, their mother and Bryce now buried. The last broadcast on the emergency channel warned everyone to stay inside and don’t leave their houses, but it’s been some time since then and they’re starting to worry about what to do when their horded medication runs out.

This piece is very emotive – many sentences making me grimace to myself in a mix of horror and sympathy, lines such as ‘More than once I’ve been tempted to slice through the scars, just so I could stretch properly.’ Aarrrgh, Aussies, why do you write horror so well even when the piece isn’t strictly horror?

Something in the Rain” by Seanan McGuire

Holly has schizophrenia and autism, has lost her parents and only has her cat for company, and then, as the story progresses, the school bully. Water has turned toxic and dangerous, and rains come each day for a little longer and a little more intense, and you don’t want to be caught out in it if you want to survive.

This was an awkward piece – the bully is horrible and I get anxious when any form of media involves pets – I can take all the violence and deaths as you can throw at me (well, I may not enjoy it, but I can keep reading), but as soon as there’s the chance something can go wrong to an animal I’m on edge, and I will stop reading/watching if anything happens to them.

This piece I could breath a sigh of relief on. I wanted to punch Cathy and – well, not hug Holly as I doubt she’d appreciate that, but help her in some way in the very least. And now I need to go have a nap to calm down.

Did We Break the End of the War?” by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Okay well it’s not time for a break after all if a favourite author is up next. Jin and Aisha are scavengers in this world that’s been torn apart by the Pulse, which knocked out the electricity and left only teenagers. They rarely see others but they are out there, and they avoid them where they can. They go through houses and take what’s useful, then trade it with other groups later. Markets are arranged and advertised via graffiti, and this is simply how life is now.

They pick up Billy, a pretty boy who fits well into their well formed duo, and now they specialise in batteries/tech, medication and…. art supplies. That is, until at the next market Jin discovers the other two have been keeping something for him, and that there’s a lot more to the Pulse than he’s ever given thought to before.

Like all of Tansy’s short stories, this one is much bigger than leaving it to this one short. This needs to be a novel.

In the Sky with Diamonds” by Elinor Caiman Sands

Megan has cerebral palsy, and was implanted with an AI when she was young, who helps her along where possible. Called Jennifer, they are alone on a capsule trying to distract and delay an attacking alien force long enough for a shuttle to get away – a shuttle where her sister Lucy and others are quickly running out of hope.

One of the very few authors I don’t think I’ve experienced before? A few lines made quite an impact – ‘I’ll just float here with my eyes shut and see what happens. Maybe I’ll just doze. I’m so sleepy.’

Two Somebodies Go Hunting” by Rivqa Rafael

Lex and Jeff go out hunting because their dad took off ages ago, and their mum is busy with another child who’s ill. Meat is scarce and there’s the possibility of bringing back some kangaroo. The hot outback is dangerous enough as it is, and it doesn’t help that Lex has a bung leg which means there’s some sand dunes simply out of her ability – so what happens if her little brother falls, or runs off? Her little brother who may possibly have autism – there’s no diagnoses after the apocalypse.

We’re now in a world where children know the names of various bacteria because it’s that and things like bird flu which have wiped out the country, to the point there they joke they’re an endangered species now. Their trek is surely too tough for their ages, but together and with their knowledge of the land and simply what they need to do to survive, is enough. I loved the interactions between the siblings, and the point we’re left at.

Given Sufficient Desperation” by Bogi Takács

Dyspraxia is what keeps Vera in workrooms, looking at hours and hours of streams of various images as aliens record her response, rather than running away from it all and joining the militants who are trying to fight back against the alien invaders. To communicate with them, the aliens speak to them in voices taken from Hungarian movie stars – Oszkár Gáti—the Hungarian dubbing actor of both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, Artúr Kálid for Will Smith… etc.

This one was the good kind of weird, keeping you reading to figure out what’s happening, what’s happened, what’s going to happen. I certainly understand the need for real sleep, and the tears at the end.

Selected Afterimages of the Fading” by John Chu

I love how this one starts. ‘A row of dumbbells sorted by weight, ranging from pointless to respectable.’

In a world where everything and everyone is fading if you don’t look at it and give it the attention it deserves, a guy with an image disorder struggles with a romance…

I had to look muscle dysmorphia up to get a clearer understanding of this one. ‘Reverse anorexia’ is what comes up when you google it; ‘Affecting mostly males, muscle dysmorphia is an obsessive preoccupation via a delusional or exaggerated belief that one’s own body is too small, too skinny, insufficiently muscular, or insufficiently lean, although in most cases, the individual’s build is normal or even exceptionally large and muscular already. (wiki)

This one has a steady and sweet exit (not an ending), and as always, I really enjoy Chu’s work, even when I’m not sure I’m smart enough to truly understand the layers.

Five Thousand Squares” by Maree Kimberley

It’s been fifteen years since the war, and there’s been changes to the world (both political and terra-weather related) where Kaye and Micha lie, and both have chronic pain issues that involve arthritis and generally make life difficult. With these things in mind when raising young families, they make a plan to stick together just in case something does happen, in order to get through it in a team. Micha’s home is high enough to avoid trouble if there’s a floor, so it’s there they stockpile food and supplies.

Good thing they do, as one night Micha contacts Kaye, saying her hip and knee both agree that things are about to go to hell. Most people with arthritis or a broken bone at some stage can tell when big rains are coming, and this is what we see happen here.

What is so excellent about this piece is how it takes something we often hear about, but few understand. It’s one thing to say someone has chronic pain and can’t do x, y, z, but to truly understand what that must mean is quite different. We see the struggle and what has to happen that we don’t get to see in the general blockbuster movies, and though I’ve only had brief brushes with this type of restriction thanks to ross river, it really, really speaks to me.

