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Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and a Hugo-nominated editor of adult and children's speculative fiction. His debut science fiction novel was The Worker Prince, which received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble’s Year’s Best SF of 2011, and was followed by sequels The Returning and The Exodus. His children's books include 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter—Land Of Legends. Schmidt has edited edited anthologies Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, Beyond The Sun, Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age, Galactic Games, and, with Jennifer Brozek, coedited military high fantasy original anthology, Shattered Shields. Schmidt hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer's Chat) Wednesdays at nine p.m. ET on Twitter.
Robin Wayne Bailey is an American fantasy and science fiction author. He’s the past president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He is a cofounder of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer's Hall of Fame. The SF Hall of Fame merged in 2004 with Paul G. Allen's Vulcan Enterprises in Seattle and became part of the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. Robin continues to serve on its annual induction committee. Bailey graduated from North Kansas City High School, and received a B. A. in English and Anthropology and a M. A. in English Literature from Northwest Missouri State University. In addition to his work as an editor, Robin's works include Shadowdance, the Dragonkin trilogy, the Frost series, the Brothers of the Dragon series and Swords Against the Shadowland, among many other novels and stories.
Little Green Men—Attack! was a definite, as well as funny and sarcastic, success.
What is my definition of success, you may ask?
(You can skip this part if you have read any of my previous short story compilation reviews.)
To me, a short story compilation is akin to one of those giant bags of mixed candy you buy for Halloween. Some of what you get are your favorite kind, some are really good (just not your favorites), some are OK (but still candy, so pretty darn good), and some are awful because you can’t stand the flavor but you know other people love them anyway. And occasionally it includes one or two kinds of candy even the kids won’t touch.
With that in mind, I consider any short story collection to be a success if at least 3 or 4 stories fall into the first two categories of favorite or really good, and one (or better, none) fall into the even the kids won’t touch it category.
Little Green Men—Attack! was a definite success. 18 of the 19 stories were either favorites or really good. Eight were favorites. This is a new record for me.
None of the stories were in the “Even the kids won’t touch it” or the “I can’t stand the flavor” pile.
My favorite stories were “Rule the World” by Jody Lynn Nye, “Good Neighbor Policy” by Dantzel Cherry, “A Cuppa Cuppa Burnin’ Love” by Esther Friesner, “Stuck in Buenos Aires With Bob Dylan On My Mind” by Ken Scholes, “The Game-a-holic’s Guide to Life, Love, and Ruling the World” by Peter J. Wacks and Josh Vogt, “The March of the Little Green Men” by James Gunn, “First Million Contacts” by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Alex Shvartsman, and “The Fine Art of Politics” by Robin Wayne Bailey.
Highly recommended. If you need a reality break, a good laugh, or some fine sarcasm, go buy this book.
For many of these stories, too much of a review would ruin the story. So here are some spoiler-free short thoughts on each story:
“The Little Green Men Take Their Hideous Vengeance, Sort Of” by Mike Resnick 4 stars Nice twist.
“Little (Green) Women” by Kristine Kathryn Rush 4 stars More stories narrated by J-May, please!
Good Neighbor Policy” by Dantzel Cherry 5 stars Practically perfect.
“Stuck in Buenos Aires With Bob Dylan On My Mind” by Ken Scholes 5 stars Wonderful. This could explain a lot.
“Rule the World” by Jody Lynn Nye 5 stars My favorite story.
“School Colors” by Seanan McGuire 4 stars The price of fame? Well done.
“Meet the Landlord” by Martin L. Shoemaker 4 stars Always read the fine print.
“Big White Men—Attack!” by Steven H. Silver 4 stars Perspective is everything.
“The Green, Green Men of Home” by Selina Rosen 4 stars Twisty.
“A Fine Night for Tea and Bludgeoning” by Beth L. Cato 3 stars Nice but one twist too many.
“The Game-a-holic’s Guide to Life, Love, and Ruling the World” 5 stars by Peter J. Wacks and Josh Vogt Excellent gaming story.
“Day of the Bookworm” by Allen M. Steele 4 stars Librarians for the win.
“A Greener Future” by Elizabeth Moon 4 stars Scary thought.
“A Cuppa Cuppa Burnin’ Love” by Esther Friesner 5 stars Love and coffee. What more do you need?
“Little Green Guys” by K.C. Ball 4 stars Love the character.
“The March of the Little Green Men” by James E. Gunn 5 stars The perfect last line.
“First Million Contacts” by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Alex Shvartsman 5 stars All those signals did go somewhere.
“Hannibal’s Elephants.” by Robert Silverberg 4 stars We all know what happens when we make assumptions.
“The Fine Art of Politics” by Robin Wayne Bailey 5 stars This was the almost perfect last line.
An overall really enjoyable anthology of comedic SF stories built off of the classic SF trope that aliens are "little green men." In most of these stories, the aliens are in fact some combination of "little," "green," and "men," although not necessarily all three at the same time (and in one or two of the stories, the aliens are none of the three, exceptions that prove the rule if you will).
There are some themes that recur (for instance, the idea that aliens learn what they know of Earth from our television transmissions or aliens who think looking like cats will help them conquer the Earth), but even so the stories are very individual. Some are gut-laugh funny, others are whimsical. Some are subtle, some are slapstick.
To mention a few favorites:
"Little Green Guys" by K.C. Ball. Given my love for "Guys & Dolls" and for Damon Runyon in general, how could I not love this Runyon-esque Roswell alien landing story? Really, how could I not wish I had written it? Absolutely my favorite story in the anthology. Great voice, great fun.
"Stuck In Buenos Aires With Bob Dylan On My Mind" by Ken Scholes starts out as a "shipwrecked" type of tale, with music as the tool that crosses cultural divides -- almost too well. Again, great voice, great subtle jokes, and a bit of a heart-tugger.
"School Colors" by Seanan McGuire. This is not the first story McGuire has written featuring the Johnson's Crossing Fighting Pumpkins Cheerleaders, but it might now be my favorite. Cheerleaders from Earth versus cheerleaders from an alien world? Cool.
"A Fine Night For Tea and Bludgeoning" by Beth Cato. Victorian setting, confused aliens, and proto-roller-derby of a sort. Again, another great character voice. Cato is fully in her element.
"Big White Men -- Attack!" by Steven H. Silver gives us a look at the Armstrong/Aldrin moon landing from a very different, and much closer-to-the-ground, perspective. Fun.
I could go on: every story in the book has something to recommend it. Definitely worth seeking out!
One of the advantages of going to science fiction conventions is that you learn of books you'd never otherwise hear of. In this case, the book was Little Green Men - Attack!, which is a (mostly) humorous collection of short stories featuring, well, little green men.
I learned of the anthology when Martin Shoemaker read his short story "Meet the Landlord." In it, humans have colonized Mars and 30-some years after that "Martians" show up looking for back rent. It was hilarious. Most of the stories were funny, although in "First Million Contacts" the joke was on the humans. In every anthology, there's a story that's the exception to the rule, which in this case was Steven H. Silver's "Big White Men - Attack!" in which the green dust kicked up by Armstrong an Aldrin on the moon isn't dust at all.
This is the third anthology that I've read which was assembled by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, and I've enjoyed them all. Schmidt is becoming a mark of quality for me, and I recommend his stuff.