Mythic 2, edited by Mike Allen (Prime Books, 2007)

Back by popular demand, it’s the second installment in the fabulously speculative, occasionally baffling anthology series, brought to you by the same people who produce the SF/Fantasy poetry magazine, Mythic Delirium. Once again, Mike Allen has assembled a crack team of creative talents to put together a collection of short fiction and poetry. I can’t say it’s entirely unlike anything else you’ll find on the shelves, but his half-fiction/half-poetry format is somewhat unusual: too much fiction for the poetry lovers, and too much poetry for the fiction lovers, or so it might seem. But to dismiss Mythic 2 for either of those reasons might be hasty. Let’s look at what it has to offer.

Charles Saplak’s “Visanna” is the intriguing story of a land in which everyone has multiple faces, appearing behind them in a time-lapse manner, one for every year they’ve lived. Then, one day, the protagonist meets people from another land, where their faces appear before them, one for every year they have left to live. It’s a fascinating concept, and a beautifully-told story that contains layers upon layers. Is it better to see exactly how one has evolved and changed or time, or to know what the future holds? Or are both options equally valid? This story certainly offers plenty to think about.

Catherynne M. Valente’s “Temnaya and the House of Books” takes its inspiration from Snow White and all those other fairy tales featuring wicked stepmothers, jealous mothers, dutiful and abused daughters, faithless fathers, and witches in the woods. A beautiful young woman discovers that somehow, she connects her birth mother and stepmother, and neither of them particularly care for her. Caught in the middle, what will Temnaya do to survive, and can she ever find acceptance? The sharp cruelty of many old fairy tales comes out in stark relief in this tale, which really does feel like something straight out of Grimm’s finest.

In “Moonstone,” by Erzebet YellowBoy, we see another fairy tale, with an equally dark twist. In this, a pair of curses exchanged between a wicked king and a lovely queen result in tragedy, when the king is banished and the queen’s infant daughter is stolen away. Here we see the dedication of a faithful mother, the lengths to which she must go to restore her family, and an unexpected twist straight out of Greek myth. It’s a provocative story with an ending both tragic and hopeful.

Though I’m not as much for the poetry as I am for the fiction, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my absolute favorite piece in this collection. Jo Walton’s “Post-Colonial Literature of the Elves” is a wickedly sly examination of how literature has brought the once-mighty elves of legend down in the world, from near-gods to flower fairies. Is it any wonder they’re a little bitter about their demotion and degradation?

Helena Bell’s “Bluebeard’s Second Wife” may be inspired by the fairy tale referenced in the title, but the sentiments expressed are those of any second spouse, and all too easy to sympathize with.

In “A Pinch of Salt” by Richard Parks, a father and son both come to terms, in their separate ways, over the recent disappearance of their wife/mother, a mermaid. It’s a smooth tale, but refreshingly honest and somewhat poignant, that looks at what love means to us. For some, it means sorrow, for some it means hope, and we’re almost all suckers for it in one way or another. It’s nice to see a protagonist that bluntly honest with himself and others, and it’s a shame the story ended when it did. I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of these characters and their world.

Ekaterina Sedia’s “Simargl and the Rowan Tree” is a curiously multi-cultural myth for the modern day, featuring the adventures of an absinthe addict who dies a fiery death and becomes Simargl, the guardian of heaven, charged with protecting the sun chariot each day. When his attempts to show mercy to a drowned girl in another part of the afterlife result in trouble, he has to fix things as best he can. Sedia draws from a number of influences to weave this story, and the end-result is something new and different, yet feeling familiar in its own way.

“The Wind-Catching Wizard” by Danny Adams, is the tale of a wizard’s bodyguard. Sworn to a loyalty that has become friendship over the years, this man must face the indisputable fact that his master is growing old and senile, and as a result, may pose a threat to the world. Now he must find a way to prevent disaster or tragedy, all the while adhering to his oath and his honor. The solution is clever, and unexpected, making for quite a fun, well-told story. I hope we’ll see more of this setting sometime.

These are only some of the varied offerings available in Mythic 2, and I’d have to say that for sheer entertainment value, this volume is worth picking up. The fiction it contains is just as good as what you’d find in any of the Year’s Best collections, and even for someone like me, who doesn’t get poetry most of the time, there’s still something there to be appreciated. All in all, I found more than enough in here to put Mythic 2 on my recommendation list.