Portobello Blind” by Octavia Cade

Anna is a bored and pondering whether she is the sole survivor of the apocalypse. She spends hours fishing in order to eat, (surely so many books/movies get it wrong with how easy some apocalyptic people have it, as collecting drinking water and food for the majority of each day wouldn’t make for good watching – I love how right this gets it), only to hit us with the fact she’s blind, and you’re left worrying how she manages to do anything safely… and the fact is, she doesn’t. She cuts her hands baiting the line, she falls into the waves when she overbalances, trying to catch her escaping fish, and she has to boil a kettle to check the power is still on, and hence, the satellite radio is still working even if no one is answering.

Her strength is amazing, as well as her determination and intelligence to cope and think of what she needs to make this work. Though I agree with her that pineapple would be way better. And that sheep are pretty excellent companions.

Tea Party” by Lauren E. Mitchell

Tally, Bingo, the Count, and Chess, along with a few others, are riding out the end of the world, which came in earthquakes and huge expanses of land disappearing below water. They go shopping every once in a while – mostly to get a slew of medications they can’t exactly grow themselves. In this case Tally and the Count go out – a weird choice for the Count, but Tally’s not complaining. Along the way they meet another surviver, just in time for another glimpse of what the world still has in store for them.

I liked that while this one had a bit of action and excitement in it, that a lot of it was showing how they cared and helped out each other. You really get the feel that they’re going to make anything and everything work somehow, simply because they have to as that’s how life is now.

Giant” by Thoraiya Dyer

Skye, also known as Rhomboid in the Moltorian language, only has chickens for company. Born with pituitary gigantism and poor hearing, it’s almost certain she’ll die if she leaves the microgravity – her circulatory system will shut down if she leaves the ship she’s always been on. There was once a crew on the ship but they wanted to kill her when she was younger because of her affliction – if it wasn’t for her mother and the ship’s doctor, she would have been thrown out an airlock. Hugo, her father, finds her, and wants to help. She just wants to be left alone.

It’s a complicated tale of a girl trapped by guilt and having always waited for her father, yet at the same time wants him to leave her and go back to Earth. She can make it happen – with her size comes strength. What I like about this one especially is how the colours unite the beginning with the end.

Spider-Silk, Strong as Steel” by Samantha Rich

On days when Emm goes hunting, she stays in bed late to get her thoughts in order – a bit of superstition that hasn’t failed her yet. Makes perfect sense to me – more dozing/resting always sounds like a treat. I also agree with Emm’s later thought regarding ‘help’ (people who want to steal her knowledge/secrets) by thinking ‘fuck that, and fuck them.’

Spiders have taken over the Earth? Heck with that. I’m allergic but beyond that they don’t bother me. They freak out a friend though, and because I’m a terrible person I once sent him an email (we work for the same office) with no title/preview, so when he opened it, it was a full screen, very high res closeup photo of a spider. His co-worker reported back to me that he squealed a little and jumped back from his desk, so that was a success.

Emm hunts out spider silk, which is then used for clothes. A rich commodity for trading in this new world. Thank god they don’t have a hive mind though. This piece is one of my favourites (I think the start endeared me to her completely), so highly recommended. Unless you’re like Kane. In that case, read with the lights on because the spiders are detailed quite well.

No Shit” by K. L. Evangelista

Plague has come, and Jane has buried her parents. She looks for other survivors sometimes, but otherwise enjoys the night… until flares light up the sky, and she finds another survivor.

They meet in daylight hours, both careful but eager to meet someone else who has survived – Sam seems nice (AND he can bake!), even if he does read very serious things – ‘Coping with Change’, ‘Compost Toilets’ – very useful considering the time they’re in, but surely all that stress calls for a good bit of relaxation reading. I also love how he’s still all ‘I want to stick together but I don’t want to make you feel like we have to, we don’t HAVE to’ because that’s exactly how I’d be even in a freakin’ apocalypse. Overly polite and thinking others wouldn’t want to have me around even though HELLO, hardly anyone else alive.

They set out in a winnebago to search for other survivors, and so living in close quarters means that soon enough Jane has to tell Sam she has Crohn’s and that while it wasn’t life threatening when there was medicine and doctors around… these days… who knows?

I love the humour in this one. The voice behind it is really quite nice, and I’m really looking forward to seeing more from this author. This is another contender for favourite in the anthology.

I Will Remember You” by Janet Edwards

This piece starts with the words ‘Day Five’, which is such a surprisingly interesting way to start. We soon learn that Megan, sixteen, is going to die within the next few days – everyone  is – by the time sunset arrives on day thirteen. Aliens have arrived and have marked everyone with a few blue dots which will align with how soon they’re due to die. Seeing as Megan was born without a hand – where everyone else has their marks, she’s not to know. She’s received abusive messages demanding to know where her marks are – were they on her arm instead? She didn’t know what to reply with.

This piece is so perfect to end with. The end of the world and the hope directly afterwards is a clean finish, and it’s so dang interesting and complex, yet fits perfectly within the shape of a short story. Yet another contender for ‘favourite’, and I know that this one in particular will be staying in my mind for some time. I’d love to see a follow-up of how they’re going in a few months, and then a few years. Make it happen, Edwards!


In the introduction at the start of the anthology, Hoge, (author of Ugly), says ‘People with disability already live in a post-apocalyptic world,’ which is certainly something to think on. This anthology is excellent as examining that.

This anthology is of high quality and needs attention – it’s a complicated thing showing both the drawbacks of having a disability, and also how a disability doesn’t mean you’re an easy kill if zombies attack. We need more visibility in fiction, especially as sometimes, books are all some of us had when ill or in hospital or simply not healthy enough or able to be running around with other kids at recess or in holidays. Surely a higher percentage of disabled children and adults turn to books for adventure over other forms of recreational amusement, so why the hell isn’t there more of this representation around?

