Thursday, December 5, 2013

Review: Triumph Over Tragedy: an Anthology for the Victims of Hurricane Sandy

Triumph Over Tragedy: an Anthology for the Victims of Hurricane Sandy
Triumph Over Tragedy: an Anthology for the Victims of Hurricane Sandy by R.T. Kaelin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tl;dr version: A solid collection of new SF/F stories, all for a good cause. This was put together in a hurry, to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy. For that, I’ll forgive a number of typos I saw; they were pretty minor anyway. The stories are very good for the most part, and some are excellent. There really isn’t a bad egg in the whole carton.

See below for comments on each story, if you don’t find that idea too painful:

“Old Leatherwings” by Elizabeth Bear. This was a decent story, though the ending left me a bit unsure. Had an American folklore feel to it. 3 stars.

“Quick” by Mark Lawrence. A story set in his “Prince of Thorns” world, this was an enjoyable tale of a young man’s encounter with a witch. And the results. 4 stars.

“When You’re Dead…” by Michael Stackpole. This was fun. A little humor thrown in with this account of a man trying to escape a death trap. 4 stars.

“Tradition” by Michael J. Sullivan. Here we have a tale set in Sullivan’s world of Riyria, though one doesn’t have to read the series to enjoy it. This could have been a folk tale told around a campfire in Elan. Great story with a clever twist or two. 4.5 stars.

“Death Between the Stars” by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I really enjoyed this engaging tale of space species racism (specism?) with a few twists of its own. 4 stars.

“Hell Matter” by Jean Rabe. A Twain-esque story with a boy, some river pirates, and narrated by a cat. Alrighty then. It’s an interesting little journey that our cat takes. 3 stars.

“The Adjoa Gambit” by Rick Novy. Here’s a glimpse of society in the future. It was pretty interesting, but brief. I’d say I was interested enough to want to see more of it in a longer form. 3 stars.

“Hero” by R.T. Kaelin. This is a neat little story about twin mages escaping a prison in a storm. It seems it’s part of a larger series (Terrene Chronicles), so serves as a small glance at the world-building. I enjoyed it, but it ended abruptly. 3.5 stars.

“Big Apple, Small Serpent” by Ari Marmell. This was a weird little one, with the main character a cobra in a zoo. It had a decent flow to it though. 2.5 stars.

“The Pope of the Chimps” by Robert Silverberg. That was pretty good. A real in-depth look at plausible chimp evolution. More realistic than the Planet of the Apes movies at least. 3 stars.

“I Am Made of Every Color” by Jaym Gates. Now that was a bizarre story. Not normally my cup of tea, but it was written well enough to keep my interest. 3 stars.

“Spoils of War” by Adrian Tchaikovsky. This was great. A glimpse into the world of The Shadows of the Apt series, which I’ve been curious about for awhile. This short story reminded me a bit of two Stevens: Erikson for the world-building and state of a war in progress, and Brust for the caste system that everyone lives under. I’ll definitely be checking out the series. 4.5 stars.

“Orphan Train” by Vicki Johnson-Steger. A very engaging account of a little girl in an orphanage who boards a train bound West, where the children are chosen by their adopted families. It was good, and the ending crept up on me before I expected it. 3.5 stars.

“Holocaust” by Maxwell Alexander Drake. Powerful. A grandfather tells his story of how he survived concentration camps. It’s what you think it is, until it isn’t. 4 stars.

“Wrap” by Alex Bledsoe. Very short, but vividly written. Once again, I’m impressed with Bledsoe’s style. 4 stars.

“The Gift of the Dragons” by Stephen D. Sullivan. I liked this, but something was off. The story was good, I liked the characters, and I’m intrigued by the world Sullivan is giving a glimpse of. But still, something wasn’t right. The dialogue didn’t fit just right, maybe. Still, I’d be curious in looking into his other Blue Kingdoms work. 3.5 stars.

