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Speculative Horizons
Edited by Patrick St. Denis
Review by Mario Guslandi
Subterranean Press Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596063365
Date: 30 Nov 2010

Links: Subterranean Press / Show Official Info /

If you’re a speculative fiction fan and a kind-hearted person, then you have two good reasons for buying this book: the opportunity to read five new stories in your favorite genre and to contribute to breast cancer research ( a portion of the sale profits goes to this noble cause).

A reviewer, however, even if not endowed with a heart of stone, has a simple duty: to review and comment upon the content of the book, and to be honest in his judgment.

So, let's face it: all in all this is a mediocre anthology, mostly featuring mediocre stories.

Brian Ruckley's "Flint", for example, is a rather dull story set in the Stone Age, where an inexperienced shaman manages to deliver his tribe from a deadly sickness. The tale fails to elicit either interest or emotion and is easily forgotten as soon as the last page is turned.

"The Eve of the Fall of Habesh" by Tobias S Buckell, tells how in a city under the menace of siege by "the Sea People", a government agent pursues a beggar who misused the magic he was allowed to employ. The story simply didn't work for me but I guess it may suit some fantasy enthusiast.

"The Death of a Love" by Hal Duncan is a rather flat fictional essay about how and why love dies. The literary trick of creating a special Police section devoted to investigate those deaths runs out of steam very soon.

Fortunately, the anthology also includes a couple of good stories.

C.S. Friedman's "Soul Mate" is a well written tale with a steady narrative style, where a young woman starts a relationship with a handsome, unusual man who's interested in her body for more than one reason.

"The Stranger" by L.E. Modesitt Jr., is linked to the author's Recluce Saga, but the story stands alone also for those unfamiliar with that fictional frame. The arrival of a mysterious stranger in a secluded farm changes forever the life of a young herder and his mother. A solid, tense piece of fiction graced by excellent story telling.

I hope my comments won't discourage anybody from doing a good deed (the price of the book is quite affordable).

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