Review: Fantasy-Faction edited by Marc Aplin, Jennie Ivins

fantasyfactionByline: An Anthology Celebrating the Fantasy Community
Published by: Fantasy-Faction Publishing
ASBN: B0112NF1Z2
Published: July 2015
Pages: 350
Format reviewed: eVersion
Publisher Site: Publisher Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Four out of Five

This begins with a quite excellent introduction from Marc Aplin, creator of the website and forum Fantasy-Faction. He says how accidentally he fell into the speculative fiction genre – starting with Trudi Canavan (always nice to see how far an Australian author has reach) and where he went on from there. The trouble he had getting those around him interested in the same type of books (or reading at all), and how he, like so many of us, sought like-minded friends online. He had incredible fortune in how the website took off which in turn has brought excellent results, and also how this anthology itself came to be. I love that he notes that with all the entries they received for the anthology, it took them two years to read and decide, and create the book. Assisting in publishing as I am now – it really is hard, certainly not as easy as most people think (even when they probably wouldn’t ever say it’s easy)…

Aplin is the voice of us all. Those who read in order to escape, and that shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing, as if these mortal lives are awful to be in. It’s not like that at all, who doesn’t want both? Who hasn’t thought for a moment what it would be like to discover you have powers and get to do amazing things, go on an adventure, witness the incredible? Aplin’s introduction gives this anthology heart, and shows why Fantasy Faction deserves the excellent run it’s had, and hopefully, continues to have.

Killing the Magic” by Richard Morgan

This anthology isn’t just comprised of short stories, but contains articles as well. Morgan starts us off with an article on what things are killing the speculative fiction genre as a whole – things like trying to quantify each and every piece of writing, categorise it into sub-categories and tropes, and then also things such as not letting fiction be fiction and instead trying to rip apart why it could never happen like that, or how inaccurate a piece of clothing or weapon is for that particular placement.

It’s certainly something to think on. It’s probably something we’ve all been guilty of at one time or another, whether it’s getting caught up in an internet debate or sitting on a panel at a convention, there’s usually some hot topic on one time or another each year.

His closing line is to simply try and enjoy the ride, which, whether you agree or disagree with his piece, is probably something we could all take advice.

The Dream-Taker’s Apprentice” by Mark Lawrence

Emptor and his apprentice Ham travel the lands on orders from their employer, who has a particular thirst for dreams. They pay the simple folk for them with a gold coin, and each night set up a strange doorway which allows them to travel to a pool where they empty the dreams into (until then collected and carried in what seems like nothing else but a bag). They take replacement gold pieces from a coffer, then leave the strange world before anything can happen to them. Then they travel on again.

Ham was picked by Emptor for the fact the boy has never had a single dream in his life. Ham doesn’t ask many questions, but as they come across land that looks vaguely familiar, he’s told that this is where he came from, when he joined Emptor as a boy of 8. It’s here we see that they’re not the only dream takers, as they run into Ikol, who apparently patrols other parts of the land. He’s there because he has something of Ham’s, something that he took long before…

This is written with an easy and deliberate hand, with a satisfying ending. It’s really quite lovely!

The Unsung” by Jessalyn Heaton

Sisters Elvi and Astra are left in disgrace after their father leaves them, all because their mother couldn’t birth him a son. The mother falls into a depression and doesn’t leave her rooms for much, let alone her daughters. Striped of their titles and left in a remote estate which is cut off due to snow, they think their lives will be left to embroidery and not much else.

And that is how it is for quite some time, until a mysterious traveler arrives, with wounds that would only have come from a dragon. With purpose in their lives once more, the sisters decide to make a difference and do good, like their parents have not.

This is a simple tale that’s well told, sad yet mighty and with and ending that’s strong yet you wish it could have turned out differently.

Historical Research for Fantasy Writers” by Anne Lyle

Like it says in the title, Lyle talks to us about writing historical fiction, and why one would like to do such a thing, or where they get their knowledge from, in order to build a decent world, geography and history. She also talks of how these days, people are getting too savvy to believe a novel if it’s saying it’s set in a certain time, but then mentions something that clearly wasn’t possible or didn’t make sense in the context.

Lyle also goes into different levels of research, and when getting involved yourself may be necessary. It’s a great piece for writers and how anyone and everyone can always make their writing better. Recommended reading!

Honour Bound” by Jon Sprunk

Friends Lucas and Ossic have been pals since they were children, and are now grown and part of the Brotherhood, partners in arms. On a seemingly ordinary day they are monitoring the streets before they duck back to Lucas’ home to visit his mother, only to discover terrible things have happened in the inner city which is now in chaos. Deaths of highly ranked people mean they are no longer safe, being part of old money themselves.

This leaves them with a difficult decision. Flee with their lives, or stay for their honour. Lucas has already lost his father the same way and is determined to do the same, but his mother and best friend want him to survive. Perhaps there’s a third option…

This is a decent piece, as tales of honour are always interesting.

Oasis” by Edmund Wells

A man, Cloyd, is bound to a demon in exchange for finding his wife. The demon likes to feed on young children, something Cloyd struggles with, but knows he must assist or else the demon will partake in his own flesh, and his wife will be lost forever. Cloyd doesn’t bet on the next child being intelligent and full of judgement, determined that Cloyd should do the right thing.

This is another that leave you wondering what happens next, leaving the reader to create their own happy ending – or the type of ending he possibly deserves. Or also leaving it up to us to decide what in fact loyd does deserve.

Creating Better Fantasy Economies” by Kameron Hurley

This one goes especially hand in hand with Lyle’s piece, ways to ensure your writing is believable. It isn’t enough to say it’s a fantasy world and therefore anything is possible, it still takes structure and a certain level of balance to understand why the characters are doing what they’re doing and what their limitations are, as well as that of the world itself.

This piece discusses things like what else should be notable changes in a world where women are accepted as frontline fighters – like they have equality on the battlefield but no where else? Also when the whole world seemingly speaks the one language. Or when everyone can seemingly read and write. And the list goes on.

This is such an invaluable piece to read to help you branch your world building out and give it depth and weight. And it’s also fun, and alone with Lyle’s piece, is of such help to help you figure out the history of your world. And in that, shaping the future.

Misericordia” by Rene Sears

Marcus, apprentice to Maestro Abrazzo, a gifted automaton maker, answers the door one night (although he rather wouldn’t, what with all the disease and violence around), to the secretary of the Grand Duke Ferdinand. He has come to request the Maestro build the Grand Duke another device for him, though this time, it must be able to fly.

