Sirius the Dog Star, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Alexander Potter (DAW, 2004)

“Every dog has his day,” goes the old saying. And now, at last, the canines take center stage in an all-new anthology dedicated to the dogs of fantasy and science fiction. While fantastic felines still have a considerable lead, with no less than five, and probably closer to ten, anthologies to call their own, there have been very few looks at man’s supposed best friend. Well, in Sirius the Dog Star, Alexander Potter has gathered together sixteen stories that demonstrate why dog is man’s best friend, whether it’s on Earth, in space, or in realms beyond the imagination.
In “Finding Marcus,” by Tanya Huff, one faithful pooch journeys from world to world to world via transdimensional Gates, forever seeking his lost master and friend, like the Flying Dutchman’s favorite dog. The inclusion of a streetsavvy crow could spell the end to Rueben’s loneliness, but will it bring him closer to Marcus? It’s unfortunate that this story reads like a vignette, because I really want to see more of Reuben’s quest.
Rosemary Edghill’s “Final Exam” partners a man with a specially-trained dog to perform an invaluable service: determining which criminals are redeemable, and which will be executed by the state. It’s a hard job, but necessary, and the judgment of the dog is infallible, right? The heroine of Bernie Arntzen’s “Precious Cargo” is a space-traveling merchant with a particular dislike of dogs, obligated to fulfill a deal made by her partner. Will her hatred overcome her morals, when she realizes the true nature of what she’s carrying, and just what is the right thing to do under the morally questionable circumstances?
Doranna Durgin returns to one of her characters, the god-touched Brenna, for an eerie story about human desires and godly retribution. I have to say, I never expected to see a Welsh Corgi as the savior and hero of a story, but “Hair of the Dog” makes it believable. In “All the Virtues,” Mickey Zucker Reichart mixes history and fantasy to give us the story of Heaven’s only dog, a creature whose unfailing loyalty earned it a unique reward. Based partially on the real-life stories of dogs who remain loyal beyond their owner’s death, it’s an odd, touching tale. Elaine Quon’s story, “Improper Congress,” is a humorous tale of a future where sex is a lot more recreational, and technology still has its occasional screwups.
John Zakour’s “Dog Gone” is a tale of Zachary Johnson, the last Freelance Private Investigator on a not-so-near future Earth. When he’s called in to investigate the disappearance of a genetically-modified, super-intelligent dog, he finds himself up against some stiff odds. Bethlyn Damone’s “Life’s a Bichon” is an odd tale about a weredog, and the veterinarian tasked with hunting down certain problems. Worth expanding into a longer story, it’s a little unsatisfying in its current state, especially with such a pun for the title. Meanwhile, Jane Lindskold’s “Keep the Dog Hence” draws upon traditional tales of the Wild Hunt to tell a story of cruelty and retribution. In similar vein, Nancy Springer’s “Snow Spawn” also looks at the bad things that can befall very bad people.
Stories by Michelle West, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Stephen Leigh, India Edghill, and Julie Czernada round out the pack. All in all, Sirius the Dog Star (dedicated to a rescue dog of the same name, lost on 9/11, otherwise I suspect this would have been named Dog Fantastic) is a perfectly good anthology with a lot of good stories, and a few standouts. Ranging from historical to futuristic, serious to humorous, it has a little something for everyone, and will undoubtedly appeal to the dog lovers in the audience.

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