cover image Devil Dancers

Devil Dancers

Robert E. Waters. eSpec, $14.95 trade paper (194p) ISBN 978-1-942990-98-7

These nine middling linked short stories create a kaleidoscopic portrait of a future wracked by decades of galactic war fought by Apache dancer fighter pilots. Capt. Victorio “Tomorrow’s Wind” Nantan, the protagonist throughout, leads his team, the Devil Dancers, in the fight against the Gulo, a wolverine-like species of aliens. Most of the stories focus on Nantan’s battle tactics and the Apache dances that the squadron incorporate into their flight preparations and fighting style. As they struggle to balance the demands of their culture with those of military service, the Devil Dancers face loss, betrayal, and racism. Standout tales include “I Give My Heart to the Hawks,” in which Nantan and his lover Blue Bird train hawks (which become an allegory for their relationship), and “The First Peace,” which takes a look at the origins of war itself. While the writing is solid and the concept original, readers will long for a deeper connection to Apache culture and a more thorough exploration of the complexities of war and power. This solid collection, while promising, never quite lives up to its potential. (Nov.)