Imaginings: An Anthology of Long Short Fiction, edited by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Imaginings An Anthology of Long Short Fiction, edited by Keith R.A. DeCandido book coverGenre: Science Fiction Anthology
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: 2003
Reviewer Rating: four stars
Book Review by Kate Savage

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Editor Keith DeCandido presents Imaginings An Anthology of Long Short Fiction as a package of quality novelettes. Some readers will buy this book to read a story by just one or two authors but may be pleasantly surprised if they read the other stories.

“Next Year in Jerusalem” is a near future story by Harry Turtledove. Peace has finally been reached in the Middle East. Naturally, whenever compromised is required some are unable to see the wisdom of it and take it on themselves to destroy the peace. Having seen many books by Turtledove that surpass the 500 page mark, it is gratifying to see that he can also write effective short fiction.

In “Amends”, H. Courreges LeBlanc brews telepathy, telekinesis, casinos, jealousy and Catholicism. Mac the “tweep” (two way telepath) makes his way in life as a con artist. He hooks up with another con artist, Buck, who is telekinetic. Things go well for a time until they meet a woman who also has a gift and things get messy. Mac is an interesting character and the story moves right along.

“The Thalatta Thesis” is Charles Harness’s contribution. Nick is a PhD candidate who is given the task of finding a microbe that can flourish on Venus. His advisor is a sour old man. The dean disparages Nick’s project and give him a week to prove that his project is not a waste of time. While “The Thalatta Thesis” is predictable and there is some serious time compression, it is thoroughly enjoyable. A classic, “Wouldn’t it be great if .”

The Elvis phenomenon has always irritated me, so it was with some hesitation I started “A Planet Called Elvis” by Craig Shaw Gardner. It is a cloak and dagger story of two uncover agents seeking a criminal hiding on a planet where everyone emulates Elvis or someone from Elvis’s life. The setting and Elvis’s life style are used to good advantage in the story. The reader does not have to be an Elvis fan to enjoy this one.

“Great White Hope” by Daniel Pearlman is a creepy tale of a married couple stuck in Mexico in the company of a has-been prize fighter. It is a nicely constructed story, reminiscent of the old Twilight Zone show.

In Sarah Zettel’s the “Insider”, people can live their lives in the internet through VR connections. The problem is that the net is so complex that people can become lost and once lost; the total lack of bearings can cause serious psychological damage. Jani works inside of this net-space, taming it for corporate customers and setting up environments they can be productive in. When Jani hears a call for help, she goes on a search and rescue mission. “Insider” is solid story.

“Inescapable Justice” by Aaron Rosenberg is the narrative of a reluctant superhero. I’m not partial to superhero stories and found this one to be readable but not all that exciting. Readers who like superheroes may get more out of it.

Nancy Jane Moore’s “Walking Contradiction” is a futuristic gum shoe detective story. Morgan is the ambigendered protagonist who is contacted by a father who is worried when his adult child gets involved in a cult. Morgan’s child is on a rare visit and the story explorers their relationship which has suffered because of Morgan’s work. Both the story and character development are engaging.

“Of a Sweet Slow Dance in the Wake of Temporary Dogs” is Adam-Troy Castro’s story. Like “Next Year in Jerusalem”, it is concerned with the peace. It contains a bittersweet love story. It reminded me of a classic Star Trek story, so while it did not strike me as original it was well executed.

The only story I was not able to finish was “Totem” by Janet Berliner. It is a tribal story of two rival women. The first time I tried to read it, I got about two-thirds of the way through before I set it aside because it failed to hold my interest. With so many other books competing for my time, I almost didn’t go back to the anthology and probably wouldn’t have if the Harness story wasn’t included. After finishing all the other stories in the book, I tried to read “Totem” from the beginning but once again my interest waned. Either I am not the intended audience or the pacing just isn’t right for this format.

Imaginings An Anthology of Long Short Fiction is worth picking up. I especially enjoyed “The Thalatta Thesis,” “Great White Hope,” “Insider,” and “Walking Contradiction.” Novelettes are a wonderful length to read and I hope there will be an Imaginings 2. Keith DeCandido does a fine job of selecting “the good stuff”.

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