Originally posted on SF Site, 2007

Three SF Anthologies, edited by Mike Resnick (DAW, 2004)

Two of these anthologies explore two sides to the same coin. Science fiction has always been about exploring the realm of possibilities, and that includes exploring gender and perception. Editor Mike Resnick approached a number of writers, and asked them to imagine a world from the viewpoint of the opposite gender. The only rules: that the story had to be told from the viewpoint of a specific gender (male if the author was female, female if the author was male), and if changing the narrator from Victor to Victoria or vice versa didn’t invalidate the story, they didn’t want it. That said, the authors were all ready for the challenge.

In the first volume, Women Writing Science Fiction As Men, authors such as Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Janis Ian, Laura Resnick, Severna Park, Terry McGarry, Jennifer Roberson, and Mercedes Lackey all turn in some truly thought-provoking stories. However, it’s Leah A. Zelde’s “Big” which gets my vote for the strangest, seeing as how it starts with e-mail spam for penis enlargement and take the idea to a ludicrously imaginative conclusion. Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “Homecoming” looks at the idea of paternity suits and spaceflight relativity in a poignant, yet interesting manner. Severna Park’s story, “Call For Submissions,” actually draws upon the early history of the SF field itself for inspiration, telling the story of some of its earliest magazine editors. Unfortunately, this story seems to violate the one major guideline, in that the narrator is a female. I guess it’s okay to break the rules after all. In “What Goes Around,” Robyn Herrington looks at body-hopping and crimes and misdemeanors. Adrienne Gormley’s “Maxwell’s Law” is a clever tale of a theoretical idea in human form. “Diving After Reflected Woman,” by Terry McGarry, tells the story of a police video-recorder who takes a very unusual confession, and has a difficult choice to make in response. Mercedes Lackey contemplates alien television and the human condition in “Sweeps Week.” Jennifer Roberson’s “Jesus Freaks” looks at a future desperately in need of some divine reassurance. And Leslie What’s story, “All My Children,” examines the fate of a sperm donor with some real family issues.

In Men Writing Science Fiction As Women, the theme is turned around. Now it’s male authors trying to write from a female viewpoint. Tobias Buckell, Robert Sawyer, Michael Burstein, Barry Malzberg, Jack Dann, David Gerrold and others all take their turn at bat. Tom Gerencer’s “Not Quite Immaculate” details a somewhat tongue-in-cheek tale of a lesbian spaceship pilot entrusted with a very unusual cargo. In “Relativity,” Robert Sawyer examines what happens to a family dynamic when one member spends several years at light-speed, leaving the rest behind on Earth. John Teehan’s “A Small Goddess” is an unusual look at an AI with a female identity. Nick DiChario turns in “Zolo and the Jelly Ship,” a strange tale of a ship that chooses its own captain, and reshapes them as needed. In “Love Story,” Frank M. Robinson recounts a political marriage constructed to fail, then delivers a surprising twist at the very end.

Both of these anthologies are great fun, ranging from the serious to the humorous. For the most part, they hit their targets, with only a few wayward misses to mar the overall effect. Overall, I’m happy to recommend both collections, individually or as a set.

On the heels of his other two anthologies, Mike Resnick also gives us New Voices in Science Fiction, which showcases twenty of the genre’s up and coming writers, some of whom have seen multiple novels published in recent years, some of whom are still working on their next short story publication. Some of them have been nominated for, or even won the Campbell Award for best new SF writer, while others have seen Hugo, Aurora, or Philip K. Dick award nominations. What they all have in common is that they’ve come to prominence in the past decade or so, and they all represent the next generation of great SF writers.

I picked up this anthology, and started with one story, and before I knew it I’d read half of the offerings in a row, unable to stop. There’s some really great, imaginative stories in here. For instance, Tom Gerencer’s “Intergalactic Refrigerator Repairmen Seldom Carry Cash,” which, apart from having a memorable title, looks at repairmen who make house calls in a whole different light. Lisa Mantchev’s “1-800-WICKED1″ explains just where the evil stepmother or wicked queen in all those fairy tales might have gotten their evil paraphernalia… and how hard it is to get refunds. Shades of the Acme Corporation in the classic Warner Brothers cartoons! Kay Kenyon’s “The Book of Faces” starts off, “For a fifteen-year-old without a face, I’m figure I’m pretty lucky,” and goes on from there. There’s Robyn Herrington’s “Dressmaker to the Princess,” which divulges the fashion secrets behind one of the 20th Century’s most prominent superheroines. In Barb Galler-Smith’s “Aphrodite on a Bar Stool,” mythical events replay themselves out in a bar catering to gods and demigods.

