If We Had Known, edited by Mike McPhail

If We Had Know, edited by Mike McPhal book coverGenre: Science Fiction Anthology
Publisher: eSpec Books
Published: 2017
Reviewer Rating: four stars
Reviewer:  David L. Felts

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If We Had Known, edited by Mike McPhail, presents thirteen stories of humanity’s future, each one (some more than others) exploring the theme of if we had know what would happen, would we have done it?


  • The Necessary Enemy, by Ian Randal Strock
  • The Steady Drone of Silence, by Danielle Ackley-McPhail
  • The Last Man on Earth, by Jody Lynn Nye
  • Chasing the Ball, by Peter Prellwitz
  • The Janus Choice, by Jeff Young
  • Between Scylla and Charybdis, by Patrick Thomas
  • The Star Gazers, by James Chambers
  • Giraffe Children, by Robert E. Waters
  • Good Advice, by John L. French
  • Egg, by Christopher M. Hiles
  • Youth, by Judi Fleming
  • Meeting the Other, by Nancy Jane Moore
  • The Third Heaven, by Robert Greenberger

If We Had Known presents interesting tales, mostly soft-form or sociological science fiction, many of which deal with opposing traits of humanity.

The lead off story, The Necessary Enemy,  sets the tone. What need is there for heroes if there is no great enemy to fight? Maybe one way to inspire humanity is to create villains to engage our desire to create heroes. Not just for people, but perhaps for whole nations, or even the planet.

This is followed up by The Steady Drone of Silence. Danielle Ackley-McPhail delivers a military science fiction tale with more military in it than I’m used to from here. Christopher James is on a mission, only no one will tell him what the mission is, or what he’s supposed to do. Once he figures it out, how will he respond? With a slight squint, one can see the bones of the original Frankenstein myth at work here. Good stuff.

Giraffe Children is another story that nods to the Frankenstein myth. Michael is genetically engineered to enhance his ability to survive on an alien world. but he’s still human, isn’t he?

In Youth, Dr. Thomas Eshere has apparently discovered a way to reverse aging. Why then is he conducting a campaign to smear himself and his research on the Internet? An interesting tale about how emotion informs decisions in the face of reason. We’ve been seeing a lot of that over the last two years, haven’t we?

The rest of the stories were good, but these were the ones, for me, that really stood out.

If you like your science fiction shorts to be thoughtful and cautionary, If We Had Known is a good choice.

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