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Between the Wall and the Fire Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
'Edge' 4 stars
'Soul Food' 5 stars
'A Ruby for Dyree' 5 stars
'On the Bayou's Edge' 4 stars
'Second Home, Second Chance' 4 stars
'Kingdoms of Magic' 4 stars
'Brotherly Envy' 4 stars
'Henbit and Clover' 5 stars - This is the one I selected as my overall favorite short story.
'Negev' 4 stars
'Knight of the Changeling' 4 stars
'Life Began at Thirty-three' 5 stars
Please note that I obtained a PDF of this anthology from the publisher Silver Empire for review purposes.
If you have not come across the term superversive before, it describes a literary movement with an informal mission statement.
+ The goal of the Superversive is to bring hope, where there is no hope; to bring courage, where without courage, hope would never be manifested.
+ The goal of the Superversive is to be light to a benighted world.
+ The goal of the Superversive is:
+ To tell the truth.
So no stories where Captain America is actually a Hydra agent all along.
Now this statement combined with a theme of family could provide some trepidation of syrupy message fiction. Hammering in the point that “Family is important” like the endless “Holiday” movies on the Hallmark channel.
That is totally not the case and the collection of stories within Between the Wall and the Fire are excellent stories on their own in the genre of SF and Urban Fantasy. I enjoyed all the stories, but some stood out against even a solid collection.
The collection starts out very strong with “Edge” by Russell S. Newquist. The story starts with some explanation of motorcycle physics and introduces the main character a P.I. You start to get the feeling of some SF noir and then the action ramps up, and ramps up again. The situation gonzo as you start to find out about the inhabitants of this world. I really enjoyed how this was layered and that for a short story a definite beginning/middle/end. Like most good short stories you are satisfied with it while at the same time wanting more. In this case I could not have thought of a better ending. Just perfect.
“On the Bayou’s Edge" by Morgon Newquist was another story that left me perfectly satisfied. A grandmother protecting her family from things in the swamp. Serious things in the swamp that you need protection from, but that most people are unaware of. The story escalates when Maw Maw runs into a creature more powerful than what she has run into before. I just loved this character and the writing was crisp enough so that you had a nuanced look at the character without much exposition. It developed with the story. It also reminded me of the best of the Harry Dresden elements.
“Brotherly Envy" by S.D. McPhail is sort of an extended parable regarding two brothers where one brother is being praised for the powers that came to him. I found this story very thoughtful regarding the traps of envy, especially when you both envy and have come to despise the other.
“Negev" by Joshua M. Young explores a group of colonists who have left Earth because of religious persecution and are trying to make it on their own on a new planet as their skill set is rapidly lost. They are then found by representatives of “posthumanity” which provides the collision of cultures in the story. As the colonists are Jewish you can see allusions to the problems the Jewish people experience in their exodus and what they can take and reject from cultures they collided with.
“Knight of the Changeling" by Rusell S. Newquist was another one I greatly enjoyed. What happens in the genre of urban fantasy when a changeling is discovered and you try to recover the switched-out child? First off I just loved how the changeling was detected. Mostly I enjoyed the dangers of fairy land and then how it was all resolved.
In the interest of being brief I will stop the story synopsis, but really could easily go on since I liked all the stories so much.
Still I have to give final mention to “Life Began at Thirty-Three" by Verne Luvall. This is actually not fiction, but a short biographical reflection on life by Morgan Newquist’s grandfather. I am glad they included this, since I was rather moved by it and it topped off the theme of family perfectly.
I'm a slow reader, but managed to get through this book without any issues! That alone is worthy of high marks
I look forward to reading more of the authors work as he continues to progress and grow professionally.
This book was pitched to me as a collection of subversive science fiction and fantasy which, despite what the prefix might lead you to believe, is a movement in the fantasy-publishing spawned by G.R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones and other books with a similar dark, gritty aesthetic. Where Game of Thrones seems to punish acts of courage and to torment the characters who try to stand above the violence and cruelty of their world, subversive fiction strives for the opposite and to laud acts of heroism without descending into melodrama or cheesiness. This concept is the driving force behind most of the stories in this book, so if that concept does not appeal to you then you would probably be better served reading something else. Now for the actual review...
The most important concern for this book is whether or not it fulfills the promise of subversive fiction and it does, in part. Most of the stories do have acts of heroism, in a variety of forms, but a few of the stories were a little more tragic than I was expecting and clashed with the book's promise.
The prose for the book was generally decent, but a few of the stories did sway into the weaker vicinity. A few of them also had good prose though, so they somewhat balanced each other out.
As for the stories themselves, there were two that I really enjoyed and only one that I actively disliked. There was a good mixture of fantasy, paranormal and science fiction and none of the stories felt too similar. One thing to note is that a couple of stories had strong Christian undertones; they were not aggressive but religion is always a touchy subject so take that into consideration.
On the whole, I found it an enjoyable read.
"Negev" was my favorite, and the one exception to the rule.
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