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Future Syndicate by J Alan Erwine (Editor)
Edited by J Alan Erwine
Cover Artist: Marge Simon
Review by Steve Sawicki
BookSurge Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 1419654594
Date: 09 January 2007 List Price $14.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

There are 8 stories in this anthology, with 3 of them being reprinted from other publications. The stories run the range from future punk hijinks, complete with new slang and social forms, to the classic double cross, complete with misdirection and a perfect plan gone wrong.

There is no specific theme here other than that each story deals with crime. For example, Jason Sizemore's "An Ingenious Adventure" revolves around the punishment meted out to those who glimpse the recipe for a popular cola. "Mina's Kiss," by Bruce Horner is the story about a hired assassin who is successful in getting his target but fails at the same time. "Rebecca M. Senese's "Face Dances" is perhaps the best story of the bunch, even with the somewhat weak ending and rather large plot holes, as it works through a caper that involves two people who can shift their faces to match any other face.

When I first picked this book up I was looking forward to some future noir, perhaps a super sleuth or cop in a closed spaceship mystery, or something involving robots or computer crime done by a computer with AI. Instead the stories ran more to cyberpunk futures with a leaning towards the criminals involved. There is an inherent difficulty in choosing this path in that the writer needs to find ways to make the protagonist a sympathetic character. Or, make the story so well constructed that the reader is too dazzled to notice.

There is a lot of craft in putting together a short story. I'm a traditionalist in that I think a good short story needs to have a beginning, a middle and an end and, at the same time, also tell a meaningful story. All too often what you get is a fragment of something that obviously needs to be longer or something which reads as if the author picked up in the middle of some important happening, ran through a few pages of that event and then moved on to something different. When reading through the offerings in this anthology I found too little craft and too much reliance on the neat idea to carry the day. The anthology was interesting to read, mostly entertaining, but lacked the focus that would move it into the pile of work that simply must be read.

Our Readers Respond

From: Jason Sizemore:
    Not sure what collection you were actually reading, but "An Ingenious Advenure" does not revolve around the punishment. It simply bookends the meat of the adventure.

    Otherwise, thank you for reviewing the anthology.

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