‘Impossible,’ says the maestro, and from here we are hooked. He is offered two options, reward or excommunication and exile. These are desperate times.

This is a beautiful tale, well written, scenic and sad to read. Evocative, this is one of the harder pieces to quantify as you just want to read and enjoy it, and push it at others to read without spoiling it with a few words of summary.

The House on the Old Cliffs” by Adrian Tchaikovsky

A carefully selected group of people who have specialised skills are called to assemble in an office and hear of a job offer that’s on retainer – something that’s not always common place to everyone in attendance. They have a mystery to solve, one that’s complete with a scene where you want to yell at them ‘Don’t go in there!’, as all the best horror stories go. One can only then pick who’ll be the first to die.

This is a fun tale, one that is big on describing the characters and their quirks to us, so we feel that we know the characters even though we barely get to know them and they don’t don’t say much – working at each other, rather than with each other. This is an effective tale and certainly makes me glad I’m not there with them.

Cazar el Muerto” by Myke Cole

Cesar turns up for work even after the death of his wife and young daughter, needing the distraction. Soon he’s swept up in distractions that lead to an even bigger one – and that’s really all I can say about the plot without giving too much away.

This piece is easy to visulise given the language, and effective in tone and pace. It’s horrific and sad, and very, very readable.

The Dealer” by Miah Sonnel

In this, like some of the other stories, things aren’t always like they first seem. Mr Grossman owns a gift shop on the foreshore where he sells tacky souvenirs by day. At night it’s a whole ‘nother matter. My Grossman is a dealer – demons need someone to open the portal, humans need someone to act as intermediary in the deal, and then, well, the dealer needs to be paid by someone.

He’s used to this life. One night, one that’s seemingly like any other, someone appears at his door who appears for all intents and purposes to be a young ordinary boy. But ordinary boys don’t stink of power, or have such strange eyes.

This is a fun piece, familiar with the roles the characters play and yet delightful with the words and attitude. It gets pretty hefty but at least you know who you’re cheering on. Mostly. Right?

The Preservation and Evolution of Elves” by James Barclay

Here we have another non-fiction piece on – well, as it says on the label. The evolution of Elves. So integral to typical epic fantasy though Barclay also mentions where they were first seen, in Germanic folklore. They’re often hard to deal with as they look down upon humans, but they often hold information that’s integral to survival.

Sharag’s Shank” by Daniel Beazley

Orc’s are always dangerous, let alone when they’re currently overtaken by bloodlust. When Bogrot comes across one he tempts it in with food, and from there on they’re inseparable, despite hating each other. The orc sticks with him for the food, and Bogrot, a goblin, has his own reasons for keeping Gorag close.

This is a fun tale of adventure and two unlikely companions who do manage to keep each other out of trouble. This is one of the few tales in the anthologies that isn’t led by human characters, and it’s a good inclusion to read.

The Halfwyrd’s Burden” by Richard Ford

Oban Halfwyrd makes his business in an awful, hard land. He joined the Wardens at a young age and is now getting on to be an old man, his hair turning to grey. In this tale he’s hunting, as he’s done on both man and monsters in the past, though when he catches up to his prey there is the question of who exactly is the monster here – if Oban himself is the one who has failed the innocent.

This piece has good action, and it’s always a fun time when you’re led to believe that your ‘hero’ certainly has failings of their own. This is probably one of my favourite pieces in the anthology.

Advice I’d Give My Younger Self” by Mark Charan Newton

And here we have the last non-fiction piece. It’s always an interesting question to ask writers what advice they’d give their younger selves – generally meaning before they got published, or were at least in their early years of publishing. This piece reinforces the general ideas out there – write, read widely, network… but then also goes into other areas, such as how to cope with bad reviews – something that people still need lessons in (there’s always at least one mega cringe-worthy story of a writer getting abusive each year, isn’t there?)

This is really aimed at those who are young in the game but it always good to refresh yourself, especially in times of stress when these core values may fall off the side for one reason or another.

The Autumn Mist” by Michael J. Sullivan

This one has a killer hook, a man named Jack who’s watching the clock trying to estimate when he will die.

Jack is in the geriatric wing of a hospital and has to put up with the unsympathetic and cynical, businesslike nurse Debbie. She doesn’t seem to find it at all strange that a large number of people on the flood have all been dreaming of the sea. (I suppose it’s nice she’s asked, at least.)

This piece has all the fun cynicism of getting old and having to put up with young people humouring you – as if you know nothing because you’re old, as if you haven’t had two or three times the life experiences than the young clucking around you, (though I do think the Jeopardy bit is written wrong, where’s the ‘what is …?’ part?

Getting closer to the end of the anthology, this has a fitting placement.

Overdue” by John Yeo Jr.

1985, and Jeff is unhappy. He’s waiting for a postponed meeting to start with his grandmother’s attorney, and though he isn’t overly surprised there’s been something left in her will to him, he can’t think of what it could be, and he has other things on his mind. Amusing himself by thinking of stray story ideas, he counts along the minutes he has to wait.

It turns out to be something he can’t decipher the significance of, and the attorney can’t offer any ideas either. (And something I won’t say here – mystery! Means you have to read to find out!)

The mystery is what drives this piece, which is good as poor Jeff’s brother is a twat. It’s really quite creepy, and also a very good way to leave this anthology. Especially with the reason why this piece comes after the previous, and how it ends. Really quite fitting.


It leads me to wonder how many anthologies I’ve read have included articles interspersed with short stories. Not many others, that’s for sure. It’s an interesting choice and certainly makes it easier to read as often I’ve needed to take a break in between short stories either to process them or give me a break (usually such emotion and/or crescendo where I almost need to have a bit of a lie down to recover!), but in these, having a bit of non-fiction discussion certainly gives that break while also making progress through the anthology.

One thing I did wish this anthology had were more stories by women. Many of the pieces were a bit samey, and the main characters were typically male also. Still, it was a good read and of quite high quality – not many places manage to pull off such talent with their first anthology.

EDIT: Marc confirms the next anthology currently has more women in it than men! This shall be very interesting to see.

