cover image The Sum of Us: Tales of the Bonded and Bound

The Sum of Us: Tales of the Bonded and Bound

Edited by Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law. Laska Media (Ingram, dist.), $17.95 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-9939696-9-0

This anthology of 23 speculative stories focuses on caregivers, whose own lives and needs often seem to fade into “the province of ghosts.” In Ian Creasey’s “The Dunschemin Retirement Home for Repentant Supervillains,” a lowly minion cares for his aging supervillain partner. Colleen Anderson’s “The Healer’s Touch” follows a nanomedicine doctor who’s overwhelmed by her capacity for empathy. In Tyler Keevil’s “Blinders,” an unusual guide dog helps a welder gone almost completely blind from years of grueling work. And in the collection’s strongest story, the profoundly sad “The Oracle and the Warlord,” by Karina Sumner-Smith, Andra is forced to watch her charge and would-be lover, a powerful oracle named Sayenne, surrender everything she has to the power of the dark waters from which she draws her prophecies, growing weaker with each one This is overall a strong collection, though it is weakened by a number of stories that are thematically pertinent yet lacking in one respect or another—A.M. Dellamonica’s “Bottleneck,” for example, relies too much on worldbuilding and loses all semblance of character as a result. Fortunately, the book starts and ends on high notes that balance out the disappointing entries and make it worth reading. (Sept.)