- File Size: 4149 KB
- Print Length: 351 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Astral Books (August 22, 2016)
- Publication Date: August 22, 2016
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01KVPG7E6
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,077 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Beyond the Stars: At Galaxy's Edge: a space opera anthology Kindle Edition
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There are two successor anthologies to that collection - Beyond The Stars: A Planet Too Far (lined up on my Kindle for future) and this one, At Galaxy's Edge, which puts the focus squarely on space opera.
One notable difference from the off is that previous collection was an all-woman anthology, bar editor David Greenwood, whereas this collection is a mix of men and women, each spinning their story universes.
This collection has a heady brew of tales too - straight out of the gate we have a tale that author of A Boy And His Dog, Harlan Ellison, would approve of, though this time about a marine and his modified K9 unit. The pair are assigned to investigate a terraforming project gone wrong. It seems routine, it seems like little more than an excuse for the dog to frolic among the new green - but they're very wrong, as things take a turn for the worse. The Good Food is by Michael Ezell, and I really like his style - he'll definitely go on the list for authors to keep an eye on.
That set the tone nicely for a good selection of tales. David Bruns' The Epsilon Directive is very much a story asking where you draw the line in following orders, and where personal choice has to come to the fore. Chris Fox conjures up a fun expedition into space archaeology with the added threat of arms being pulled off.
There are a couple of disappointments in here - I found Just An Old-Fashioned Lust Story by Christopher J Valin to strain the suspension of disbelief with its tale of bounty hunters killing one another under the manipulation of a three-breasted beauty, while Piers Platt's Last Pursuit was going just fine until it ended all too soon.
There were three real stars in the collection for me, though - Adam Quinn's Procurement packs so much world building into its short tale of an emergency service for the stars struggling through the perils of bureaucracy that it feels like a whole movie packed into its length. Brilliant.
Nick Webb's Second Place could sit down and share a beer with the stories of Ray Bradbury, as it captures the home-spun drama of the second man to set foot on Mars, who hopes to become the first man to die there. The character work is fantastic, and it just feels like a wonderful, comfortable walk alongside the story's protagonist, as he sets about a landmark few would want to achieve.
But perhaps the story I salute the most is Anthea Sharp's One More Star, Shining. Inspired by the real world horrors of the Pulse shooting in Florida, she creates a universe of miners and those trying to outrun their dreams, all caught up in a moment of horror when an attack shatters the mining community. What makes the story so worthwhile is how it attempts to approach such horror, and examine the ways in which people deal with it. There is the horror of hope as you wish the pain would visit someone else, someone you don't know. There is the aftermath, and the attempt to understand how you can go on, and what is important. And for that, crafted in a short tale in the stars, Anthea Sharp deserves much credit.
Overall, the collection doesn't feel quite as strong as Dark Beyond The Stars - but that was a high bar to set, and it's not far behind. Series editor Patrice Fitzgerald is to be commended.
It’s difficult to pick favorites, but standouts included “Quarium” (E.E. Giorgi), “One More Shining Star (Anthea Sharp) and “Second Place” (Nick Webb).
(1) The Epsilon Directive, by David Bruns. David is one of my favorite authors. I follow his work religiously, and I have loved everything he has written. If you are new to his writing, buy his books and treat yourself to some great reads! This story is about - as he describes him - " a reluctant soldier, a closet conscientious objector, turned draftee" - who tries to do the right thing, and then is forced to watch it all fall apart - even asked to condone a horrible act. I won't give anything else away, but , after I read the story, I sat for a long time, trying to imagine being in his shoes while he tries to cope with his pain and disappointment. Yes, this is the story that made me cry, and to be moved that much - well, to me, that is worth ten stars! (Oh, I almost forgot that there is also a great miracle at the end - one known only to our hero - so it's not all sad). And, because of that, I loved this story even more!
(2) Second Chance, by Nick Webb. This story was fun and made me laugh. It follows the second man to step on Mars, who was so upset at being second that he hatches a plan to return many years later to the now-developed Mars colony in order to become the first man to die on the planet. Now don't be fooled by any morbidity that comes to mind, because as his plan unfolds, he is forced to make choices that keep him postponing his plans until - you guessed it - it is too late. It's almost a reversed Murphy's law scenario - if anything good can happen, it will - and I laughed as each choice arose to thwart his plans. I won't spoil the ending except to say that you will love it!
(3) The Quarium Wars, by E. E. Giorgio. In this story, a soldier lands on a planet, meaning to warn them of an impending invasion, only to have arrived too late and finding all life destroyed by his own people, who are trying to acquire the planet's Quarium - an element said to make nuclear weapons as mild as gun powder. As the story progresses, his own people try to kill him, and we find out more about his recent past. While trying to escape back to his ship, he comes across one survivor - a dog - which he rescues, and well . . . well, read the story, even if dogs aren't your second favorite species, because it has a really thrilling ending.
The rest of the stories are also good, but these were my favorites. I completely recommend this anthology to all!