Review: Reach for Infinity edited by Jonathan Strahan

ReachfIPublished by: Solaris
ISBN: 1781082030
ISBN 13: 9781781082034
Published: May 2014
Pages: 352
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Publisher Site: Publisher Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Three out of Five

An anthology of original fiction is based around the premise of humanity spreading out into space. This is the third in the Infinity anthology series, with the first two being Edge of Infinity and Engineering Infinity.

For an anthology it feels short at just fourteen short stories, even though together they clock in at 352 pages – a decent size for a book. From well known authors and with Strahan’s seal on the deal, you’re confident in knowing that you’re going to have a worthy collection in front of you.

Break My Fall by Greg Egan

A group of people are setting out to inhabit Mars, and we’re lead by the man who runs the shuttle between Earth and Mars to get them there. We see how an everyday (well, I’m sure it takes longer than a day, yes) run goes slightly wrong, and the decisions that have to be made when lives are on the line. How do you choose when lives are at stake, but reacting shall only endanger more lives? Do you cut your losses and strive on, or does the part that makes us human require us to at least try to save those lives, when you’re their only hope?

I liked the technical aspect of this short – how company rules state only a certain amount of family can be on any shuttle at one time – in case something goes horribly wrong, so that the whole or a large chunk or family aren’t lost at once. I’ve been meaning to read Greg Egan for a while, and this just may push me along.

The Dust Queen by Aliette de Bodard

Technology exists that enables you to choose whether you want to choose memories to become more or less vivid. Doing such a thing can only mean sacrifices, whether it’s immediate or later on. This piece was surprisingly sentimental, which grounded it in an otherwise foreign setting and plot (clearly, as it’s depended on the technology). The writing is beautifully descriptive but other than that this piece left me a little cold for some reason.

The Fifth Dragon by Ian McDonald

Set on the moon during its development, we meet two girls from Brazil and Syria, who become friends and then something more during their posting. They’ve taken contracts to work on the moon for a stint, and then we also get to see them come to the time when they must decide whether they’ll stay on the moon, or return to Earth before their bodies lack the strength to withstand gravity.

Again, another sentimental story, though this one was rather more bittersweet, or managed to resonate with me more than the previous.

Khuldyu by Karl Schroeder

A contractor employed to tidy up certain events or people, rather in James Bond style. This is rather grand, an American style movie feel to the whole thing, however my attention kept slipping throughout as the characters felt flat and I just didn’t care for them. This almost felt like it’s a short story taken from a bigger world, so perhaps, having not read anything else staring this character, I’m missing out on the bigger picture.

Report Concerning the Presence of Seahorses on Mars by Pat Cadigan

Colonists from Mars essentially funded by being part of a planet-wide reality show for those back on Earth, which leads to a certain amount of disregard. This piece shows how they would develop years away from Earth now, written with a light voice and witty characters, that makes it seem like there could be a whole series behind this one also – but in a better, more enticing way, that makes you eager to hunt out and read more.

I was particularly interested in the idea of Earth banning those on Mars to have kids, but due to the wording – females becoming pregnant – it of course leads to men attempting to have children of their own.

Hiraeth: A Tragedy in Four Acts by Karen Lord

A cyborg who struggles to understand his identity, and that of those around him. The choices he makes make the reader connect with the cyborg effectively.

In this, if you’re in space, you’ll eventually contract a disease where the only cure (or way to deal with it) is to make yourself less and less human. With a way that ties the ending to the beginning, this was probably one of my favourite pieces in the anthology overall.

Amicae Aeternum by Ellen Klages

A simple story that lasts with you, that shows that no matter how far afield humans may eventually get, simple things such as friendship shall still ring true, and that goodbyes are simply hard – no matter how much sense the decision may be.

This was another of the stronger pieces within the anthology, seeming so simple on the outside and yet resonating with the reader in a touching, sweet way.

Trademark Bugs: A Legal History by Adam Roberts

This one had a sense of humour that appealed to me, but I can see how some may not have liked it nearly as much as I do. Here we have a company who makes their money by curing people… after they’re the people who infected them in the first place!

Presented in dry, sarcastic humour in legal documents, this is a non-fiction fiction, much like World War Z or House of Leaves, it’s presented in a non-fiction style whilst, of course, being utter fiction – thank goodness!

The problem with this one is that I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this hasn’t already happened, somewhere.

Attitude by Linda Nagata

A young-adult piece (whereas most of the other pieces here felt directed towards more of an adult audience), Attitude is a game that reminded me quite a bit of sports you see in Final Fantasy video games. That however, wasn’t enough to sell it to me, and this piece just didn’t manage to grab my attention.

Invisible Planets by Hannu Rajaniemi

A story inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.

A sentient spaceship that thinks back upon the planets it has travelled to, and the things it has experienced. Told in an abstract form that somehow suits the sentient format, this seemed to be trying a little too hard to be absurd. It would have been interesting, effective and simply enough to find the beauty and enjoyment in things that make fact – but I think this one went somewhat over my head. I mean, it’s Hannu Rajaniemi – what do I know?

Wilder Still, the Stars by Kathleen Ann Goonan

A woman much older than we manage to live to now, combines her knowledge and experience, along with the friends and contacts she’s made in her 130 years, to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. We see an inspiring piece of work that takes care to describe the setting in a beautiful way.

This is a piece that makes you smile, and hope that more people would be willing to do something similar. Though having just watched Transcendence, it made me wonder about those that would oppose her, and wonder if this were fact, what other obstacles she would meet along the way.

‘The Entire Immense Superstructure’: An Installation by Ken MacLeod

An interesting beginning; we see the main character making a political statement by trying to kill himself publicly. This just goes to show that people always say that the future will be bigger and better and more fair, and that the shan’t be such a divide between the grossly rich and the insignificant poor, and that we’ll have more time to ourselves because technology will make everything easier… this is the piece that gives a much more believable view.

This was incredibly engaging, however I would have liked to see even more of the world as parts didn’t feel as developed or succinct as they could have. I could probably read a novel set in this world with this plot.

