The 34th collection of finalists for the Writers of the Future competition features expertly crafted and edited stories and art, running the gamut from humorous to bone-chilling. Speculative fiction is interspersed with essays on the crafts of writing and illustrations from the field’s luminaries, most notably Jerry Pournelle’s “Paying It Forward,” which features words of advice he received from Robert Heinlein. Jonathan Ficke’s “Howler on the Sales Floor” is a tongue-in-cheek reflection of the inner thoughts of retail workers. On the other end of the spectrum, N.R.M. Roshak’s “A Bitter Thing” packs a visceral punch in its exploration of the illusions of love and bigotry. Eneasz Brodski’s “Flee, My Pretty One” paints a dark, stark vision of resistance and transformation. The two standout stories are “Illusion” by established fantasist Jody Lynn Nye, a lighthearted and ebullient fantasy, and the breathtakingly beautiful ode to transformation “Odd and Ugly” by Vida Cruz, which stirs the imagination with Filipino folklore. Each piece of art embraces the story it accompanies to create a harmonious whole. This inspired, well-rounded anthology has a little something for everyone. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/26/2018 Release date: 04/10/2018 Genre: Fiction
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