“The Kid in the Park” by T.L. Gray. This was really cool. Only a few pages, but very well written. 4 stars.

“Duncan Derring and the Call of the Lady Luck” by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. Eh. Space setting adventure of a mercenary/hero for hire rescuing a pleasure barge. It was ok, but full of cheese but very little sauce. 2.5 stars.

“Day of the Shadows” by Donald J. Bingle. Not sure if this is fantasy, or just straight up historical fiction with a myth driving the plot. It was a decent read, but not one of my favorites in the book. 3 stars.

“Angels of Mercy” by Erik Scott de Bie. A fun little superhero(ine) story. It had a Watchmen feel to it, only lighter. 3.5 stars.

“Hearts Desire” by C.S. Marks. I liked that. A good story with the holidays approaching, 4 stars.

“Spurn Babylon” by Tobias S. Buckell. That was ok, but nothing spectacular. I guess it’s a bit of social awareness going on, but I’d rather just have escape. 2.5 stars.

“Parting the Clouds” by Bradley P. Beaulieu. The narrative was good and the story was interesting, but it wasn’t my favorite in the book. Some of it felt like it had been done before. Still, it was a decent read. 3 stars.

“The Burning Servant” by Steven Saus. Enjoyable account of a former slave and her secrets about Sherman’s march at the end of the Civil War. Creepy and well written. 4 stars.

“The Caretaker of Mire” by Gregory A. Wilson. Wasn’t crazy about it at first, but it grew on me some. 3 stars.

“The Last Incantation” by Alex Shvartsman. Very awesome take on wizards and their magic. This had some real potential, but was too short to get going much. 4.5 stars.

“Welcome to New York” by Addie J. King. Here’s one that looks like an introduction to a bigger urban fantasy series. If so, I’m interested. This was a pretty cool glimpse. 4 stars.

“In the Glimpses” by Matt Bone. Speaking of glimpses. I wasn’t crazy about this one, written in the form of a journal entry. Interesting, but not great. 3 stars.

“Coal: 1938” by Doris Stever. That didn’t make much sense, but it was too short to be too annoying. 2 stars.

“Undivided” by Marian Allen. This one was pretty cool. More like, it hinted at some world-building that might be worth exploring in a longer format. This story was decent, but the potential is there for much more. 3 stars.

“Among the Stars” by Sarah Hans. Great story. A shorter than average one, but it didn’t need to be long. Don’t tempt the fates – it never works out. 4.5 stars.

“Sergeant Argent’s Moment in the Sun” by Rob Rogers. This was a fun superhero based story with a twist. The writing style was a little hokey, but it was cool. 4 stars.

“Sperare Victor” by Tim Marquitz. A cool little story of a chance at redemption. 4 stars.

“Shadowlands” by Elizabeth Waters. A retelling of sorts of the Orpheus myth. It was pretty good, though nothing too surprising. 3 stars.

“Wish Upon a Star” by Janine Spendlove. A modern fairy tale. Literally. Decent though. 3 stars.

“A Happy Mother Takes Away Pain” by C.J. Henderson. Here we get a little Eastern flavor, with witch type powers and a djinn. Pretty cool. 3 stars.

“Katanoi” by Philip Athans. Here’s a decent tale about a guy in a prison ship that crashes on a strange planet. Might be a cool universe to explore in a series here. 3.5 stars.

“Don’t Wake Me Up” by Tracy Chowdhury. We’re eased into this one, and it soon becomes very intriguing. Only to end in a rush, jumpy and abrupt. That’s a failing of many short stories. Still, good potential for a larger tale. 3 stars.

“One Good Deed” by Bryan Young. This was a pretty fun space opera type thing. 3 stars.

“The Battle Rose” by S.M. Blooding. Planes vs. airships and mages and treachery. Cool stuff. I’d be curious to see if there was a larger series. 3.5 stars.

“The Ring” by Timothy Zahn. There’s a moral to this story, methinks. And there’s always a price. 3.5 stars.

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