These are just a sampling of the numerous worthwhile stories to be found in New Voices in Science Fiction. Resnick’s done a great job of providing a wide range of authors and styles here, and it’s the ideal springboard for exploring those authors already present on the bookshelves. I recommend it highly.

Originally posted on SF Site, 2004

If I Were An Evil Overlord, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Russell Davis (DAW 2007)

As the title suggests, this anthology is quite clear inspired by the infamous Internet list of the same name (a rather nice version can be found at but the stories do branch out on their own, at times. Fourteen authors take varying looks at the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the much-maligned “Evil Overlord” (also known as Dark Lord, Evil Ruler, Bad Guy, Plot Device, Antagonist, and Hero’s Chewtoy…). It’s a celebration and exploration of what it means to be the guy everyone loves to hate. So let’s take a look at some of the stories, and see if the villains in question have read the List, and therefore know what to do, and what not to do…

“If Looks Could Kill” is one of Esther Friesner’s famously comedic stories, featuring the annoyingly-beautiful elven prince, his much-abused sidekick, and an extended stay in the evil ruler’s dungeon. Now, this prince is well aware of the rules of the game, specifically “The evil overlord’s beautiful daughter will always fall for the hero, help him escape, and help him save the day,” and he plans to use said knowledge to, well…, you get the point. Of course, things don’t always go according to plan. As always, Friesner’s ear for comedy, and her ability to conjure up entertaining imagery makes this a great lead story, full of self-aware humor, and ending on a wry note.

David Bischoff’s “The Man Who Would Be Overlord” is the tale of a rogue who partners with a con man in a successful attempt to gain ultimate power. Of course, there’s always a catch to these things, and our unlikely antihero discovers just how catchy his new position really is. Both serious and comic, this story doesn’t miss a beat as it follows the protagonist through his rise and fall in fortune.

Jody Lynn Nye’s “Ensuring the Succession” takes more than a hint from James Bond, as one evil mastermind does his very best to make sure that his son will have every talent, skill, and experience needed to follow in his footsteps. Of course, even the greatest plans have their flaws, or do they? Nye presents a rather sympathetic view of someone who regularly maims, murders, tortures, and kidnaps others for his own ends; it’s almost a shame to see this one end.

Dean Wesley Smith turns in “The Life & Death of Fortune Cookie Tyrant,” the singularly odd tale of an ordinary man whose life is ruled by fortune cookies, all of which come true for him in unexpected ways. But which rule from the Evil Overlord List will prove to be his downfall? It’s an odd story, to be sure, but nonetheless entertaining.

In Jim C. Hines’ “Daddy’s Little Girl,” we get a much more serious tale involving familial love and obligation, and the raising of the dead, when one evil overlord’s daughter engages the services of her father’s deceased architect to invade a forbidden citadel and finish her father’s work. This one’s a creepy, but effective tale.

J. Steven York gives us something straight out of a comic book, or the pulps, with “Gordie Culligan vs Dr. Longbeach & The HVAC of Doom.” Invading booby-trapped air ducts of certain death is all in a day’s work when you’re the guy hired to fix them. But is saving the world part of the job? In this entertaining story, it might fall under ‘hazard pay.’

One of my favorite rules has always been the one where the overlord runs his plan past a 5-year old to eliminate oversights and loopholes. No wonder I got a kick out of Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “Advisers At Naptime,” in which one overlord does just that.

Tanya Huff’s “A Woman’s Work” features a rather likeable queen who just happens to be ruthless, intelligent, and clever in all the right ways. Though it always feels weird rooting for the bad guys, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Huff’s protagonist at work.

Over in John Helfers’s “Stronger Than Fate,” an evil overlord faces the end of his glorious rise to power when that pesky pigtender’s son comes to exact revenge in the time-honored tradition. But this overlord’s been quite smart in his progress over the years, can he defeat this enemy, or is tradition (and fate) about to ensure the triumph of good over evil? Helfers lays out an intelligent tale with a rather satisfying ending.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s evil overlord, on the other hand, seems to have lost his knack for ruling, and his subsequent stay in a villain rehab program is chronicled in “Art Therapy.” Can this guy find his groove and get back in the game, or has he finally gone soft? Only time will tell.

Other authors featured include Fiona Patton, David Niall Wilson, Donald J. Bingle, and Steven Roman. All things considered, If I Were An Evil Overlord does great justice to the concept, with more than a healthy does of entertaining, well-told stories to make it well-worth picking up. I was thoroughly pleased with how well the authors and editor followed through on the promise, ranging from comic to serious, insightful to self-aware.