In Babelsberg by Alastair Reynolds

An incredibly effective piece, this feels like how the anthology should have ended. Here we have beautiful writing and description, yet it’s also so incredibly creepy that it stays with you, and holds your attention beautifully. And what an ending!

This piece asks the questions that most AI science fiction asks, and it does it well.

Hotshot by Peter Watts

Another piece that seemed to be set amongst their bigger works, Hotshot didn’t feel well-rounded to me, as though I’m missing details having not read previous works showing this character. Somewhat of a low to end on.


Overall this is a short, interesting anthology, however it didn’t manage to capture me as well as some others I’ve read this year.

Review: Magic City: Recent Spells edited by Paula Guran

MagicCityPublished by:
Prime Books
ISBN: 1607014270
ISBN 13: 9781607014270
Published: May 2014
Pages: 480
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Publisher Site: Publisher Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Four out of Five

An anthology of reprints, this anthology shows how magic really sparkles when grounded in reality – without the natural, how can there be no supernatural to juxtapose? A novel needs to have its own reality (limitations, and such) even when different from our own reality, to show the magic, however common it may be in the fantasy world, in order for to be both believable and engaging. In this anthology we see a range of urban fantasy set in Chicago, New York, London… but also in the ancient city of Babylon, and in fantasy worlds, or near-future cities. We meet wizards, faeries, shape-shifters and more. With many well known names, and those not so well known, this anthology will certainly had me heading straight to Goodreads to see what else the not-so-well-known-names had written. Anthologies are always such a curse for the wallet! They’re the best way to try and test authors, to see if you’d love to read more of their work.

“Street Wizard” © 2010 Simon R. Green.

A good opener to the anthology, we meet a street wizard of London, known only as Charlie boy. He wakes at 9pm to patrol his little spot in Soho to perform little spells to keep the unwitting safe from what really lurks in London’s back-alleys and shadows. It has a nice balance of ‘not much happening’ while so much really is – a general night as a street wizard means feral pixies, a golem, and vermin who look like homeless people living in boxes, prostitutes or otherwise – the trick is in being able to tell the actual from the demon. All in a nights work for Charlie boy. First publication: The Way of the Wizard, ed. John Joseph Adams (Prime Books).

“Paranormal Romance” © 2013 Christopher Barzak.

A witch who works only in love, never in vengeance, is curiously single herself, even though she’s thirty-seven. And she’s happy alone, even if her mother isn’t. Which is why her mother sets her up on a date, with Lyle. Lyle. What kind of name is Lyle in epic, fantasy dramas. With a sweet ending beckoning of more to come, this is a short that keeps you wanting to read on.

First publication: Lightspeed Magazine, June 2013.

“Grand Central Park” © 2002 Delia Sherman.

Set in Central Park, a girl who used to see faeries, sees them once again. It’s only thanks to the mention of her childhood friend that other, meaner faeries leave her alone. Having to admit she was rude in not wanting to believe in faeries anymore as she outgrew them, and felt embarrassed about the whole issue is someone she quickly admits to, though then she has a battle of wits with the local queen of faeries. In thinking of three wishes she would have if she was willing to do a deal with the Queen, she discovers that they are qualities she’s already earned.

First publication: The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest, eds. Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (Viking Juvenile).

“Spellcaster 2.0” © 2012 Jonathan Maberry.  

A database that continues to gain errors no matter what the users to do both protect their data, and try to figure out where the errors could be coming from. Add in a nasty professor several students are working for, and intelligent, snarky and wonderful said students, and you have a winning short story that draws you in effortlessly. Trey is the snarky, elegant team leader of the students, and at a loss of what to do – it just doesn’t make any sense. Anthem is the student responsible for data entry (and several of the languages they’ve had to translate to build the database) and she’s so sweet and innocent you can’t help but worry about how she’ll go at the mercy of these events.

The one of the other student dies.

Did I mention the database is a collection of magic spells from throughout history and cultures?

Maberry’s writing makes this engaging and makes me wonder why I still haven’t read any of his novels – I certainly have enough of them on my to read pile.

First publication: An Apple for the Creature, eds. Charlaine Harris & Toni L. P. Kelner (Ace).

“Wallamelon” © 2005 Nisi Shawl.

Taking on the Blue Lady myth, we have a tight-knit family who protect their own, drawing magic from everyday things such as nature. With the help of watermelons, their vines and their seeds, a young girl protects the neighbourhood and those she considers family.

The richness is one of the strengths of this piece. The dialogue captures the way the characters talk so you can almost hear their words spoken aloud, and the intricacies of their family ties comes through so easily even though it’s a tangled mess – it could have so easily been confusing in this instance. A warm tale, that ends in a satisfying way.

First publication: Aeon 3, May 2005.

“-30-” © 2010 Caitlín R. Kiernan.

Written in the present, active text (where everything is ‘you walk along a road’ etc), I just couldn’t get into this one. Apologies to the author, but it just didn’t grip me, and I already struggle with that writing tense.

First publication: Sirenia Digest #61, December 2010.

“Seeing Eye” © 2009 Patricia Briggs.

A witch is sought out one night to save a werewolf and his brother, stolen for his Sight ability. Confronting the worst coven in the area is something everyone else would avoid, but the witch is known to some as being the only one able to do such a thing, for reasons revealed within the text.

The characters within this are instantly their own selves, and you get such a strong sense of who they are, that you forget for a moment that you’re reading a short story rather than a novel series. The ending may have some a little quickly, but you can put certain plot points down to character traits. pack mentality is normal to a werewolf after all.

First publication: Strange Brew, ed. P. N. Elrod (St. Martin’s Griffin).

“Stone Man” © 2007 Nancy Kress.

Ahh, Nancy Kress. You’ve been an author I’ve watched out for since reading ‘After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall.’ This is a piece of a young guy from the lower end of the socioeconomic area, who gets hit by a car when skateboarding. As it happens, he has the claustrophobic feeling of being covered by rocks, but puts it down to fear and pain and loses consciousness. He wakes in a medical centre and meets a quiet doctor who tells him he suspects he’s …a wizard. To which he swears, assumes the guy’s a perv, and fucks right off. Only to come back.

