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Beyond the Last Star: Stories from the Next Beginning Paperback – August 1, 2002
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And I'm happy to say that even after all these years, I'm still both proud and humbled by the company my story keeps in this anthology. Stories like Susan J Kroupa's "That Kem May in Safe Pastures Feed," which gives us the familiar through strange eyes, something one of my literature professors insisted could not be accomplished in science fiction. Or "Faces at the End of Time," in which Vera Nazarian gives personification to the Thesis and Antithesis endlessly striving one with the other.
Sadly, it was the last of the five Darkfire anthologies, which had seemed to promise a resurgence of the old general sf anthologies like Orbit and New Dimensions. It was a series with a lot of promise, but perhaps it's a wonder that it lasted as long as it did. Patrick Nielsen-Hayden's Starlight anthologies, which had the backing of major publisher Tor Books, lasted through only three volumes, the last delayed over a year and never quite recovering the momentum that annual publication gives.
I'd read one of there other anthologies dog's years ago and liked it so when this one came my way I jumped at it!
Most of the stories are short, but all are great fun, even the ones of the after the end of the world theme that the collection entales.
My personal favorites are "The Wolf God,” by Paul Bates , “Written on the Wind,” by David D. Levine, and "Spiral Horn, Spiral Tusk,” by Leigh Kimmel.
Well crafted short stories are getting harder and harder to find, try these!
The Premise of Beyond the Last Star is just that--our universe is gone, something else has replaced it. The "what" is left to the imagination of the editor and the twenty-five authors. Most of the stories involve non-human protagonists in some finely crafted stories, and some of them even contain fairly outstanding writing, to boot.
Worth mentioning are Beth Bernobich's short work about non-human interspecies love, Paul Bates' well-told-tale of how wolves got their religion, Brian Springer's wonderful yarn of robots seeking their roots at their own peril, Lawrence Connolly's adventure of an undersea people preparing their escape from a dying world while being stalked by an ancient evil, and Susan Kroupa's moving account of how music from this universe touches the lives of beings from the next.
A few are a bit long and drawn out for my taste, but most are crisp and to the point in a wealth of styles and possibilities. I highly recommend this collection, as well as the previous books in this series.
J. Feuer, Boston
The subtitle for this anthology is Stories from the Next Beginning. Unfortunately most of the authors looked at this from the same perspective: humans have evolved far beyond what they are now, sometimes so far beyond that they are difficult to sympathize with. However, there are some interesting stories here. The standout story is "Flow" by Lawrence C. Connolly. In 16 pages, he has created a whole world, one the reader can understand, yet so unlike our own. The inhabitants communicate in colors in a world threatened by an ancient evil who is faced by a reluctant hero.
This is Volume V in the Darkfire series. Lovers of short fiction would certainly want to try the first four volumes if they haven't already. There is always something to be gleaned from an anthology.