Originally posted on SF Site, 2007

Under Cover of Darkness, edited by Julie E. Czernada and Jana Paniccia (DAW, 2007)

Who doesn’t love secret societies, conspiracies, and mysterious organizations? Their goals unclear, their methods inscrutable, and their influence uncertain, they’re the perfect explanations and scapegoats for everything that has ever seemed off-kilter throughout the course of human civilization. From the Illuminati to the Boy Scouts, there’s always someone to blame for just about everything. And now in this collection, fourteen authors risk life and limb to pull back the curtain to reveal just who might or might not be pulling our strings.

Larry Niven turns his attention towards the United States government, in “The Gatherer’s Guild.” Or rather, to the numerous secretive departments of the IRS, who possess technology and privileges beyond imagining. But who’s behind a rash of mysterious deaths, and how does it all relate to the intricacies of the American tax system? Niven’s story is tongue-in-cheek, highly entertaining, and cleverly told. Hey… it makes sense to me.

Nick Pollatta unravels the true secrets of the Freemasons, and the enigmatic, all-important Key they safeguard, in “Falling Like The Gentle Rain.” It’s an action-packed summer blockbuster full of twists, turns, and hidden revelations as one P.I. fights for his life to fulfill his destiny. This one may be over the top, but then again, so are many conspiracy theories.

In “Borrowed Time,” Stephen Kotowych confirms what we already suspected, that there’s a secret group stealing away the idle moments of our lives, stockpiling it in service to a greater agenda. But are they doing us a favor, or do we deserve every moment of our lives, even the ones we waste? There’s a rogue faction dedicated to exploring this very question in this nifty little tale.

Esther Friesner breaks all the rules in “Seeking the Master,” when she unravels the secrets of a most insidious organization. I don’t dare give away the surprise ending, but I will say I know the secret handshake… do you? As always, Friesner’s ear for dialogue and wry tone make this an enjoyable read.

“When I Look To The Sky,” by Russell Davis, chronicles the convoluted tale of a man chosen to become a time-traveling assassin. In order to ensure history remains straight, he has to make a very personal decision, but does he have the strength to carry through? This one may require several readings, as it really does fold in on itself in a complex, yet imaginative manner.

Tanya Huff’s master thief, Terizan, is recruited for another job, in “The Things Everyone Knows.” Her search for proof of existence of a conspiracy dedicated to overthrowing the city’s ruling Council leads her to the shadowy world of the recently dead, in one of her most harrowing adventures to date. But when faced with a genuine secret society, will Terizan help, or hinder them? As always, the thief’s morality will lead her to find a unique solution, with Huff’s trademark ingenuity.

Paul Crilley’s “The Invisible Order” shines a spotlight upon a strange war raging among the Fae on the dirty streets of old London, and the effect it has upon those mortals who stumble across the hidden conflict. I daresay this one has potential for further exploration.

Also dealing with the hidden nature of the Fae in human society is Amanda Bliss Maloney’s tale of secret identities and mysterious heritages in a future where technology has taken a step back, in “The Good Samaritan.” No one is who, or what, they seem to be, in this story which really does deserve a follow-up or two.

Rounding out this collection are stories by Doranna Durgin, Darin A. Garrison, Janet Deaver-Pack, Janny Wurts, and Jihane Noskateb, and Douglas Smith. As with all anthologies, there’s a little something for everyone, but more often than not, these stories genuinely entertained and interested me. It’s certainly easy to see some of these concepts working in today’s society, while others, a bit more far-fetched, certainly take the theme of the collection to heart. I enjoyed this one quite a bit.

Originally posted on SF Site, 2007

Magazine of F&SF – May 2007

K.D. Wentworth’s “Kaleidoscope” is the story of Ally Coelho, who, after retiring to take up a quiet life of gardening at home, begins to experience divergent timelines. One day she rescues a dog, yet her memories also tell her, quite firmly, how the dog died. She goes out to dinner with friends, yet misses the dinner altogether. She goes out on a date with one man named Barry, yet remembers an entirely different one. As the weeks pass, the prismatic effect grows worse, with people — including a whole host of variant Barrys — parading in and out of her life with alarming and confusing frequency. Is Ally going insane, or is the universe just indecisive where she’s concerned? This is a charming, somewhat bittersweet story about how life isn’t just what we make of it, it’s what it makes of us. How Ally and Barry navigate through the minefield of reality’s shifting decisions speaks of a lot about how we handle the many aspects of our own lives. An excellent, thought-provoking story.

