cover image Worlds of Light and Darkness

Worlds of Light and Darkness

Edited by Angel Yuriko Smith and Scot Noel. Uproar, $16.95 trade paper (296p) ISBN 978-1-949671-24-7

For this uneven anthology, Smith and Noel bring together 20 stories of Mars missions, monsters, and magic purported to be “a selection of the best speculative fiction from DreamForge and Space & Time literary magazines.” The anthology is curiously front-loaded with the least successful pieces. “Pioneer” by Mark Gallacher, about a man who recalls family memories while stationed on Mars, relies on cheap sentimentality and exemplifies the unremarkable nature of many of the microfictions included. Meanwhile, “An Infinite Number” by David Amburgey, about a father mourning a dead infant, seems out of place among the more science fiction and fantasy-based pieces. The second half of the book, however, contains some real gems. In L. Deni Colter’s riveting “The Weight of Mountains,” a mother and son contend with a prophecy that their family land will “break off the end of the world and float away.” The decadent cosmic fantasy “Collecting Violet” by Austin Gragg follows an ancient interpretation of the grim reaper through the process of collecting a soul. And “Joy of Life” by Alessandro Manzetti, about monstrous white snakes called “heartbeat hunters,” is sinuous and distinctive. Readers will have to stick with this to get to the goods. [em](May) [/em]