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Lonely Souls - - Four novellas
Edited by Gordon Van Gelder
Review by Sam Tomaino
Spilogale, Inc. Kindle Edition  ISBN/ITEM#: B00D301292
Date: 01 May 2013 List Price $5.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Lonely Souls is an e-book anthology edited by Gordon Van Gelder with four novellas Jan Lars Jensen, Eric Carl Wolf, Rand B. Lee and Chris DeVito.

Lonely Souls is an ebook anthology edited by Gordon Van Gelder and consists of four novellas that he could not publish in Fantasy and Science Fiction. The title indicates the theme of the anthology and a very good anthology it is, too.

The novellas begin with "Goliath of Gath" by Jan Lars Jensen -- Yes, this is the story of Goliath from the Bible and everyone knows what happens to him. The story begins with that. Then, we are taken back to Goliath's boyhood, when he was not only smaller than his brothers, but also the regular Philistines. Goliath and his family are all that is left of the race called the Anakim. In the past there were giants on the Earth until they were mostly wiped out by Joshua and the rest of the Hebrews. Jensen creates a great story here, filled with interesting detail. Before Goliath becomes the single-combat challenger, he has other things to do. We learn the Philistines were able to keep the secret of iron from the Hebrews and that was a tremendous advantage. Great fantasy story.

"The Demands of Ghosts" by Eric Carl Wolf -- This is the simplest story in this book. Also the shortest. Also the best. Our unnamed narrator is a former hitman who testified against his former employers and was taken into a witness protection program and dumped on the planet Toom. Toom is known for the high quality of its beef. Cattle are raised by vaqueros as they are called by the resident Argentine heritage people. Our narrator is a loner until he is approached by an interesting woman named Una, whose age he estimates as between forty and sixty. They strike up a friendship and she asks him to ride (on horses, of course) out to the coast with him. On the way, she tells him the story of her life. How she fell in love with a man who was involved and hooked on a very deadly, very illegal drug. When they get to the ocean, he finds out the real reason for the trip. This was a beautiful tale and really lived up to the theme of the book.

The third story is "One Day at the Zoo" by Rand B. Lee -- Eulie is a little girl whose mother tried to kill her by throwing her in the bear cage at the zoo. The story, told entirely through Eulie's eyes, is that her mother had abducted her eight years ago and had abused her so her monster wouldn't come out. Eventually we learn that Eulie has a fast healing power and is telekinetic. This is because her mother had survived a plague some years before. Eulie takes some time to start trusting people and things come to a head when her father, a government scientist comes for her. No, she is not experimented on but is treated very well. That's most of the story and I won't say more and give anything away. The important thing is that this is a beautifully written story from someone whose stories I've been enjoying for some thirty years.

The last story is "Final Kill" by Chris DeVito -- Passian is a ruthless assassin and, as the story open, we see him kill people for no apparent reason, except maybe covering up what he's going to do. He meets up with a couple that have a young girl whom Passian is supposed to exchange for a piece of software. Instead, he mows them all down with his gun. Apparently, this is what his boss who works for the Constitutional Freedom Colony wants him to do. The girl is subject fifteen F (named Lydian) from their secret genetic laboratories. Curiously, as Passian looks on, the couple and the girl regenerate and keep doing so every time he kills them. He finally decides to leave with the girl and things get stranger. The immortality virus she has is very contagious and wherever Passian and the girl go, people (except for pre-adolescent children) catch it. This causes great social unrest. All that is handled very interestingly, but I did find the emphasis on the decadence of the civilization a little tiring and the ultimate fate of Lydian unsatisfying. Still this story was something very different.

Well, it's good to get an anthology of novellas, especially one with stories as good these are.

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