Don Webb’s “The Great White Bed” is a creepy, spine-tingling tale of the fateful summer one young man spends at his grandfather’s house. The old man seems to be losing his mind due to age, but the discovery of a mysterious book may be reversing the process. But at what cost to the narrator? Something’s going on, and it’s taking a terrible toll in the process. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to the questions raised in this spooky story. Webb certainly has a knack for invoking uncomfortable reactions, as evidenced by this story.

Originally posted on SF Site, 2007

Magazine of F&SF – April 2007

“Titanium Mike Saves the Day,” by David D. Levine explores how myths are created, and how they evolve over the years. Starting in the far future, we’re granted a story of Titanium Mike, a space-age Paul Bunyan, born from the union of Gravity and Vacuum, whose adventures and exploits are as impossible as they are legendary. Three more installments, each one reaching further back in time than the last, likewise tell tall tales of the mythical man, and although he may be slightly diminished in each earlier incarnation, he still proves to be both inspirational and influential in man’s journey to the stars. The last story, well… that tells the truth of the Titanium Mike story, putting the perfect cap to things. This is as perfect an examination of how reality becomes legend and legend becomes myth as any I’ve seen, and it’s a sure bet that when we really do go out into space, we’ll need someone like Titanium Mike to keep us company.

In Donald Mead’s “A Thing Forbidden,” we’re introduced to a young woman suffering from some profoundly disturbing conflicts following her traumatic experiences as a member of the ill-fated Donner Party. A somewhat struggling Methodist, she has sworn to convert to Catholicism, despite the reservations of others and her own internal struggles. But can she reconcile the Eucharist — the symbolic eating of Christ’s blood and flesh — with her vow to never again taste human flesh? And what secret is her mother hiding from her? It’ll all come to a head when an enemy tries to make Virginia choose a bloody path. This is a thought-provoking, strange look at the nature of faith and symbolism, intent and principles, and what it means sometimes to survive against all odds. Definitely one of those stories that sticks with you afterwards.

Originally Posted on SF Site, 2007

Children of Magic, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes (DAW, 2006)

What happens when the magic rests in the hands of children, and the power of life and death is held by those too young or inexperienced to know the right path? That’s what these eighteen authors try to puzzle out.

In Tanya Huff’s “After School Specials,” the constantly-bickering daughters of a movie mogul deal with one another, a school bully, and a mysterious magical menace. In “Starchild Wondersmith” by Louise Marley, the child of a magical family struggles to discover his true Talent, even as he adjusts to going to school with “Normal” people. In “The Weight of Wishes” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, two parents must deal with the awesome power their daughter holds, and figure out how it relates to their own hidden magic. Sarah Hoyt’s “Titan” follows a young man named Leonardo, whose encounter with primordial beings transforms his destiny forever.

This collection really does range across the spectrum of possibility, with stories set in history and modern day, and more than a few original fantasy settings. With strong offerings by authors including Jane Lindskold, Jean Rabe, Michelle West, Alan Dean Foster, Jody Lynn Nye, Jana Paniccia and more, it has certainly got a lot to offer readers.

Originally posted on SF Site, 2006

Hags, Sirens, and Other Bad Girls of Fantasy, edited by Denise Little (DAW, 2006)

Mythology and fantasy are full of “bad girls,” as suggested by the title of this collection. Everyone has their favorite or most feared, from the Greek Harpies to the apocryphal Lilith, from Cinderella’s wicked stepmother to the Gaelic Black Annis. They’re victims and persecutors, mothers and daughters, nightmares and legends, and at long last, it’s time they got to tell their side of the story. Or, in some cases, their story is told by those unlucky enough to cross their paths.

In “Shall We Dance?” the tale is recounted of a so-called alpha male who runs afoul of the quintessential female predator. In Leslie Claire Walker’s “Time and Memory,” a Queen of Faerie plays out a familiar story involving a mortal named Thomas yet again. Allan Rouselle takes another look at the Greek Sirens in “Band of Sisters,” while Greg Beatty manages to find both pity and purpose for a different Greek monstress, Echidna, also known as the “Mother of Monsters.” Lilith, of course, is present in Peter Orullian’s “Lilith,” and Annie Reed catches up with a destitute Hera wandering the mean streets of the modern world in “Homeless.”

Christina F. York retells the Cinderella story from the viewpoint of the stepmother, suggesting that history really is written by the victors and not all bad guys are what you’d expect, in “Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth.” Scott William Carter gives us a wonderfully poignant tale of Medusa in “Heart of Stone,” and Michael Hiebert overturns the entire concept of the Tooth Fairy in the simply-titled “Dust.”

