The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Greg Schauer

The Side of Good-The Side of Evil, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Greg Schauer coverGenre: Science Fiction
Publisher: eSpec Books
Published: 2015
Reviewer Rating: four and a half stars
Book Review by David L. Felts

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Super heroes and super villains are no longer the sole purview of comic geeks. With the advent of the superhero movie having proven to be one of the most popular (and profitable) genres, super heroes and super villains have emerged from their pulp pages to stand in the light.

Does anyone remember the old Ace science fiction doubles? These books were actually two novels bound together, with one rotated 180 degrees relative to the other. This type of binding is called tête-bêche (French for “head-to-toe”). Books like this have no back cover, but instead have two front covers and a single spine with both titles. When you reach the end of one, the next page is the upside-down last page of the other.

I had a handful of such books when I was a kid, although I couldn’t tell you a single title. Nevertheless, I felt a twinge of nostalgia as I flipped The Side of Good/The Side of Evil back and forth.

So the The Side of Good/The Side of Evil is really two books, each one a fun collection of seven stories. On the one side, the good guys and on the other, evil!

Although some stories worked for me better than others, they were all enjoyable reads. Some of my favorites from the Good Side:

“Ghost Wolf” by Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin is about Piotr Janacek, a vigilante who dons a specially designed suit that allows him to fight crime and violence (sound familiar) as the Ghost Wolf. He learns of a gangster plot that could make a bad situation much worse, and he’s the only one who can stop it.

“Fiery Justice” by John L. French was fun, although it felt disjointed. A hero called the Cowboy fights crime in Harbor City. But Cowboy is murdered, a new hero appears, fiery woman who calls herself the Phoenix, who ends up at odds with Harbor City’s kingpin crime boss. An interesting story, but the Cowboy angle felt superfluous.

The Side of Evil had some equally fun tales:

“Doth Protest Too Much” by James M. Ward follows the misadventures of eighteen-year-old Crimson Doom as she sets out to become a supervillain. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned. With some help from her evil lawyer parents, she manages to figure things out.

In “Henchmonster”, by Drew Bittner Wooly Bully is an ex-NFL player turned super-strong monster who’s not happy with his employment as henchmen to the villain Atomic Brain. When he changes bosses, he inadvertently sparks a villain war between Atomic Brain and his new boss Fimbulwinter.

Although I only call out these four specifically, all of the stories in the anthology were enjoyable.

If you’re a comic fan, this will fit you too a tee, and even if you’re not, this is still a collection of well written and fun stories.

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