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Elemental: The Tsunami Relief Anthology : Stories of Science Fiction and Fantasy by Steven Savile & Alethea Kontis
Review by Colleen Cahill
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0765315629
Date: 16 May, 2006 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The collection begins with an introduction by Arthur C. Clarke that leads to stories from the likes of Brian Aldiss, Larry Niven, Esther Friesner and Joe Haldeman. As previously stated, these stories run a gambit of styles, from David Gerrold's humorous warning about the consequences of traffic jams in "Crystallization" to Eric Nylund's "Butterflies Like Jewels," a science fantasy revolving on a missing doctor, a meerschaum pipe and the nature of reality. "And Tomorrow and" is Adam Robert's fantasy about Macbeth, exploring the possibilities that exist if he really could only be killed by one not born of a woman. Janny Wurts gives us a science fiction story of a man whose obsolete skills as a mirror maker are suddenly in demand from a strange woman who mysteriously appears in his rose garden in "Moebius Trip". All entertaining and interesting tales and all very different from each other.

Many of the authors have written works from universes in which they have previously published. "Sea Child," a tale of Dune from Brian Hebert and Kevin J. Anderson, shows the choices of loyalty or betrayal by one Bene Gesserit sister who is in the oppressive hands of the Honored Matres. William C. Dietz's "The Run to Hardscrabble Station" is from his Legion of the Damned series and follows the challenge a young Ensign assigned as supply officer on Hardscrabble just as the planet has being invaded. "The Day of Glory" is military science fiction from David Drake and is set in his Hammer's Slammers: it takes us to a small planet were the Slammers are recruiting for battle. Martha Wells tells a Ile-Rien fairy story in "The Potter's Daughter," where a murder of a local potter draws the attention of the half-fairy Kade. "Perfection" takes us into Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner and Tamir Trilogy books, where a brutal Emperor subtly forces the world's most gifted builder to make him a unique palace, one that is full of plenty of surprises.

Some of the authors have taken this collection as an opportunity to stretch their authorial wings. Larry Niven, known for his hard science fiction, takes on the metaphysical question of what is reality in "The Solipsist at Dinner". In "The strange case of Jared Spoon, who went to pieces for love," Stel Pavlou investigates his science fiction roots with this Vonngutesque tale of a man who finds that perfection is not all it's cracked up to be. "In the Matter of Fallen Angels," Jacqueline Carey's magical realism piece describes one small towns reaction to an angel fallen in their midst.

Certainly there are at least a few stories in this collection that will appeal to even the fussiest reader. With a wide range of themes and styles, this is a smorgasbord of touching, intriguing, sad, funny stories. Whether you buy this to support tsunami relief, to get a new work by your favorite author, or to discover a fascinating mix to different genres, you will find an excellent collection in Elemental.

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