This is an interesting collection of characters who are rough and real and really showing that if magic existed, it probably would end up in the hands of a range of humans… and some would be uneducated, bitter and suspicious, hardly daring to think they could be special. This is the type of short story that makes you wish so badly it was a novel so you could keep reading.

First publication: Wizards: Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy, eds. Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois (Berkeley).

“In the Stacks” © 2010 Scott Lynch.

Aspirant wizards in their fifth-year exams have armoured up for their physical exam which is to take place within the Living Library of Hazar in the High University. They are given three simple-sounding requirements to pass their exam. Retrieve. Return. Survive. Unfortunately as it’s a living library… well, you can guess just how difficult it must be.

As always, Scott’s work is witty and razor-sharp with edgy, delightful dialogue and a perfect balance of characters. This was my favourite short story by him for so long, and it’ll always remain in my memory fondly – I’m so glad I have it in two anthologies now! Strong female characters. We thank you, Scott.

First publication: Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery, eds. Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders (HarperCollins).

“A Voice Like a Hole” © 2011 Catherynne M. Valente.

A wonderful story from Valente, about the thin border between our world and that of faeries, told from a homeless girl who manages to overcome what holds her back and finds her own strength.

As one can expect from Valente, everything is not as it seems, and there are slight jumps in what you would expect to happen. You don’t realise you think you know what’s going to happen next until it doesn’t happen, and you’re fumbling to catch up.

Wonderful characters with her perfect magical whimsy that suits the setting and mythos down to the ground.

First publication: Welcome to Bordertown, eds. Holly Black & Ellen Kushner (Random House Books for Young Readers).

“The Arcane Art of Misdirection” © 2012 Carrie Vaughn, LLC.

A casino worker is trained to notice unlikely things – trained to catch people who don’t belong, who are doing the wrong thing, or are too clever for their own good. One day Julie catches someone doing something even she isn’t supposed to be able to see, and from there it all spirals out of control.

This is an engaging story. From start to finish you’re interested in Julie and what they’re going through. Taking place in a casino and hotel is an easily familiar place to visualise which only makes this piece feel real, like it could be happening right now.

First publication: Hex Appeal, ed. P. N. Elrod (St. Martin’s Griffin).

“The Thief of Precious Things” © 2011 A. C. Wise.

Another I couldn’t seem to get into, unfortunately. The writing style felt distant to me, and I kept glazing over it.

First publication: Bewere the Night, ed. Ekaterina Sedia (Prime Books).

“The Land of Heart’s Desire” © 2010 Holly Black.

Set mostly in the Moon in a Cup coffeehouse from her Modern Faerie Tale series, we simply see her characters interacting, showing us a little extra scene that builds them more. Easy to pick up even if you haven’t read that series, this goes more into general character relationships and how one can hate as a defence when fear or love come into the picture.

Holly’s writing is, as usual, mesmerising with a hint of the fantastic.

First publication: The Poison Eaters (Big Mouth House).

“Snake Charmer” © 2006 Amanda Downum.

A dragon is going to die, but Simon isn’t going to let it happen. He’ll find the dragon first and protect it, not matter what comes.

I found this piece a little bland, but readable. The action left me wanting more, and you don’t get much of a sense of the characters.

First publication: Realms of Fantasy, October 2003.

“The Slaughtered Lamb” © 2012 Elizabeth Bear.

There is a lot more to New York than there seems. A Queen leaves her work to walk home, and runs into trouble of the Faerie kind – mounted riders and slobbering hounds chasing someone or something, which Edie only just manages to avoid. There are those hunting the hunters though, and once she teams up with them she finds the means to gain something she’s wanted for a very long time.

The writing quality in this piece is fantastic – that goes without saying, as Elizabeth Bear is a magnificent author. What I loved about this piece was how the characters were handled. Subtle, with dignity and respect, taking real-world issues and layering them with subtext and symbolism that covers more than it may seem at first glance.

First publication: The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity, eds. Joshua Palmatier & Patricia Bray (DAW).

“The Woman Who Walked with Dogs” © 2006 Mary Rosenblum.

A young girl waits for her mother to go to her night job. She does her homework first as to not ruin her 4.0 average, but then she leaves the house, off into the night, for unknown reasons that keep you reading to find out what she could possibly want off into the night, and why she’s risking everything for it.

Overall this piece was a little disappointing, but I can’t quite put my finger on why. The writing quality is there. I don’t think I got a real sense of why the child feels the need to leave her home, nor the feeling in her breasts etc – it all amounted to nothing, in the end. I think I missed something here.

First publication: Modern Magic: Tales of Fantasy and Horror, ed. W. H. Horner (Fantasist Enterprises).

“Words” © 2005 Angela Slatter.

‘She was a writer, once, before the words got out of hand,’ is such an excellent start to a piece of work. A word witch (though something really more than that) is spelling stories to children who’ll listen, but their parents aren’t amused.

With it’s sudden end, this piece packs a punch which only makes you want to re-read it. Slatter’s work is eloquent and distinctive, and only gets better as she goes on.

First publication: The Lifted Brow #5, June 2005.

“Dog Boys” © 2012 Charles de Lint.

A kid starting at a new school is trying to take on the wisdom a friend gave him: ‘Keep your head down until you get the lay of the land. Don’t make waves, but don’t take any shit.’ And he’s trying to do just that, at the same time he also knows that if you come to certain situations, you need to step up and do the right thing.

Very engaging throughout, we see cultures clash and the magic that’s part of their culture come into play, in a raw and earthy way. A piece that’s all about brothership and family not always bound in the usual blood way, this shows the spark of new friendship and the instant feeling of belonging that’s heartwarming to see.

First publication: Dog Boys (Triskell Press).

“Alchemy” © 2011 Lucy Sussex.

Taking place in ancient Babylon, a perfumer catches the interest of a demon.

