This anthology has four Science Fiction short stories that I'll take individually, so you can get and idea about each of them.
The first story in the book is 'The Stalk' by Ariele Sieling, and it takes place on a planet where Digger Jack feeds the Hole, and endless chasm with dark secrets. One of the descriptions that stuck with me is when Jack notes the clods of dirt getting smaller as they disappear into the Hole. It was a great image.
I thought the idea for the Stalk was incredibly cool and different. Moving through the story, the stakes rise steadily, one moment blending into the next fluidly pushing the plot along.
I definitely would have liked more description, more characterization, and more background about the world and the characters that Ariele brought to life on the page. It's a very short read, and I was left curious about whether there will be a second book.
All in all, it was a quick, entertaining read.
The second book in the anthology is called 'How to Abduct an Alien' by Cameron J. Quinn. Going into the book the main character's name Zurik was intriguing, his pain, his behavior, and that fact that he's not exactly human.
In one of the funny moments of the book, Trent says, "You're an elf hybrid from another dimension, who hunts demons and monsters in his spare time! Why is it so hard to believe that aliens exist?"
This clearly brings up a few questions. Where exactly is Zurik from? Why is he in this dimension? What demons and monsters need to be hunted? What happened to his girlfriend, and why does he think it's his fault?
"How to Abduct an Alien" was entertaining and funny, but also adventurous and suspenseful with a bit of script-flipping with the alien they call Tim. I also enjoyed the ending that hints towards the possibility of more story.
I'd like to delve into the world more to learn about the characters' backgrounds and see where the story takes them next.
The next short story is called "Dead-Switch" and is written by Cullen McHael. This story felt steampunk which added a fun twist to the Sci-fi anthology. Written poetically, with lots of imagery and metaphors, the world-building aspect was rich and different, from the phrases the characters used to the smell in the alley way where we first meet Max. It keeps the reader on their toes and paying attention.
I liked how the author describes The Killer, Max's weapon, in regard to mechanics, including the details about the re-charger on Max's belt, the beam of UV light (and how long the light could last), and how the weapon hung like "a lover's hand." Also very enjoyable description-wise was when Maxine ate the rice with hot curry.
The story line flows well from the beginning to the action, creating all the right feelings of surprise, fear, and dread along the way.
It was a fun read, suspenseful and fresh, wrapped up nicely in the end.
The final book in the anthology, "Disciples" by V. S. Holmes was intriguing from the beginning where the main character Lin wakes from cryosleep after a seven year journey to earth. Her mission: to oversee the controlled uncovering of a huge revelation for humans.
Very imaginative and detailed, this book felt like Star Trek in reverse with a re-vamp of the famous line about space being the final frontier.
I enjoyed the descriptions about the suits they wore and how the technology works together from the communications to Phil, the ship's manager, to the gloves and how they work as weapons. It was very easy to picture the characters and how they reacted to each other.
Admittedly, I wish the story had continued. I would like to know what happens with the dig site and how they uncover the beginnings of the Institute and how the discovery affects mankind as a whole.
All of these stories were imaginative and fun, and while I wanted more story from each of them, the story aspects are full and engaging. Definitely a great anthology for sci-fi readers and a great place for new readers to the genre to start.
Anyone interested in reading this book or finding more awesome works by these authors should check out Amphibian Press.