Whether the stories look at the Harpies or the Furies, Hera or Isis, Norse or Celtic mythology or even original characters, they all manage to deliver solid tales. It’s interesting how many of the authors chose to portray their protagonists either as victims of their power/curse or as supernatural beings much diminished by the progress of centuries and the advent of modern time. Redemption also features heavily in a few of the stories. Of course, for all those, there are still a few cases where our heroine remains unrepentant, undiminished, and unyielding. Altogether, this is an enjoyable collection that give the reader plenty to think about.

Originally posted on SF Site, 2006

Lady With An Alien, by Mike Resnick (Watson-Guptill Publications, 2005)

Legendary genius and the original (and literal) Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci, struggles with a painting commissioned by his current patron, the Regent of Milan. The problem is, the subject of the painting is an empty-headed, vacuous woman whose only virtue is her status as the Regent’s mistress, and her cat (who absolutely has to be in the painting) is uncooperative. Leonardo resents the time wasted on this project, so when a strange mystery in the form of an alien creature wanders into his life, he leaps at the chance to turn his attentions to a new topic. But the creature, which is unlike anything ever seen on Earth before, is not alone; its owner, a young man from the far future soon comes to claim it, and Leonardo convinces this boy, Mario by name, to stay for a while as his guest. Now playing host to a time-traveler and an alien, Leonardo is overjoyed, finally having intellectual challenges to fuel his curiosity. Determined to capture the look of his alien visitor for posterity, he makes some changes to his current painting-in-progress, replacing cat with alien.

The days to follow are full of fascinating discussions between Leonardo and Mario, as they compare aspects of the past and future, with Mario bound to silence on a great many subjects (so as not to change history) and Leonardo forever trying to puzzle out the future (and his ultimate impact on history). The two become unlikely friends, with Mario meeting some of the greatest minds and men of Leonardo’s era, and Leonardo himself getting some idea of his place in the centuries to come. And the painting that he creates as a result of this encounter will help to cement his reputation as an artistic genius for all time.

Lady with an Alien is part of Watson-Guptill’s line of historical fiction books aimed at introducing young readers to the works and styles of various great painters. As such, the book is short (a little) on plot, and long on talking heads, exposition, and dialogue, as Leonardo and Mario exchange ideas and explore da Vinci’s world. It’s really quite well-done, educational and interesting without dragging, and it’s fun to watch Leonardo try to outsmart (and continually be stymied by) Mario in predicting the future. And of course, examining the particular genius of da Vinci has its own value. As an added bonus, there’s a brief essay on da Vinci, a timeline, and reproductions of various sketches in the back. I greatly enjoyed this book, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to those interested in Leonardo da Vinci and his unique style.

Originally posted on SF Site, 2006

Millenium 3001, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Russell Davis (DAW, 2006)

A thousand years from now, the world will undoubtedly be a very different place, possibly even completely unrecognizable. Despite this, fourteen authors have taken it upon themselves to try and depict an Earth of the far future. Will humanity even exist as we know it? The answers are sure to fascinate. John Helfers starts the collection off with “Afterward,” which reads like an obituary to a race destroyed by a massive catastrophe. His lovingly detailed description of a world slowly reclaiming itself over the centuries is powerful and memorable.

Kevin J. Anderson speculates that even in the far future, there’ll be people wanting to Get Away From It All, such as in this tale of backpackers on an alien planet, in “Landscapes.” Brian Stableford turns in a story of genetic experimentation and desire with “Dr. Prospero and the Snake Lady.” Dean Wesley Smith’s “Nostalgia 101″ teaches those blessed with an extraordinarily long lifespan that it’s better to look to the future, rather than dwell in the past.

Sarah Hoyt’s “Go Tell The Spartans” examines the potential role of women once humanity’s ready to spread across the universe, and asks the question: What will we leave behind to make the journey? Mickey Zucker Reichart looks at conflict in the far future in “In His Own Image.” “Bitter Quest,” by Jim Fiscus, looks at a world where humanity has actually regressed after a series of plagues.

With other stories by Jack Williamson, Allen Steele, Robert Metzger, George Zebrowski and more, this collection brings together some of science fiction’s best visionaries for some thought-provoking results. One thing is for certain: wherever, whatever, we are in a thousand year’s time, it’ll be as interesting as these stories conjecture.

Originally posted on SF Site, 2006