Edited by: Mike Resnick
For a very long time, compilations such as this book were a fad. There were so many of them that the quality of any one was highly debatable. Usually, you got one good story and about 20 average ones (or worse). Luckily, that fad has faded, or I got lucky. Of course, I did take a peek at the list of authors that were included, and there were one or two (like Cory Doctorow, Kage Baker, Kay Kenyon, and Tobias Buckell to name a few) that I knew by name if not by work. There’s 20 total stories in the compilation. Like me, I’m sure that you’ll recognize a few of the names, and there will be several that you haven’t heard of.
A few highlights. “Chicken Brain” by Janis Ian was by far the most complicated to read. The writing is mostly dialogue. And that in what is, I believe, a Caribbean dialect. I can’t say for sure, because I’ve never been that far south. That being said, once get used to reading the dialect, the story itself takes you on a quick trip with a twist ending that (to me at least) isn’t glaringly obvious. “The Faithful” by Kage Baker was a wonderful story. Just enough detail without giving away the ending. (In case you can’t tell, I like good endings) “Messenger” by Mark M. Stafford is a very powerful story set in Auschwitz. It’s not at all what you expect when you think of the setting, however. It holds a very strong message. “1-800-WICKED1” by Lisa Mantchev is a nice take on fairy tales that reminds me of Jim Hines’ Princess Series. “Insubordination” by Susan R. Mathews was also a very pleasant story. It reminds me a bit of a twist on Asimovs three laws except with slaves rather than robots. It’s a very clever story of manipulation of set rules. And “Custer’s Angel” by Adrienne Gormley had a very unique take on a somewhat old theme. Time travel without the travel.
I can’t say that I was completely disappointed by any of the stories, although I did find a few to be on the lower end of the “average” spectrum. If you’re looking for a few good stories to introduce a few new authors, take a look at this and other compilations. It’s a good way to get a taste of a writer without the commitment of a full novel.