A piece that mixes names taken from history into a fiction of fantasy and myth, this is one of the stronger pieces within the anthology, capturing an exotic place and presenting it as somewhere you feel you know as well as your childhood home.

First publication: Thief of Lives. (Twelfth Planet Press).

“Curses” © 2011 Jim Butcher.

A man speaking on behalf of a company who don’t wish to disclose their name, wish to hire Harry Dresden’s services. In his usually insulting yet charismatic manner, Harry easily figures out who the company must be and offers his services for a fee as high as he reasonably decide upon – being up front about it all the while.

Butcher has an easy way of writing, so that even if you haven’t read his series, you still instantly know what kind of person Harry is, and you’re interested in how he’s going to handle everything that’s thrown at him.

First publication: Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy, ed. Ellen Datlow (St. Martin’s Griffin).

“De la Tierra” © 2004 Emma Bull.

An assassin with technology hunts down illegal immigrants with their own special abilities in LA. The line that captured my attention in this one was how a musician in a bar would still be playing at 3:00am. ‘That would be a good place to be at 3:00a.m. Much better than rolling up a rug, burning the gloves, dropping the knife over the bridge rail.

All in all this one had trouble holding my attention. The lines showing their abilities were written in a way that seemed to be aiming for subtle, but were just missing the mark and becoming clunky. I liked what you got to see of LA.

First publication: Faery Reel: Tales From the Twilight Realm, eds. Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (Viking Juvenile).

“Stray Magic” © 2012 Diana Peterfreund.

A stray dog begins to communicate with the dog shelter employee, pleading for help to be reunited with her wizard familiar.

A lovely piece, well handled, with witty and fun voices for the characters – dog included. A good ending that has you breathing a sigh of relief. I hate stories that include animals – they make me so nervous for what could happen to them. I’m so thankful Goneril has a happy ending.

First publication: Magic Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron, ed. Jonathan Strahan. (Random House Books for Young Readers).

“Kabu Kabu” © 2013 Nnedi Okorafor (written with Alan Dean Foster.)

Kabu Kabu is an unlicensed taxi, which the main character decides to tempt fate with as she’s late for a flight to New York then London (though then says Nigeria, for a wedding). The interior of the cab is stunning, hand-inlaid glass beads , a potted plant, rosaries hanging from the rearview mirror. Though then there’s a computer in the front console, with a masquerade mask rotating slowly around and around. Which comes across as a little threatening. From there, we have a roller-coaster of an adventure.

This would have driven my crazy, had it happened to me. Poor Ngozi! This is certainly weird and zany and keeps you reading because you have no idea what’s about to happen next. Nnedi has a talent for capturing characters in a way where you know little about them, but can see how they’d move, hear how they’d sound, and you would mimic the reactions of the poor main character.

First publication: Kabu Kabu (Prime Books).

“Pearlywhite” © 2003 Marc Laidlaw & John Shirley.

Homeless children and what they do to survive. Guided by Pearlywhite, the smokedragon, Inchy does whatever Pearlywhite instructs, for he hasn’t led him wrong yet.

Not the most engaging short to end on, but readable none the less. I think having a quieter tale after such a crazy set of random happenstance in the short just before it sets you up for minor disappointment. Perhaps they could have been switched around.

First publication: Carved in Rock: Short Stories by Musicians, ed. Greg Kihn (Thunder’s Mouth Press).

Overall this is a strong anthology, probably one of the best collections I’ve read. The theme throughout is well connected, and the stories have a good balance of setting, characters, diversity and plot.

Highly recommended.

Review: The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination edited by John Joseph Adams

msgtwdPublished by: Tor Books
ISBN: 0765326450
ISBN 13: 9780765326454
Published: February 2013
Pages: 368
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended

‘The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination: Original Short Fiction for the Modern Evil Genius’  is a collection of utterly fantastic shorts, edited by John Joseph Adams.

It is a rare event when one can say they equally enjoyed each short as much as each other, in an anthology. Generally there are one or two that don’t quite capture the reader’s interest, yet with this anthology each was a winner. Match that with a lovely cover by the incredibly talented Ben Templesmith, and lovely interior design – the title pages for each short are so good that it warrants a mention! – we have here easily my favourite anthology I have ever read.

  • “Professor Incognito Apologizes: an Itemized List” by Austin Grossman
  • “Father of the Groom” by Harry Turtledove
  • “Laughter at the Academy” by Seanan McGuire
  • “Letter to the Editor” by David D. Levine
  • “Instead of a Loving Heart” by Jeremiah Tolbert
  • “The Executor” by Daniel H. Wilson
  • “The Angel of Death Has a Business Plan” by Heather Lindsley
  • “Homo Perfectus” by David Farland
  • “Ancient Equations” by L. A. Banks
  • “Rural Singularity” by Alan Dean Foster
  • “Captain Justice Saves the Day” by Genevieve Valentine
  • “The Mad Scientist’s Daughter” by Theodora Goss
  • “The Space Between” by Diana Gabaldon
  • “Harry and Marlowe Meet the Founder of the Aetherian Revolution” by Carrie Vaughn
  • “Blood and Stardust” by Laird Barron
  • “A More Perfect Union” by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
  • “Rocks Fall” by Naomi Novik
  • “We Interrupt This Broadcast” by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • “The Last Dignity of Man” by Marjorie M. Liu
  • “Pittsburg Technology” by Jeffrey Ford
  • “Mofongo Knows” by Grady Hendrix
  • “The Food Taster’s Boy” by Ben Winters

Within we hear of a letter by a mad scientist to his unsuspecting girlfriend, revealing who he is and how very sorry he is (or how sorry he is that he isn’t really sorry…). There is also a tale of scientists going mad, one by one, and the only thing they have in common is a very capable assistant. There’s also a career coach for heroes and villains – someone who helps them with their evil laugh, and confidence issues. The range of different takes we receive on the theme of mad scientists is utterly inspired!

I really couldn’t recommend this anthology enough. A dozen stars, and my freeze-ray – I can’t get it to work anyhow.

This review was originally posted at SentientOnline on the 1st February 2013.