Amaryllis and Other Stories
by Carrie Vaughn
Cover Artist: Elena Vizerskaya
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Fairwood Press Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781933846620
Date: 16 August 2016 List Price $17.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
It isn't all vampires and werewolves. In fact, this collection of 18 stories does not visit the Kitty Norville universe. Vaughn creates stories across multiple genres including science fiction, fantasy, and horror.
The collection includes several stories from the Amaryllis universe covering multiple generations of a world which collapsed from overpopulation and ecological disasters. In this universe, population control is practiced with a vengeance. New children are not authorized unless the group can show the productive capacity to support that new child. There is a strange mix of what is still available and what is lost. I am never sure if this is a world in decline or now on the rise, and that lack of clarity makes it all the more interesting.
One of the notable stories in the collection is "A Riddle in Nine Syllables". It is a science fiction story where a xenobiologist is infected with an alien life form, one that is slowly killing her. The race is on to find a way to remove the entity which is developing. The connection between host and parasite becomes much more.
The fantasy story which stuck out to me was "For Fear of Dragons". A young girl is slated to be sacrificed to a dragon to protect the land for another year. As is easy to imagine, many people find ways to protect their daughters from this fate. Jeanette, has a plan to save her land, one that the people don't want to succeed because the fear they know is easier to deal with than the unknown.
"A Hunter's Ode to His Bait" is a love story. It doesn't start that way, but over the years a bond develops between the hunter and his bait. There may be a bit of Stockholm syndrome in play.
"The Best We Can" is a cautionary tale about not doing anything. It is something that Americans can relate to as we see gridlock on a regular basis. The solutions which are developed are not optimal, but they are solutions.
There are no prior reading requirements to this collections as it is not linked to a specific series. This was a nice collection of stories. It shows Vaughn's range as it takes readers across multiple genres. The humor is light even as serious topics are brought to the fore. I would have liked to have seen a short introduction or backstory related to each story. It would have been nice to have a notice of which stories were set in the same universe or how they were related. There are likely some good tales related to these stories and how they developed.