This is the third annual collection of stories by authors who ply their wares at GenCon.Some of the authors in this edition also appeared in the previous volumes, but several are new.This edition also contains the first scifi stories to be featured in the collection. Here is a run down of the stories I liked the most.
Wildcat’s Choice by Jeremy Jaynes.This was one of the scifi stories, and I was very intrigued by the setting.Chicago has been cut in two by a dome, put in place by aliens.After the appearance of the Domes (presumably the one in Chicago is just one of many) the cities were no longer safe.If any humangets too close to a Dome, monsters come out, attacking and dragging the unfortunate victim back into the Dome, never to be seen again.This short story follows a new recruit as she and her paramilitary squad venture into Chicago to rescue some scavengers who are stuck near the Dome.I found the beginning of the story a bit confusing, and the overuse of current vernacular a bit distracting (people call each other “dude” way too much) but I was interested enough to want to read a whole book about the world of the Domes.
A Hard Day’s Work by Paul Lell was the other scifi entry in the book and it had good action scenes but not much character development.
Chance or Destiny by Kelly R. Martin.The author is able to describe scenes quite well, but unfortunately the plot of this story didn’t make a lot of sense and the story felt unfinished.
The Man with the Talented Tongue by Robert Kendzie.I enjoyed Kendzie’s writing style very much, it was light and the dialog felt natural.There was a good twist to the story in that the adventurers, rather than working together like a big, happy family as happens too often in fantasy novels, have reason to suspect one of their number is not acting with completely honorable intentions.
A Sprite in the Hand by Chris A. Jackson.This was the best story of the bunch.Jackson writes wittily and had me laughing right from the start.I will definitely seek out more by this author.
A Thief’s Discovery by J.T. Hartke.This story caught my fancy immediately because it is about a troupe of actors, making for a nice change of pace from the usual adventuring group of warriors that populate the bulk of fantasy novels.I enjoyed Hartke’s ability to tell the reader a lot about a character through a few well-chosen words, as well as the way he incorporated all five senses into his descriptions, as here: “Shouting camel drivers from Hadon cleared a path around a wagon hung with hard sausages of a dozen shapes and colors.”And here: “He pushed the door open and entered.The smell of old paper and yellowed parchment caressed his nostrils as he took a deep, expectant breath.”This was a good story and I look forward to reading one of this author’s novels soon (I picked up book one of his Dragonsoul Saga at GenCon 2013 so will post that review as soon as I can get to it).